Sunday, July 27, 2014

10 Super 40th Birthday Presents

Kids Running Amok at My 40th
Image via Chris James at Seabreeze Films
I turned 40 last year.  It was great.  

I had plans to have a big lunch at a fancy restaurant, but my birthday is quite close to Christmas.  

It's a horrible time to try and plan something like a 40th because a) everybody is in Christmas mode b) nobody has any time and c) everyone is skint.  Also we all tend to do that "we must catch up before Christmas" thing which means everyone is all caught up and over it.

So I dilly dallied long enough that planning anything even remotely like it was an impossibility. And in the end I decided to do nothing.  

Then I realised that was a really crappy decision and that I had to do SOMETHING.  So I suggested a picnic at the Botanical Gardens.  It was the Sunday before Christmas, so I wasn't convinced a lot of people could make it.  But I also thought that was good timing because most people have their Christmas stuff sorted by then. And are maybe in need of a relaxed, chilled out, pressure-free afternoon to unwind in gorgeous surroundings with friends, kids, champagne and food.

Seems I was right because while some people were on planes heading to exotic locations or had family functions to attend I had a great turn out of some of my most favourite people in the world.  

It was a truly gorgeous gathering, despite the weather which was typically inclement. Dear Melbourne, I love you but sometime you really suck.

It was a really relaxed afternoon and the kids ran utterly amok.  Everyone brought their own picnic lunches and we had some food and bubbles to share.  But it wasn't really about any of that. 

There was a moment about halfway in when I looked around at all these people, sitting on picnic blankets, umbrellas strewn beside them as they laughed and chatted happily.  And I felt really blessed. 

I looked at all these gorgeous faces and I thought to myself, what a truly great bunch of people.  And they are all my friends.  And they have all come here to celebrate me.  That may sound a little egotistical or up myself, but that is not the feeling behind the sentiment at all, the feeling is the opposite.  The feeling is actually very modest.  I felt blessed and humbled that all these great people are in my life.  Some of them for more than half of it.  And they all wanted to come along, to see me and each other and to celebrate.  And it was a lovely celebration.

I asked for no presents when I invited people.  Mostly because I was asking everyone to bring their own lunch - I didn't want them feeling obligated to bring a gift as well.  That would just be greedy!

But I have been giving some thought to birthday presents of late because since my 40th last year, a lot of my friends are turning forty too.  Some of them, like me are having events where we have to kick in and so no presents are required. Others are having fully catered functions where a gift would be appropriate. Still others are forcing me to shell out for airfares and hotels rooms to celebrate theirs - you know who you are (and it was worth every cent!).

So with all this in mind there have been a variety of gifts I've needed for each occaision. In thinking about this I came upon a number of really great, sometimes innovative, sometimes inexpensive but always thoughtful 40th birthday gifts.  

I thought you might find this list handy, because like weddings and births these things often happen all at once and suddenly you find yourself needing to come up with half a dozen different gifts in as many months.  Also these don't need to be used for only fortieths, obviously.  Many of them could be adapted for another milestone birthday or given for just any birthday at all. 

The main criteria for being on this list is whether I would want to receive this gift, if I would love to get it, then I'm going to love to give it.  Also, for a 40th I think it needs to show some sort of ingenuity and thoughtfulness.  Because, 40.  Chances are it's taken a bit of effort to get there, and I think the least that deserves is a bit of effort in the gift, don't you?

10 Super 40th Birthday Gifts

Champagne and Flowers Delivered
Happy 40th To You!
Image by One Small Life

Okay, this might not be the most inventive present or the most unique, but if you can't see your beautiful friend on their birthday sending a bottle of French Champagne and an enormous bunch of flowers with a note that says "They flowers are all for you, chill the bubbles, we're sharing them next week" is sure to make anyone feel special. Especially if they get delivered to a work place or some other space where the recipient is going to get a lot of (probably unwanted) attention.

