The 11 Best Birthday Gifts for Your Friend in 2021

Show your pal some appreciation on their special day

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You probably know your friend pretty well, so shopping for them should be easy. Sometimes it just takes a bit of research and recollecting what they want, need, or even if they've been dropping any hints. And just because you want to make their birthday special, you don't have to spend a ton of money.

To help you get started, here are the best birthday gifts for your friend.

Our Top Picks
Foodies will love diving into this curated box of deliciousness.
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Gift this custom map print that's sure to remind someone of their hometown or just a place that holds special meaning.
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Instead of the traditional bouquet, gift this flower kit that's specific to each birth month.
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This journal lets you write down all the amazing things about your friend and the memories you've shared in one place.
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This diffuser can run for up to seven hours and has a sleek, stylish design.
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Whether you live 500 miles away or around the corner from your BFF, this gift is sure to light up both of your lives.
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This gift set includes five varieties of ice cream with unique flavors like goat cheese with red cherries and gooey butter cake.
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This canvas tote is useful and the city and state designs are a great way to show hometown pride.
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This subscription includes four varieties of beer each month, as well as info on the breweries and food pairings.
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This game is a fun way to learn even more interesting, fun details about anyone.
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Mouth Birthday in a Box

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 that also features gold glitter candles and a cocktail mixer.

Minted Custom Map Letterpress Art

Custom Map Letterpress Art

Home decor can be expensive, especially personalized, custom pieces. Help your friend cut that cost by gifting them this letterpress art. Upload a print of the a 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, the perfect sizes to add to a wall gallery.

Uncommon Goods Birth Month Flower Grow Kit

Birth Month Flower Grow Kit

No, this isn't your typical bouquet of flowers 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.

Why You're My Bestie: Fill in the Love Book Gift Journal

Knock Knock Why You're My Bestie Fill in the Love 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.

VITRUVI Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser

Porcelain Essential Oil Diffuser VITRUVI

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 for a continuous three hours (or seven hours on and off) and fills up to 538 square feet with scented steam. Your friend can choose from a variety of different oils, including lavender or peppermint.

"The stream of vapor comes up through a relatively long nose and shoots a thin and consistent stream upward. The stream is strong and does an excellent job disbursing the scent throughout the room with a diffusing coverage of up to about 530 square feet."—Julie Hershman, Product Tester

John Harrison & Vanessa Whalen Long Distance Friendship Lamp

Long Distance Friendship Lamp

Whether you live 500 miles away from your best friend or sometimes just 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.

Jeni's Happy Birthday Collection

Happy Birthday Collection at Jeni’s Ice Cream

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, goat cheese with red cherries, 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.

Maptote Grocery Tote

Maptote Grocery Tote

A tote bag might seem like a pretty simple, basic 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 bag is 100 percent canvas 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

Craft Beer Club subscription

No need to head to the 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 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.

Fred Segal Long Pant Sleepwear Coyotes

Fred Segal long men's pajamas coyote

There's nothing better than being comfy and cozy and if your friend feels the same way, then a pair of chic sleepwear is a must. They can ditch the usual sweatpants for these silk and cotton bottoms that are lightweight but also provide warmth on colder days. The drawstring trouser style is pretty classic, but the coyote print adds some flair.

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 ones that are unexpected and/or quirky. While they don't have to be weird, per se, they can be. A traditional gift is something that is more anticipated and/or expected (which doesn't equate to 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 friends sometimes 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.

Customization Options

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 said friend(s).

    Remember: gifts don't need to break the bank, but they should be thoughtful and meaningful to the 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 as opposed to 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 lieu of gifts, for example, donations to a fundraiser.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This roundup 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 as well as appearing on air for The Today Show, WEtv, and she was 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.

Updated by
Marisa Donnelly
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Marisa Donnelly is a writer/editor, teacher, business founder, and bonus mama. She loves writing about careers, decor, self-love, relationships, and parenting.
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