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What Are Some Good Birthday Gift Ideas?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing a good birthday gift can make the recipient feel special, particularly if the item is something personalized, unique, or thoughtful. When selecting something, it can be nice to try to think of a gift that is meaningful rather than purely functional. You may want the recipient to associate the birthday gift with you and your relationship, or you may simply want to give him or her something whimsical that inspires laughter or stress relief. What you choose should be dictated by your relationship with the person, and how well you know him or her. If you don't know the person well, general gifts like flowers or a gift card or certificate can be a good fit for most people.

Personalized Presents

To put a unique spin on a standard birthday gift, you may want to consider personalized items. For a dog lover, consider a coffee mug with a picture of the recipient's pet. For expecting mothers, a full-sized maternity pillow so they can finally sleep on their tummy or themed LED displays for gamers. The more you know the person, the wider your options in picking and buying a gift. Home items, like towels or linens, embroidered with the recipient's initials may be a good option, if you know the style and colors that the birthday guy or gal likes. If the celebrant is an expectant mom, get them some premium pregnancy pillow to help them catch up on some sleep. You can even customise the pillow case so it's birthday themed. Humor, appropriate for the occasion and the recipient, is also fitting when giving these types of presents. For example, a funny yet meaningful phrase on a keyring or T-shirt can make a small birthday gift more special.

Theme Gifts and Tailored Gift Baskets

Another option for creating an original birthday gift is to assemble an assortment of smaller presents around a central theme. If the recipient loves watching movies, a nice collection of items could include popcorn, a decorative bowl, toppings and flavorings, and a DVD you think he or she will like. A good selection of birthday gifts for relaxation could combine bath oils, small candles, a robe, and comfortable slippers to reduce tension and encourage pampering. You may be able to find such gifts already available in a gift basket, or buy an empty basket and assemble the items yourself for an extra personal touch.


An item the recipient receives repeatedly throughout the year can be a thoughtful gift. Subscriptions to magazines or other publications are often a good birthday gift idea, especially for people who like to read or have a special interest. There are hundreds of magazine titles, so finding one that matches a recipient's interests whether it be a particular sport like mountain biking or activity like shopping or cooking, is generally not too difficult.

Another option is a subscription to a club that delivers a particular item each month or so. A fruit-of-the-month club, for example, might give the birthday guy or gal fresh apples one month, oranges the next, and pears the following. For wine lovers, a regular delivery of a selection of red or white wines to try out would likely be appreciated. There are beer-of-the-month clubs as well, which allow the receiver to try a range of different brews. These clubs are often a bit expensive, as shipping charges can be high, but many have options for less frequent deliveries; if a monthly delivery is too much, one every three months or for just the first six months of the year may be a possibility.

Activities and Experience Gifts

A friend or relative may appreciate a birthday gift that includes getting out for some fun. If this is the case, one idea is to buy passes or tickets to an event or performance that you know he or she would like to attend or visit. You could even make the birthday gift a night-long event by including a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant for the recipient to use before or after the performance.

Although dinner and a movie can make a nice gift, think about what activities the birthday guy or gal really enjoys. Tickets to a special museum exhibition or day passes to an amusement park might fit his or her interests better. This can be a great present for children, many of whom love zoos, observatories, aquariums, and wildlife parks. Remember that you'll probably need to buy several tickets, unless you expect the recipient to go alone. You may also want to consider giving a gift certificate that allows the recipient to pick the date that works best for him or her; some people might find this to be impersonal, however, so think about what works best for the recipient before giving this gift.

If you know the person well and are willing to spend the money for a really special birthday present, you might want to consider an "experience" gift. Lessons with a professional golfer, riding a few laps with a race car driver, or getting to fly in a military jet are all experiences that can make amazing birthday gifts. Alternatively, you could give a memorable tour, such as a sightseeing flight in a hot air balloon or a train ride that stops at rural wineries. Spa packages and weekend getaways are also popular relaxing experiences to give.


For those who have hard-to-shop-for loved ones, a new gadget can be a good birthday gift idea. Both fun and practical gadgets are available, and it is usually best to choose one that is a match for the recipient's interests. Unique items like this can include a wristwatch that also features a thermometer, pedometer, and barometer, or a purse that converts into a backpack. Consider the recipient's personality when shopping; if your coworker is not an avid golfer, then an electronic rangefinder might not be much appreciated.

