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Top 10 Best 50th Birthday Gifts

I enjoy giving advice for those that need gift ideas for older loved ones.

The Big Five-O

So somebody you know is coming up on their milestone 50th birthday. Well, a person's 50th birthday is an epic event, so you can't let such a big day pass unnoticed. The question is, what would be a nice 50th birthday present?

The Age of Wisdom

There are several paths you can go down: silly gag gifts about being over the hill, gifts with the number 50, or, better yet, some experience or thing you think that person might like based on what you know about them.

If you aren’t that old yourself, keep in mind that 50 is in no way “the top of the hill.” Being 50 is a good thing. You have most of the wisdom of 60, and you’ve put a lot of idiotic experiments behind you. Remind your friend to think of all the ways in which they’ve “been there” and “done that.” With luck, they won’t again be called upon to stay up all night changing diapers, get involved in love triangles, get arrested, or get drunk and crash cars. At this age, one really begins to enjoy comfort, sobriety, peace of mind, and freedom to say what you think and wear what you want—all attainable things.

Black balloons, canes, diapers, hearing aids, and such disposable gifts on the theme of deterioration and decay might not be appreciated unless you know your birthday boy or girl can take a joke.

Here are some general ideas.

  • An experience. Often the best gift is an experience.
  • A gift certificate. If you know what kind of thing your birthday boy or girl might like to try next, you can send them to a store where there is a lot to choose from.
  • A gift basket.
  • Books or magazines.
  • Souvenirs of the occasion, or of the '60s, or of the year they were born.
  • "Over the Hill" gag gifts—if you must.

1. A Birthday Hike

Why not go for a walk that morning and bring anyone who wants to go? No need to climb a big mountain; a little one will do.

2. A Boat Ride

Riding around on a boat is a relatively non-strenuous way of enjoying the outdoors. Get plenty of sun and fresh air. Why not party on a boat going around the harbor or lake?

Or, better yet, ride a (non-motorized) boat down a river. It's a surprisingly pleasant way to enjoy the outdoors. And if you fall off the boat, you'll most likely float.

'80s reggae band Black Roots

'80s reggae band Black Roots

3. Listen and Dance to Old-Time Music

A 50-year-old born in, for example, 1965 might not remember the music playing in 1965. Music was great in 1964, but they most likely won't remember that either. Why not play '80s music at the birthday party, or hold it at a "grown folks" nightclub? Many cities have dance clubs where people aren't ashamed of being mature.

4. A Gift Certificate

But not a gift certificate to Target or Wal-Mart; the birthday person might spend it on dish detergent or cat litter. Instead, buy it at a small business that has materials, lessons, or experiences related to your loved one's passion or hobby (they undoubtedly have one). For example:

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Read More From Holidappy

  • bookstore
  • music store
  • ethnic restaurant
  • cookware store
  • nursery
  • adult school or art instruction center
The gift baskets that are most fun include food and drink.

The gift baskets that are most fun include food and drink.

5. A Gift Basket

Gift baskets can be totally individualized and have room for several little oddly-shaped guesses at what your birthday person might find fascinating. 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, which could be anything your loved one is interested in: earrings, little rocks or shells, incense, and candles; who knows? 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

Get fresh, tasty, good-looking food. Pre-ordered gift baskets sometimes aren't the best choice because they may be loaded with stale popcorn and crackers. A little bit of nice food is generally better than a lot of ordinary food.

A good read is a good gift at any age.

A good read is a good gift at any age.

6. Books

What better excuse than being "over the hill" to sit around and read books? You know what kind of book your loved one reads, and if not, you can get them a gift certificate. A couple of good books about adventurous old age are Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck and My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain. Or send your friend on an armchair hike.

7. Magazines

Again, no one will be surprised if a 50-year-old has a lot of magazines lying in close reach around the house. Support writers and photographers by getting hard copies of wonderful magazines in your loved one's area of interest.

