When it’s the birthday of a family member, best friend or significant other, buying them a gift is your chance to show them how much you care while also unleashing your creativity. You want to get them the perfect gift that brings a smile to their face, but it’s not always so easy.
Gift ideas like a cheese board, necklace or cookbook are always going to make great gifts, but if you are looking for birthday gift ideas that say happy birthday in a more unique way, scroll through the list below.
The wide range of gift ideas we’ve put together proves that the best birthday gifts don’t have to be expensive, DIY or exclusive. Finding the perfect birthday gift just requires a little effort and imagination.
Top 21 Best Birthday Gift Ideas in 2021
1. Nixplay 10-Inch Digital Picture Frame
You’re wrong if you think gadgets can’t make excellent birthday gifts for a grandma or grandpa; nothing could be further from the truth as this very cool digital photo frame proves. As long as it is connected to Wi-Fi, it can receive media, safely and privately. Capable of landscape or portrait display, it also has a motion sensor that turns it on/off when you enter/leave a room.
Everyone can share photos and videos by email or phone directly to the picture frame, no matter where it is, keeping you connected.
2. Dodow Sleep Aid Device
Practical birthday gift ideas aren’t always looked upon favorably, but this one may change your mind. This sleep aid device teaches the user how to naturally fall asleep, making it a great birthday gift for a grandparent, spouse, teenager, or bestie who is having trouble sleeping.
Simple, yet effective, the light system and metronome combination is the perfect birthday present for people suffering from insomnia, stress, anxiety and restlessness who don’t want to take medication. A unique and thoughtful gift, it works well for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, too.
3. Luxury Safety Razor Shaving Kit
Finding the best gifts for the man in your life can be a challenge, but this complete wet shave kit is sure to please. It includes a safety razor with 10 blades, shaving brush, safety razor stand, shaving bowl, preshave oil, shaving soap and an aftershave balm.
As one of the most complete shaving kits to keep his facial hair in pristine condition or his face silky smooth, it is one of the best birthday gifts for him you’ll find.
4. Anti-Theft Backpack
Everyday backpacks can’t keep up with this one. More spacious and organized, it has tons of pockets and sleeves to carry everything you need when traveling. The 5-point anti-theft security system aids in preventing the most common kinds of pedestrian thefts, so travelers can keep their eyes on all the amazing sites.
With a sleek, elegant design available in four colors, if you have a family member or your friend that travels often, this is one of the best birthday gifts to give.
5. 3D Wooden Mechanical Puzzle
Unlike anything you’ve seen before, this STEM puzzle, makes a great birthday gift for dad, mom and teens. This particular model can be made into a small movie project that actually works – no batteries required.
An engineering marvel sure to amaze its recipient, it takes about 5-8 hours to put this brain-teaser toy together. While patience is key, once done, they’ll have a beautiful DIY projector with a hand-crank that shows 58 frames of film. Other models include a pendulum clock, perpetual calendar and treasure box.
6. Utensil Holder with Base
The melamine holder has the playful text “spoons & stuff” and can hold exactly what it says. The base the holder sits on can hold a cookbook, smartphone or tablet for convenient recipe access. It has the flair and look of delicate ceramic porcelain but rest assured it has all the durability and lightweight of melamine.
7. Gooseneck Tablet Holder
A birthday present that everyone knows they need but are unwilling to get themselves, you’ll be the hero of the entire birthday party when they unwrap this one.
The gooseneck clamp can be mounted to just about anything for easy viewing and reading of a wide range of smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Position it to any height needed using the thin easy to twist arm, and stabilize it using the thicker arm.
Great for recording videos, Facetime calling and of course watching TV, this tablet holder is one of the best gift ideas.
8. Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Who doesn’t like to hydrate while listening to their favorite music? Double insulated to keep warm and cold drinks hot and cold all day, the 17-ounce bottle also provides hours of music wherever you are. The lid has a built-in high-quality speaker that you can sync with any smartphone or tablet.
Look no further for birthday gifts for teen boys or girls, they will love this one. They can stay at the beach, park or dance around the house for hours on end with this little healthy gadget.
9. Glass Blossom Ball
Celebrating special moments typically involves flowers, and this beautiful glass ball combines flowers with art for a unique and thoughtful gift your best friend will love. There’s a visual delicateness and depth, with the flowers dancing on the surface and the stems seemingly growing through the center for a lovely 3D effect.