Inexpensive Gifts

If your budget doesn't stretch to a weekend at a spa or the latest gadget, an inexpensive gift can be just as meaninful. You might consider a book by a favorite author or in a genre you know the recipient likes, or a DVD or movie download. Doing a chore that the birthday guy or gal would rather avoid — like washing the car or mowing the lawn — may cost very little, but be greatly appreciated. Even a tube of the person's favorite lip balm and a card can be a thoughtful gift.

Birthday Gifts to Avoid

Knowing the recipient is important when choosing a birthday gift, as is being aware when you don't know the person very well. Very personal items, like sleepwear or lingerie, should not be given to someone who is not an intimate friend. Giving a casual acquaintance an expensive gift, such as high-end electronics or jewelry, should also be avoided unless you know that such a gift is expected. It's also a good idea to avoid gifts of art or other decorative items unless you know the recipient's taste very well; that beautiful vase you gave your cousin may sit in the closet except for the times you visit if it clashes with the rest of the home's decor.

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Discussion Comments
By Barmenturthe — On May 07, 2016

If approaching birthday of our loved ones or friends, you need to take care in advance of the gift. Since there is no worse than a birthday gift, whan was bought in haste. In this case, your gift may fall into the category of gifts that need to be avoided. And in this article there are very useful tips in order do not get in such situation.

Another very important point, it's like you are giving a gift. Do not just buy a gift, but also to come up with enchanting presentation. In other words, to add to the present emotions and give delight.

With just a bit of ingenuity, you can make the giving of the gift almost as rewarding as the gift itself

By Mezzle — On Jul 28, 2013

It will be worthwhile to express your love to your mother, and presenting a cheap ring can just be a gesture of showing your love, even when you have a tight budget.

By anon287323 — On Aug 24, 2012

On my 16th birthday, my best friend got everyone at my beach party to comment and sign an autograph book she got me. 40 years later, I still consider it my most prized possession.

By anon264475 — On Apr 28, 2012

Post 7 wins. All my mom wants is to have us around or be assured of our safety, and the best way to accomplish that is a vacation/emergency fund. Brilliant.

By anon249435 — On Feb 20, 2012

Giving gifts requires thinking through costs and creativity. I've seen some online sites which offers some low-cost and great idea gadgets as perfect gifts for loved ones.

By anon242094 — On Jan 21, 2012

I was wondering about something. I have this guy friend, whose birthday was back around christmas. Do you think it would be okay to give him a really late surprise birthday gift?

By anon217872 — On Sep 27, 2011

The best present I got this year was a charm bracelet and the collector's book. All of my friends could contribute without spending too much.

By anon216784 — On Sep 22, 2011

My best friend's birthday is tomorrow and I want to give her something special. She gave me goggles and I want to give something that she will use, but something special. Please help me.

By anon207595 — On Aug 20, 2011

My boyfriend gave me a camera for my birthday and I don't know if its OK to give him a camera or anything else the same value for his.

By anon197785 — On Jul 18, 2011

My sister's birthday is coming. I want to give her a gift that will express to her that i love her very much and which will be always with her. Please give me a suggestion.

By amypollick — On Feb 27, 2011

@anon156430: If there is a kitchen supply store in your area, a gift card to that store would be a great gift. I love to cook, and I'd really appreciate a gift card to a store like that. If there isn't one, then you could get her an online gift card to Williams-Sonoma. Good luck!

By anon156430 — On Feb 27, 2011

I'm really struggling to find a perfect gift for my best friend. Her main hobby is cooking but I have no idea what to get her. Any ideas? Thanks.

By anon156057 — On Feb 25, 2011

I don't think I'd agree with the magazine subscription idea. In the case that the recipient doesn't really like the magazine it would be a big waste. You're better off just giving them a plastic gift card from a store. That way they can buy what they really want.

By anon154691 — On Feb 21, 2011

one of the greatest gifts i received was from a friend. she knew my favorite type of chocolate (kit kats) and she used the design to make a cushion! its a huge, soft, and one of a kind cushion made specially from my friend. i always use it when i go to sleepovers, retreats, etc. since its fairly light.

By anon150023 — On Feb 06, 2011

You can get sheepskin ugg boots great for anyone who likes to keep warm. Also any cute charms for a necklace.

