Top 10 Best 50th Birthday Gifts
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 by unnoticed. The question is, what would be a nice 50th birthday present?
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, 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-strenous 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.
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 or lessons or experiences related to your loved one's passion or hobby (he or she undoubtedly has one). For example:
- music store
- ethnic restaurant
- cookware store
- adult school or art instruction center
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.
- coffee or tea
- food for a picnic
- condiments, sauces, ethnic foods
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.
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.
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 him or her 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!
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