What presents should people give to me for my own birthday?
October 17, 2006 2:17 AM   Subscribe

It's my 30th birthday soon and my friends are telling me that I'm really difficult to buy presents for. They’re pretty much right as I don’t really know what I want. Can you help me come up with some interesting ideas for them?

Based on my own present buying habits, I'd say they're looking for about £30 (approx $56) each although some may group together if the present is right. Previous years they've relied on a girlfriend giving them some hints and ideas but this year they won't have that advantage and as such, they're looking at me to suggest things.

Herein lies the problem as I don't really know what I want.

I like music, but I already have an iPod (and many accessories) and every album I currently want. In addition, CD's aren't really that exciting as a 30th present.

I'm trying to buy my own place but have most of the furniture already from relatives and asking for a toaster and kettle is so boring (I also already have them). In addition, I can't ask for specifics until I know exactly what the type of house will be and how I'm going to decorate it. What I do know is that it'll be a flat in London and so I won't have a garden.

I've got some skiing items I'd like which I've already asked for. I have a bunch of gadgets that I'd like (wireless router, PVR, PS2) but they're pretty damn expensive to ask friends to buy. My computer has no components that are out of date (I also don't use it much) and I already have a nice monitor.

I'm not a big reader, which means I've got all the books I want. I have plenty of alcohol of the spirit and wine nature. I don't own a car. I like playing the odd computer game, but since I’m not very good at them, you can’t call me an avid gamer.

I like squash but already have a decent racquet. I like tennis but asking for a racquet for that means they'll need to give me money (as the season is now finished here thanks to the UK weather) and as I'm pretty reasonable I'd be looking at a £100+ one and will want to go to a place that allows me to try them out.

I've already asked for clothes. I’d quite like to try Sky Diving, but that is rather expensive.

I've looked through Amazon, IWantOneOfThose, ebuyer and John Lewis and haven't found much inspiration. I've also wandered around the big department stores and not seen anything that has leapt out at me.

Can you suggest anything I might like to ask for? Alternatively if you know of places that I can look to get ideas then that would also be appreciated.
posted by mr_silver to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It seems to me that you can't think of anything you want because there isn't any specific physical item that you want. Which is a very nice situation to be in, really.

I would ask my friends to plan a day/night out rather than giving you a present. I would appreciate a good night out with my friends more than a dozen gift certificates to HMV.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:29 AM on October 17, 2006

Hot air ballon ride?
posted by chillmost at 2:30 AM on October 17, 2006

A couple of spud guns + potatoes + beer = childish (adult) birthday fun =]
posted by cholly at 2:32 AM on October 17, 2006

Donation to a charity in your name? What about choosing experiences over material items, like lessons in dancing, cooking, music, art? If you have everything you want, then maybe you'd like to cancel the whole gift thing.
posted by b33j at 2:34 AM on October 17, 2006

Second the charity donation if you really want people to buy something. Why not do something cool for people who need help, especially as people will be more inclined to be more generous on "main" anniversaries.

I gave up giving or receiving presents of any description a few years ago and it's great. It saves hassle for all concerned and means that I can sit back at Christmas and watch everyone else go "if you don't like it, I've still got the receipt". This is a rant that goes on for hours, so I'll stop now.
posted by TheDonF at 2:43 AM on October 17, 2006

People say this about me all the time because I'm the type of person who when I want something I just buy it for herself.

However, I've taken to keeping a Wist list and just adding anything I happen across on the internet that strikes my fancy to it. Things that I want but haven't gotten around to buying yet or small things that aren't worth buying one at a time but would make good presents together.
posted by Brittanie at 2:46 AM on October 17, 2006

Drunkfilter — sorry. When I want something I buy it for MYself.
posted by Brittanie at 2:47 AM on October 17, 2006

30 year old wine or scotch is fun (to me, anyway), even if you have plenty of regular alcohol already. It's also expensive enough that you probably wouldn't buy it for yourself.
posted by teleskiving at 3:02 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: They could all club together and pay for a trip somewhere. I don't know if you're British - in which case something like Paris could be great - or wherever, but maybe somewhere not hugely expensive but just for a few days, go somewhere new, go shopping, go to a bar, see a landmark you've never seen, something like that.

Or, as mentioned above, a hot air balloon ride is a great idea. I did it with my parents for my 21st birthday and it's something that a) you won't forget and b) will be enjoyed and appreciated by more than just you! (Plus we got given champagne - very fun)
posted by angryjellybean at 3:02 AM on October 17, 2006

Along the same lines as teleskiving, expensive wine that you wouldn't ordinarily buy yourself. What a great opportunity to amass a killer wine collection.
posted by meerkatty at 3:07 AM on October 17, 2006

How about a palang?
posted by b33j at 3:32 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: Okay, seriously, i have this book called the Good Gift Guide by Alison Pearl.

I'll try and find stuff that matches your circumstnaces:
Lighting: lamps, torches, a key ring with built in flashlight.
games, and puzzles.

Framed art - posters, photos.

Financial planning advice (ie appointment with investment expert), an appointment with a nutritionist or a natural therapist

Binoculars, telescope. First Aid kit

basket of goodies: massage oil, scented candles (hey, i don't know - you might be into that sort of thing)

wind chimes, umbrella stands, boxed sets of exotic teas or coffees, ethnic table cloths (yeah, I didn't write this book - it's inventive).
a wok set, asparagus cooker (who knew), cappucino maker, handblown glass pitcher.

