What are 30 things I can give my sister 30 of for her 30th birthday?
October 31, 2010 7:06 PM   Subscribe

What are 30 things I can give my sister 30 of for her 30th birthday?

My sister is awesome and is turning 30 in January. I really think she would appreciate 30 groups of 30 little gifties. My budget is around $100. Some things I've thought of:

Making her 30 cards
30 mini peppermint patties (her old favorite)
$30 gift certificate to someplace (though that is a significant chunk of the birthday budget)
30 words that describe her and make me think of her
Maybe 30 pennies with her year of birth
A mix cd with 30 songs

I want this to be nice and special, not look-how-old-you-are. She's the best friend I have. How can I treat her right, 30 times over? I've got 2.5 months to plan. Thanks!
posted by shortyJBot to Human Relations (35 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
A box set of 30 Rock, with YOU in the middle and an exclamation point at the end, written on the title/cover.
posted by timsteil at 7:09 PM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]

30 origami sculptures.
posted by zamboni at 7:11 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

30 snowflakes, individually (and different) cut, by you.
30 pressed flowers and leaves arranged in a frame or on note cards
for the CD, you could use the top 30 songs from the day/month/year she was born
30 seeds she can plant in her garden in the spring
30 postcards from places you've gone together or places she likes
posted by juliapangolin at 7:15 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

I like the idea of a CD with 30 songs, but particularly if you can select one song for every year she's been alive. Not necessarily the #1 songs from each year, but one song from each year that you either know she loves (or would love) or think describe her or your relationship with her.
posted by pammeke at 7:15 PM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]

Is she in touch with her inner child? If she wouldn't mind you buying her little toys, you could find party favors or other little toys at the dollar store and get her thirty of those... Thrift stores might have those too.

Thirty crayons could work too... going with the inner child theme. And print up thirty coloring pages from the interwebs for her enjoyment - something about sisters and how great they are...
posted by patheral at 7:16 PM on October 31, 2010

Birthday wishes written in 30 different languages.
posted by pineapple at 7:16 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

My mom used to do something like this for her coworkers with milestone birthdays! I specifically remember bunches of blow-pops, balsa wood airplanes, pez dispensers, those little green toy army guys (arranged on the desk), and apples (set out in the conference room). Maybe 30 cans of her favorite beer or something? Mail her 30 postcards?
posted by troika at 7:25 PM on October 31, 2010

30 photos -- of things she'd like, (find them on flickr or you could take them, if you have the inclination/interest), family/childhood photos, photos she's taken, whatever. It seems like you can get 30 4x6 photos printed pretty cheaply.
posted by darksong at 7:25 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

30 pictures, perhaps printed onto one collage.
30 birthday candles (easy, cheap)
30 sugar cubes
random, but 30 coupons for things she likes?
30 chocolate chips
A nice agenda with a post-it note that says "30 days of organization (plus a few more!)"
posted by samthemander at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

30 plastic monkeys, since she was born in the Year of the Monkey.

30 different cool paper clips, which are each a chance to mark or save something important. (I have at least 4 or 5 different kinds, I could mail them to you)

30 Mad-Libs, which you could probably get by buying one book of Mad-Libs and pulling the pages out.

30 Hershey's Kisses

30 "incentive stickers" (the kind teachers use that say things like "Way to Go!" and "Excellent!" and "Good Job!")

If she's the writing or corresponding type, you could give her 30 different blank cards, tied up with a pretty ribbon. (Again, I could send you at least 15.) (Sensing a theme? I have a stationery problem.)
posted by pineapple at 7:31 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: YAY! Great ideas so far. I would love to make her a little booklet of 30 of my favorite photos of her/us. She is a Spanish teacher, so I love the idea for 30 happy birthday messages in different languages. And she's definitely a kid and would like 30 little toys, like erasers or something. Mailing her 30 postcards would be cool. Maybe a scavenger hunt with 30 tips for the biggest gift.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:31 PM on October 31, 2010

Recursive thirtying!

30 fresh January flowers, 30 awesome buttons (maybe on a string, as a necklace?), 30 cupcakes/cookies, 30 sheets of handmade paper bound up into a notebook (not too hard to do, actually). The mix CD of 30 songs could have 30 doodles of musical notes, birds, or something else that is simple to draw.

If you make her 30 cards (each with a thoughtful 30-word message), you could send them to her at the rate of one per day until she reaches her birthday, and on her birthday send/give her the 29 other sets of 30.
posted by aniola at 7:32 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, and she likes gardening! The seeds (or seed packet) idea is great!
posted by shortyJBot at 7:33 PM on October 31, 2010

You could make her a necklace of 30 beads, each one somehow symbolic of a year of her life.
posted by amtho at 7:38 PM on October 31, 2010

I'm thinking practical...things it would be good to have 30 of.

Chip clips or other metal/plastic clips that are good to have in the kitchen.
30 little black magnets for the fridge
30 hair ties, if she has long enough hair
30 pens
a tin of 30 mints or candies....

