Thanks for the 30 reminders that I'm 30 now!
April 27, 2011 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Is it fun to get 30 things for your 30th birthday, or does it just remind you that you're 30 now?

Inspired by this question, I am thinking about getting my partner 30 30-themed things for his impending 30th birthday. I have a bunch of ideas (30 hand made bday cards, a $30 bottle of wine, a 30-point scrabble play laid out on the board), but the closer I get to starting to actually round up presents and make stuff, the more I start to reconsider.

I'm concerned about two things: 1) that I will end up buying a bunch of stuff that my partner will like well enough but that I would not otherwise get him if it didn't have something to do with '30'; and 2) that I am putting undue attention on the fact that my partner is turning 30 (not that there's anything wrong with being 30!).

His birthday is in July, so I definitely have lots of time to reconsider my plan. So far he has talked about turning 30 mostly with apathy; I don't think he's exactly thrilled, but he's not dreading it either.

I realize MeFis don't know how my partner will react; I imagine he'd be impressed with my industriousness in rounding up a bunch of 30-related things, but it's hard to say for sure. I just don't want him to ultimately be disappointed that I didn't focus on getting him something that he really wanted, so that I could execute this 30-themed plan instead. Obviously, I am trying to think of stuff that he still likes, like 30 of his favourite tea bags, or a $30 gift card to his favourite clothing store.

I'm wondering whether anyone has been on the receiving end of an age-themed birthday gift? If so, how did you feel about it? General opinions on whether this is a fun thing to do, or ideas for how I could do a more low-key version of this, are also welcome.

Anonymous because my partner knows my handle.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I imagine he'd be impressed with my industriousness in rounding up a bunch of 30-related things, but it's hard to say for sure.

The 30 theme present idea seems more about you than about your partner--get him something he really wants instead, especially since you already know he's expressed "antipathy" about the number.
posted by availablelight at 6:47 AM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

...whoops, I read "apathy" as "antipathy", but my advice still stands
posted by availablelight at 6:48 AM on April 27, 2011

A friend of mine's partner recruited friends to make small video messages for him for each day leading up to his 40th birthday. I know the gift was well appreciated, and highlighted the number part of it without making it too obnoxious. It takes a bit of planning (and it was actor friends, so they were quick to get in front of the camera), but I think the pay off is amazing.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:50 AM on April 27, 2011

(sorry, for the 40 days leading up to his birthday, to be clear)
posted by raccoon409 at 6:51 AM on April 27, 2011

I think as long as the 30 things are genuinely good gifts and you know your partner isn't traumatized by the idea of turning 30, it can be cute.
posted by something something at 6:51 AM on April 27, 2011

It depends on the recipient, so much so that this question's probably unanswerable. One of my best friends dreaded the idea of turning 30. I didn't really care about the number, but 30 was around the age that I started to care a lot less about gifts, because I didn't really need any more things. So if you go this route, get him stuff that he can consume like the tea, rather than 30 pieces of clutter he'll feel bad about throwing away.

Also, if the only 30-related thing about a gift is the price tag, it's probably not a good choice, because it's sort of weird and impolite to draw attention to how much a gift costs. Unless it's a gift card, in which case it's unavoidable.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

My wife did this (but I think for my 28th), and I enjoyed it. It's touching for someone to go through the effort.
posted by davextreme at 6:59 AM on April 27, 2011

Seems like you identified some good reasons why the plan is not ideal. I think it would be hard to come up with 30 "good" gifts without many seeming forced (and/or wasting your time and money as a result). 30 handmade birthday cards? Yikes! (Unless maybe they were all teeny tiny and you could put them in a big frame. Hmm, that could be neat. I mean, the alternative is he "saves" 30 cards in a box somewhere, or throws them away.)

I would never want to squash anyone's grand creative plans, but I bet you can come up with something(s) super cool without relying on this 30 gifts of 30 things gimmick.
posted by Glinn at 6:59 AM on April 27, 2011

Here's the deal -- I like getting gifts, but I don't always like storing them. Getting 30 sort of gag-like gifts that I would feel that I had to keep forever or possibly hurt my (very thoughtful) partner's feelings would be kind of an agony. If you decide to go this route, I would try to make most of the items consumable -- bottle of wine, 30 candies, a $30 iTunes gift certificate, that sort of thing. There is also the option of seeing if you can come up with ideas for 30 awesome things; if you start running out of ideas around item 10 (or start seriously considering getting 30 kittens), maybe you want to discard the idea....
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:05 AM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

For 30th birthdays, I like making a mix tape (cd, playlist, etc.), finding a movie and book all from the year they were born, so maybe a mix with 30 songs from 1981?
posted by FreezBoy at 7:10 AM on April 27, 2011

