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Best Birthday Gift Ideas 2015

Updated on February 5, 2015

Birthday Gifts for Kids, Teens, Men, and Women...

Birthdays are milestones on the road of life. The birthday gifts we choose to give our friends and family should be carefully selected because we choose this day on the calendar to celebrate the ending of one time and the beginning of another.

Certain magic-number birthdays, like those that that end in a zero, are celebrated with some extra zeal and pizazz:

  • a child's first birthday
  • a girl’s sweet sixteenth birthday
  • a young adult’s 18th birthday
  • the 21st birthday
  • the 30th birthday
  • the 40th birthday
  • the epic 50th birthday

This Birthday Gift Guide discusses finding the best birthday gifts for not only milestone birthdays. but for those in-between years too!


What Are Some Great Birthday Gift Ideas?

In general, the ideal gift gives a person something that will help them on their quest in life, whatever that may be. If you know or can guess at a person’s quest, and you can locate something that will help, you have a great gift. If their goals are changing, maybe because they are entering a new phase of life, maybe your gift will help with the transition.

A quest might be, for example, building, playing, making art, developing a skill, relaxing and enjoying life, learning, or traveling.

And remember, sometimes a birthday boy or girl needs most might just be to know they are still loved even though they are growing up—or growing old.

Here’s a few types of gifts that have made my loved ones happy:

Food and drink: All ages like them, though the youngest may not be able to ration them out in a healthy way. They disappear quickly, making no demands on space or storage, and can be shared. A basket of food and drink can be a fun and very individualized gift.

Pretty things: These might include flowers, rocks, mobiles, pictures, plants, posters or photos (especially of a place or thing they love).

Gift cards are even better when they are targeted to provide not just the necessities of life, but tools for that particular person's quest. Depending totally on the person, they might appreciate a gift certificate to an art supply store, bookstore, restaurant, specialized grocery store, or sporting goods store.

Cash: Cash is the best gift of all, if you have more than they do, and only they know what will make them feel good.

Experiences: it can be fun to give gifts that aren’t things. Consider lessons, outings, tours, membership in an art or science museum, or tickets to a game, show or convention they’d enjoy.

Books and movies: We love to share books and movies that we like. The trick is to find one that your loved one also might like. If you know a quality example of a type of book or movie your loved one can appreciate, you have a gift.

Electronic gifts: Who doesn't like cool electronics? Everybody except perhaps the Amish! (I respect the Amish.) If you know what your birthday girl or boy, man or lady is seeking in life, you have a chance of giving an electronic gift that’s great fun. It may not have to be fantastically expensive. Sometimes the less brand-new, less top-of-the-line thing can be just as useful as the very latest version.

Personalized things: It's fun to get a one-of-a-kind gift that has been customized just for you. Many places on the Web will create them for you; it's as easy as picking out a nice present and filling out the info box with the correct information to be engraved, embroidered or etched on the gift. Or you can personalize many items by yourself at home, if you’re feeling crafty.

The Secret to Successful Gift Giving: Research

By research, I don't mean research in catalogs, websites, and store aisles; I mean research about your loved one and his or her quests.

It doesn't need be to difficult to come up with a thoughtful present for anyone on your gift list, especially if you do a little planning ahead of time! Have you ever heard the Six Ps of gifting?

Proper prior planning prevents pitiful presents.

Instead of making a frantic search at the last minute, take the organized approach. Get some kind of notebook and make a list of friends, co-workers and loved ones with special occasions approaching. Then think about each potential gift recipient on your list and write down some thoughts about each person.

Keep your ears peeled for possible hints. If you hear the person talk about something that has gift potential, write it down in your notebook. Say, for instance, when you visit your grandmother to help her with her yard work, she mentions how much she loves a certain author. Just write that clue down before you forget, and you’re set! Think about how easy this will make your life when it's time to go birthday-gift shopping.

Gifts for Children of Different Ages

Gifts for children and babies should be appropriate to the age involved. If you haven’t been that age for a while, or been involved with it, take a little time to find out what’s appropriate to the dexterity, safety-consciousness, and independence of a child of that age. Know your kid: Find out the things and activities that he likes to do, and might like to do, so that you will have an idea what gift might help that child learn to do those things better and with more enjoyment.

Kids digging into a present in a big box
Kids digging into a present in a big box | Source

Gifts for Adults

When a person turns 21, it’s a happy occasion, particularly because in the good ole US of A (as opposed to the UK and many other places) you generally can't drink till you are 21, thanks to 1984 legislation and American party-pooper Ronald Reagan.

