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A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

Last week, my colleagues asked me to step into the conference room…

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

Since I was turning 39, they presented a spread of 39 things they knew I’d love! How sweet is that? They included a lunch salad for us all to share, four pieces of pie and face masks…

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

…grapes, cookies, Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered almonds…

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

And, of course, a hefty cheese section. To keep costs low, they got small pieces of cheese, spiffed up a Trader Joe’s salad, found individual masks in the Sephora bins, and labeled every little thing. “We counted each of the different cookies!” said Lexi.

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

Since we all adored the movie Call Me By Your Name (have you seen it?), I laughed out loud when I saw the card Stella had made by photoshopping my head onto Timothée Chalamet’s body so I was cuddling up to Armie Hammer.

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

Last but not least, we lit the sparkler candles!

A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

This was my face for the rest of the day.

Wouldn’t this be a great idea for a big birthday, like 30th, 40th or 50th? You could mix gifts with old photos, sweet notes and homemade desserts. It would also be cute (and easier:) to do for young kids. What birthday rituals do you have? Thank you so much, guys!!! xoxoxo

P.S. Slamdunk birthday gifts for kids of all ages, and thoughts on aging.

(Thank you to Wesley Verhoeve for the photos.)

  1. That is a brilliant idea! I’m sure my face will look the same way if someone prepares such a surprise for me.

  2. shoobs says...

    omggg, BEST IDEA EVER!!!

  3. MBH says...

    I’m turning 40 soon. How can i subtly convince someone to do this for me? :)

  4. every bday we buy the birthday boy or girl a mega scratch off ticket and all crowd around to ooh and ah at the idea of winning the jackpot. Whether it’s my husband or I scratching (at 38) or one of the four kids (aged 2-8), it’s pretty much the best thing ever – even though we have yet to win a dime :)

  5. This is so adorable! <3 Happy belated! Xoxo, K&E

  6. Mandy says...

    Growing up when we turned 13 we had to write 13 reasons we were a member of the family. When we turned 21 the family wrote 21 reasons they were glad you were a member of the family.
    I remember being a little annoyed at the 13 one bit so greatful at age 21.

  7. Happy Birthday Beautiful Woman and fellow Aquarian!

    You inspire me so much. Totally makes sense why I’m so drawn to your blog and aesthetic.

    Thanks for bringing the joy! You rock.

    Bri

  8. Lisa says...

    That is so sweet, and very impressive. My husband and I once tried to do a present for each day of Chanukah (so 8 presents), and by day 8 we were at things like socks, a pen we found behind the sofa. It takes a LOT of imagination and effort. Well done CoJ staff!

  9. Asha says...

    What a sweet & thoughtful celebration! I like the idea of doing this for the year before a big milestone birthday. Love that you share these simple and sincere gestures. As I get older these kinds of celebrations are more meaningful. And a belated happy birthday Joanna!

  10. Jenny L. says...

    A few months before my Mum turned 70, I sent emails to all her friends and family asking them to to send a postcard to her, telling her one thing they loved about her. I asked 70 people – during the week of her birthday, she received 70 postcards, each describing 1 reason she is so awesome. She was totally gobsmacked and definitely loved it. She had said that she definitely wanted NO party but this was lovely for her – a private but surprising celebration of her life.

  11. Laura says...

    Fabulous! I love the mixture of your favourite things from grapes to fancy cheeses.

    When my Mom turned 50, my two sisters and I put in $50 each (which was a lot at the time for us we were in high school/uni). We bought and wrapped 50 gifts that all had ’50’ in them. I trawled the dollar store initially and in the end bought 50 cutlery pieces, 50 pencils, 50 flavours of jelly beans, 50 grams in a chocolate bar, 50ml (mini baileys), burned a CD with 50 songs, etc. She opened the first few gifts not getting it yet and was minimally pleased with opening 50 envelopes (as only Moms have perfected) but then caught on and was tearing through the presents like a kid!

  12. Vanessa says...

    Genius! I may drop a hint to my husband for my upcoming 30th ;)

  13. Claire says...

    We did this for my pop’s 70th birthday! A giant box filled with 70 things of all the stuff he loves. Even better I found a place that did personalised wrapping paper using photos, so the whole box was covered in a silly photo of him from a family party!

  14. Jodi says...

    I love this idea!!! Going to borrow it for my best friend’s 30th.