Handwritten Letters
I like to think my handwriting is more legible than this.
Image via Morguefile
Many of my friends and I don't "do" presents anymore, but I still wanted to acknowledge them and our friendship in a special and very personal way.  Also many of my friends and I have a history of letter writing, from back in the days when we were travelling the globe without mobile phones or THE INTERNET. Can you imagine?  Back in these prehistoric times we did a remarkable thing, we wrote letters to each other.  Many of these letters I still have and they are a gorgeous reminder of beautiful friendships and exciting times.  I wanted to try and recapture some of that so I sat down and wrote a few pages to each friend about what they meant to me and how grateful I am we are still in each others lives to celebrate this milestone together.  Instead of mailing the letter I rolled it in or around a small gift.  It was a present that cost me nothing but time and actually gave me the gift of being able to reflect on my wonderful friendships.

 40 Blows 40 Sucks 40 Rocks
40 Blows 40 Sucks 40 Rocks
Image via Pass the Cereal
A good one for the sweet tooth or the giant child.  Make up a gorgeous gift of 40 Bubble Gum Balls (40 Blows) 40 Lollipops (40 Sucks) and 40 Pock Rock Lollies (40 Rocks). There are a million really cute and inventive ways to package this all up to make it look gorgeous and fun.  And it won't cost heaps.  If you are looking for ideas try Pass the Cereal (above) or Pinterest.

40 Reasons We Love You
40 Reasons We Love You
Image via Not On The High Street
You can make this into a book, which would be a lovely and more subtle gift.  Or if you think your recipient would be into it and your creative skills are up to it you can make a framed poster with some beautifully designed text.  What you want to do is get everyone in the birthday boy or girls immediate family and circle of friends to come up with a few reasons each why you love them.  Awww.  When you hit the magic number (that's 40 y'all) of really good, sometimes sentimental, sometimes pithy quotes turn them into a gift that is sure to make your special someone go weak at the knees.  I mean come on. Who wouldn't want to be told all the reasons they are loved?  What an ego boost.  You can get these made, like the one above from Not On The High Street.  But I reckon it's all the better if you can make it yourself.

Jewellery Box & Gifts to Keep Inside
Jonquil Yellow Jewellery Box
Photo via Oliver's Twisty Tales
If you are happy to spend a bit more, or you are planning to go in with a bunch of flush friends, this is a lovely one for the ladies.  The significant other can purchase a beautiful jewellery box and then word up all the friends and family to buy jewellery as gifts to fill it.  Obviously this wouldn't work for someone who already has a lot of jewellery or anyone who only wears diamonds or that sort of thing.  But if you have a friend or partner who loves bespoke jewellery a few gorgeous pieces don't have to cost a bomb.  And what a truly special, indulgent and personal gift this would make.  I love the jewellery box above (I have it in coral) and Etsy is great for gorgeous, unique and not always pricey pieces.

Weekend Away
Basil Martini. Classy.
Image via Sarah Davis Jewellery
A very good girlfriend of mine was bemoaning what to do for her fortieth.  Like me she wanted to mark the occaision.  But she just wasn't feeling into a big party or the like.  When all her friends got together on Facebook we simultaneously decided that a weekend away was in order - and we had the best time ever.  So. Many. Laughs. This is a seriously great gift, because she had a blast and felt very special that we had all made the effort to get together for her.  But we had a great time too, so it was a gift to us all!

Mystery Trip
Round House at MONA
Image via MONA
So a really gorgeous friend of mine has these really gorgeous friends.  And guess what they did for her 40th?  Only the best thing ever!  They sent her a letter that arrived in on the day of her birthday.  In this letter they told her to be ready at a certain time on a certain date in a certain style of outfit.  Intriuging, no?  She did as instructed and the girls arrived at her doorstep at the given time and promptly whisked her to the airport.  They flew to Tassie and spent the day at MONA enjoying some great food and company along the way.  The time, effort, thought and expense that they went to just blows my mind.  Creative, generous , gorgeous girls!  Not only is a really opulant gift, but it's the best kind because it involves spending time together.

