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The 8 Best 50th Birthday Gift and Celebration Ideas

Show your loved ones how much you care.


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50th birthdays are a milestone. This happy occasion is a chance for us to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve had thus far and the memories and people who make our lives special every day. My 50th birthday celebration made me feel extra loved, which is why I think it’s so important to plan something thoughtful for my friends and family on their special days. 

I’ve attended a lot of 50th birthday bashes and given a lot of 50th birthday gifts. Whether your loved one prefers a party or a quiet night in (and a special gift or two), there are so many ways to celebrate your loved ones and show how much you care. 

How can I throw a 50th birthday party?

When it comes to hosting a milestone birthday for the books, I always start by considering who we’re celebrating. For some, the perfect celebration is a big party with friends and birthday decorations. For others, a low-key dinner party at home is exactly what they want for their special day. If your best friend or family member is the type who likes excitement and crowds, consider a surprise party. Reach out to their colleagues, friends, and neighbors, and surprise them with a fun celebration that brings everyone in their life together. 

These kinds of 50th birthday parties can be fun to plan since there are many different themes and party ideas to pick from. Try a retro party whose theme throws back to when your friend was growing up, or a travel theme where all the food served is from various parts of the world. Tailor the party to fit the celebrant’s preferences, and add personal touches to highlight beloved memories from their first half-century. 

What are the best 50th birthday gift ideas?

Just like 50th birthday parties, 50th birthday gifts are an important part of celebrating your loved one. The same concept for throwing parties goes for picking out 50th birthday presents: The preferences and desires of the giftee will always steer you in the right direction. Always consider who you’re celebrating and what they like to do when picking out the perfect gift.  

1. Jewelry 

Jewelry with several pieces

A 50th birthday is a momentous occasion, and the perfect 50th birthday gift should reflect that. One option that will never steer you wrong is jewelry. For women, think about necklaces, earrings, or rings with their birthstone. For men, a pair of cufflinks is an elevated gift. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on jewelry to make a big impact. Just consider the birthday honoree’s personal style, and select a gift to suit it. 

2. Personalized Gift 

Speaking of personalization, there are plenty of ways to add a heartfelt touch to your gift. If you don’t have a big birthday present budget or you’re just not sure what to get your loved one, a personalized gift like a customized stainless steel tumbler, sterling silver decanter, or high-quality wine glass can’t be beat. Think back on important moments you’ve shared for ideas, like framing a ticket from a concert or sporting event you attended together. Make them a card that references happy times you’ve shared or DIY a gift that you know would fit their home or office. When you give a birthday gift with a personalized message or theme, it shows your investment in your loved one because of the time it takes to create. 

3. Gift Basket or Gift Set 

A laundry basket full of towels

Another way to flex your creativity for this important occasion is with a gift basket or gift box. These are fun to make and easy to tailor to the preferences of the birthday gal or guy. Start by picking out a cute basket or box at your favorite home store, then plan a theme for the box that you know your loved one will appreciate. Maybe they’re always making Mediterranean dishes, in which case you can create a basket with fine olive oils and fresh bread. If they love to read, select books in their favorite genre and pair them with teas or sweets. Consider adding a gift card to their favorite bookshop or cafe. When you create a gift basket or box, you add special, personalized touches that remind your friend of great memories. 

4. Birthday Book 

There are many different ways to make a birthday book for the person you love, but the most common is with collections of newspapers. Using the archive function from their favorite newspaper, like the New York Times or the Washington Post, or the library archives for more local papers, collect the front page of the newspaper for every year of their birthday starting with their birthdate. Then take those front pages and design a birthday book either online to be printed or in an elegant scrapbook for them to look through. Birthday books make great gifts because they highlight the context in which the birthday honoree lived, reminding him or her of all the exciting and interesting things they’ve experienced. It sparks memories and reminds them of other beloved birthday celebrations from the past. 

Newspapers aren’t your only option for birthday books. If you’ve known a person for a long time, you can also use mementos and photos from your shared experiences to create a more personalized birthday book. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the great memories and celebrations to come. 

5. Gag Gifts 

Does the person you’re celebrating have a great sense of humor? Consider celebrating them with joy, laughter, and a little silliness. For some, a 50th birthday celebration can be challenging, as it signals the halfway mark to a full century and causes us to reflect on — and perhaps lament — the lives we’ve lived.  As you celebrate that special someone, remind them that they’ve accomplished so much in these early days, and they have plenty of fun left ahead. 

Humor and fun can be welcome additions for that reason, which is why funny gifts and gag gifts should be on your list of considerations. Of course, you want to make sure that the gag gift recipient will appreciate it. If your friend lacks humor or doesn’t like raunch, you’ll want to skip the whoopee cushion. If, however, you think it will be well-received, consider taking it a step further with party decorations like toilet paper in the living room or forks on the lawn. This type of humor and silliness can be an important reminder that getting old doesn’t have to mean losing one’s sense of fun. 

6. Birthday Announcement 

Another way to show a person you’re thinking of them on their birthday, especially if you’re living far away from one another, is through an announcement in the paper. (Of course, you want to make sure that they’re comfortable with their birthday information being shared.) Birthday announcements are useful gifts for many reasons. Not only do they show that you’re celebrating your friend or loved one, but they can be used to share details about events or celebrations. If you’re hosting a party for a friend or think they might like a birthday card or birthday wishes from friends and neighbors, consider listing the party information or post office box for cards in the birthday announcement. 

7. Keepsake 

Woman reading a book while sitting in a hammock

Keepsakes are thoughtful gifts for close family members or friends. A birthday keepsake may be a family heirloom or a simple, sentimental trinket that has been passed down through the generations. College pins from your shared school days patches from the national park you visited long ago make ideal personalized keepsakes that the birthday honoree will appreciate and cherish. Wrap your unique gift in a cute box, and let it be a reminder of family love and big adventures. 

Life begins after 50! 

When it comes to a 50th birthday, celebration is in order. Whether your 50-year-old friend prefers exciting festivities with dancing and music or they prefer a quiet dinner at home with a good movie and nice food, there’s a personalized and memorable way to share this important day with them. And, of course, that also includes the perfect gift. Create or design a birthday book, gift basket, or delicately wrap a keepsake from a family member or shared experience. 

However you chose to honor your birthday friend, match the experience and the gift to their preferences and personal style. The more individual and personal the celebration feels, the more they’ll remember their 50th birthday with fondness and joy. 

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