Birthday gifts! For any age, receiving gifts is a delight.
But, giving gifts... can become overwhelming. Like a wave that comes reliably and relentlessly, everyone has a birthday every year!
Over the years in our extended family, we’ve dabbled in ALL the permutations & combinations of gift-giving...
- Gifts for everyone
- Birthday party/gathering, no gifts
- Mailing gifts
- Experience together
- Bring a gift the next time you see them
- Forget and hurt someone's feelings
- No gifts at all by general agreement
- Pick a name (for Christmas)
If you're lucky, or have great communication & problem-solving among your circle of family/friends, you may have already found a great system that works for everyone to feel cared for. Way to go!
Become known for one thing
Originality can be overrated, and a hot tip to uncomplicate birthday giving is: give the same gift.
That could be the literal exact same gift, like giving a certain book to college graduates, or a kantha throw as a go-to wedding gift. (A Whoopee Cushion for kids always lands well). But, it could also be a category. This takes a lot of the decision fatigue out, when you've already set some parameters to help you.
Here are some examples:
BooksYou could consistently give a book or a set of books every year of every age to anyone. The well will never be tapped, and there is even wiggle room for those who claim they "don’t like reading" (whatever that means!) — graphic novels, comic book anthologies, coffee table books, cookbooks, etc.). I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
ActivitiesTake them to a movie, Play a round of golf, Have a birthday lunch or coffee. Trust me: as much as little Ella loves stuff, she is much more delighted by the special lunch that her Grandma takes her out for every year! Maybe you & a girlfriend go out every birthday for champagne. Consistency of an activity is a welcome touchstone in our culture of constant change and busyness.
A Gift Card for the Dollar Amount of their AgeThis one may not feel substantial enough, and it definitely hinges on the consistency of doing it across the board or over time. But, it’s just creative & quirky enough to memorable, and appreciated. For younger ages, these are best for consumables like DQ or Starbucks or a candy store: somewhere that a small amount of $ will still produce something delightful.
ArtIt could be a series of prints, it could be different media in the same size, it could be framing a piece of a child’s artwork for them, or something completely different each time. I’ve found that inexpensive art prints in a variety of subjects are the perfect gift for my brother-in-law who has a wildly diverse number of interests (a photograph of a deep sea diver, an illustrated map of Tokyo, an illustration of a Vespa-type scooter).
A CollectionThis one is trickier, as interests may change over time and you don’t want to be that out-of-touch relative who is still sending special edition coins… But, charms for a charm bracelet, or postcards collected over the year (if you are a traveler), may be perfect. Again, it’s about the reliability: some items that may fall flat as a one-off can build momentum, expectation, and excitement if executed over time.
PhotosA photo book, an album, a print, a framed memory: seeing photos off the screen is a welcome novelty!
CashOf course, cash! What’s not to love about cash? So easy. If it’s too easy, see all of the other suggestions above.
Greeting CardsMy brother & sister-in-law have happened upon a routine that is fantastically simple & totally genius. They send (or give in person) funny, silly cards. Many have been the type with a clip of a song, or dogs barking "Happy Birthday" or something.
You don’t have to find packaging or wait in line at the post office to send it; all you need is the card and a stamp. I think it is brilliant. It’s so simple, it’s fun, indulgent, and there are so many different options that it never gets old!
I would love to hear any of your birthday-giving best ideas, experiences, or pro tips! Share below or email firstname.lastname@example.org