    When my dad turned 65, my sister and I secretly reached out to all of his friends and family and asked them to write a favorite memory or time with him from the past years. They hand wrote them on individual pieces of paper, we sealed each one up and numbered the envelopes. We handed him 65 envelopes on his birthday and it was an emotional and special moment watching him open all of them and read each one carefully, recalling all those wonderful years. I learned some incredible things (and hilarious stories!) from putting it all together! He loved it and re-reads them from time to time.

  15. That’s a lovely idea! When my husband (then boyfriend) turned 40, I was freelancing and didn’t have much disposable income to spend on a gift. Instead, I decided to write him a list of “40 Reasons Why I’m Glad You Were Born.” Instead of giving him the list all at once, I sent him 40 emails throughout the day, each one with a different reason. It’s probably the best-received gift I’ve ever given!

    • This is such a good idea! I’m totally stealing it.

  16. Jen says...

    I love this! Clever and fancypants!

  17. MK says...

    I’m kind of giggling thinking about your staff putting this together for you!
    “Our boss is Joanna Goddard, she literally knows about everything under the sun. NO PRESSURE.”
    Nice job team! I think you nailed it. :)

  18. Melisa says...

    Every year for birthdays I give my daughters the same number of gifts as the age they’re turning, plus one for good luck. Then we go to the diner to have early morning breakfast and a slice of cake(!) before I bring them to school. Birthdays have been some of my favorite memories as a mom. To this day, my own mom says that her favorite holiday is my birthday, and when I became a mom I understood why :)

  19. Rachel says...

    Love this! What amazing colleagues.

  20. What a sweet idea and happy birthday to you and Lucy! I am now curious about all of those cheeses on the table.

    My dad is turning 70 this year so I don’t know if I can come up with 70 things! Any ideas?! (Also: ahhhh what do you do for your dad’s 70th birthday when everytime you ask him what he wants, he says “socks.” *laugh*)

    • Lisa says...

      My husband is the same – for his birthday he got a suit and shirts for work …
      Can you go down the experience route? For my mom’s birthday for a couple of years I did things like take her out for afternoon tea, or to an exhibition that she was interested in. I at least remember those more than presents I’ve given

  21. Irit Roberts says...

    Gah! I love this. My little brother and I just agreed to do this for my awesome dad’s 70th in four weeks! Wish us luck.?! Thanks for the 💡

  22. Maywyn says...

    Happy Birthday!

  23. Cora says...

    When my college roommate turned 21 I emailed 20 friends and had them each buy one flower to give to her throughout the day. At the end of the day I gave her the last flower, and a vase.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh! what a beautiful gift!

  24. suzylee says...

    Gave my husband 40 (all different) beers for his 40th, big hit with the craft beer fan. for his 41st, my son gave him (1) beer.. because he said, “dad needed 1 more reach 41” ha.

  25. Courtney says...

    A friend did something similar for his wife’s 27th birthday – 27 gifts over 27 days. The grand finale gift on her birthday was two kittens. At the time – so sweet and fun! Now – still sweet and fun! But, also, they’ve had two cats for the last ten years. Haha.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh that is so cute! your comment made me lol.

  26. Susan M says...

    Very cool way to celebrate. You have good co-workers! Happy birthday Blessings!

  27. So thoughtful, fun and sweet! Happy Birthday Joanna x

  28. What a fun way to celebrate!!

    My sister got me 28 individual presents when I turned 28 on the 28th of March :) It was soooooo fun. Hoping to do that for my kids when they hit the right numbers.

    • We call that a “golden birthday.” Mine was when I was 12!

  29. Kathryn says...

    Whenever I am at a loss for a way to be extra thoughtful/creative/nice/caring, I ask myself what a certain friend would do. After reading this the first thing I did was text her to see if she wanted to get lunch. It is amazing how when someone puts in a little extra time and effort how much extra love can be added in our hearts. I also turned 39 in January, and this friend also brought the sparkler candles, and after we lit them my 5 year old said that they seemed really dangerous.

  30. My dad’s side of the family always adds another song after Happy Birthday which includes the line, “That you may live to be twice times 52.” My dad and uncles would sing it over and over (and over) until my Grandma would lose her chill and start begging them to stop and it would dissolve into a room of laughter. I have no idea where this came from. I’ve always wondered because it sounds like an actual song but I’ve never heard it anywhere else. Does anybody else’s family do something similar?

  31. Joann says...

    What a sweet birthday, Joanna! Happy birthday :)

  32. Erin says...

    What a fun group you are! For my twenty-fifth birthday, my colleague (a high school math teacher) gave my students a quarter to hand to me as they came into my classroom (I was a high school English teacher). It was such a creative and thoughtful idea, gave me a way to intereact with each student, not to mention generous! Still one of my favorite birthday memories eleven years later.