...okay, I give up.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 7:39 PM on October 31, 2010

A thing that is very common in modern kindergartens is a thing called "Hundreds Day", which is the hundredth day of school. On this day, students are encouraged to bring a hundred of something: Goldfish crackers, M&Ms, Froot Loops, erasers, what have you, and to do other activities that revolve around the number 100.

Google "hundredth day" and you will find some ideas you can adapt to a thirtieth birthday celebration. For example: gather thirty cans for donation to a food bank in your sister's name*. Make a list of thirty things that were different about life thirty years ago. Make a list of thirty words that describe your sister.

*I am super-crazy about the idea of doing this for a person on her birthday, and would strongly suggest that it be one of your thirty ideas. You can get her friends involved at fairly low cost and it has a meaning and a purpose.
posted by padraigin at 7:39 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is a really cute idea!

A batch of 30 cookies, a box of 30 chocolates
15 pairs of cute socks or earrings (dollar stores or teen-accessory stores often have cute socks or earrings for as low as $1-2 / pair)
30 wall-decor butterflies or flowers
30 frozen meals (chili, soup, lasagna, etc) in individual ziploc bags so they fit in her freezer
A 30-colour eyeshadow palette (or 2 x 15, etc)
30 inches of something: candy, beads, pearls, silver-chain necklace, hair extensions (?), etc.
The 30-word descriptor thing you mentioned could be formatted in the form of a wordle
30 spices in a spice rack if she likes to cook
A sampler of 30 beers
30 pretty rocks (craft store, or go beachcombing for nice rocks and sea glass) in a glass container with some ornamental bamboo (you can probably find an arrangement with 30 stalks)
30 bus tokens for the city she lives in
A $30 gift card for the coffee chain she frequents
You could also look up 30 of her old friends she's lost touch with, contact them, and arrange for all 30 of them to call or email messages on her birthday.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:49 PM on October 31, 2010

I second the 30 Hershey's kisses idea, except that you can take out the little paper tags and then replace them with 30 things you love about her written on 30 similarly sized and shaped strips of paper!
posted by so_gracefully at 7:51 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

Take/find a picture of 30 different "30"s. Sort of like this AskMe. Paste them into a blank journal so she can record her thoughts about Being 30.

30 packages of tea

A Wisconsin quarter (30th state admitted to the union)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:58 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you heard of ESPN's 30 for 30? It's their 30th birthday too, and they're making 30 great documentaries. So I suggest you make 30 Youtube videos.
posted by acidic at 8:07 PM on October 31, 2010

30 plastic monkeys, since she was born in the Year of the Monkey.

It might depend when in January she was born. I turn 30 in March, and I was born in the year of the Rooster. Though I know Chinese New Year is sometime in January.
posted by Sara C. at 8:36 PM on October 31, 2010

30 really corny jokes.

30 stories (or ads!) from the local newspaper on the day she was born. (The library should be able to help you there).

30 messages from old friends (if you can get in touch with people from your past).

30 recipes - either ones that were childhood favourites (enlist your parents) or ones you think she would like.
posted by lollusc at 8:38 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

30 notecards with handwritten birthday wishes from 30 different people?
posted by MikeMc at 9:14 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

a handmade book of 30 favorite memories you have of her, from childhood to today (#30: making this book and remembering how lucky I am to have you as a sister!)
posted by curiositykilledthelemur at 10:15 PM on October 31, 2010

(I never had a sister, but would like to suggest you "adopt" me, because you're awesome.)

Don't forget time. 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 days, 30 weeks.

For example, you could give her a 30-minute session at a spa. You could give her a "coupon book" for 30 days she can call on you for a favor (well, that's a bit awkward, but you see where I'm going). Give her a hug for 30 seconds.
posted by maxwelton at 11:26 PM on October 31, 2010

I did this for my daughter when she went to her first sleep-away camp for a month (so, 28 days), but it could easily be adapted for 30 days. I bought a huge pack of matchboxes, dumped out all the matches, and then decorated 28 matchboxes inside and out. I tried to have a "theme" for each one, so that the inside of the box when slid out would look like a miniature diorama (for example, one had Pac Man being chased by Pinky on the outside, and inside was a tiny Pac Man game map with Pac Man chasing the ghosts; one had a maze on the front and inside it said "you're aMAZEing"; one had an actual four-leaf clover shellacked onto the front and inside it said "lucky girl"; the one for the last day of camp had an awesome "YOU DID IT!" design on the front, and inside was a heart locket necklace). I set it up so that she received one box each day in the mail, and each of the boxes had a velcro thing on the back so she could stick the boxes on her calendar (which I had also made for her), so that by the end of the month she had this awesome calendar that was made up of individual keepsake boxes. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and she loved looking forward to getting her mail to find out what kind of little box she would get next.
posted by mothershock at 5:46 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

30 teabags of different types of tea
30 sharpies (everyone loves sharpies!!)
A homemade recipe book with 30 great recipes
posted by jrichards at 6:17 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

For my 30th birthday, my cousin gave me 30 lottery tickets. It would have been great if any of them had won, but none did - not even a little bit. I would rather have had the thirty bucks. But, ymmv, if your sister likes the excitement of potentially winning something more.
posted by peagood at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2010

The Wisconsin quarter thing made me think of a different angle that you could take, where all of the 30s are hidden/puzzles. So not 30 sets of 30, but rather thirty things that each have some connection to "30" that has to be puzzled out. Like a Wisconsin quarter with no explanation.
posted by madmethods at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

It might depend when in January she was born. I turn 30 in March, and I was born in the year of the Rooster. Though I know Chinese New Year is sometime in January.