My mom inflicted this on me. She meant well and I treated it as the sweet gesture it was, but the fact is that I'm shy, don't like being the focus of attention and am uncomfortable accepting gifts, so it was not so much fun as was intended.
posted by jon1270 at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2011

I would recommend getting one or two 30-themed gifts if you like that idea and don't think your partner would mind. Getting thirty of them strikes me as overkill and I would feel the way GenjiandProust does about it. I would focus more on what your partner likes/wants and less on your admittedly cute idea, but that's just me.
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

As you say, it's hard to guess what anyone else is going to think, but if someone did this for me I'd just be wondering what I was expected to do with a whole load of little junkie bits and pieces and wondering why the giver went to such a lot of effort to get me a bunch of stuff I probably don't even want. I would think of how wasteful and un-environmentally friendly the gift was (900 things that will eventually end up in a landfill someplace instead of just one). So I vote for getting him something he really wants instead.
posted by hazyjane at 7:14 AM on April 27, 2011

I think getting 30 things would be neat, or getting a few 30-of-something things would be neat, but getting 30 30-of-something things would begin to be a bit overwhelming. Does that make sense?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:27 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

My sister did this for me for my 30th. I loved it. She didn't use a 30 theme. It was a bit more of a "Now that you're getting old, you may need" theme. A few of the gifts were actually big gifts that were quite meaningful. The rest of the stuff was just ways to celebrate (individually wrapped mini-bottles of champagne), ways to take care of your rapidly aging body (sunscreen, chapstick, foot massage stuff, daily medicine pill container-lol), and little trinkets that I could use (erasers &graphite for drawing, handmade knitting markers, handmade earrings). Her gift was a great success.

I guess I would be worried about being preoccupied with 30 aspect of it all. I was just showered with 30 gifts, and that was awesome. For my then boyfriend, now husband, I did this for his 25th birthday. I gave him an expensive video game he had been wanting, but everything else was consumable--paint balls, wrapped up doritos bags, individually wrapped root beer.
posted by Kronur at 7:29 AM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

My boyfriend just turned 30, and when I asked about celebrating his birthday well he wasn't exactly stoked about the idea of having that emphasized, like having his nose rubbed in it. I realized he wasn't the kind of person to enjoy a bunch of junky little things either. But I wanted to do something special for it anyway so I gave him a birthday card meant for a 3-year-old, added an 0 in marker to make it 30, and included a list of 30 things I love about him. He really enjoyed that :) And a pair of nerf guns with extra ammo was also well-received. Going the other way and emphasizing he's still a boy at heart was fun :)
posted by lizbunny at 7:34 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why not 30 bday cards, 30 balloons in bathroom that morning, and a couple of nice gifts?
posted by vitabellosi at 7:35 AM on April 27, 2011

When my SO turned 40, I put 40 candles on his birthday cake to mark the momentous year in a fun way, maybe that would be an idea for you? (Caveat: You need to sing really fast. It gets rather hot.)
posted by pink candy floss at 7:39 AM on April 27, 2011

For me (34), the nice thing about getting older is that one can imagine living a long time (I used to think I'd be dead by 28!). You know, I can see being 60, 70, so if I get myself a pen, maybe it won't be just another pen I'll lose, but I can spend a bit of money and get, for instance, a fountain pen, and think, "I'll have this for the next 20 years."

The idea of 30 throw-away things is kind of the opposite of that.

30 balloons, as vitabellosi suggested, seems really fun -- and if you really want to get him 30 little things, why not? It could be great! Just wanted to put in a word for the alternative: the beauty of the opposite: one really precious thing your partner might want to keep around for the next thirty years (apart from you!).
posted by PersonAndSalt at 7:39 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ask him. Ask him what he wants for his birthday. Mention that a friend of a friend did what you have in mind, and if there is anything he would like 30 of. Maybe he's the kind of guy that loves getting practical stuff like underwear and socks for his birthday. Maybe you'll make a coupon book of 30 things like back rubs and home cooked dinners, or whatever he likes that's special to the two of you. But I agree with the people who say that 30 groups of 30 is a lot of stuff.

I really like the idea of having 30 friends wish him a happy birthday...

I turn 30 this year on 9/10/11 and I am so stoked about it. For a few reasons. First, being 30 is the first number that seems to say "adult" to me.

Second, 9/10/11 falls on a Friday.

And now you have given me a third reason. Somebody might put together 30 of something cool or meaningful for me.

I need to brainstorm what to ask for. 30 balls of yarn? 30 knitting patterns? 30 pairs of shoes (ridiculous, I know!)? 30 bottles of nail polish? 30 books? $30 gift cards?

posted by bilabial at 7:41 AM on April 27, 2011

Have you considered charity gift cards? $30 could provide early learning equipment for indigenous children, or $300 would get you a heifer.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 7:42 AM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I love presents and would be thrilled to get 30 of them. I also don't get what is so horrifying about turning 30. That's just me, though, apparently.

