For the last few years, when I’ve been asked the immortal questions of ‘what would you like for your birthday,’ I’ve had a sense of dread in my stomach. Because as a middle-aged woman with a nice house, a wardrobe full of clothes, and cash in the bank to treat myself occasionally, there isn’t really anything I want per se. Obviously, I’m excluding a top of the range sports car, a holiday home by the coast, and a cheeky shopping trip in NYC.

So, when my 50th rolled around last year, I had a permanent blank expression on my face for weeks beforehand because I genuinely didn’t know. I think I occasionally muttered ‘gin’ and hoped someone was listening. Eventually, I decided on a beautiful Thomas Sabo bracelet from my dad, which we chose together, and smiled in a baffled way at everyone else.

Imagine my surprise on my actual birthday when I received some incredibly thoughtful, beautiful, useful, unique, and wonderful gifts. And gin… I received a lot of gin! But it seemed that friends and family had taken the time and effort to think outside of the box for my 50th to surprise and delight me with a fabulous selection of presents.

It would be challenging to say which were my favorite but, in no particular order, these are some of my highlights – and a few ideas for you to think about!


Woman Getting Jewelry

Even if you’re not the biggest jewelry wearer, a few classic items on your dressing table are always a good investment. I received some beautiful earrings (including a homemade pair from my niece!) and a Pandora bracelet – all of which were totally my style and showed that the people who gifted them really did take time and effort to make sure it was the right piece for me.

Theatre Tickets

On my birthday weekend I went to see Dream Girls (just fab.u.lous!), and this month, exactly six months after my 50th, I’m going to see Les Miserable. I remember opening the envelope on the day and my heart sinking – May was so far in the future! But all of a sudden, here we are, and I am so excited – I adore the theatre and can do jazz hands or sob my heart out in equal measures, so both shows really were the perfect presents.

An Experience

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Now this is where it starts, to get interesting and possibly exciting (depending on the experience). Fancy doing a skydive? Swimming with sharks? Taking a hot air balloon flight? The key question is how far do you want to step out of your comfort zone? While none of those suggestions appeal to me personally (I’m much more of a feet on terra firma kind of girl!), this may be the birthday you decide to ask your nearest and dearest for a present you’ll never forget. Some may say it’s a mid-life crisis, but I say it’s a ‘Fearless at 50’ kind of crisis instead!

Personalized Gifts

There’s something very special, heart-warming, and well, just wonderful about a gift that is 110% unique to you. I believe it means so much that the person gifting it has really thought about you and your likes, taste, and style. I received two wonderful unique gifts – a heart shaped canvas with photos of me and my beautiful Labrador (thanks Suze!) and another framed heart full of words about my life and friendship with my best friend, Georgie. Both have earned an esteemed place on my dresser where I can see them daily and be reminded of just how wonderful, memorable, and simply perfect these gifts are.

A Gift to Yourself

But of course, a birthday – especially your 50th – isn’t complete unless you treat yourself. This is your day and your big birthday, so pull out all the stops and buy yourself something that means a lot to you. Something that you will look back on and smile, something that will evoke a special memory or something that you know no-one else will ever think of.

Now I know you’re wondering what I did to treat myself to on my 50th, right?!

After much convincing from a dear friend, I decided to capture myself at 50 forever by having a photoshoot. Not just any photoshoot though – a ‘looking sultry in your best underwear’ boudoir-style photoshoot! Believe me, I couldn’t have been more out of my comfort zone if I tried and yes, I was petrified on the day. BUT, the results were amazing, and I’m glad I swallowed my fear and captured this very special moment in time.

And… I got myself a tattoo – obviously! In all fairness, it’s been a long 8 years in the ‘thinking about it’ stage and I finally braved the needle just four days before I was 50. I chose a small delicate yellow rose with ‘Mum’ in the stem for my wrist, and even when I’m old and grey, it’ll still mean the world to me and bring back some very special memories of a wonderful birthday.

In conclusion, birthday gifts are a minefield for anyone over 40 at the best of times. But taking a little bit of time, some careful thinking, planning, and listening to the subtle clues, you should be able to select the perfect gift for the next 50th birthday in your life.

Need inspiration? Here are some excellent gift ideas:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

And if it’s your big day that’s on the horizon? Start dropping hints right now – and leave this article somewhere easy to read!

Read Next:

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34 Wonderful 60th Birthday Gifts for Women



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