  33. McKenzie Cunningham says...

    So fun! My family has a tradition that on your birthday, everyone in the family writes a list of things they love about that person – if you’re younger, the number of things will be equivalent to the age you’re turning (ex: on my 21st birthday, everyone wrote 21 things), but if you’re older, usually we do half or a third of that person’s age. We take that person out for a birthday dinner, and it’s the sweetest gift to be given to a person: truth and encouragement are spoken over you. You’re reminded of the parts of you that you had forgotten, and your strengths that you thought were overshadowed by your weaknesses. It’s been sweetest in the midst of hard seasons in my life – when I’ve feel like an utter human failure, yet I have people believing in me and for me, even when I’m struggling to do so for myself.

    • Nadia says...

      This is a beautiful tradition!!

  34. Jane says...

    So lovely! I did a similar thing for my best friend’s 30th birthday — I got her 30 different things she’d love, including fuzzy socks, fun stationery, and a coffee tumbler to take to work.

  35. Happy birthday!

  36. Layne says...

    My MIL does this for all her kids and their spouses. This year, she sent me 30 gifts to open each day for my birthday month. Some of the gifts would build on one another so she’d send a cookbook then individual packages of the non-perishable ingredients needed to make one of the recipes in the book. It was so thoughtful and fun.

    • Silver says...

      That sounds wonderful – and so great to hear about good relationships with MILs. I love mine as well – she’s the best.

  37. Sasha says...

    that is such a sweet way to celebrate! But only 4 slices of pie for your whole office group??

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Hahaha, Sasha. It was just three of us celebrating, so four slices felt like a pie windfall!

  38. Nina says...

    My son’s birthday is on the 19th. So I will sometimes get 18 small gifts that he pulls out of a bag each morning during his birthday month and opens. He loves it. Kinda like an advent calendar to his big day!

  39. A former coworker did this for me on my last day at that job but did it by something each hour of the workday. Most were little items with themey notes but it kept a bittersweet day full of mystery!

  40. melissa says...

    Actually, this is a great gift idea for Valentines day! 14 gifts to your love of things they love.

    Also–LOVING the gift ideas in the comments! They are getting the creative juices flowing!

  41. Kaitlin says...

    I love this idea so much. My husband turns 42 this year…the meaning of life, the universe and everything according to Douglas Adams. What better year to do this? (It’s also his last birthday before our child is born, so probably the last one I’ll make a serious effort for, if we’re being honest.)

    I turn 32 this year and there’s an Ani DiFranco song called “32 flavors” and I’m known as an ice cream junkie, so guess what my plan is? Ice cream party!!!

    • Niharika says...

      That’s such a great song too!

  42. Gillian says...

    LOVE THIS! Well done, team!

  43. Paula says...

    Did this for my mother-in-law when she turned 60. We live on the opposite coast, so we bought 60 gifts and individually gift wrapped them all. She still talks about it, at almost 80. And we didn’t actually “buy” everything. Some things were made, such as the wire picture frame, or a scarf that I knitted, a wind up toy, my husband’s certificate of kung-fu belt completion (inside joke)… just so this doesn’t sound super materialistic! Also, we used random gift wraps, to keep costs down, including newspapers, old New Yorkers (another inside thing), kitchen parchment paper, old tissue paper, and even the knitted scarf. HBD, Jo (belated).

  44. Jamie White-Farnham says...

    My sis and I did this for my mom’s 60th! 60 things… totally random stuff, but all the type of thing she likes…candles, notecards, lotion, etc. Happy bday Joanna!

  45. jeehae says...

    Love this so much! I want to do this for my husband, next year! :)

  46. Katherine says...

    Glad your team spoiled you on your birthday! You deserve it! I did this for my younger sister’s 30th and my college bestie’s 21st. Finding little items is a huge help when putting together a gift like this, and thinking creatively for things that are free/super cheap: a hand-written recipe + one of the special ingredients needed; a photo in a thrift store frame; a pack of gum (6 pieces = 6 gifts if that’s how you want to count!); sample/travel sized items; anything miniature! I’ve also done the 12 days of….whatever birthday or anniversary or milestone or holiday is being celebrated. I’ve done it several ways: sometimes like the actual song, where the gift matches the number (like six was a six pack of beer, two was a pair of socks); sometimes 12 things total (because in a pinch 12 things is easier than 30 things!); and I’ve also done it where I give one gift a day, starting 11 days before the date, the twelfth and last gift coming on the actual day of celebration. Lots of fun variations are possible with the 12 days of!