You seem to doubt that he wants to be reminded of it, so I'd leave it out. If you change your mind, though, you could go to thrift stores and graze until you accumulate 30 things he would like.
posted by tel3path at 7:51 AM on April 27, 2011

I threw my husband a surprise party for his 30th.

I bought him a t-shirt that said "30 Years of Evolution Can't Be Wrong" because he is a science person. I bought our son a, "My Daddy is 30!" t-shirt.

I also bought 30 balloons --- one with 30th Birthday on it.

And that was about it.

He probably would have liked 30 beers, but I didn't have a chance to pull that off.

He didn't seem to mind anything with the 30 or 30th on it. He was mostly impressed that he didn't have any idea that party was for him and it took me about 6 weeks of off and on planning.
posted by zizzle at 7:51 AM on April 27, 2011

A friend of mine solicited 30 of her S.O.'s friends to give the same small thing with a personal note, then presented them all together in one box. The S.O. had a pen fetish, so getting a box *FILLED* with pens-plus-personal-well-wishes went over really well.
posted by Ys at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2011

I think this is a cute idea. The fact that he's facing his birthday with apathy is actually a good sign as far as something like this goes; if he were dreading it that would be one thing, but he's not. It's always nice to excitedly fuss over someone.

Make sure some (at least one) of the gifts is something really stupid just to make him laugh. They don't all have to be some really cool, meaningful item. For instance, I am a terrible, awful, ridiculously bad dancer. A while ago, my boyfriend got bored while he was captive chopping onions to make dinner. He requested that I entertain him. So I did a stupid little dance. It's now become a thing, and I stupid-dance for him whenever he's bored. If I were doing this project, one of my gifts would be an envelope with a coupon for 30 free Entertainment Dances, to be redeemed as he sees fit.
posted by phunniemee at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2011

So far he has talked about turning 30 mostly with apathy; I don't think he's exactly thrilled

Well, that settles it. He's not excited about the idea of turning 30; don't make a big deal out of the number 30.
posted by John Cohen at 8:06 AM on April 27, 2011

On second thought ... maybe you should just go for it! Maybe you could get him excited about the idea of 30. (I recently turned 30 and I find it exciting!)

I don't agree with some of other comments saying that the gimmicky gifts would be a missed opportunity to get him "something he really wants." Of all the gifts he'll get in his life, he'll have so many chances to get a big "something he really wants." He won't have another chance to get this specific 30-themed extravaganza from you. If you're really into it, he'll appreciate it.

(However, note: 30 * 30 = 900. Are you sure you're up for getting that many things?)
posted by John Cohen at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am turning 30 soon (and not very excited about it) and I would want 30 things, even if they were junky and I threw them out later. It sounds like fun!
I think you should get him one real present or a nice dinner or something, and then 30 things. Then he gets something good anyway in case your 30 things fall flat.
posted by rmless at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2011

When my husband turned 50, his brother gave him an Ipod with 50 songs preloaded - he put on one song released in each year from the year of my husband's birth up to the current birthday year. He tried to have the songs be either the billboard # 1 song for the year or in the billboard top 10 for each year represented.

You could do some variation on that I would think - give him a mix tape (cd, playlist, etc.). You could do one song for each year, or 30 songs all from the year of this birth (as FreezBoy mentions), or 30 songs meaningful in some other ways.
posted by gudrun at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

30th answer!

I'd agree with previous posters - if there's some thing or kind of things that he really likes, consider getting him 30 of that thing. If not, I think it'll seem a bit cutesy. Whether he enjoys cutesy is a question you're better suited to answer than we are.

Also - bilabial - another reason to be excited? 9 + 10 + 11 = 30. :)
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Today is the last day of my 30s, if he wants to give me a call I can cheer him up by telling him how much I wish I was 30 again.
posted by biffa at 8:50 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Personally, I would rather receive one meaningful gift than 30...things (although suggestions like gudrun's bridge that gap nicely). I don't like getting "stuff," so for my 30th birthday, my husband took me to a national park. He knew me well enough to know what I'd like. It was perfect.
posted by sugarbomb at 8:51 AM on April 27, 2011

Too much, too much, too much. 30 "things" is an awful lot of shopping for you, money the Dollar Store doesn't need, and eventual filler for the already-choked landfills. The only really useful "30 things" would be 30 mortgage payments, but that's me.

Provide your partner with a great bottle of wine, and a fabulous night on the town. Nobody needs more stuff to stuff their lives with.
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:09 AM on April 27, 2011

I just turned 30 last week and I wouldn't like this idea at all. The effort/expense of 30 really great gifts is overwhelming, and the idea of storing or throwing away 30 gag or cheap or junky gifts seems wasteful.

