Need help with a 30th birthday gift
January 31, 2013 9:56 AM   Subscribe

My husband is going to turn 30 in a couple of weeks. We don't usually give gifts on birthdays but since this is a big one I want to get him something special. I could use some help deciding what that could be! Details about him within.

My budget is about $100 and it has to be available online for shipping to Canada as there are no stores where we live.

About him: he's a successful small business owner with an incredibly high-stress job in a fast-paced industry, particularly in the winter. In his (increasingly rare) downtime he likes to play videogames (most recently Borderlands and currently Guild Wars). A couple of years ago he bought all the parts for and built a computer that I like to joke is worthy of the Department of Defense. He likes antique metal machining tools and equipment (to give you an idea of his interest level, here's a comment he wrote using my account to answer someone's question a while back). He also likes to machine/weld complex heavy tools and have them chrome-dipped for display (I call it alpha-male nerdery). In fact, he loves all things metal (especially heavy steel), and has a broad knowledge of metallurgy. He likes cooking and still loves the set of Wüsthof knives I gave him one year. He likes apocalypse scenarios and books/films, though he's maybe a bit burnt out on the subject at this point. He is also widely interested in all things about space and often watches marathons of Discovery Channel programs on the various topics about the universe and physics.

The last present I got him (a "just-because" present) was a replica of a Claymore mine that says "Front Towards Enemy" and sits on his desk (like Ron Swanson in Parks and Rec) which he loves.

I'd like for this birthday present to be a meaningful, lasting gift rather than just a new video game.

Any ideas? I'm not even sure which direction to go.

posted by mireille to Shopping (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
He is also widely interested in all things about space and often watches marathons of Discovery Channel programs on the various topics about the universe and physics.

A telescope and a camping trip to some nearby dark sky spot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:10 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

In that comment of yours/his that you linked to, he seemed to be impressed by the historical significance of that doo-hickey the poster posessed. Actually on preview, you also indicate that he "likes antique metal machining tools and equipment".

Maybe you might find something interesting like this on e-bay.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:12 AM on January 31, 2013

maybe search around for a local blacksmith and see about having your husband gets some hands on time with someone that knows the process and will let him play around.

Got a renaissance festival near you? Then you'd certainly have someone nearby that does this as a hobby, though at a very serious level
posted by zombieApoc at 10:14 AM on January 31, 2013

Thanks for the answers so far! I should clarify-- we own a large machining and welding facility so he has access to all the machines/equipment/steel/supplies already. We also live in a very tiny, very remote town of 4,000 people in Northern Canada so suggestions of anything "local" just aren't available in our kind of weird situation. If anyone knows anything about what type of antique tools might be neat given his interests, that would be helpful too! I just run the front-end (the paper part) of the business so I don't know what kinds of machining things would be awesome for him.
posted by mireille at 10:21 AM on January 31, 2013

For my 30th birthday, my wife put together a photo album of 30 pictures, one from each year of my life. I had most of them digitized, so she ordered them online and compiled into a nice album. One of the ones that has a ribbon through the pages, so you can expand later. There were a few gaps in the college years that she used pics from the wrong years in, but in the time since we've corrected and rearranged together.

I returned the favor on her 30th, by which time facebook made it much easier to fill in any gaps. I messaged her old high school and college friends, who were mostly more than happy to help, in one of the few situations where your wife's friends will keep a secret from her for you. We've both continued to add a new picture each year and friends and family enjoy looking through them. Definitely the most memorable and meaningful present I've received as an adult.
posted by IanMorr at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2013

For my (now) husband's 27th birthday, I secretly contacted his family and best friends (new and old), and asked each of them to write a list of 27 things the love about him. I created a little booklet of these, one list on each page, bound with a ribbon. I know it sounds cheesy, but it hit him hard in a good way, and I have yet to top it. Everyone likes to be reminded that they're loved.

If you do decide to go this route, a couple of pieces of advice: be prepared to follow up with friends/ family several times to collect the lists, and encourage people to be a little silly about it. You'd be surprised how hard it is to nail down 27 (or 30) things you love about someone.
posted by crunchysalty at 7:51 AM on February 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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