When I was growing up, it was a ~thing for adults to hate their birthdays. They’d make a big deal about NOT wanting to celebrate their birthdays (honestly, a bigger deal than just celebrating would be). Women, in particular, would play this game of pretending they were turning 30 over and over again.
In the fateful words of renowned artist, SmashMouth, “The years start comin’ and they don’t stop comin’.” I understand that birthdays can feel like a thing that happens to you, and the culture of beauty and health standards isn’t always kind to the aging process. But it always made me mad.
Birthdays are so much fun! We are living longer (and better) than our ancestors, and each year provides triumphant growth. Why can’t we honor and celebrate birthdays the way they were intended? ESPECIALLY when it’s a milestone birthday like 50. That’s one we can’t just forget (looking at you, mom).
A fun and personalized 50th Birthday Kudoboard in action 🎉
We are here to help you celebrate a 50th birthday with meaningful birthday gift ideas for the special people in your life. No matter how much they want to ignore it, we are gonna celebrate and love them whether they like it or not!
50th Birthday Traditions
The 50th birthday is considered a golden birthday, worthy of a festive jubilee. Don’t get the 50th theme of gold and a “golden birthday” confused—your golden birthday is the day you turn the age of your actual date, such as turning 22 on the 22nd.
The 50th birthday uses gold as a traditional theme because it’s symbolic of the timeless quality you develop in those 50 years. Gold is valuable, coveted, and beautiful. It’s indicative of wealth and prosperity—the type of stability most people have achieved by their 50th spin around the sun.
How to Decorate for a 50th Birthday Party
Head to your nearest celebration store to load up on some gold and glittery birthday party supplies, because they don't turn 50 years old every day! Gold is the traditional color and is perfect for 50th birthday decorations. You can also consider the silly funeral theme to emphasize the "old" of it all, or try a 50 things theme where you decorate or display 50 fun things that relate to your birthday celebrant.
What is the traditional gift for a 50th Birthday?
Gold or sentimental, memorial gifts.
Gold is a great choice for your party ideas, but also a theme for your gifts. Gold watches, jewelry, cufflinks, pens, and other high-end 50th birthday gift ideas are perfect for marking this milestone birthday. Another traditional 50th gift idea is some type of memorial gift, such as a scrapbook or shadow box that helps your loved one mark their life so far (don’t worry, we’ve got specific ideas below).
Are you the gag gift type? A 50th birthday party can follow the morbid theme of a 40th birthday funeral, complete with an elderly supplies gift basket—adult diapers, glasses, medication, a fall panic button. Yikes.
Finally, 50 years is a great time for your birthday celebrant to check into their desires and goals for their life. If your loved one has a “bucket list,” their fiftieth birthday might be a great time to help them cross off a travel item (Hello, pyramids of Egypt!) or plan a special date to enjoy a fancy dinner and create a bucket list together.
50th Birthday Gifts for Men
In keeping with the gold theme for 50th birthday gift ideas, it’s the perfect time to get him a showstopping gold accessory. Now, it’s important to really think about your recipient before you get him something—not all men wear french cuff dress shirts, your dad might despise wearables, your brother already has a gold watch. Here are the best gold accessories that might work for the man in your life; choose the gift idea that’s perfect for him:
- Gold watch
- Gold cufflinks
- Gold Apple Watch band
- Gold money clip
- Gold tie clip
- Gold golf ball marker
- Gold pen
If your dad is anything like my dad, he’ll get a super emotional, sensitive, and intimate gift like a memory book and he’ll act really underwhelmed by it. But deep down it’ll be a treasured heirloom that he secretly reads in private. A memory book can be as easy as a journal that family & loved ones write in, a photo album or scrapbook, or a group birthday card you can send to everyone virtually and then print into a book. How's that for an outsourced gift idea? Work smart, not hard. (Not sure what to write? Here are some ideas of what to write in a 50th birthday card or book!)
A shadow box is by far the coolest way to display memorable items, and for a milestone birthday like his 50th you can create something timeless. Consider adding things like his retired baseball glove, tickets to a beloved event or location, photos, tools, or other paraphernalia that are meaningful to him. It’s a thoughtful and personalized 50th birthday gift that he can proudly display at home or the office.
A 50 cent piece (or half dollar) is a traditional gift to mark a 50th birthday. I think it's a pretty cool 50th birthday gift idea, especially if they're a collector-type. You can find a mounted collector’s half dollar from the year he was born, or this year. You can also find half dollar paperweights, pocket watches, compasses, and each would make a great gift.
Pop up lantern speaker
Your birthday man will LOVE this useful gadget. It’s fantastic for outdoorsman, sports fans, yard lovers, and the lives of the party. This speaker is the perfect size, making it easy to transport and set up anywhere. You can extend the lantern when it’s getting dark out, and play your favorite tunes or audiobooks from the bluetooth speaker. You'll be the coolest person at the party who gave him the excellent 50th birthday gift.
An organized and aesthetically pleasing charging station is the kind of gift he will never buy for himself, but that he’ll use and appreciate every day. Plus, you don’t have to look at the chaos of cords on the nightstand or kitchen counter anymore. Choose one that fits his style and devices, and earn some bonus points by buying him new cables that aren’t frayed or shorting to get it all set up.
50 year old men care A LOT about their chosen sports, teams, and athletes. We all love to see someone who has honed their craft and uses it to entertain us, but what is it about middle aged men that turns it up to 11? I’ll never be a 50 year old man, so I’ll never know. But suffice it to say your 50 year old birthday boy probably has a team, sport, organization, or athlete he loves. Team paraphernalia is an easy milestone birthday gift idea to get him something he’ll love and use daily, like a BBQ tool set or nice mug.
