Secrets of a Givaholic:
Your Guide to Finding the Best Birthday Gifts Ever

Finding the best birthday gifts seems simple enough... and yet every year you struggle to find the perfect one.

Well, we've put together the top tips and tricks from some of the best Givaholics around. This handy little guide helps you find the best gifts out there, because there’s nothing better than watching someone open the perfect birthday present that you gave them.


1. Disappearing Gifts... *POOF* Gone!

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What do you give the person who has everything? A disappearing birthday gift!

To qualify for “disappearing” status, the gift must be something that can be eaten, applied, consumed, used, or eventually emptied. No nick-nacks to put in storage. No wall hangings to shove in the garage. No gifts to re-gift for someone else’s birthday. Once used, it’s gone!

These are excellent examples of disappearing birthday gifts:

  • Chocolates, caramels, candies
  • Skin care, shower gels
  • Birthday gift baskets (coming soon)
  • Massages, spa days
  • Tickets (see Experience Gifts below)
  • Food and snacks
  • Lotions, creams, oils, perfumes (be careful - if these get stuck on the shelf they lose “disappearing” status!)
  • Pedicures and manicures

Your giftee might like it SO much that they ask for the same gift next year!

But don’t buy your wife lotion and candles every year. That gets old.

2. Upgrades

So many of us just make-do with what we have. That’s fine, but imagine how delighted you would be on your birthday to have an upgraded version of the stuff you love! Everyone loves an upgrade.

For example, your giftee may love camping... but his tiny tent has to be propped up. His sleeping bag doesn’t keep him warm enough. He can feel the rocks through his foam mattress.

Sad guy.

Upgrade that camping gear. Happy guy!

Get him a tent that not only stands on its own, but will last a long time and fit him, his gear, and a buddy comfortably. Buy a sleeping bag that not only stands up to cold temperatures, but can fold into a compact roll easily with one person folding it. Investigate to see if he’d prefer a higher quality foam mattress or an air mattress instead.

Birthday Gifts for Him

These make some of the best birthday gifts. Upgrade and say goodbye to “making-do”!

3. “Experience Gifts” – Memory Makers

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These are also disappearing gifts in a way. They get opened, used, and they are gone! But remember – these gifts are not about YOU. They are about your giftee.

If he wants to see the big game up close and personal but you hate sports, get a second ticket for his buddy to join him. If she loves the opera and you don’t, send her with one of her friends!

Don’t go with them and rain on their parade, but do give them a chance to enjoy the things they love – with or without you.

Here are some of the best birthday gifts of experience:

  • Dinner theater, musicals, Broadway
  • Helicopter or hot air balloon rides
  • Sky diving, parasailing, hang gliding
  • Cruises
  • Concerts and performances
  • Trips to famous or historical places
  • The ballet, opera, or symphony
  • Sporting events
  • Amusement parks and theme parks
  • Conventions that share your giftee’s interests

And of course, if you know they are going to go on an adventure, you can always buy the accessories (ex: they're going skydiving, so you buy them the coolest goggles...).

4. Memory Keepers

There are countless ways to capture a memory and give it in a giftable form. If it brings back great memories, you have a great birthday present! Here are some ideas:

  • Scrapbooks and photo books
  • Slideshows and home videos on DVD
  • Penny charms and bracelets
  • Memorabilia from the concert they saw or place they visited
  • Digital picture frames
  • Paintings or drawings of photos, people or places
  • T-shirts and key chains

5. Gifts of Yourself

Give service - your time, your efforts, or your talents. Be creative! There are thousands of ways people can give of themselves, and homemade birthday gifts (coming soon) are the best ways to say “I really care about you”.

Start by thinking about what you are good at.

  • Can you write her a song?
  • Can you draw his portrait?
  • Can you detail a car?
  • Cook their favorite dinner in a fancy way?
  • Could the house use some fix-up? Make sure it’s a luxury, not something they need for every other day of the year. See #6 below for an example.

Get your imagination flowing and the options are endless!

6. Luxuries and Unjustifiable Necessities

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Want the secret to knowing what someone really wants? Watch and listen for complaints or something they can't stop talking about. If they can’t stop talking about it (good or bad) it is either a problem to be solved or a must-have indulgence!

There are 2 very important questions to ask yourself before you choose any birthday gift...

  • Question #1: Is this something they were planning to get already? If so, it might not be a good idea. But if they really want it and can’t justify buying it, you are onto something great!

  • Question #2: Is it a necessity or a luxury? Let’s be honest here - the best birthday gifts are not needs, they are bonuses.

Picture this scenario: Your mom’s house needs some work.

  • The empty diving pool in the back yard is a hazard - it is too broken down to fix. She’s going to have it filled with dirt regardless of her birthday.

  • The living room is outdated and the popcorn ceiling needs to come down. She can live without fresh paint and new carpet... but it would be nice.

Filling the pool is a necessity. Remodeling the living room is a luxury.

We can guarantee she will enjoy having the living room remodeled far more than having the empty pool filled for her birthday. Wouldn’t you?

Luxuries simply make the best birthday gifts.

7. Reciprocating Gifts

The best birthday gifts meet a certain "expected" level of quality. Consider reciprocating the quality of gifts that you receive from them. If they give you a really nice gift, you should probably think about getting a nice gift for them as well.

If he is gave you flowers, took you to dinner, AND spent $150 on your birthday present, it might be nice if you returned the favor.

Think of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. If they WOW you with your present, try to get something that WOWs them too.

There are exceptions.

Parents know that young kids give ceramic hand prints... and parents do not need to return this favor. :) But husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, siblings, coworkers - all you folks should be giving gifts on par with what you might receive.

If you received gifts from them before, then you have an idea of what their taste is. They obviously thought the gift they gave was worth giving.

Give them something on that same level.

By the way, this does NOT justify giving BAD gifts to someone just because they gave you a lousy present. No matter how spiteful or angry you feel, don't stoop to that level.

Play nice. ;)

Least Romantic Birthday Gifts

8. Gifts That Fit Age, Relationship And Interests

We are constantly gathering the best birthday gifts and ideas to share with our readers! Get more birthday present ideas based on your giftee’s age, interests, and your relationship with them - mom, girlfriend, sister, etc.

You can start with this handy little list.

Gift Ideas for Family

Best Birthday Gifts For Others

Your Turn!

What are the best birthday gifts you've ever received? Did you get a great response from a present you gave? Tell us about it in the comments below!

› Best Gifts
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