    • Abby says...

      Such great ideas! I love all of these.

  47. Amanda says...

    This year a close friend had her 30th birthday party at a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Several people flew in for it, so we tried to make the whole weekend as over the top as possible. We found out that there was a small flea market in town during the day, so pretty much all of the guests decided to check it out while the birthday girl stayed behind and napped. While we were there, someone suggested that we all buy her a gift for under $5. It was SO fun to pick something random out. We ultimately had her try to guess who bought each present, and it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a birthday party – it surpassed all of the things we had planned for the weekend!

    • Anneka says...

      This is so cute! Inspired to do this for my sister’s 30th.

  48. Cynthia says...

    What a fun idea!

  49. This is the sweetest and most thoughtful idea!!!
    Love it and I’m sure well deserved!
    Happy Birthday:)

  50. Alice says...

    This is the cutest! We actually did this for a friend’s 18th birthday (which I think is a bigger deal in the UK than in the US?)- eighteen small gifts, including mini bottles of booze, paracetamol and ibuprofen for the next day, sweets, chocolate, other little things… it was really fun!
    And on my Dad’s 60th birthday, I wrote him a list of sixty reasons why he’s great- including “you let me help pick out your ties”, “you taught me how to turn a bottle into a musical instrument”, “you have a *specific knife for serrano ham*!” and “you found it really funny that time that I drank too much at a Christmas party and threw up everywhere” haha! He absolutely loved it- it’s definitely something I’m going to do for more people on milestone birthdays!!

    • Sil says...

      My dad turns 70 this year and I’d love to do this!! But I’m crying already, and I’m sure he will cry, too!

  51. Klara says...

    For my then boyfriend’s 30th, I e-mailed 30 of his friends and family members and asked them to send me a birthday card. I put all the cards in numbered envelopes and tied them to 30 helium balloons. Then I went to wake him up on the morning of his birthday, hiding behind the bunch of balloons (that had juuuuuust fitted in my small car) when he opened the front door. It was the. best. gift. and so much fun to prepare!

    • Meg says...

      I love this!

  52. Laura says...

    Happy Belated Birthday, Joanna! I love my virtual girlfriends. :) I can’t wait to borrow this idea.

  53. Julia Gnegel says...

    I love this idea! Maybe we’ll do it my daughter’s 10th birthday party, mixing her favorite foods with her favorite activities. It’s getting harder and harder to come up with a fun theme that’s not too cutesy as she gets older. Thanks for sharing!

  54. lovely!! i would die to have such colleagues :)
    warmest birthday wishes from India.

  55. Cecilia Latorre says...

    My familia has a tradition of celebrating birthdays with an EARLY morning wake up sing along and “cake” and presents and pictures.
    It started when my sister and I were little and my parents would do it with us. My dad would have the video camera ready and my mom a cake with a candle and the other sister would have the presents and we would be woken up before school, 0600 or earlier, lights on, flash in your face, and happy birthday / Feliz Cumpleaños being sung in Spanish and then in English and all on camera. It was annoying but we loved it and looked forward to it every year.

    I now keep the tradition alive with my babies. My daughter is 19, my son 16 (soon to be 17) and I have two step daughters who are 11 and 9. I have done it with my kids since their 1st birthday and have photos and videos of each of them and now with social media the best is the candid shots of everyone waking up red eyed and messy hair. I don’t bake so I buy cupcakes or a cookie or a donut, last year my daughter got baklava- I admit I have forgotten to buy something the night before and have resorted to a candle on a granola bar or on toast. The point is, the WHOLE familia, cat too, wakes up early , alarms are set, and we go and sing. If someone is away, now thanks to technology, we’ll FaceTime the person in. The point is to all be there. The fun thing too is that when my kids got older, they started doing it to me so I also get an early wake up and so everyone in the house gets it… and when we blended families the tradition rolled onto them.
    I like to think that my babies and stepbabies will continue this tradition with their families. It just shows that no matter what we are doing and what is going on, we all woke up to celebrate YOU first thing and come together.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so, so charming, cecilia!

    • Megan says...

