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You probably know your friend pretty well, so shopping for their birthday party should be easy. But some challenges can still arise when you want to find a present that's affordable, but also unique and speaks to their personality.
We researched dozens of brands and products, considering gifting value, practicality, quality, and price. Our favorite picks include a Birthday in a Box from Mouth, Parachute's cloud robe, and a convenient mini projector on Amazon.
Here are the best birthday gifts for your friend.
Mouth Birthday in a Box
For a birthday gift that comes neatly packaged, Mouth's Birthday in a Box is super convenient. Any foodie will appreciate this curated selection that includes chocolate, popcorn, and rainbow macaroons. For a truly decadent experience, opt for the larger box featuring gold glitter candles and a cocktail mixer.
Parachute Cloud Cotton Robe
Of course, you want your bestie to relax and unwind, and they need to do so in comfort and style. Parachute's Cloud Cotton Robe is made of cozy Turkish cotton and perfect for lounging around the house or having something to slip into after a bath. It falls at or just below the knees and has pockets and a belt for ultimate comfort. Also, the impressive range of sizes and colors means you'll find a fit for anyone on your list.
Minted Custom Map Letterpress Art
Home decor can be expensive, especially personalized, custom pieces. Help your friend cut that cost by gifting them this letterpress wall decor art. Upload a print of the city that holds close meaning to them and select the frame and molding that matches their style. The print is available in 8 x 8 inches or 11 x 11 inches and is the perfect size to add to a wall gallery.
Uncommon Goods Birth Month Flower Grow Kit
No, this isn't your typical bouquet or even a potted plant, but this kit is a unique box of greenery. Each kit has a different flower for each month (carnations for January, violas for February, etc.) and includes the necessary items like seeds, soil, and a glass vase. Your friend will love watching this flower bloom day after day. There's also info about what each flower symbolizes for the months.
Anker Nebula Capsule Mini Projector
This gift is a bit more expensive but sure to be a hit with anyone who loves movies or entertaining. The projector comes in red or black and is about the size of a soda can, so it's extremely portable and easy to create a home theater. It can project an image up to 100 inches and connect via USB, HDMI, or Bluetooth. It can be controlled via an app, and the sound quality is phenomenal.
Miko Shiatsu Home Foot Massager Machine
Your friend, particularly one who's on their feet a lot, will absolutely thank you for this thoughtful gift. The Miko Shiatsu foot massager is high on function for anyone dealing with foot pain or the average person who just wants a relaxing massage. The device has five pressure settings, a heat function, and a kneading stimulation. Your friend will love sitting back, setting the timer, and letting this machine go to work.
VITRUVI Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser
It’s hard to actually gift relaxation, but giving this essential oil diffuser is pretty close. It gently fills the room with essential oil-infused steam—and it looks great doing it. The porcelain exterior has a calming sloped shape and will likely go well with your best friend’s décor. The diffuser can run continuously for four hours (or eight hours on and off) and fills up to 500 square feet with scented steam. Your friend can choose from a variety of different oils, including lavender or peppermint.
John Harrison & Vanessa Whalen Long Distance Friendship Lamp
Whether you live 500 miles away from your best friend or sometimes feel like you do because you’re both so busy, this gift is sure to light up both of your lives. Buy a set of these friendship lamps, gift one to your bestie, add power and Wi-Fi, and you’ve instantly got a friendship hotline that never closes. Whenever you’re thinking of your friend, put your hand on your lamp long enough for it to change colors. No matter how far away your best friend lives, their lamp will change color, too, to let them know you’re thinking of them. You might just start a daily routine—watch the lamp at 8 p.m. to see your friend’s touch light up your home.
Etsy Custom Photo Sticker
Small, affordable gifts can have an impact and make someone feel special. Though these stickers will only set you back a few bucks, it's the customization that stands out. Upload a photo you know your friend loves (vacay pics, photos of their pet, group shots, etc.), and it's turned into a sticker. You can either leave the photo as is or have it converted into digitized art. Buy a few so your friend can stick them on notebooks, their favorite water bottle, or laptop.
Unas Bolsas Yellow Tote Bag
A bag from Unas Bolsas is a great gift for the fashionista who's also conscious and trying to be more eco-friendly. The handmade bag is crafted from recycled plastic. In addition to the sustainability aspect, the bag is also quite functional, with a leather-covered handle, interior pockets, and a magnetic closure to keep items safe and secure.
Why You're My Bestie: Fill in the Love Book Gift Journal
Have you ever told your best friend how much they truly mean to you? This journal lets you write down all the amazing things about your friend and the memories you've shared in one place. Each page has a different prompt and a space for you to write an answer personal to your friendship. There are opportunities to make your answers heartfelt: State your bestie’s greatest quality for the line, “If we could bottle your _____ and sell it, we’d make a fortune.” Or you can be funny: think of something outlandish for “When we’re old, let’s _____.” Your best friend will read this perfect coffee table book over and over again.
