The Big 3-0
March 11, 2014 1:54 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who is turning 30 at the end of this week. She's still quite a new friend, but I really like her and I think we'll probably have quite a long-lasting friendship, and so would like to get her a thoughtful gift. The thing is, I absolutely SUCK at choosing gifts, even for my closest friends/family, and the thought of it stresses me out. Ideas?

Additional info: turning 30 is a scary thought for her, and she has also been dumped by a boyfriend recently so I would like her to feel she is still special and positive etc. She enjoys girly things (makeup, dressing up etc); she is athletic (ran a half-marathon recently), quite sentimental, a scientist by training, doesn't cook a lot but enjoys good food.

I don't think she's expecting gifts, so nothing too substantial (budget $20-30) - just something thoughtful. The easy option would be something like a personal card + chocolates/wine; are there others? What would you appreciate from a friend (who may not be your BFF) if you were turning a big age?
posted by pikeandshield to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I find that my friends, especially the single ones, love getting flowers (as long as you are not giving them to her where she'd have to carry them around all night). It does make people feel special, just include a card with a nice personal message.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:21 AM on March 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, writing a card that says you really like her and hope your friendship lasts for ages would be lovely to receive.

Has she mentioned any books she wants to read, fancy make-up she likes but wouldn't necessarily buy for herself because it's fancy, jewellery she's seen and thinks is cute? The nicest gifts I've ever got have been small things like that that have showed someone really listened to something I'd said.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 3:06 AM on March 11, 2014

I'd appreciate being taken out for dinner or a few drinks or to a play. It cures the problem of finding a 'thing' to get her and also gives you a chance to bond.

For single people (particularly women) turning 30, the fear of turning 30 is rarely alleviated by getting stuff. But a sharp reminder that there is fun to be had, people to meet, a life to be led is a good pick me up.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:27 AM on March 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Here's what I did for a friend in a similar situation. I got $30 little things, wrapped each of them up, and on each one, I wrote a couplet describing how a 30 year old might use the item.

The dollar store is a GREAT place to start with this, just cruise around, there are tons of random gee-gaws. You can also clean out your "re-gift" closet.

The idea is that it's a fun and light-hearted way to gift someone, while being rather thoughtful.

Here are some things that were in the box:

Bazooka Bubble Gum

A spatula

A bar of Camay soap

A gel mask you put in the freezer to de-puff your face

A shower cap

A box of camomile tea

A chocolate bar

A purse sized hand lotion


You get the idea. We had a ball at her party watching her open the gifts.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:05 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about a really decadent, expensive, beautifully packaged red lipstick - think Chanel, Guerlain, YSL? Ask the counter person for their most universal red. Think the kind of spendy lipstick she'd never buy for herself in a rich, Grown Woman shade.
posted by nerdfish at 5:27 AM on March 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

When I turned 30, a new friend made my day really memorable and special by taking the day off from work (it was a weekday, but happened to be my day off from my job), and driving me an hour or two away to a quaint, little scenic town on the water. They had a picnic ready, and gave me gifts such as a book, flowers, chocolate, a poster, and a t-shirt. It was really cool. No one else really knew it was my birthday, let alone my thirtieth, and I was recently separated from my partner at the time, so I'd planned to spend the day alone. It ended up being the best birthday ever, besides maybe my eighth?! Ha. So: an experience and a showing of care.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 6:31 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

On my 30th, one of my family members gave me a day off. She couldn't do my job for me or anything like that, so she told me that one weekend, she would do all of my errands (shopping, oil change, etc.) so that I could stay home with my cat and read a book.

It was great. I read 2 whole books that day! I was at a point in my life where I never had time to read and was pining for it. So-- maybe there's a hobby or other activity your friend likes to do that she never has time for. Can you find a way to give her that time, by doing something else for her?
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:54 AM on March 11, 2014

I got a fancy cupcake from a friend on a recent birthday and it was really nice. I would've felt weird about getting anything bigger than that from a friend who isn't close (or even one who is), although that very much depends on your social circle. I like the flowers idea, too - nothing too extravagant, though. I guess these aren't particularly unique/personal but I don't think they need to be - they still give the impression that you're thinking of your friend, which is the important thing.

Another idea - you could organize some kind of girls' night out (fancy makeup, drinks, dancing, etc). This might be better off completely separated from the birthday, depending how much she likes being the centre of attention, but would be another way to give her some support with the breakup/feeling bad about turning 30.
posted by randomnity at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2014

A great bottle of good grown-up wine. Not two buck chuck, not Barefoot, nothing you can get in a grocery store. $30 should be perfect. Go to a specialized wine shop (not liquor sto'), and ask the sales staff there for help if you don't know a ton about wine.

My guess is that she's a white wine drinker (and I feel like you can get a more exciting white wine in your price range), but YMMV.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should take her out for a Pedicure and then go for cocktails afterwards.

The pedicure will revive and soothe her "Marathan Runner" feet and it's some good girly bonding time for you both.

Sometimes it's just nice to feel pampered for a day and have someone else organise something to make you feel special!
posted by JenThePro at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would be thrilled to receive a face mask in the $30 range. Dead Sea Mud Mask?
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 10:03 AM on March 11, 2014

I have a lot of friends who have turned 30 recently and the gift I keep going back to again and again (sometimes in addition to something else, sometimes not) is a 5-year journal, like this one. It's a great thing for turning 30 and a great way to track what you were doing for the first half of your 30s. It has a separate page for each date of the year, so you can easily see what you were doing on, say, March 11 for five consecutive years.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd consider something self-pampering, like some great bath salts and a scented body lotion -- something to destress the milestone and play up her beauty, blah blah. :) I always love a gift like that (and it scales up well with the addition of a fluffy bathrobe or a great popcorn novel)...
posted by acm at 1:25 PM on March 11, 2014

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