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Birthday Gift Ideas, Birthday Gifts


Everyone has a birthday with a time, place and circumstances that are entirely unique. No wonder birthdays are considered such special events! They are a grand opportunity to celebrate not only our arrival in the world, but also our continuing journey as we grow, learn and change.

Birthday parties for children are often a greatly anticipated event, and typically include a theme. A special cake, games, entertainment and gifts are all part of the big day. Certain birthdays are considered milestone years: sweet sixteen, 21, 30 and every decade thereafter. While some adults shy away from making much of their birthday, others wouldn't dream of anything less than a big celebration with family and friends. So what makes the best birthday gift from one year to the next? Something, perhaps, as unique as the individual you're gifting; a present that reflects their passions and interests at each stage of life. Here's to health, happiness and the perfect gift!

Astrological Signs

Do you have a friend or family member who is fascinated with astrology? An astrologically themed gift might be just the thing.

Astrologers are interested in how our time of birth is related to distinct personality traits, and there are astrological charts for not only every day of the year, but every hour of the day. Whether one takes his or her horoscope seriously or not, it's fascinating stuff.

Aquarius (The Water Carrier): January 21 - February 19
Pisces (The Fishes): February 20 - March 20
Aries (The Ram): March 21 - April 20
Taurus (The Bull): April 21 - May 21
Gemini (The Twins): May 22 - June 21
Cancer (The Crab): June 22 - July 22
Leo (The Lion): July 23 - August 23
Virgo (The Virgin): August 24 - September 22
Libra (The Scales): September 23 - October 22
Scorpio (The Scorpion): October 23 - November 21
Sagittarius (The Archer): November 22 - December 21
Capricorn (The Goat): December 22 - January 20
Modern Birthstones

There are modern birthstones designated for every month of the year. We've referred to the list in Emily Post's Etiquette, 16th Edition. If you are considering the gift of a birthstone, it is important to know that there is a wide color range for each of the stones. Size, cut, perfection and settings will also affect your price and purchasing decision.

January: Garnet
February: Amethyst
March: Aquamarine first, then Bloodstone or Jasper
April: Diamond
May: Emerald
June: Pearl
July: Ruby
August: Sardonyx, Peridot or Carnelian
September: Sapphire
October: Opal
November: Topaz
December: Turquoise or Lapis lazuli


Gift Ideas


  • A book about Western or Chinese astrology
  • Gourmet Goody Basket
  • Framed photos with family or friends
  • Autobiography of someone born in the same month or year
  • Flowers
  • Subscription to a magazine related to their interests
  • Luxurious pair of gloves
  • Vintage bottle of wine
  • Glass paperweight
  • Elegant stationary

For Him

  • Clothes for the new office job
  • Monogrammed boxers
  • Shoe Shine kit
  • Cashmere socks
  • Watch
  • Home furnishings
  • Monogrammed Flask
  • Cigars
  • Poker caddy
  • Case of vintage wine
  • Wine rack
  • Chess Set
  • Fitness gear
  • Stereo components
  • CD player for the car
  • Cashmere sweater
  • Deluxe gas BBQ
  • Chef's apron, hat and cookbook set
  • DVD player and a stack of DVDs
  • Golf clubs
  • Monogrammed watch

For Her

  • Copper pots and pans
  • Bicycle
  • Gardening supplies and a flowering plant
  • New couch for her apartment
  • Case of vintage wine
  • Watch
  • Luxury handbag
  • Scarf
  • Art
  • Leather coat
  • Earrings
  • Hiking gear
  • Spa Kit
  • Precious jewelry
  • Reupholster and restore an heirloom piece of furniture
  • Porch swing
  • Designer shoes
  • Weekend getaway at a luxurious spa
  • Golf clubs


  • Clothing
  • Sports equipment
  • CDs
  • CD Burner
  • Computer and/or software
  • Watch
  • iPod
  • Backpack & Eurail Pass
  • Birthstone jewelry
  • Charm bracelet with one charm
  • Earrings
  • Book
  • Personalized stationary
  • Perfume
  • Scarf
  • Belt or other fashion accessories
  • CDs
  • Computer and/or software
  • Sweetheart roses
  • Heart shaped pendant