40 Gifts for 40 Years
40 Gifts for 40 Years
Image via The Polka Dot Chair
This is another really indulgent and thoughtful gift.  And it doesn't actually have to be too expensive if you put your mind to it.  The idea behind this one is to create and enormous hamper that contains forty seperate small gifts, one for each year.  Such fun for the recipient to open, especially if each gift is somewhat meaningful or relates to a memory you share with that person.  Also a great one to do as a joint present from a certain circle of girlfriends or from siblings.  You can mix it up with some small things like chocolates and some bigger things like vintage wine (year they were born, perhaps?).  You can even include some things that don't involve eating and drinking, if you are that way inclined.  If you need some extra help with this The Polka Dot Chair has a good blow by blow.

Photo Collage
Heart Shaped Polaroid Collage
Image via Morgan Echols on Pinterest
When we were in high school one of our very best and most creative friends used to make us these great photo collages for our birthdays.  They were really fun and witty and personal and I reckon at forty or older it would be a great thing to do too.  A really interesting way to look back over the years of fun, adventure and friendship.  Personal.  Thoughtful.  Memorable.  And not a bank breaker.

Massage, Facial, Pampering Treat{ment}
You can never have too many massages.
Images via uspa
Okay.  So this may not take out any prizes in the creative stakes.  However I defy anyone to not appreciate a gift of complete indulgence.  So if you don't have time or artistic flair to spare, but you do have coin?  I don't think you can go past a pampering package at a super indulgent Day Spa.  The only way to improve on this is to make it not just one treatment but a whole weekend away.  Or to present the gift certificate engraved on a bar of chocolate.  Just me?

Do you have any milestone birthdays coming up?  
What is the best present you have ever been given?


  1. What great gifts. I had a BBQ with my closest friends and my mum and sister put together a box of old people things for me like incontinence pants and denture tablets. I'm only 18 months away from the next big number ending in 0 and I don't really know what to do.

    1. Oh Michelle! Looks like they might have peaked too early with the incontinence pants. They've left themselves nowhere to go! With 18 months to go you've got plenty of time to plan something fabulous I reckon, and what I learned with my little picnic is that it doesn't have to be fancy to be special. x

  2. Ooh there are some great ideas in here. I need to bookmark this post!

    1. Wow Naomi with your gorgeous creative flair you could do amazing things with some of these ideas! I'd love to see your take on the poster - a watercolour version would be beautiful! x

  3. Many great pressie ideas in there Kate - I love the mystery trip one, what an amazing treat ! Love being in my 40's too - it is a great time of life.

    1. Me too Ing, it's a very sort of secure time of life for me - I feel more sure of myself than ever (that still doesn't mean particularly sure, but still - it's a great feeling!). And as for that trip - when she tokd me I was like "wow! why didn't I think of that!". It's a goodie. x

  4. So many great ideas here Kate! I think I will show this to my husband for my milestone next year. He always struggles with ideas. I really love the 40 reasons poster. He'll just need to come up with 50 reasons.

    1. Thanks Deb! I reckon he'll have no trouble coming up with 50 reasons! But make sure you hint for the indulgent ones too, a poster AND a massage I reckon. At 50 you've earned at least that! (or maybe I'm just revealing my latent desire for a massage - need to make that happen soon) x

  5. What a fantastic post! I will be forwarding this little link to my hooosband!!! Oh yes i will!

    1. Thanks Rachel, you big spunk. When I wrote this post I had no idea how handy it would be as a hubby hint helper, but I'm very happy to be of service. Champagne & massages for ALL!!

  6. So many great ideas, Kate. I wouldn't have guessed you were 40. I'll be in on the champagne and massages for all. xx

    1. Thanks Blondie! I know, who would say no to champagne and massages! As for not seeming 40, well that's my immaturity shining through, no doubt ;)

  7. These are great! I'm going to pin this and share share share!!! We're about to enter the years of 40th birthdays and these are all kinds of thoughtful!

  8. Thanks for the information and links you shared this is so should be a useful and quite informative

  9. Truly wonderful birthday gift ideas! Really liked reading your post. My cousin is turning 18 and will host a DIY party at one of top venues in San Francisco. Was confused for her birthday giveaway but now planning to make that heart collage for her.