By anon148197 — On Jan 31, 2011

The best gift I've ever received was when a bunch of my friends made a photo album for me. Each person added some pages to the album, so it was like getting a giant anthology of custom birthday cards all rolled into one. It was made on a site called Keepsy, and I think they do weddings and other kinds of gift books too.

By anon146021 — On Jan 25, 2011

My guy's birthday is coming up in just five days. We fought and i didn't know what gift to give him. Just give me a suggestion, please.

By Tezz — On Jan 07, 2011

My wife's birthday is on Jan 10, so every year I am completely stuck for what to get her as she has usually got most of everything she wants for Christmas but this year.

Through following up on an idea posted in a comment on this site, I found a great gift. It arrived this morning and it's beautiful. she'll love it, so thanks Stevie for the great idea.

I was a little cautious at first as I have never bought anything custom or handmade before but this is something different and so unique and so romantic I couldn't resist and so easy to have made. Pages from the Heart Gift books are made from real books otherwise destined for the trash or recycling, making it an eco gift that will without doubt appeal to my wife.

The book is hardened in some way divided in its central pages, creating a display area here. I had mounted a picture of us dancing together at a recent party and on the other side the words to the song that we danced to, which has always been a favorite love song of ours.

All is decorated with tiny hand cut paper ribbons flowers and leaves in yellow and blue my wife's favorite colors. The gift book arrived nicely wrapped in cellophane and curly ribbons with gift card and gift tag attached already for me to give to my wife I was very impressed. Thanks again, Stevie.

By anon139893 — On Jan 06, 2011

You should give something that you made yourself, so that you can show the person that you care a lot about them.

By anon137472 — On Dec 28, 2010

my best friend is dying of cancer and her birthday is coming up. What can i get her -- something really special.

By harini — On Dec 22, 2010

Yeah, i can give cards but he doesn't like chocolates. What to do?

By anon136021 — On Dec 21, 2010

@harini: Give him a sorry and love you card, along with a birthday card and a box of his favorite chocolates!

By harini — On Dec 21, 2010

My guy's birthday is coming up in just five days. We fought and i didn't know what gift to give him. Just give me a suggestion, please.

By anon124762 — On Nov 07, 2010

My boyfriends birthday is coming up. He's in the U.S and I'm here in saudi arabia. could you guys suggest a great gift for him?

By anon123224 — On Oct 31, 2010

I got my wife a cool jukebox for our anniversary present. It's awesome.

By anon122809 — On Oct 29, 2010

I was scrolling through all of these and thought of a great present for my mom on her birthday. You can also do this for your mom. Take a basket. Since my mom always says I'm a good artist, ill draw a picture of her on a canvas. I'll also take pictures and put it in a big multi photo frame. I'm also in a sewing class at school and i could make her a pair of pajama bottoms (she loves those).

Just take two nice things that she likes, and then make another that you can make. She'll love it.

By anon122424 — On Oct 28, 2010

What could be a ideal gift for a friend who is elder to you?

By anon117929 — On Oct 12, 2010

My girlfriend likes handmade jewelry. It puts a smile on her face every time she wears a pair of unique vintage earrings, she's so adorable.

By anon109642 — On Sep 08, 2010

My best friend's birthday is coming up, and I've decided that since her birthday is on a school day and I do pick her up on my way to school that I would pick her up her favorite breakfast then during lunch I'm giving her a cookie cake I made her.

Then after school when we get in my car I'm giving her this little collage of our pictures, favorite quotes, and some of our favorite lyrics on this poster. Then at her birthday dinner later on in the evening I'll give her the shirt I purchased her. I can't wait to see her reactions!

By Stevie — On Sep 03, 2010

The best thank you gift I ever received was a personalized Pages from the heart gift book that my daughter and son in law had made for me. Made from a rescued real hard back book. it has a beautiful thank you poem on one side and blue irises(my favorite flower)and butterflies in 3D paper toll on the other. It is the most beautiful thing that I own and is very precious as it was made just for me.

By anon106225 — On Aug 24, 2010

I think the best gift I ever got was a hardbound book from my husband that had been made just for me. I mean really, can a card say what is really on your mind?

I thought it was really romantic that he had really taken his time to find the website and answer their 20 simple questions, and the next thing he knew, he had the sweetest most romantic gift ever. Plus, he did it right from his computer. It's hard to find something unique.