  • Pop-up Storybooks
  • Art supplies & Children's Easel
  • Computer/Software
  • A single share of stock in a Blue Chip company
  • Savings Bonds that mature at a milestone year
  • Science-related play sets
  • Action figures
  • Videos
  • Computer games
  • Magic trick kit
Gift Certificate Ideas

For Him

  • REI has everything for gear-loving adventurers.
  • Luxurious accessories are his for the choosing at Barney's New York.
  • Does he love books or music? He'll find everything on his list at Borders Books and Music.
  • The Sharper Image has toys and gadgets for the electronics' loving man.
  • Consider a certificate for 40 different videos from Hollywood Video.
  • What about a fancy box of Cuban cigars from RedEnvelope?
  • He'll find luggage for city or trail in a range of styles and sizes at REI.
  • So many great-looking shades at the Sunglass Hut.
  • The has all the gear for men on the go.

For Her


  • He'll find a wide selection of jackets at Eddie Bauer.
  • Crutchfield Electronics has the latest CD burners and DJ gear.
  • Let him select his favorite style of watch from
  • Let him pick out his favorite shades at Sunglass Hut.
  • From chandelier earrings to shimmering pendants, Fortunoff has a beautiful selection of birthstone jewelry.
  • Give her the gift of 16 different CDs-one for every wonderfully sweet year-from Borders Books and Music.
  • has an amazing selection for bath, body and beauty!


  • offers toys for all ages. They'll be sure to find something just right!
  • Find a selection of beautiful pop-up books at Barnes & Noble.
  • Give them a choice from a wide range of shoes at Foot Locker.
  • Surprise him or her with a gift card from Zales Jewelry.
Frequently Asked Questions

Adult Birthday Questions

I've been invited to a 35th birthday party. Should I bring a gift?
Yes. It is traditional to bring a gift when invited to a birthday party-unless the invitation specifically states otherwise. If the invitation says "No gifts, please" you should honor this request.

What's your opinion of gag gifts for a 40th birthday party?
Generally, we don't recommend them. Even though many people laugh about their age, gag gifts may bring up sensitive feelings-why risk it? The only time gag gifts are appropriate is if a party invitation specifies this type of present.

My kids are throwing a 50th birthday party in my honor. Should I open gifts at the celebration?
If it suits the occasion, enjoy opening gifts while the guests are present. However, you are not obliged to open packages if the circumstances aren't conducive-live entertainment, for example, might make gift opening difficult.

Can I throw a party for myself?
You bet! This is your day to celebrate however you'd like. Surrounding yourself with a group of your favorite people is a wonderful way to start your new year.

I have a friend who is very difficult to shop for. How can I find the right gift?
Some people can be tricky to shop for because they appear to have everything. If you know that she loves books, plants, cooking equipment or hiking gear but you aren't sure what she already owns; a gift certificate avoids duplication and lets her choose a gift that's exactly right.

Every year my spouse seems to be disappointed with the birthday gift that I've selected. Help!
We have two suggestions. First, why not plan an activity-based gift that you can both enjoy together: a romantic dinner, a hiking adventure, a weekend at a golfing resort or another destination of choice. Second, while you're away on the adventure, present a special card with a gift certificate. This will let your spouse select a gift that is not only sure to please, but that brings back special memories of your trip.

Children's Birthday Questions

My son will be four this year and my friend and I are throwing a birthday party for a small group of kids. Is it expected that I give party bags to the children who attend?
While party bags are very commonly expected-and you may want to be prepared-the amount of money spent and the type of items enclosed varies from one city or neighborhood to the next. We recommend checking with some local parents who are veterans in the birthday party scene.

Should my daughter open her gifts during her birthday party?
Yes! This is a great way for children to practice the gracious art of receiving a gift. You might want to role-play with your daughter beforehand so that she understands what to say and do. However, if the setting is not conducive to unwrapping gifts, it is not necessary to do so during the party. In any circumstance, we recommend that she send thank you notes after the party to all of her friends.

Is it OK to state a price limit for birthday gifts on my son's invitations?
This is just fine, but it is not required. Because there is an expectation that children will bring a present to another child's birthday party-and there can be many parties during any given year-a price limit with a modest dollar amount is sure to be appreciated. It's also a nice way to teach kids that the cost of a gift is not the essential part of the giving tradition.

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