      We do this to and it’s the BEST! Heading to work/school with the smell of cake and blown-out candle smoke already on your brain, and already feeling that tingle that you are so special to the ones you love… my favorite birthday tradition by far… :)

  56. Sara says...

    For my dad’s 70th, my sister and I made a scrapbook of 70 things about you. We included lots of funny stories and pictures over the years and then later with him and his grandkids. It was a big hit!

    • Melissa says...

      What a great idea! Definitely using this one for my husband’s upcoming birthday!

  57. Julia says...

    I love the idea of a gift for every year. My family has gotten our older relatives brand new $1 bills- one for each year they’ve been alive. After all those years of grandmothers, great-aunts, and others giving us cards with a crisp $5 bill inside, it’s fun to return the gesture! Plus, a thick stack of 90 $1s makes anyone feel like a high roller.

  58. Tracy says...

    Happy belated bday! :)

  59. joanie says...

    For our dad/husband’s 60th birthday, I collected 60 descriptive comments from our kids and his siblings. Some were quotes that had become associated with him, memories in a phrase, and just our loving observations on his quirks. I had them printed and framed. We presented them to him for his birthday and he read them aloud at his gathering of family and friends. It was joyous, loving and gave so much laughter. It hangs in the family area, one of his favorite presents.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how beautiful, joanie!

  60. Daniela says...

    Love! My best friend is turning 27 in a month so I might get her 27 gifts.. and for my boyfriends 29th in May I may (ha!) do 29 days of gifts.. it’s our first full year together so we are competing who can make the best birthday for the other person!

  61. Carla says...

    When my mom turned 50, she didn’t want anyone to know, she didn’t want gifts or a party. I was a broke university student, and couldn’t afford to buy a meaningful “thing” for her milestone. I snuck her old-school address book and wrote a letter to every single person (pre-email days!). I asked them all to send a card and well wishes. For a week or two on either side of her birthday she received multiple cards in the mail every day. “How did she know” “I haven’t been in touch with him for 20 years!” . She got cards from so many people in her life- those important enough to be in the address book :). It led to some phone calls and reconnections. She was surprised and confused, and slightly irritated that somehow all these people found out, but in the end, she was so pleased by all the cards and notes. It was fun to hear her reminisce about all her friends.

  62. Morgan says...

    You are well loved.

  63. Nicole says...

    That’s so awesome, Joanna! I’m glad you showered with so many good things by so many caring people! I did something similar when my husband turned 30. He’s a September baby, so I gave him a gift for each day of the month. It took a bit of planning & creativity to make it work. Some days were small gifts (like his favorite chips & salsa), but bigger gifts (like tickets to a soccer game) were sprinkled throughout the month. It was also fun to give him gifts that would “lead to” a later gift (he was gifted binoculars a couple days before the soccer game) without him really knowing what the initial gift was for yet :)

  64. Kris says...

    I love the sentiment of this post so much. These are the best gifts! Your friends thought of something extremely thoughtful and meaningful to you and then put in the effort to implement it. When I was a first year law student, I turned down my friends who offered to throw me a party because I was so hopped up on the need to study. One of these dear friends brought an entire picnic spread to me in the law school library where I was glued to my books and laptop. I’m sure our fellow students were annoyed by all the giggling and crunching. More than 10 years later it is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful birthday gifts I’ve ever received and it brings tears to my eyes when I think about it to this day. Thanks, Leah. :)

  65. I love this idea. My brother’s girlfriend did something similar for Christmas a few years ago. She spelled out “Christmas” with gifts that started with each letter and somehow related to a memory from the year or an inside joke. It gives someone a whole bunch of things to enjoy, but can still be budget friendly, which I think is such a great idea.

  66. Love this! For my husband’s 30th, my goal was to lead up to it with 30 days of 30 gifts/treats/etc. It was a wonderful thought…however, I just did not do enough prep work to sustain the full 30 days. Thankfully I still have a few years to prep for his 40th. Second time’s the charm, right?

  67. LB says...

    Husband is turning 40 in March and he’s already depressed about it. I think I’ll get him 39 fun things, like chocolates, cookies, and nicknacks, and make the 40th gift a plane ticket for a weekend getaway. Thanks for sharing!

  68. Ann says...

    Such a fun idea! Mostly food is the best way to go. Also, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for Best Picture! I can’t stop rewatching and telling everyone about it. The music, the sensuality, the Armie Hammer; amazing!

  69. Katherine says...

    My husband did this exact thing for my 31st! A table of 31 things. He said he tried to get a baskin robbins (31 flavors) box to put it in, but they wouldn’t give him one, haha!

