Have a loved one with a birthday coming up but aren’t sure what to buy? We’ve all been in that boat before.
You may be worried that you’ll spend too little or too much, that the recipient won’t like the gift you’ve worked so hard to choose, or—worse yet—that you’ll inadvertently cause offense or embarrassment. These are 100% relatable concerns, and depending on how well you know the birthday boy or girl, they can be enough to make your head spin.
We’ll be honest: finding a great birthday gift often takes time and effort, whether it’s for a spouse of many decades or a newfound friend at work. But the tips below can help! We’re sharing a few creative ways to simplify your search for the perfect birthday gift.
First things first: choosing the right gift starts with some careful brainstorming. Consider your relationship with this person and everything you know about them. Reflect on their favorite foods, weekly routine, hobbies or passions, life goals, most cherished belongings, and maybe even their deepest-darkest fears.
This reflection can certainly take time, but it will give you so many more possible directions for the perfect birthday gift! In almost every case, showing genuine interest is the very best gift of all, so the time you’ve spent to choose a heartfelt gift won’t go unnoticed.
This step can be fun: put on your spy hat and do some birthday gift reconnaissance! Start by looking through their social media posts from days, weeks, or even months ago. Go through your text message conversations and see if anything of note pops up. You could even check whether they have any public wish lists on Amazon or other online stores.
You probably won’t find something as obvious as, “For my birthday, I really want ____.” But you can definitely find some very important and helpful clues! For instance, look for things like:
Each of these could be a golden nugget of birthday gift ideas. For instance, maybe you replace the broken coffee maker with a more high-end model or buy some special thread for their newfound embroidery hobby.
As you do your research, you could also reach out to their friends and family to get ideas, to make sure you don’t buy a repeat gift, or even to pool your resources for a pricier item.
In addition to your research, you can think about the recipient’s life circumstances and current needs to help you narrow down a meaningful (and actually useful!) birthday gift idea. Here are two examples:
Ultimately, you know your loved ones best, so take a moment to think about their current needs as well as their personality and preferences. Would they prefer something sensible and necessary? Or would they feel more special with something luxurious that they’d never buy themselves?
If you’d like to invest a little more time into your birthday gift, consider turning your gift itself into an event. You can still wrap up a little something, if you’d like, or you could order a birthday card from Foxdog, fill it with a heartfelt birthday message (some great ideas here!), and have it sent as a nice complement to your gift.
Here are some fun ways to turn your birthday gift into a creative production:
If you’re still totally drawing a blank for your birthday gift (even with all the tips and suggestions above), then maybe your loved one already has everything they want or need. In that case, why not give a charitable gift in their name? You can give to a cause that they already support, or you could do some research and introduce them to a new charity that’s in line with their personal values.
If you think your loved one would especially love this take, you could even coordinate with them to set up a birthday fundraiser! Platforms like Facebook and GoFundMe make it easy to set up a fundraiser and ask friends to donate. Sure, doing so might remove the element of surprise from your birthday gift…but you’ll be able to make a bigger impact and surely touch the heart of the birthday boy or girl.
Experiences can be just as memorable—and often even more so—than a typical wrapped-up-with-a-bow birthday gift. Head over to the next article in this series for a deep dive into many more creative birthday gift ideas, focusing on fun activities and unique experiences.