By anon106096 — On Aug 24, 2010

Flowers are good, but gifts are better if the gift stays on her forever. I would personally prefer combination of flowers and gifts. --Indibest

By MiloAndSaint — On Aug 21, 2010

Thinking of a unique gift idea for somebody special is not always easy. A Milo & Saint limited edition handbag represents the perfect present idea for a special women, wife or girlfriend. A unique gift that your loved one will cherish forever.

We are more than happy to help you with specific ideas if you need help choosing a suitable style or color; we have helped choose presents for Mums, girlfriends and wives and we will do our best to come up with the perfect present idea tailored for your loved one.

Make sure the next women’s gift you choose is a luxury Milo & Saint handbag.

By anon104877 — On Aug 18, 2010

don't give your best friend a gift card. give her something meaningful to both of you.

By anon97260 — On Jul 19, 2010

We always have a lot of luck and positive feedback with a subscription to the coffee connoisseur club from Roast of the Town out of Raleigh, NC. It's a coffee of the month club where the recipient gets two different bags of coffee each month.

By anon92372 — On Jun 27, 2010

what if your best friend is not 'that' sentimental? - D. Hickey - Expert seo software consultant.

By anon88745 — On Jun 07, 2010

Okay, its my best friend's 18th birthday in three days. i am clueless about what to get him. i was thinking of just giving him money though that's not something that would last forever. Any ideas?

By anon85773 — On May 21, 2010

Photo collages make wonderful birthday gifts or even better gifts for anniversaries for your parent, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.

By anon85769 — On May 21, 2010

i made my best friend a scrapbook. pictures, inside jokes, emails, song lyric meanings, heart warming letter. in the end, i put a grassy background, a picture of us together, daisies glued on around it, and it said, "(our names) best friends forever"

By anon85569 — On May 20, 2010

When it was my best friend's 13th birthday she was already stressing out about high school in september thinking we won't be friends anymore. So all of us (us seven) pitched in and bought her a pair of converse shoes, and a whole outfit to go with it and a purse which we had filled in notes about how much we love her and would never think about leaving her. To add to the sweetness, we had gotten a huge lollipop.

By anon83901 — On May 12, 2010

For my best friend's birthday, I went and got a stuffed animal, chocolate candy bars, cookies, a card, and a bouquet of flowers. I went to her door step and set them up so the stuffed bear was holding the candy and cookies, then I put the card behind it and the bouquet on the table next to it. I left it on her porch. She called me the second she got home.

By anon82788 — On May 07, 2010

I always find that tricky, unusual birthday gifts and other present ideas are great, but always dependent on the person you are giving the birthday gift too.

By anon80417 — On Apr 27, 2010

My sister and I decided that we wanted to get 'sister rings'- as hokey as it may sound. So for christmas, i got us matching rings. she loved it, and i got something out of it too.

By anon79729 — On Apr 24, 2010

I am always having trouble buying for my friends, but when it came to my best friend's birthday, i was so stuck for ideas i had sleepless nights over it.

Eventually i thought of the idea to get her something totally random, that would last for a long time and isn't too expensive. My best friend is now the proud owner of a little ginger hamster, and big pink cage.

By anon77941 — On Apr 16, 2010

I found the perfect unique gift for primary school children: "I Keep You - The Friendship Book." You can make your own cover design and give it to your friends to leave personal information and drawings, poems little messages, etc. It's a really nice keepsake! Search online.

By anon75181 — On Apr 05, 2010

I found a great kids gift -- a kids craft subscription from Playful Craft Creations. They offer a monthly mailing with several adorable, original crafts that create a playful scene.

By anon74357 — On Apr 01, 2010

maybe a new Harry Winston or Mellerio diamond parure set (necklace, earrings, bracelet, ring and comb).

By anon74017 — On Mar 30, 2010

I would recommend getting your Mom something useful! I purchased a Big Skinny wallet for my Mom last year. She was complaining about how she hated her big bulky wallet, so I looked up 'skinny wallet' and found them! Honestly she said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts she has ever got! Check them out! Big Skinny rules!

By anon70994 — On Mar 16, 2010

One thing I made for my friend was a throw pillow with pictures of us ironed on. They have iron-on paper at most craft stores which you can print pictures onto then i ironed into a plain white t-shirt. Then sewed the shirt into a square pillow. It was super cute in the end and she loved it.