A decorative and meaningful gift that is sure to be one of the most unforgettable birthday gifts for a best friend, they have five other designs that commemorate more special occasions.
10. Retro Viewer and Custom Viewfinder Reel
Show off some of your happiest memories in retro style with this birthday gift that combines nostalgia and technology; a retro-viewer combination that makes it a great birthday gift for teen boys and girls, grandparents and siblings.
The gift idea comes with a red viewfinder and a code to create your very own custom reel. Put all the happy memories of the birthday party into the reel and present it then or give the birthday recipient the chance to create the reel themselves.
11. Birthday Cake Mugs
There’s no such thing as a birthday without a birthday cake, and this birthday present ensures that cake will be had – even if it’s out of a cup.
Wrapped in clear plastic with a bow, included with this gift basket are a “happy birthday” striped mug, Rainbow Chip cake mix and icing, a color-changing spoon and candles. A great gift for the birthday party you can’t get to or as an extra gift on the side, it’s perfect for all ages, but especially the little ones.
12. Contemporary Double-Walled Champagne Flutes
Celebrations have been associated with champagne since the beginning of time, so there’s nothing like upgrading or adding to the birthday girl or boy’s glass wine collection with these beautiful festive flutes. The double walled design makes it look like champagne is floating in mid-air, while keeping champagne cold and crisp and completely condensation-free.
One of the best birthday gifts for her, this set of 2 champagne flutes seamlessly blends practicality and beauty. Modern and elegant, these flutes are a must-have that are sure to turn heads and start conversations.
13. Charging Valet Tray Nightstand
There are six compartments to this suede-lined valet tray, useful for holding watches, wallets, money, glasses, keys and anything else you need to get your day going. The phone compartment is designed to hold a charging cable without adding any extra stress and flaps cover most of the compartments for privacy.
A great way to keep everything you need in one place, it is the perfect gift idea for adults and teens who could use a sleek, convenient way to have more organized and stress-free mornings.
14. Monogram Tote Bag
A great way to say happy birthday to just about anyone, this tote bag features an initial on the front, in a classic embroidered block font. The exterior is made from heavy-duty canvas for superior durability and the interior is lined with moisture-resistance material, meaning your best friend, mom or significant other can take it to the beach or gym without worry.
Big enough for a trip to the grocery store yet elegant enough to pack for the weekend, this all-purpose monogrammed tote bag makes a great birthday present.
15. Beside Caddy
A great gift for grandma who loves keeping books or her kindle nearby or for adults who need access to their laptops at all times, any and everyone will get organized with this well-made caddy.
It has 2 pairs of hook and loop fasteners sewed into the caddy and another two that can be attached to a table, bed or desk for customized access.
Available in nine colors, this stylish bedside caddy is a gift that works well in every type of décor and can hold up to 25 pounds.
16. Scented Candles Gift Set
After the party is over and the birthday cake has set in, it’s time to wind down and relax. The woman that receives this thoughtful birthday gift set will benefit from aromatherapy properties and amazing scents of spring, lemon, Mediterranean fig and lavender.
Each soy wax candle is housed in an exquisitely colorful jar, which can be repurposed once the candle is gone. It may be a while though, because these beautiful candles provide up to 30 hours of mood enhancing relaxation and relief.
17. State Necklace
No matter where you best friend is headed, she’ll know where her home is when she receives this sweet state-shaped necklace. Dipped in 14 karat gold, it is available in every state and features an adjustable chain. Great for Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, too, it is stylish enough to wear with jeans, a cocktail dress or business casual attire.
Made without the use of nickel, it is gentle enough to be worn by those with sensitive skin without causing any breakouts.
18. Luxury Scented Soy Jar Candle
The birthday cake may be gone, but its scent isn’t with this birthday cake candle. Smelling of buttercream vanilla, it will smell like something delicious has just come out of the oven.
The soy candle is in a glass container that says “happy birthday” and comes packaged in a box that reads the same, making it a good option for people who want to give more than a card while avoiding giving a gift card.
19. Ticket Stub Diary
Every concert, sporting event, gallery opening or flight can be held and showed off with this handy little journal.