  70. K says...

    My niece turned 12 on 12/12/12! I got her 12 presents and each was related to the number it represented…I had to get creative with some of them (7 was a globe ornament for seven continents!) but she had so much fun opening them all!

    • Angela says...

      Your niece is lucky to be loved so well by her aunt!!

  71. Vero says...

    I used to make my ex-girlfriend SoundCloud playlists and each playlist had the same number of songs as the age she was turning. She loved them :)

  72. Jamie Brinkley says...

    I have a friend who on her 30th birthday hosted a “30 for 30” Olympic style tournament of games. We rented a cabin, and there were 30 games, ranging from 3 legged races to presidential trivia, to name that female and male anatomy, to hula hoop contests!

  73. Laurie says...

    For my 50th, my twin daughters filled a mason jar with 50 little notes. And each note was a reason why they loved me . Best birthday present ever!

  74. Meg says...

    What a lovely way to celebrate!

    I once participated in a 65th birthday gift arrangement where friends collected 65 pairs of socks! It was very hard to find orange socks for the Philly Flyers fan! Thanks for reminding me of that fun time.

  75. I made light of my now-husband’s 30th birthday when we were dating with a “You’re Getting Old Survival Kit.” I got him dental floss (adds 7 years to your life per a 60 Minutes I saw years ago), a Kindle so that he could adjust the print size, and a glass of good bubbly to celebrate “old age.”

    He’s turning 36 next week, and I thank you for inspiring me to be creative again….the doldrums of February get to me, but it’s SO important to celebrate this crazy life on every occasion we have to do so. xo.

  76. Emily says...

    I love this soooo much! Great job Jo Team.

  77. Katie says...

    My Mother’s birthday is 1/11. On 1/11/11, she requested 11 presents. Coming up with 11 presents so soon after Christmas almost killed me, but she loved it!

  78. Margaret says...

    When my dad turned 50, my brothers and I decided to get him 50 gifts, but we were all young and broke, so most of the gifts turned out to be terrible! We got him several rolls of electrical tape (he’s an electrical engineer), at least 5 packets of Star Wars stickers (he’s a Star Wars fan) and a trophy for the world’s best goatee. We also individually wrapped each gift, so the opening process took about an hour! Luckily for us, he has a wonderful sense of humour and I think got a kick out of it haha

    • Kate says...

      This is really thoughtful and adorable!

    • Katie says...

      omg this sounds like every celebration we had for my dad. I never knew what to get him (beyond a tie), and one time I found golf balls in the yard, ‘signed’ it with a pro golfer’s name, and put it in a little box for him. It was so dumb and I still feel bad about being so lazy.

  79. Robin says...

    Many years ago, I made my brother a mixed CD for his birthday. It had 30 songs, one from each year of his life. I had to look up songs that came out each of those years, although as he got older it was easier. I even contacted his friends to see if they had suggestions for what he was loving at 19, 20, etc. It turned out to be a great mix.

    I love this idea- thank you for sharing.

    • Love this idea!

  80. Jillian says...

    For just about every recent birthday I can remember, my mom has sent me an email, text, or card with “X things I love about you” (for whichever age I’m turning). They’re a mix of silly/small, sweet, and poignant things. I loved it so much I started doing it for all of my closest friends on their birthdays; it’s so much fun to list out 30+ things I love someone as you reflect on who she is as a person, the things you’ve done together, and the things she has given you and your life. My friends are always so touched and feel so overwhelmingly loved as it’s a deeply personal, loving, and unique ‘gift’– not to mention a free one!

    P.S. Happy birthday, Joanna! Think I speak for every reader here and so many others in this world when I say I am SO thankful and happy you were born.

    • Em says...

      This is so lovely! Thanks for sharing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so nice, jillian. thank you :):):) made my day.

  81. Erin says...

    For decade birthdays in my family, you get that many gifts – 60 was a challenge for my Dad! We also get creative though – a box of 6 truffles count as 6, a pair of earring as 2…

  82. Ali says...

    I was not happy about turning 40 a few years ago. My husband knew it, so two days before, I woke up to a card, cupcake and my 40th “Birthday.” The next day, I got goodies and a 39th birthday. On the big day, I got cake with the number 38 in candles. His theory – no one ever believes you when you say you’re 39, so just be 38 forever! It was awesome, and now I don’t mind admitting I’m 43.

  83. Fabiola says...

    I love this idea so much! Will definitely keep it in mind for my husband’s 40th and also for my little one’s future birthdays. Happy belated birthday Joanna :) I always really enjoy your beautiful blog!