Yeah, I looked before I suggested it, since it's a lunar holiday. In 1981, the Chinese New Year rolled on February 4, so if the sister was in fact born in January 1981, she's a Monkey.
posted by pineapple at 2:54 PM on November 1, 2010

Response by poster: She is a Monkey! I could tease her about that, but I'm a rat. I love your ideas!

She is quirky and fun, but also would appreciate practical stuff. Sharpies are a great idea! We're not really the type to buy sister-themed stuff a la Hallmark, but personalized sister awesomeness would be great.

Oh, she likes A&W root beer, so thirty cans of those. Maybe thirty balloons--those multi-colored ones blown up with helium. Maybe the day BEFORE the big reveal. And tea bags are a great idea! (She likes Good Earth tea--try it if you haven't! It's spicy and sweet!)

My sister's husband is great, and I know if I could get everything ready by Christmastime (when I'll see them), I could give him the things to hide someplace in their house, numbered (wrapped, of course, because she's a snooper!) and dispense to her as the 30-day countdown begins. That would drive her NUTS, in a good way, because she loves surprises, and save on shipping bigger items.

It's starting to come together!
posted by shortyJBot at 3:45 PM on November 1, 2010

Response by poster: Oh and a 30 minute massage? BRILLIANT.
posted by shortyJBot at 3:46 PM on November 1, 2010

30 words that describe her and make me think of her

Going off this idea - the best broke present I've ever given was a crowd-sourced "30 Reasons We Love Ryan" certificate that we gave a friend on his 30th. Took about 3 days over a big email chain to everyone I knew would be at the party, then typed up the best reasons, had all participants sign at the bottom, and I put it into a basic frame I had lying around. It was a huge hit hearing him read it out loud (some of the reasons were totally goofy and in-jokey and others were pretty shmoopy), he was completely touched and he hung it in his kitchen.

So, you could do this all on your own (I could definitely come up with 30 things about my siblings) or make it a group effort. You could frame it, or send her 30 text messages leading up to her birthday, etc.

Have fun with this! Your sister will love everything you come up with, I'm sure!
posted by nelleish at 2:40 PM on November 3, 2010

Response by poster: Ok, here's the rough draft. THANKS everyone for your suggestions!
1. First day will be a postcard mailed to her explaining the birthday advent, and I'll mail one postcard to her every day until her birthday. (they might get there a little out of order, but I'll number them, corresponding with what she opens that day.)
2. 30 1981 pennies
3. 30 words in Spanish that describe her (she's a Spanish teacher).
4. 30 words in Spanish that DON'T describe her (will be fun!).
5. 30 favorite pictures of her/us/family/pets from our parent's photo albums, copies and bound together in a little book.
6. 30 cans of Diet A&W Root Beer (her fav)
7. 30 Good Earth tea bags
8. 30 things she's done to be proud of
9. 30 reward toy things to give to her students
10. 30 seed packets
11. A mix CD with 30 songs I think she'd like
12. 30 inside jokes
13. Thirty mini peppermint patties (fav candy)
14. Thirty hand-delivered helium-filled, colorful balloons. (I'll be in town to give them to her!)
15. Thirty reasons it's awesome not to live with our parent's annoying yet adorable Jack Russell terrier (aka Jack Russel Terrorist).
16. 30 bottles of her fav beer (need to consult her SO)
17. A Wisconsin state quarter corresponding with the postcard of the day, which will have a "Figure out what this quarter has to do with the theme" hint.
18. Thirty fun Mexican party favor themed little trickets, like chili pepper erasers or something.
19. Thirty pictures of jack russel terriers looking evil/being bad dogs.
20. 30 different orange paint samples, her favorite color.
21. Notes from 30 friends on her facebook wall.
22. 30 cool rocks (she did geology as an undergrad and used to collect them. I'll suggest she use them in her garden so she doesn't feel the need to keep them if they seem cluttery)
23. 30-oz metal water bottle
24. Mix cd with one song for every year since she's been born.
25. 30 penguins! She likes penguins. Erasers, stickers, pictures, etc.
26. Thirty reasons I'm glad she's my sister
27. Happy Birthday in 30 languages
28. 30 Rock Season 1 DVD set.
29. Thirty different number 30s.
30. Gift certificate for a 30 minute massage and Bday card
I might replace one of them with 30 recommendations for blogs/books/bands/movies I think she'd like, or that remind me of her. (Good to have a backup idea) Thanks, guys!! W00T!!!!1
posted by shortyJBot at 9:36 AM on November 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

What I think would be more awesome than 30 seed packets, is a mixture of 30 seeds, with no indication of what they are. Try to get ones that are not too fussy about e.g. full sunlight vs shade, or any other needs. Then she has to plant them and wait to find out what she has!
posted by lollusc at 6:52 PM on November 6, 2010

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