As our later birthdays approach we feel a great deal of anxiety at declaring ourselves another decade older, and once that special day is over, we have no choice but to get used to the fact that our youth is slipping away. Of course, good things come with age too.

Boomers used to say, "Don’t trust anyone over thirty"; but I've also heard people say that thirty is when you begin to have a soul. Thirty is full adulthood; a thirty-year-old no longer wants or needs to be utterly carefree.

At forty, some say, life begins; certainly a new kind of life, which brings compensations for the loss of youthful beauty: freedom not to care about that, freedom not to care whether you have fulfilled everyone's expectations, freedom to do things your parents wouldn't like, freedom to pursue interests even if you aren't going to beat the world at them. If nothing else, a person's 40th birthday is a great excuse to give hilarious cards and funny presents.

And a 50th birthday is a real milestone; it should be a big celebration, something truly special, epic, and reassuring, with plenty of friends. Because if it’s true that life begins at 40, it’s also true that another kind of life begins at 50. By this age, one learns, finally, how to appreciate comfort, peace of mind, self-esteem, true friends, real work, and the history and natural history of the place one live. Also, by this age, it might be great fun to revisit some memories from a new point of view. For a birthday boy or girl born in 1965, throwing a 1960s birthday bash would be an awesome idea, and a lot more fun than the conventional dismal over-the-hill 50th birthday party theme, with black balloons and hearing-aid jokes.

A Few Miscellaneous Fun Ideas

Only you know your birthday boy or girl well enough to get the perfect gift, and you will have to do the thinking that goes into that gift. Below, however, are a few specific suggestions that may get you thinking.

Gift Baskets

Nowadays more folks are giving gift baskets as birthday presents than ever before, probably because they can be totally individualized, and include several little oddly shaped guesses at what your birthday person might find fascinating. Gift baskets are easy to make yourself; find a sturdy basket with a handle, line it with some scrunched-up tissue paper, cellophane, or clean straw, and buy some things to go in it.

Typically, gift baskets are filled with smaller presents. Themes for the smaller presents, based on your loved one's interests, can be endless:

  • kid toys
  • baby toys
  • makeup
  • spa supplies
  • coffee cups
  • fishing lures

The baskets that are most fun include food and drink:

  • cookies
  • wine
  • beer
  • sausage
  • fruit
  • nuts
  • coffee or tea
  • food for a picnic
  • condiments, sauces, ethnic foods
  • chocolate

Some tips:

Get fresh, tasty, good-looking food. Pre-ordered gift baskets may be loaded with stale popcorn and crackers you don't need. A little bit of nice food is generally better than a lot of ordinary food. But if your birthday girl or boy is really short of money and nutrients, which can happen in today's world, a gift certificate to a supermarket will be the best gift ever.

"Experience" Gifts

What do you give the person that has everything? You give him or her an experience: a river-rafting trip, a hot-air balloon ride, lessons in rock climbing or Thai cooking, a wildflower tour, driving a Lamborghini, a ride on a harbor tour boat, a whale-watching cruise, a Sierra Club week-long hike, a fishing trip. Many children adore museums, which are much more child-friendly (and more expensive) than the museums of yesteryear; their parents may be able to put a family membership card for a museum or zoo to good use.

Personalized Gifts

If you honestly don't know what to get your loved one, here are a few random ideas from the thousands out there; personalized gifts are at least one-of-a-kind and a nice gesture.

Nothing is much more personal than a photo. You can turn a one-of-a kind photo into a one-of-a kind puzzle, for example at, and give it as a gift.

Photo Puzzle


Personalized M&Ms

Not everyone knows that you can go online and order a bag or box of personalized M&M's with a message, and even a picture of your birthday guy or gal. Whether it's a sweet 16, or a bittersweet 50th, “My M&Ms” wil be welcome at a birthday celebration.

Personalized T-Shirts

Everyone could use one more great T-shirt, right? And a one-of-a-kind T-shirt is even cooler. Available at and, among many other places.

We hope this helped you think of something. Do you have a foolproof gift idea? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Birthday Song Featuring Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney live at Red Square, joined by:

Rusty Anderson, Lead Guitar

Abe Laboriel Jr., Drums

Paul "Wix" Wickens, Keyboard

Brian Ray, Rhythm guitar/bass


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