Writing: New York Review of Books (different from the New York Times Review of Books), The Sun, Orion

The environment: Science News, National Geographic

Cooking: Cook’s Illustrated

Politics, current events: The Economist, Atlantic Monthly, Mother Jones, Wired

8. A Picture Puzzle

Older people also have license to sit around and do puzzles. You can turn a one-of-a-kind photo into a one-of-a-kind puzzle and give it as a gift. Or you can get a puzzle made up of the front page of the New York Times.

9. A Personalized Souvenir

It's not difficult to find sites that will personalize a coffee cup, t-shirt, or picture frame to include your loved one's name and picture and "50th birthday" or something to that effect.

10. Okay . . . Gag Gifts

If you must, give your friend something to remind them of how tragic and miserable it is to be old.

The “over the hill” party theme can be hilarious with the right crowd or embarrassing if taken the wrong way, so if those in charge of throwing the 50th birthday party want to go that direction, they should make sure that the guest of honor is a good sport, and can take a poke or two and still smile.

What Do You Think?

What's a really successful gift for a 50-year-old? Let us know in the comments!

© 2011 flowski lm

Guestbook & Comments - Please Say Hi While You're Here...

kathy on May 07, 2015:

how old is the author? The comment about puzzles is appropriate for an 80 year old not a 50 year old! Author says.. "Older people also have license to sit around and do puzzles. You can turn a one-of-a kind photo into a one-of-a kind puzzle..." Many of my friends turning 50 have kids in grade school, some even have toddlers...and working full time, no time to sit around doing puzzles.

biorra2 on April 28, 2014:

great ideas

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on March 23, 2014:

beautiful selection of gifts featured here - love the 60's retro gifts

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on March 05, 2014:

Well, 50 was awhile ago for me, but I still like your selections. I'm particularly drawn to that NY Times jigsaw puzzle of the front page on your 'day' of birth. That would work for any birthday and I love puzzles.

dawntreader3 on February 20, 2014:

Well...since he's past 50 he may never be able to slam dunk a basketball, but then never knows. A great gift might be the Jump Manual.

WriterJanis2 on February 12, 2014:

Great ideas. I love the idea of the Dr. Seuss book.

TheMakeupAdvisory on November 29, 2013:

I love the idea of the time capsule:)

blestman lm on June 15, 2013:

This lens is a lot of fun. I think my favorite thing on here was the story of a lifetime.

anonymous on June 13, 2013:

I love this site my mom will love what I get for her thanks to your site

barberrela on May 28, 2013:

I love the Trivia playing cards.

Nikki4321 on May 27, 2013:

Interesting gift ideas, I always love sending flowers!

simplegirl23 on April 29, 2013:

I can not wait to become 50!

MasterDripper on April 18, 2013:

a great job here...the lens touches up on everything...

EdSchribber on March 26, 2013:

What a lens. Some awesome 60's stuff.

TonyGaylord on March 12, 2013:

Very awesome lens. A lot of great gifts here!

cellphoneboosters on March 07, 2013:

Great lens. 18yrs old with 32 years of experience - just awesome.

chickie99 on February 18, 2013:

my favorite has to be the jetson's

anonymous on February 18, 2013:

Your brithday gifts are unique.I like 1963 coins .

webdeep lm on February 12, 2013:

I like the ideas. Great lens... Thanks

birthdaybluepri on February 07, 2013:

I really like the idea of the time capsule! Taking the time to find some of those special period pieces can really be a heartfelt gift. Great Lens!!

anonymous on January 20, 2013:

Great lens.

Vikki from US on January 15, 2013:

Such cool gift ideas!

Winter52 LM on December 09, 2012:

I'm not 50 anymore/yet... but I would choose the candy ;) My dad passed on his sweet tooth. It's amazing how genetics work lol.

Hal Gall from Bloomington, IN on November 25, 2012:

Something with black balloons is appropriate!

Andrejk on September 04, 2012:

Great lens, well done! Squidlike

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