Is he still using a discolored Igloo cooler he got in the 90s? Bye. It’s time to upgrade his outdoor cooler. Whether he loves to camp, golf, or just BBQ in his backyard, a quality cooler will be a birthday gift he loves to receive.
Birchbox for Men
If your man is using a bar of hand soap on his face… you aren’t alone. Male skincare and beauty products have come a long way, and your 50 year old probably hasn’t kept up. I LOVED my Birchbox subscription, and it was a total lightbulb to discover that they have a male box, too. Each month he’ll get skincare and beauty product samples to try so he can discover for the first time what an exfoliant is (and hopefully keep it going).
Stitch Fix for Men
Ok, this sounds repetitive but that’s because it hits that same pain point. Fifty-year-old men are creatures of habit, and they aren’t known for trying new things or taking risks. It’s especially true in their closets. Stitch Fix will get their sizing and general style preferences, and then send them a box of curated fashion for them to try. No more dragging your husband or dad to the department store for painful try-ons and eventually giving up. He gets pre-selected stuff, tries it on in his own closet, then keeps only what he likes.
50th Birthday Gifts for Women
If she’s turning 50, give that woman some gold! Some women prefer silver accents, though, and my pro tip would be to get them white gold. Still fits the bill while meeting her taste requirements. This is what I’m here for. You can seek inspiration with these gold 50th birthday gift ideas:
- Gold watch (go with the Michael Kors)
- Gold Apple Watch band
- Gold 50th birthday necklace
- Gold earrings
- Gold stackable ring
Birthday wish jar
I think this might be the sweetest birthday gift on the entire list. Move over, generic candles. Make room for the personalized gift. I love how it makes note of a milestone birthday, involves all the people who love her, looks to the future, AND can be cheap (or free). The idea is that the people in her life will give her a “wish” written on a ticket, card, or piece of paper, which she can read and soak in later on. You can buy a wish jar set or gather the messages on a group Kudoboard and print them out, if you prefer (it’s crazy easy).
Never did I think I’d be one of those boring people who puzzles, but now that’s my goal. I want to be one of those elite women who relaxes with a cold beverage, a good TV show or podcast, and a beautiful puzzle on my coffee table. It’s zen AF, and you can find your birthday gal a puzzle that will speak to her.
Unless she’s been gifted a robe in the last year or two, I promise a high-quality bathrobe will become her prized self-care tool. The fun part is that it’s not just terry cloth robes anymore. You can get soft waffle knit, silky and trendy kimonos, character-themed plush, and warm, cozy fleece numbers.
Beautiful vase + blooms
I keep reading that 50 blooms is a traditional 50th birthday gift, and I’m here for it. I love fresh flowers and think it’s a lovely gesture. But I think I can do you one better. Invest in a gorgeous and reusable vase (not just the generic glass of the flower shop) that she can proudly display and enjoy. Try a fun design or unique shape, or go with my personal favorite—The Amaranth vase which allows you to drain & refresh your water, as well as trim buds without the mess. If she's not a flower lover, try fake flowers, a plant, or go with edible arrangements.
A traditional wedding gift for a bride is a high-end perfume. You often see it given at bridal showers or bachelorette parties. But none of us really know who we are yet when we’re that young and starting a new life. It’s one of the best parts of turning 50—the established sense of self. She’s a grown woman with a place in the world, and a mature, personalized scent is the perfect gift. Find out the perfume she currently uses and then ask a perfumier to recommend similar but upgraded scents. Or better yet—get her a gift card to a department store or perfumier so she can choose her own.
Bath bombs get a bad rap. I feel like they were early poster children for the self-care movement, and now they’re an oversaturated gift that feels impersonal and goes unused. (I’ll use them. Send me your bath bombs.) Don’t make that spoil this suggestion for you. A luxurious bath is one of the most restorative experiences you can have, and it’s 100% achievable in your own home. At 50, your woman has worked hard and accomplished a lot, and she deserves some solace. Here are my personal (and daily) favorites from my bathroom:
- Bathtub tray - I LOVE to read in the bathtub. It can also securely prop up a screen to watch your favorite show. Don’t forget a beverage for that drink slot.
- Bathtub pillow - This cushions your neck for perfect relaxation.
- Bath consumables - The right bath bomb will change your life. I enjoy Epsom salts when I’m sore or depleted. And who doesn’t love bubbles?
- Waterproof bluetooth speaker - I listen to podcasts and audiobooks in the shower and it’s such an escape.
For many women, turning 50 introduces a lot of self-reflection. Your beloved might be thinking a lot about her life, her impact, her relationships, and what she wants for the next 50 years. A guided journal is a thoughtful 50th birthday gift that will help her tap into that introspection. The Promptly journals are beautifully designed, or perhaps a My Life Story So Far will help her record everything she’s done in her life.
Specialty kitchen appliance
I’m gonna need you to do some homework here and use your best judgment. I can’t be your omniscient birthday gift fairy. But I will say that the right specialty kitchen appliance is the perfect way to reignite a love for home cooking (or to make a daily routine more satisfying). Has she jumped on the Air Fryer wagon? What about the Instant Pot? Or perhaps something more advanced, like a panini press or sous vide. Pair it with a cookbook or the necessary groceries for a sweet and useful birthday gift.
Turning 50 can and should be an important time in one’s life, and we should do what we can to help our loved ones mark this momentous birthday. As much as they might grumble, it’s well worth the effort to celebrate the 50th birthday together, and to honor them with the perfect 50th birthday gift. Maybe throw a few old jokes in to remind them it could be worse.
If you do try one of our personalized 50th birthday gift ideas, we’d love to hear about it. Wins AND fails. (You won’t fail.)
Happy half-century to you and yours!