From winning gift ideas to card message suggestions, “Birthdays Reimagined” provides tips to help you make your loved one’s birthday wishes come true. Shopping is easy with this list of 50th birthday gift ideas that will keep your loved one smiling all night long.

middle-aged friends celebrating a birthday

Those of us approaching our 50th birthday remembers the days when department stores thrived and everything came with a logo. It was the ’80s, when we also watched “Dynasty” and “Dallas” on picture tube televisions.

Life, and living, are different now. Turning 50 is certainly a major milestone, but marking it with a status symbol is no longer what most of us are looking for. We want feelings and connections — and the experiences that give us those feelings and connections.

Lifestyle expert Katie Brown says one of her most meaningful gifts was a spiral notebook (paper!) of go-to recipes compiled by one of her favorite home cooks. She says feels their friendship every time she makes one of the recipes. Michael Clinton, publishing executive and author of ROAR: into the second half of life (before it’s too late), says he celebrated his 50th with a group of friends on a trip to Antarctica.

“That was the best present for me, a life experience we will share forever,” he says.

Expression goes a long way

The traditional 50th birthday gift is gold, as in entering our “golden years,” I suppose. But come on, I’m starting to finally do the things I wanted to do as a teenager, such as drive a stick shift convertible, have long hair, and date fun boyfriends (not long-haired boyfriends). Gifts should reflect our youthful spirit, no matter the chronology, and they don’t have to be gold.

LA-based philanthropist Eve Somer says her special 50th gift was a short film with clips from all her best friends and family, put together by her boyfriend, who happens to be a professional filmmaker. “I’ve never felt more celebrated or more loved,” she says.

Tips for giving great gifts

The key to giving a great gift (short of flying to Antarctica) is to consider what makes the recipient happy and fits with their unique personality, not yours (and no regifting!). In the past few years, I’ve baked brownies or a cake for a friend on their birthday, and then packaged it in a beautiful box with a ribbon, or a silver-plated cake server, because everyone likes brownies and cake, right?

Here are 11 gift suggestions based on the recipient’s personality or background that will allow you to send something they’ll love, especially if you can’t celebrate in person. (And no age-shaming! Point out that 50 really is the new 50.) Our new motto should be, it’s not just the thought that counts but the feeling, too.

50th birthday gift ideas


Sending flowers, even on the same day, is always a winning gesture. You can also give that feeling every month with a flower delivery subscription. There’s even a vibrant “flower cake” made entirely of blooms that can be delivered on a white cake plate.

photo of 50th birthday gift ideas: lobster tails

Lobstah, baby!

For the New Englander at heart, or your friend who loves summer, send two or four lobster tails to remind them of that full moon dinner you shared on the beach.

photo of 50th birthday gift ideas: baklava

The sweet tooth

If you know your sister, brother, mother, or friend is super sweet, or just really into desserts, how about a monthly delivery of baklava? I would love that.

photo of 50th birthday gift ideas: engraved wine glasses

Wine bud

For your friend you drink wine with, even if it’s on video chat now, how about engraved wine glasses with their initials? Or a phrase you always say together, such as “Have you tried that new wine called Rosé?”

50th birthday gift ideas: new york cheesecake

Forever NYC

To your neighbor who said they would never leave New York City, send a New York-style cheesecake. It’ll remind them that the city’s still there, even if they’re not.

50th birthday gift ideas: dog bed

Animal lover

For the person you know deep down is happy just hanging with their dog or cat, how about a personalized dog bed for their furry friend?

50th birthday gift ideas: popcorn tins

Movie buff

If your friend or family member is addicted to streaming movies at home, send a subscription from The Popcorn Factory, such as the Popcorn Lovers Flavor of the Month Club. They won’t even have to get off the couch to enjoy it.

50th birthday gift ideas: chocolate covered strawberries


Know someone who eats healthy but also likes to indulge every now and then? Give them the best of both worlds with a shipment of a dozen dark chocolate-covered strawberries. Even the chocolate has its health benefits!

Pretty and practical

An engraved mirrored box, for jewelry, reading glasses, or hearing aids, can look elegant and be functional, too. Get it for a friend who needs more places to put (and find) things.

50th birthday gift ideas: personalized necklace

Keepsake for mom

Every mom loves a scripted 10K gold name necklace, whether it’s of their name or their child’s — especially if you are the son or daughter giving it.

a photo of 50th birthday gift ideas: personalized pillow

Personalized and cozy

If you really want to evoke a feeling, send a personalized throw pillow with a photo of something or someone they love. Maybe that’s you.

Birthday ad

Martha McCully is a writer and brand consultant who’s into wellness, design, health, wine, and science. She was formerly Executive Editor of In Style, founding Beauty Director of Allure, and judge on HGTV Design Star.

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