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Best 30th Birthday Gifts

Updated on February 10, 2015

30th Birthday! OMG!

Turning 30 is a really big deal to the person involved, though people who are 40, 50, or 60 might wonder why. Some people embrace the big Three Oh by planning a big party to celebrate in style; some people ignore it and pretend it isn't happening, and some people just plain lose it. Whatever type of of person you know, help them get over that hurdle at 30 by getting a very special gift.

Judging from my poll results (see poll at end of this article), most people don’t give a gift with the “30” theme as their main gift, though such gifts can be fun. Probably the best gifts are just those that would be good for your particular birthday boy or girl on any other day; gifts that would help them do something they’d really like to do.

Carry a notebook and make notes about what your friend does for fun and what they might like. Some good idea will come to you.

Try these general ideas:

  • an experience
  • a gift certificate
  • a gift basket
  • books or magazines
  • if you must—some acknowledgement, serious or silly, of the number 30, or of the idea that time is passing, boo hoo...

1. An Experience

Why not give something that doesn't take up too much space in the apartment. Rent a yacht for a few hours for the party? Go to the stables for a horse ride through the country for a couple or group? Get a pair of tickets to a sports event?

Or better yet, take everyone out dancing—late—now that you all know how and don't care who sees you!


2. A Gift Certificate

If you know your birthday boy or girl well, this could be the best thing. It totally depends on what they like to do, and how well you can guess at what they like to do. Successful ideas (that incidentally often support local businesses) might include:

  • art museum
  • art supply store
  • craft supply store
  • music store
  • bookstore
  • iTunes
  • sporting goods store
  • ethnic grocery store
  • a restaurant they like
  • ice rink
  • batting cages (if they play softball)
  • nursery (if they garden)
  • thrift store (if they like labor-intensive shopping)

You get the idea. There has to be something they love to do that isn't just work-work-work or party-party-party. Try to identify it.

3. Gift Basket

A gift basket could be the most perfect birthday gift ever. You think of what your friend really likes to do or might like to try, get several small and/or oddly shaped items in that category, and put them in a nice basket with a bow.

What items you put in the basket will depend on your friend’s interests; the potential variety is huge.

  • Pens and notebooks (for those writing the great American novel)? Fancy soaps? Tights? A scarf and earrings?
  • If your birthday friend likes to try different beers and wines, why not put in several different bottles, with a snack to eat with them?
  • Why not chocolate, if there’s the slightest chance they might find their birthday depressing?
  • Or coffee, tea, sausages, cheese, fruit, cookies?

Any kind of food or drink might be welcome, as long as it’s fresh, tasty, and smells good. Pre-ordered gift baskets should be avoided; they may be bulked up with stale popcorn and crackers you don't need.

4. Books and Magazines

Buying books and magazines for someone else can be hit-or-miss, just like buying clothes. It really helps to know what they like. Take a look at what they are reading, and ask a librarian or bookseller for something great kind of like that. Or look on Goodreads, which aggregates lots of reviews.

Magazines can be great fun—people hardly ever seem to buy them for themselves, but they like getting them in the mail. Look in bookstores or comic stores for current issues of strange, beautiful, esoteric, or local magazines, and then get them a gift subscription. Again--totally depending on what they like—some beautiful and entertaining magazines include New York Review of Books, The Sun, Orion, National Geographic, Cook’s Illustrated, The Economist, Atlantic Monthly, and Mother Jones.

5. Bucket Lists

Sigh...thirty's a little early to be making a list of things to hurry up and get done. But if you want to, here is a book that will give your birthday girl or boy some ideas, and a journal in which to make their own list.

2001 Things to Do Before You Die
2001 Things to Do Before You Die

Start checking off those epic adventures before it's too late. From taking a cross-country train ride to sending a message in a bottle, this book tells you how to experience life to the fullest while also offering wisdom from Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Pearl S. Buck, and more.


An Anti-Bucket List

Is your friend perhaps depressed at the prospect of all the things they have to get done before they die? Why not cheer them up by reminding them of all they have accomplished already and don’t have to do again!

For example:

  • explored a childhood fantasy and discarded it
  • gone back to a childhood fantasy they had to abandon for a while for school or work
  • had a kid
  • discarded the religious or political ideas their parents indoctrinated you with
  • gotten on good terms again with a parent after being mad at them for years
  • actually been able to sleep with or live with the same person for more than a year
  • moved out of their parents’ house
  • learned the plants and animals and architecture and history of the place they live
  • learned how to do something without being terrified of it; been able to give a speech or talk, for example, without a panic attack.
  • gotten through 50 job interviews or 10 school applications
  • learned to enjoy doing something (softball? writing?) that they used to do just because it was expected of them
  • actually completed their formal education, at least for now
  • had all the one-night stands they want
  • gotten involved in a love triangle
  • decided they like the way they look naked
  • gotten drunk and thrown up on something they really regret
  • crashed a car
  • drunk all they wanted, or taken all the drugs they wanted, and then stopped
  • learned to dance

Reassure your birthday friend! He or she has probably accomplished more than he or she realizes!

6. 30th Birthday Commemorative Gear

If you must--it's cheap and easy to get T-shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses, wine glasses, koozie cup holders, and all kinds of things with slogans on them about how great or awful it is to be thirty! Look at,, or These items can be personalized with someone's name.

7. A 30th Birthday Tiara

Big Mouth Toys Women's 30th Birthday Silver Tiara
Big Mouth Toys Women's 30th Birthday Silver Tiara

A sparkly crown for your princess or queen. She might like this--or you might end up wearing it yourself!

It's her party!
It's her party! | Source

8. "30 Sucks" Sucker

The Party Continuous 30th Birthday Party 30 Sucks Lollipop , Multi Colored , 15" x 8 1/2" candy
The Party Continuous 30th Birthday Party 30 Sucks Lollipop , Multi Colored , 15" x 8 1/2" candy

A giant rainbow all-day lollipop with the pun "30 Sucks." Guaranteed to make the old geezer feel like a kid again. If you want to live even larger, you can order "30 Sucks" lollipop party favors for the whole crowd.


9. Personalized M&Ms

People love them: you can order a bag or box of M&Ms with names, pictures, or messages on them at

10. Go Dance!

Go out dancing now! Why not!


"We're just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people, as remarkable as the telephone."

— Steve Jobs in 1984 (at the age of 29) about the first Mac Computer

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Guestbook and Comments: Please Say "Hi" While You're Here

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    • SassySarah profile image

      Sarah Dyczewski 3 years ago from Pittsburgh

      last year when my best friend turned 30 I sent her a 30th birthday Lolita wineglass. Something she can keep out and will always remember from me :) great article.

    • profile image

      christinebravo 3 years ago

      Perfect list, I love the memories personalize frame. Especially there are a lot of picture framing in NYC. Thanks for sharing this.

    • biorra2 profile image

      biorra2 3 years ago

      Great lens :)