Like your boyfriend, I was neither thrilled nor upset at the prospect of turning 30. I appreciated the gestures and gifts I did receive but was SO RELIEVED that no one made a big deal of it. For me, apathy tips into irritation when a big deal is made out of something.

Since you're concerned that he'd rather get something he really wants instead of things that round up to 30, focus on that, and maybe throw in just one token 30-related item.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:30 AM on April 27, 2011

I'd rather someone donate $30 to a charity I like than get 30 various ...things. Most people have enough crap already.
posted by ducktape at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

The effort/expense of 30 really great gifts is overwhelming, and the idea of storing or throwing away 30 gag or cheap or junky gifts seems wasteful.

A lot of folks seem to be posting answers that say "don't do this!" based on the idea that the OP is planning to give 302 gag gifts. That's not what it says up there at all! Stuff like 30 of his favorite kind of tea bags or a $30 bottle of wine is hardly crap that's going to just sit around or get tossed out. It's not like the OP is planning to get 30 "I Wuv U!" teddy bears or something ridiculous.
posted by phunniemee at 10:24 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

30 kisses would do the trick. I think giving gifts that are meaningful, even if not bountiful, are more important.
posted by anya32 at 10:42 AM on April 27, 2011

30 gifts = expensive. You sure he wouldn't rather get something nicer for that amount of $$$?
posted by Neekee at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2011

I wouldn't focus on the number 30 in such a pointed way if he is not thrilled with turning thirty.

Instead, I might think about coming at it from another angle, playing up all the nostalgia and memories over the years.

What was the first beer/wine/alcoholic beverage he ever had? Buy some to celebrate his day.

His favorite videogame back then? Could be a console/computer version available now, or an app for his phone.

Does he have all his favorite old movies in his DVD collection? A book from back then he'd love to have a copy of?

Did he have a favorite team growing up? Get him tickets to see them play (and go with him!).

Record some memories from those days on a DVD, as mentioned above, from his friends. Get his Mom to talk about the day he was born. Make his birthday cake yourself, from Mom's recipe, or his favorite meal.

Make a mix tape of songs from when he was a teen.

And, lastly, is there something he always wanted to do before he "got too old"? Ask him. Thirty is young, really, but when you are a teen or young adult you don't see it that way. Maybe he always thought he'd travel, or go skydiving or something. Either schedule a trip or an adventure, or make plans to get those dreams crossed off before he turns 40, so he has something to look forward to in his thirties!
posted by misha at 11:05 AM on April 27, 2011

30 kisses would do the trick. I think giving gifts that are meaningful, even if not bountiful, are more important.

Building on that, how about a book of 30 vouchers for a whole range of nice things you could do for him, from the intimate to the everyday - a kiss, a shoulder rub, some secret sexy thing he really likes, cooking his favourite meal, a cup of coffee in bed, cleaning his shoes so he doesn't have to, taking him for a meal somewhere you know he'd love to go, a week of never doing [insert that one thing you do that annoys him].

If the vouchers were hand-drawn or nicely designed by you on the computer, with lots of things that are personal between the two of you, it'd be a nice way of giving him 30 gifts without giving him lots of clutter. And since it's free, you could also buy him something he tells you he wants.
posted by penguin pie at 11:29 AM on April 27, 2011

I'd love it. You're not just buying him the gifts - you're buying him the story. 'My partner once got me 30 things for my birthday'. Doesn't matter what they are.
You could wait 3 years. 33 is the age Jesus is supposed to have been when he died, so you could probably find some weird stuff related to that.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:21 PM on April 27, 2011

This is an awesome idea. It's a birthday gift you'll both be talking about for years to come. I say "Go for it!".

Can I add one: 30 Hershey kisses in a cellophane bag.
posted by marsha56 at 1:12 AM on April 28, 2011

I received 30 lottery tickets. None of them were winners. Not one, not even for two dollars or something. With every loss after the first few it was comical - but by the twentieth, in front of everyone, I grew more bitter as I would rather have just had a nice enough bottle of wine. I realize no one can really know how that's going to pan out - but it's been a dozen years and I'm obviously still not over it.
posted by peagood at 7:13 AM on April 28, 2011

A $30 bottle of wine might not be cool - as others have said, the value of a gift isn't why you should be choosing it - but how about a 30 year old whiskey?

The drawback - this is expensive. I looked into it for my SO's 30th and it was beyond my pricerange. I did get him some nice whiskey, but it hasn't been finished yet because he feels it's too nice to drink. Admittedly, this would also put me off opening a bottle of expensive wine.

I think you have to consider: what would he want? Some people like novelty tat, others don't. Some like vouchers, others see them as less fun. And you could end up like a former flatmate of mine, whose auntie bought her twenty one non-matching candlesticks for her 21st.
posted by mippy at 7:52 AM on April 28, 2011

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