  84. brianna says...

    How fun! My mom’s turning 65 in a couple of weeks…now I’m wondering if I can come up with 65 items for her.

  85. Lindsay says...

    Wonderful idea! I’m borrowing this idea for my kiddos. And looks like a pretty great birthday lunch.

  86. Sue Harris says...

    For my best-friend-from -grade-school’s 50th birthday, I made a little book that I titled “50 Things I Love About You”. I filled it with 50 pages of copies of old and new photos, short entries based on shared memories, and fun things we have in common. She loved it. At the time she was very unhappy in her job and when she called to thank me for the gift she told me that I had reminded her of who she really was and she quit her job. She found a new position that she loves.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, sue! what a gift, in so many ways. she is lucky to have you.

  87. Sylvia says...

    At very first sight I thought they organized a cheese-tasting-party, which would have been cool too. But this is so sweet. I did something like this before. But it was in the late teenage years, so a lot of colorful plastic beauty products were involved… I also know this as a base for group gifts with the possibility to give the quantity of the number you are responsible for, like 23 grapes, 24 cheeses… ok kidding, but you better think about first. If you know someone really, really well you could try to come up with one special thing for every year. I also love the idea of giving compliments.
    I like that photoshop idea.
    Happy belated birthday Joanna and congrats on that team!

    • Sylvia says...

      PS: Can’t believe a dark table looks so good!

  88. Laura C. says...

    This is awesome Joanna!! Wow!! So thoughtful, the best gift ever is not the most expensive but the most thoughtful! My husband will turno 38 im June and I will be stealing the idea! Happy bday!
    Ps. Currently making a diet, and the cheese table killed me.

  89. For my friend’s 25th birthday i bought her 25 pairs of underwear from this great cheap hosiery store in Astoria. We figured she’d not need to buy underwear again until she was 30.

  90. Megan says...

    For my mom’s 60th birthday, 18 years ago, my dad gave my mom 60 presents. 3 of them included flying my husband, my 6-month old daughter and me from Oregon to Kansas to surprise her. My sister picked us up at the airport, and we snuck up to the front door of the house I grew up in. Then we put the baby, in her car seat, on the front steps, rang the bell and hid behind the bushes. I will never forget how hard my heart was pounding as I watched her open the front door at 9 o’clock at night, and look around very confused until she finally saw the baby. Then of course, she burst into tears and we jumped out of the bushes yelling “surprise!” It is a golden memory.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh!!! that couldn’t be sweeter. i love that so, so much.

    • Stephanie says...

      The best!

  91. eg says...

    Best card ever.

  92. Trish says...

    Yes! For my 10th birthday, I got a gift or we did something of my choice every hour for 10 hours. Highlight of the day: I got my ears pierced! But I also got to pick a new outfit to wear that night to dinner, where to go for lunch, what movie to see (Jurassic Park, the original), etc. It was such a fun day, for me at least!

    • Valeria says...

      Great idea!

  93. Em says...

    Genius! Nothing’s more special than knowing someone “gets” you, and this is a great way to show that.

  94. My mom has been doing this for years!

  95. Hayley says...

    Love this! And timely…my husband’s birthday is Sunday!

    • SK says...

      Mine too! (STILL STUMPED OVER WHAT TO GET HIM!!)

  96. Lorraine says...

    Love this! Great for friends & family.

    At work, however *everyone* is always turning “29” (LOL) so I guess it’d always be 29 things…. Hehe!

  97. Clare says...

    For my mom’s 60th, I asked 60 of her family and friends to write her letters recounting their favorite memories of her. To be honest, I didn’t get 60 responses, but she still loved it!

  98. Jennie says...

    When my Dad turned 70, I wrote 70 reasons why I love you. I was touched what a big deal it was to him. I still keep a copy on my desktop to read from time to time.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is the sweetest, jennie.

  99. Claire says...

    Happy birthday! This idea is so fun and I love it but important question here: can the numbers be reconfigured to address the pie issue- you have ONLY 4 pieces of pie and there must be more pie!!!

    • LOL, I had that thought, too. I’m turning 40 this year and all I want is a big old cake.

  100. Annie says...

    Perfection!

  101. Alannah says...

    My boyfriend recently turned the big 3-0 and I gifted him 30 gifts.. not all were of monetary value but he absolutely loved it, especially because some of the gifts trickled in after the date. Made him feel better about hitting that milestone and was also fun for me to remember what I’d even bought months early. (Also.. you’d think 30 gifts is easy., not sure I’ll be backing up for 40!!)

