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Finding the perfect birthday gift for anyone in your life can feel like a daunting task, because you want to get your giftee something that lets them know you truly care.
We researched tons of brands to find gifts that are age appropriate, unique, and speak to the recipient's interests. Also, we consulted August Abbott, PhD, an Etiquette Expert on JustAnswer, for her own gifting advice on finding the perfect present. Our list includes a whiskey making kit from Uncommon Goods, virtual cooking classes from MasterClass, and more.
Here are the best birthday gifts.
Uncommon Goods Whiskey Making Kit
If your giftee constantly finds themselves by the bar cart at parties, they are sure to appreciate this whiskey making set. They can choose between three different types of wood and six various botanicals to create a drink that is just as unique as their palette. Pair it with a set of whiskey glasses for a gift that is sure to be a hit at their next soirée.
Masterclass Virtual Cooking Class
This special MasterClass by Michelin-star chef Thomas Kellar will appeal to both novice and avid cooks alike. Each lesson will offer fundamental cooking techniques ranging from poaching an egg to making handmade pasta. Plus, they'll begin to understand what kitchen essentials they will need as they advance on their culinary journey.
Mysa Wine Natural Wine Club Subscription
There is no need to head to a nearby winery or happy hour when you can have wine delivered directly to your door. Mysa Natural Wine club sends a selection of three, six, or 12 bottles of wine at the monthly frequency of your choosing. They select natural wines from smaller companies to help ensure that each bottle is of the highest quality. Each subscription includes video tastings, recommendations on serving, what to pair with your wine, and so much more.
Society6 Elegant Black Marble Wine Chiller
Usually overlooked, a wine chiller can become the perfect gift for any up-and-coming sommelier. We love that this one utilizes stainless steel and is dishwasher-friendly. With the ability to keep your standard-size bottle of wine chilled for up to two hours, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything like it. We love how chic and minimal this black marble design is, ensuring that it blends in seamlessly with any bar cart theme. Don't forget to include their favorite bottle of red (age permitting).
Style Dahlia Custom Phrase Mug
For the coffee addict in your life, a customized mug will provide a sweet surprise at the end of their morning cup. Be sure to use a quote, saying, or phrase that the two of you use frequently. Pair it with their favorite coffee beans, and you’re sure to give them a gift they will use constantly.
Book of the Month Club Book of the Month
Any lit lover will swoon at the thought of receiving a new and engaging read each and every month. Here’s how it works: The club sends a list of five great books and the recipient gets to choose one (or more). It’s a great way to try new genres or dig into some perennial favorites without the pressure of browsing lists and making selections yourself.
Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug 2
Nothing beats a warm cup of coffee or tea, and this mug provides one and a half hours of your warm beverage of choice. It comes in several chic shades, making it a standout gift for someone who finds themselves glued to their office chair. The best part is that it syncs up to your phone, allowing you to customize the temperature and receive notifications about your beverage.
Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is already hard enough, so having this stainless steel, reusable bottle from Hydro Flask is sure to make that task much more manageable. What sets this brand apart is the insulated bottle that ensures your beverage of choice stays cold, or hot, for longer than traditional refillable bottles. It also has a leak-proof lid and is dishwasher-safe, so anyone constantly on the go is sure to love it.
VITRUVI Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser
This porcelain essential oil diffuser by Vitruvi looks modern and is harmonious with most home decor. It comes in a wide range of colors, and one can even buy the porcelain molds separately to match their ever-evolving tastes. Be sure to check out their robust essential oil collection; Virtuvi has a blend that suits everyone.
BAIMEI Jade Roller and Gua Sha Facial Set
This jade roller and gua sha set is the perfect gift for the skincare-obsessed person in your life. Both tools help to instantly de-puff and sculpt the face, creating an ideal canvas for their favorite makeup products. It comes in varying crystals to match whatever color palette or healing power they need.
The Sill Bird’s Nest Fern
Ferns are known for their elegant appearance and air purifying properties. This particular plant gift, from The Sill, can survive in low lighting and is safe to keep around pets. The vibrant shade of green can help to brighten up even the darkest of spaces, making it a great gift to have around during the winter months. The upkeep is simple, too, as it only requires water every one to two weeks. Be sure to follow the plant care guide that comes with every purchase made from this nationally available brand.