By anon68688 — On Mar 03, 2010

me and my best friend always travel together, road trips, euro trips, you name it. so when one of us has a b-day we make a photo book in iphoto on the mac.

they have different layouts and you drag pictures in and write captions or summarize the trip. It's a great coffee table book and great to show friends. It means a lot as well, and will last a long time.

By anon63722 — On Feb 03, 2010

You can even collect some pics of your friend and give to them to make a collage of all the pics.

By anon58231 — On Dec 31, 2009

for selecting a gift we should know his/her choice and what he/she likes, but if we don't know then we have to gift them according to their ages. if anyone has any problems in selecting a gift, you can send me your problem. maybe i can help you in that. OK.

By anon56164 — On Dec 12, 2009

How about pajamas and a movie, a creative Baked cake with his/her name, Mix cd, flowers, or their favorite restaurant gift certificate.

By anon54929 — On Dec 03, 2009

If he is a smoker, why not an electronic cigarette? I got my unit from a store near me. It looks like a cigarette but produces a harmless vapor and costs a hell of a lot less than real cigarettes.

By anon52327 — On Nov 13, 2009

For my friends 21st birthday, I plan on giving her 21 gifts, each gift more time consuming than expensive. For example the main gift is a short novel I wrote about her for NaNoWriMo.

By anon48168 — On Oct 10, 2009

I have a group of seven friends and on one of our friend's birthday, we gave her a table calendar which was hand made and had each one's birthday with their pics and messages. For the rest of the months we wrote some comments and posted her favorite stuff and on the backs we wrote about our favorite memories. Now we have another friend's birthday coming up and we're having difficulty coming up with something that equals this.

By anon47781 — On Oct 07, 2009

well i did look up hot air balloon rides but for two people they want $600 for it. they don't really have any train rides and after my boyfriend of four years gets off work, i don't think the zoo would be a good idea. any other ideas? i am turning 26 three days after he turns 45 so the get him a younger woman idea doesn't work. lol. I'm sorta stuck.

By anon46395 — On Sep 25, 2009

you can also realize how happy it was for someone you have never taught, buying just a rose flower as a gift for a dearest friend.

By pattygirl — On Mar 09, 2009

Thanks guys. I did order the "Deed to the United States" as a gift. My friend now Owns a Piece of America. Thank you.

By sandyman612 — On Mar 06, 2009

What about the gift item listed in Google immediately preceding your entry? The gift is a Deed to the USA - one square inch of land in all 50 US states. Cute I thought. A good gift for many occasions especially if the person you're buying it for has a decent sense of humor. After all, what can anyone do with an inch of land?

By anon18684 — On Sep 27, 2008

I recently stumbled upon one of the best gift ideas ever! Trying to find unique, memorable gifts is my passion, so when I stumbled upon celebration jar I was thrilled. This website allows you to create a type of memory jar for a special person, but the best part is that the memories all come from their friends and family...not just you. So for my Mom's 60th Birthday, I had her dearest friends send in their favorite memories and stories of my mom from the many years they have known her. What a hit! My mom was blown away when she read all of the fabulous messages. Definitely, one of the very best gifts I've ever given! She will forever know how very loved and special she is to so many people.

By anon17938 — On Sep 10, 2008

so my best friend is having a birthday. I want something really creative and something that she'll just be like wow and totally think i'm the best best friend ever haha. I kind of want an idea of something i can make myself but something really cool but not too expensive that i can buy works too.

By anon13915 — On Jun 06, 2008

My 3 sisters and I would send each other b'day and xmas gifts. It was a hassle-shop, ship and then in return I'd receive things that I would put in my 'garage sale' pile. They may have been doing the same. Now, we have set up a bank acct and at xmas and the other's b'day we deposit $ (25x3=75/50). Last Sept we met in Chicago and used the acct to pay for room and food and each sister was given $200 to spend. We'll do the same in a year only this time we will meet in NY, or FL, or Seattle or...

By elsewhen — On Feb 28, 2008

My problem with gift ideas is that I never remember the good ideas I had when I actually need them. So, what I do now, is to keep a list throughout the year, and whenever i run across something that I know would be good for some particular friend or family member, I just add it to the list.

When its time to buy a gift, there are plenty of ideas to get me started. This way, you never have to be in a panic at the last minute before a birthday party.

By malena — On Jan 24, 2008

You can never get too many bouquets of flowers. A bit of a frivolous birthday gift perhaps, but that is sometimes just what is so appealing about such a gift!

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