    • Kate says...

      What did you get him?? My boyfriend turns 30 in a couple of weeks and would love some inspiration as I am loving this idea! Thanks xo

    • Lauren says...

      Same question as kate! Mine turns 30 on Saturday and would so love a few more ideas!

    • Zk says...

      Me too! What did you get?

  102. Chiara says...

    Wow, this is so timely! And super lovely! A very thoughtful gift, I can imagine you felt special and known.
    It’s my boyfriends’ birthday coming up, and I want to give him a fun surprise. He asked me to take him to dinner at a good Chinese restaurant, which, hello, I’m verrry happy to do. But that’s not the same as a gift that’s still a surprise! So I think come Valentines day (yes, his birthday is on the 14th. His parents didn’t know about the holiday back when he was born – thank god – or they would have named him Valentine. Cringe!) he’ll find 34 presents… Grantes, a lot of them will be Oreo cookies 🙊

  103. Melanie says...

    YES! I LOVE this. And i’ve been totally stuck on what to do for my husbands birthday next Wednesday (yes, Valentines day) and this is it! Would it be weird if I stuck a number on my daughters forehead?

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Haha, no, that’s perfect!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha you should!

  104. Julie says...

    I love gift ideas that correspond to an age or milestone. For my husband’s 30th birthday, I solicited 30 birthday cards from his closest friends and family. I asked each person to share a favorite memory from his 20’s in their card. (I hope to do this for every new decade moving forward.) Similarly, my friend and her siblings recently did something (somewhat) similar for their parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. They got 40 helium balloons and attached 40 of their favorite family memories to the weights at the bottom. Their mom and dad guessed who shared what memories and loved reading through them together as a family.

  105. Lisa says...

    This is the sweetest. You’ve definitely surrounded yourself with the nicest people.

  106. Jing says...

    One of my favorite birthday gifts to give someone are reminders of why they are so special. For my husband’s 60th birthday, the kids and I evenly divided strips of origami paper among us (20 each). On each strip of paper, we’d write a memory or a reason why we loved/admired their dad so much—your silver hair and world’s prettiest blue eyes, picking me up from college when I was PMSy, screaming F*ck! in our Irish car rental… We put the papers in a ceramic cup (I’ve also put the papers in a decorated box for other friends). That cup still sits on Barry’s bedside table with unread strips of paper. He is the type of person who can patiently wait and not rip through them all at once (that would be me). His birthday was last April and he still has not read all of the papers. Why? He is sad that it will end.

    • Karen says...

      “Why? He is sad that it will end” be still my heart!! Thank you for sharing.

  107. sasha says...

    LOVE this idea! What clever and thoughtful work mates.

    Adding to my list of fun birthday ideas. But I agree, easier the younger!

  108. Lia says...

    I LOVE this so much! Totally stealing the idea, thanks for sharing!

    • Lia says...

      Also, random, but how do you make high quality GIFs like you posted? I feel like I should know this (insert face palm emoji)

  109. Liz says...

    My family has done lists of things we love about that person! So for 50th birthdays it’s 50 things we love about them, 60th wedding anniversaries are 60 things we love about the couple/things they’ve taught us, etc. The lists are all funny, touching, unique, and beautiful.

  110. Diana McNeill says...

    How darling! What a fun birthday!!

  111. Ruth says...

    OMG I love this idea and am totally stealing it for my daughter’s next birthday (which will be easy since she’ll only be 3)!

  112. Tori says...

    This is truly the most thoughtful thing! For my dad’s 60th (which was huge, as both his father and grandfather only lived to 45), I had all of his loved ones, colleagues, friends, family, college roommates, everyone I could think of write a letter to create 60 letters, then combined them all in a big scrapbook. There were lots of tears and even more laughs! I loved reading all of the stories from his past.

    • Sara says...

      We did this too for my Dad’s 70th. It was so much fun for all of us to read everything that was sent in. :)

  113. Gaylen Blankenship says...

    That made me cry a little…..incredibly sweet…I love my girlfriends.

  114. Kristina says...

    This is adorable! And SO thoughtful! I really love celebrating birthdays and your colleagues totally nailed it. What a wonderful day!

    For my birthday I always cook birthday bolognese. It’s right around Thanksgiving so it’s nice to have something totally different from traditional holiday fare. And I don’t mind making it because I know the recipe by heart (Ina Garten’s weeknight bolognese) and pasta dishes are my love language : )