Urban Stems Juliet Bouquet
Floral arrangements might seem like an unoriginal gift, but to a particularly crafty person, they are perfect. If they preserve the flowers, you’re giving a present that can last longer than just a few days. Be sure to select an arrangement that matches their personality and interior design aesthetic.
Slip Silk Sleep Mask
Lack of sleep is a terrible feeling most people know all too well. Eye masks encourage a restful sleep by darkening the environment you sleep in. This chic one from Slip uses the highest grade (6A) long fiber mulberry silk, which means it won’t pull or tug at the skin. Trust us, the beauty-obsessed person in your life will thank you for this.
Bearaby Cotton Napper
Weighted blankets are well-known for helping to soothe even the most anxious of minds. This particular one from Bearaby comes in a shabby-chic, knit design that feels like the warmest of hugs for anyone (not just those with anxiety). It comes in three different weights, five hues, and is made with OEKO-TEX and Fairtrade International certified cotton. Your recipient will be sure to keep it around for cozy nights by the fire or movie nights with friends.
Uncommon Goods Unwind Lavender Gift Set
Lavender is proven to be one of the most relaxing scents available, and this gift set helps to provide a calming atmosphere after a stressful day. It comes with a kit to grow a personal supply of this flower as well as a sleeping mask, essential oil-blend pillow mist, and a lavender-forward soy candle. This kit is bound to make anyone catch some much-needed Z's.
Scent can transport us back in time, so give them a gift that reminds them of their favorite place. Homesick Candles offer a variety of scents that mimic the location the candle is named after. Send them their home state, the state where their favorite city is, or simply a candle that has fragrance notes you know they will enjoy. Every time they strike a match, they’ll be sure to reminisce on a memory (hopefully, one including you).
Jungalow Kaya Shorty Planter
If the plant parent in your life enjoys color and making a statement through their home decor, look no further than this ceramic planter from Jungalow. It is perfect for those plants that are hard to keep alive, thanks to its self-draining capabilities (aka, making it next to impossible to overwater). Be sure to do a quick sweep of their space before choosing from one of the eight designs.
Brooklinen Super-Plush Robe
The team at The Spruce has tested this robe and considers it one of the most absorbent, making it one of our top choices for 2021. Durable Turkish cotton ensures that this robe provides warmth post-shower or simply when you are lounging at home. Available in white, smoke, graphite, and limited-edition shades, this is bound to be the perfect gift for anyone who craves daily comfort without sacrificing style.
Fort Greene Wellness Sandalwood & Amber Hand Poured Soy Candle
Candles have quite literally become a household staple for many, and this Sandalwood and Amber variation is about to become their new obsession. Soy wax is hand-poured into one of six vessels (we're partial to the iridescent option) and comes with additional wellness items like Palo Santo, a Rose Quartz Crystal, and Sage. It also features 70 hours of burn time and a protective wooden lid. You might even end up purchasing one for yourself.
Urban Outfitters Crosley Ryder Bluetooth Record Player
Whether they prefer old-school records or opt for traditional ways to listen to music, this 3-speed record player offers the best of both worlds. Because of its Bluetooth capabilities, they can stream their favorite songs directly from their smartphone or play their go-to vinyl. It also offers a dust cover to protect the turntable and vinyl when not in use.
Uncommon Goods Custom Song Wall Art
This custom wall art showcases the soundwave of the giftee's favorite song. Choose between a display of 10 seconds, 60 seconds, or up to three and a half minutes of music, and artist Claudia Moldovan will handcraft a wooden piece of art that will be the topic of conversation whenever guests enter your loved one's home.
Artifact Uprising Everyday Photo Book
Compile all of your favorite memories in this photo book from Artifact Uprising. You can opt for 30, 40, and even 50 pages from trips you've taken or small moments that have had a lasting impact on your relationship. This 7x7 book has pages composed of 100% post-consumer recycled paper, making it the perfect choice for someone special that cares about their environmental impact. With a five-business day turnaround time, it can come in handy for any last-minute birthday shopping.
Material The Iconics
We all have someone in our lives that is handy in the kitchen. This set includes 10 stainless steel utensils that will make whipping up their next culinary masterpiece a breeze. We also love that the base utilizes FSC-certified maple, walnut, or beech. This set was built to last and will stand out on their kitchen counter.
Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence
When it comes to baking, no one knows better than editor and YouTube personality Claire Saffitz. Her debut cookbook is full of glorious recipes ranging from simple to advanced. The budding baker in your life will fall head over heels for each dessert as they make their way through this cookbook. An added plus? The cover and binding of this book are so aesthetically pleasing.
Baked By Melissa Birthday Gift Box
This year, give them the gift of cake—mini cupcakes, that is. Baked By Melissa offers nationwide delivery on their Birthday Gift Box. It features 25 mini cupcakes, including nut-free, gluten-free, and vegan options. This special treat is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of sweet tooths. And, if you don't want to give this as a gift, you can always order a box and take it to any birthday celebration.
Appointed Co. Year Task Planner
It can be hard to stay on top of your day-to-day tasks, let alone a week or month. This water-resistant, brass-bound planner has everything one could need to keep their life organized. The interior is composed of thick stock paper, giving it an elevated feel from your traditional notebook. You can even customize the cover with their initials.
Chic Mama Jewelry Personalized Ring Dish
Proper jewelry care is essential for maintaining the integrity of your pieces. Part of that process is taking your favorite necklaces and rings off at night before you go to sleep. Why not give your loved one a personalized ring dish to keep on their bedside table? By using silver pewter, the artisan ensures that this dish never tarnishes, so it doesn't require much upkeep. You also have three lines worth of text (10 characters per line) to include a special note or reminder to the giftee.
Alisa Studio Design 18k Gold Filled Dainty Zodiac Necklace
Astrology has become one of the most discussed topics of the past few years. Why not get that person in your life an elegant necklace inspired by their zodiac sign? All 12 zodiacs are represented in a modern and sophisticated design, featuring varying chain lengths and styles. Each piece is coated in 18k gold and utilizes cubic zirconia, making it budget-friendly without sacrificing style.
Clau In The Cloud Astral Chart Print
Spruce up their walls with this customizable birth chart. Just provide their name, birth date, birth time, and location (this includes city, state, and country) to receive a print of their natal birth chart. The chart will display the position of planets and astrological bodies when they were born. For anyone interested in astrology, this piece of art can serve as a reminder of who they are or act as a great topic of conversation when entertaining guests.
Sol Proano Prisma Hanging Light Catcher
For some, having a bit of whimsy and wonder in our lives sparks joy. This hanging light catcher marries the delight of scattered sun rays as they hit the crystals during the day with a simplicity that works with all home decor. Handcrafted in New York, this brass and prism structure will look great next to hanging plants in any living space.
What to Look for When Buying a Birthday Gift
Interests and Hobbies
You want to take into account what the giftee enjoys doing in their day-to-day life. Abbott says that getting someone the perfect gift comes down to buying for them and not for yourself. "By collecting data surreptitiously all year by observation and questions," as she puts it, you're doing just that. Do they watch a lot of movies? Enjoy exploring local wineries or breweries? All of those little things that bring them joy can lead you to the right gift.
Factoring a person’s age is significant in determining what gifts will create a lasting impression on them. Abbott states that younger generations emphasize the “here and now,” whereas an older individual emphasizes the future. You’ll want to give someone in their teens or early 20s something trendy and current. Someone in their 30s onward might enjoy a gift that is classic and withstands time. But, again, it all depends on the person and their style.
The best way to show how much you care for a person is by gifting them something they don’t already have. Easier said than done, but a sure-fire way to do this is by giving them something unique. You can choose to customize an item you know that they will get use out of, or you can gift them something that they would not typically purchase for themselves.
Is there a type of gift that you shouldn't give?
It is best to avoid things like soap, undergarments, and other items that are necessities. In some cases, these gifts can come off as offensive or not personal—depending on the person. Do your best to select a present that the giftee will enjoy or holds sentimental value.
How much should you spend on a birthday gift?
There is no set limit to how much you can spend on a present; however, you should keep in mind your budget and your relationship with this person. Of course, it's nice to invest a little more into a gift for someone close to you, but going into debt for the sake of the "ultimate gift" is not practical. Take a look at your financial situation, set yourself a spending limit, and begin to look for items that you know the giftee will appreciate.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This gift guide was written by Samantha Parsons. Having joined The Spruce in 2021, she spent numerous hours vetting products and spoke with leading gift experts to ensure that anything recommended in this gift guide would be worth giving to the people in our lives we care about the most. When she is not writing for The Spruce, Samantha works for a beauty brand and has five years of experience in retail. Her educational background is in media, psychology, and history.