Terry towelling bathrobe, silk pyjamas, salt & pepper shakers in the shape of cows.

Rugs, Thai fake jewel encrusted wall hanging (no really, it says that), bulletin board, desk lamp, air purifier, perennial herbs, ambient music (like water, or whales)
a stress ball, licorice, truffles, a ceramic spring water dispenser.

A laser pointer.

lint brush, sewing kit, an expandable, classic leather briefcase.

Rollerblades, leather jacket, fake tanning cream, g-string (no, cross that out,) salad spinner, vegetable juicer, wheatgrass growing kit.

I-ching or Tarot reading, a magazine subscription, engraved pen, a mug, letter opener. Cufflinks.

Antique egg beater, marble rolling pin, see-through acrylic cook book holder, waffle iron, cauldron.

posted by b33j at 3:53 AM on October 17, 2006

Lessons? Like cooking, art, yoga?
Magazine subscription
Name A Star
posted by catburger at 4:27 AM on October 17, 2006

How are you off for soft, comfy, 100% cotton socks?

I always tell people who ask to buy me comfy all-cotton socks for Christmas. It took ten years before somebody actually took this request at face value.

I love my comfy cotton socks. Thanks, Desleigh!
posted by flabdablet at 4:36 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about a membership to a museum or a film society? Preferably a dual membership so that you can take a friend or special someone.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2006

Compact-flourescent lightbulbs.

Gift-certificates to your favorite pizza place.

A leatherman tool.

Anything that adheres to Ben Franklin's quote "Human happiness comes not from infrequent pieces of good fortune, but from the small improvements to daily life."-Benjamin Franklin

I second the socks idea, especially thick warm socks.I like warm clothes in general: hats, gloves, scarves, thermal underwear.

//sigh, I'm way too practical.
///I'll just go back to my pigeons and bottlecap collection now.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:32 AM on October 17, 2006

Season tickets to something? Preferrable two tickets to each event, and then you could take said friends with you?

How do you want to celebrate your birthday? Do you want a birthday party at home with wine and a catered dinner? Do you want a racous time out at a pub with 97 of your closest friends? You might drop a hint and have them get together and throw you a party in the style you want. It sounds like just having good times with friends you have is what you want, rather than things wrapped in pretty boxes.

I've wanted for a while to throw a dinner party for my birthday and have the guests be the entertainment (this works because we have lots of musical/funny friends). Instead of a present, I'd ask them to prepare a song, story, joke, reading, interpretive dance, what have you. Sort of a salon idea.

Happy birthday! I'm turning 30 on Sunday. Have no idea what I want since we new-ish in town and don't have friends here...
posted by orangemiles at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2006

orangemiles beat me to it - a ticket package to the theatre lasting all year.
posted by grateful at 7:02 AM on October 17, 2006

When the MrsMoonPie and I got hitched, we didn't need stuff, so our friends all pitched in for a weekend excursion. That was pretty great. It doesn't have to be extravagant for it to be much fun.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2006

Best answer: The thing you sound excited about in your post is trying skydiving. Is it so expensive that your friends couldn't all pool money together for it?
posted by lorimer at 7:51 AM on October 17, 2006

The nicest thing you can ever do for your friends is start collecting something. Are you fond of hippopotami? What about owls? I went with frogs after my grandmother left me three or four china ones. You could do something like vintage magazine illustrations, old postcards, carnival glass: the possibilities are endless and you may eventually even find yourself getting seriously interested. In the meantime at least you'll have a cool little collection to look at. And your friends will be eternally grateful.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm similiarly difficult to shop for. I prefer services instead of gifts. Like I'm not very handy, so I could use the services of an electrician or a carpenter or whatever to help fix things around the house.

But I think people like to give gifts because it's easier to buy something and give up money instead of time.
posted by indigo4963 at 9:40 AM on October 17, 2006

This Christmas I'm asking everyone to give me an amazon gift card, regardless of amount (so I'm expecting a lot of $10 gift cards...). I'm using that money to buy a bigger gift that I want, instead of a bunch of small things, which while fun, are just going to take up space (I'm desperately fighting my live-in girlfriend for space as it is, the idea of adding more clutter voluntarily makes me shudder).

Maybe you could try something like that?
posted by KirTakat at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2006

Agree with MrMoonPie. For my 30th, my brother created a day-long puzzle-hunt game for me which ended up leading to a bar. My girlfriend had pooled together some money from a bunch of friends to rent the place out, and a high school friend DJed the party. Best. Birthday. Ever, and I hardly got any gifts.
posted by team lowkey at 2:41 PM on October 17, 2006

Don't know how much this will help, but my gift-recieving policy has changed a little over the last few years.

I used to be the "what do I want?" kind of person, with a clear idea of exactely what I wanted that year to make my computer better, or upgrade my phone or whatever.

However, the last couple of years I've asked my wife to just buy me something frivilous, something I'd never buy for myself, because I can't justify the cost. This has resulted in interesting puzzles, toys etc. I even got Robosapien one year (and I'm 27!).

Personally, I think it's much more fun and surprising than knowing what you'll get...
posted by ranglin at 4:59 PM on October 17, 2006

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