Jeni's Happy Birthday Collection
Know someone who screams for ice cream? Then this shipment needs to make its way to their doorstep. Jeni's Happy Birthday Collection includes five pints of ice cream in fun flavors like pineapple upside-down cake, brandied banana brûlée, and Boston cream pie. A few of the flavors are even dairy-free. The set also includes two packs of sprinkles and beeswax birthday candles.
Mark & Graham Acrylic Game Set with Leather and Gold Handle
Make something as simple as a deck of cards a bit more elevated with this chic gift from Mark & Graham. The set, two decks of cards and dice, comes in an acrylic case that's accented with a gold-toned metal and leather handle. The storage is so stylish; this can easily be displayed on any coffee table and not look like an eyesore. Make the gift even more special with the laser engraving of your friend's initial.
Maptote Grocery Tote
A tote bag might seem like a pretty simple gift, but don't underestimate how useful it can be in everyday life, whether that's heading to work or trips to the market. Maptote's grocery tote is 100 percent natural cotton and has a convenient 21-inch handle for carrying or slinging over the shoulder. What truly makes it stand out is the print. You can select among more than 70 locations of their favorite city or state.
Craft Beer Club Subscription
There's no need for your friend to head to a local bar or happy hour when they have this subscription. The Craft Beer club includes 12 beers a month that consist of four varieties from two different breweries across the U.S. Each delivery highlights two regions, so there's always tons of variety and something new to look forward to each month.
Never Have I Ever Game
You might think you already know all there is to know about your best friend, but everyone’s got a few secrets, surprises, and silly stories hidden up their sleeve. With 358 “Never Have I Ever” questions and 82 “Truth-or-Dare” activities, this game is sure to add a few more facts about your best friend’s life to your already extensive library of knowledge about them. Plus, you’re bound to have a great time playing together.
What to Look for in a Birthday Gift for Your Friend
Unique vs. Traditional
When it comes to finding the perfect gift for your friend, start by asking yourself the question: unique or traditional? While there's nothing wrong with either option, determining the answer can help you find the gift that makes sense for both the person and your relationship.
Unique gifts are unexpected or quirky. While they don't have to be weird, per se, they can be. A traditional gift is more anticipated and expected, although this doesn't necessarily mean a customary gift is boring. Whatever direction, make sure that the gift fits the receiver.
Before you buy any gift, determine your budget and ideal price range. Then make sure your purchase falls in line with those numbers.
It's also a good idea to consider your friend's budget, too, especially if you often reciprocate on gifts. While going all out for a friend can be really special, it may put them in an uncomfortable position trying to match and or one-up you on your special day.
Keep in mind that you can buy something amazing and meaningful without always having a hefty price tag.
Some gifts allow for personalization, which can be pretty special, depending on the item and what the personalization options are. For example, engraving names, customizing flavors on an ice cream subscription, or something as personal as the "Why You're My Bestie" hand-filled journal.
Subscriptions and/or Extras
Give the gift that keeps on giving. Subscriptions can continue your gift-giving even after your BFF's special day (without too crazy of a price). As you consider gift options, look at subscriptions and other gifts that offer "extras" to bring joy to your friend on more days than one.
How much should you spend on a birthday gift for a friend?
While there's no set amount for what you should spend on a birthday gift, it's recommended to spend over $25, especially if you've been friends for several years. Usually, anywhere between $25-75 is a good bet, but these numbers may change depending on your relationship, budget, or gift-giving habits with the said friend(s).
Remember: gifts don't need to break the bank, but they should be thoughtful and meaningful to both the giver and receiver.
Why do we celebrate birthdays?
Traditionally, birthdays are a moment of celebrating a person and their accomplishments and qualities on the day of their birth. In America, birthdays have become the norm in honoring someone's passage into the next year of their journey.
How do you say no gifts for a birthday party?
There are many reasons to request no gifts for a party—financial, hoping to remove pressure around reciprocation, or simply wanting to focus on the time together instead of material things.
If you want to say no to gifts for a birthday party, let your guests know in advance. Perhaps set up something in place of gifts like donations to a fundraiser.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This round-up was written by Patrice J. Williams. She has contributed gift guides to The Spruce since 2020. She loves helping her friends and family find unique, thoughtful, and wallet-friendly presents. In addition to her work for The Spruce, she writes commerce articles, including product suggestions and reviews, for other outlets and appears on-air for "Today" and WE tv. She was also the Savvy Shopper reporter for WPIX in New York City. Additional reporting was done by Marisa Donnelly, a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bustle, BossBabe, Thought Catalog, and more.