A fantastic gift for teens who love preserving their memorabilia, it has sleeves that are spacious enough to hold tickets of any size and shape and even gives them space to write a few notes down about the event they attended. The pages are acid-free, guaranteeing that they’ll be able to refer to their memories year after year.
20. Five-Year Memory Book
A classic book made for tracking the ups and downs of life, this is a great gift for birthday boys and girls of all ages to start chronicling their lives. The perfect alternative for people who shudder at the thought of a diary or journal, this memory book allots only one page per day to jot down thoughts, events or even a doodle, making it very manageable for everyone.
On their next birthday, when they look back on a year of their life, they’ll be happy you gave this to them.
21. The Gift of Nothing
A hilarious gift for the person who constantly tells you not to get them anything, this gift-of-nothing must be opened in the presence of a camera.
As they unwrap their box of air, you can watch their face break into a huge smile and then hopefully laughter as they realize the gag. Of course, there is space to add a gift card to their favorite restaurant or store in the box.
Birthday Gifts: The Most Common Mistakes to Avoid
When buying birthday gifts, there is seriously no end to the amount of gift options available, which can lead to the recipient being moved to tears, smiles and laughter or anger, embarrassment and horror.
You already know the unwritten rules of finding the perfect gift, they are written just about everywhere, but wouldn’t it be nice if the rules on avoiding certain faux pas were also readily available? After all, no one looks for birthday gift ideas with the intent to hurt the recipient’s feelings or cause them pain, but sometimes it does happen.
This gift guide is here to help you avoid making the biggest mistakes when buying birthday gifts.
Spending too much money
It happens all too often; people don’t know what to buy and then end up spending way too much money because they are in panic mode. This is a common occurrence for people who are buying for a recipient they don’t know very well, like coworkers and acquaintances.
Don’t get caught up trying to impress someone through the cost of a gift. Set a budget and commit to sticking with it so you can avoid that awful feeling of not getting the reaction you hope for.
Spending too little money
While this may feel like a contradiction to the faux pas above, it’s actually not. There is a sweet spot between finding a great gift and being able to afford it.
Buying a birthday gift because it’s cheap does not usually lead to a great gift, at least not very often. It’s helpful to ask yourself if finding the lowest-priced item is your main goal. If it is, be aware that your present may make that goal very transparent.
Thoughtful gifts can be affordable, so try your best to be thoughtful as you search for items, instead of feeling pressure to spend a certain amount of money.
Buying “helpful” presents
Another faux pas to be careful of, you don’t want to give gifts that can be interpreted the wrong way, regardless of your intention. Household and grooming items can be seen as a backhanded way of hinting that a person needs to change something about their lifestyle.
Unless you are very close to the recipient, like your best friend or a family member, or they have explicitly asked or talked (often) about a particular gift, it is in your best interest to steer clear from practical items.
Giving an inconvenient gift
That large TV or wall tapestry may wonderfully suit the birthday girl or boy, but they may not think so. Birthday gifts that take up a ton of room could cause problems, unless you’ve previously discussed it.
Other examples of gifts that may be inconvenient include a pet, a weekend trip that forces them to find a babysitter or gifts for kids that make the household louder.
Regifting an item is a great way to ensure it finds its way to someone who may really love it, but this approach must be done with extreme caution.
If you can guarantee that there is no way the recipient will find out it was a gift from someone else, go ahead. Be cautious, however, because it’s a small world.
Giving the same gift … again
Yikes! It is true that some people are notoriously hard to buy for, making it easy to settle into buying them gifts within a specific theme or niche you know they’ll enjoy. This boxes you in, with very little wiggle room, and in rare cases can lead to you buying them the same item again, but maybe in a different color or style.
Do your best to avoid this tactic altogether and try to keep birthday gifts relevant and fresh.
Giving a gift you’d like, not them
Don’t beat yourself up, it’s natural to be attracted to things you’d want, but remember that your tastes aren’t the one you’re shopping for. Consider avoiding gifts based on your beliefs, style, smell and taste and think about the likes, dislikes and needs of the recipient.
Learn More About Charitable Shopping
If you are interested in learning more about how your everyday online shopping can be used for earning free cash back and supporting your favorite nonprofits, find out how Giving Assistant works here.