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The art of birthday gifting

16/9/2021

A birthday gift can speak volumes. It can communicate your love and care for the giftee, whether that’s your friend, partner or relative. It can also show you pay attention to what they say and what they enjoy – who they are as a person, basically. 

With all that meaning to hopefully jam-pack into one gift, it’s no wonder we feel the pressure to pick the perfect birthday present. 

Luckily though, there is an art to birthday gifting that everyone can learn. We’ve pulled together some tips and gift suggestions to ensure your present always lands on the “I love it” pile. 

Follow this guide and the words “I don’t need anything” will never leave you in a cold sweat again. 

A person opening a gift box from Social Supermarket in a living room setting

How to pick the perfect birthday present

Think practical 

Instead of searching for the most unique and unusual present, a failsafe birthday gift is something they’ll use time and again. 

While it might have less wow-factor at the moment of unwrapping, a practical and useful gift will be a winner in the long-term. It’s the reason socks remain the go-to gift. Everyone needs socks. 

A collection of Bare Kind Save the Animals socks for kids

A practical birthday gift doesn’t have to be as obvious as socks, though. Anything to enhance their daily routine or make their life a little bit easier is perfect. Like stationery for someone who takes a million notes for work, for instance, or coffee for the friend who starts every day with an espresso. 

Buy based on their interests (and yours)

You probably already know that thinking about what interests and hobbies they’re into is a good place to start for gift inspiration. What’s less obvious is thinking about those which you have in common. 

As a psychology professor points out in this BBC article, we’re better at shopping for ourselves. So if you share an interest, make that your gift shopping focus. You’ll find it easier to choose something and since it’s related to a shared pastime, your giftee should love it too. 

Quality over quantity

There’s no need to go for an overblown gesture when it comes to birthday gifts. One small meaningful present is always going to trump a bigger present that doesn’t personally connect with your recipient in any way. 

Something that’s well made and has a great story that they’ll truly value is the way to go, no matter how big or small. 

The "Hugs Soon" Pivot bookmark on a white background

Pivot’s “Hugs Soon” bookmark is the perfect example of a small but thoughtful gift for any bookworm. It’s handmade by people experiencing homelessness, giving them a helping hand towards a more secure future.

Make it a gift that gives back

Similarly to shopping based on interests, looking to your loved one’s values for birthday gift inspiration is a great idea. Like Pivot mentioned above, there are countless social enterprises offering amazing gifts that give back, which solve world issues and support worthy causes. 

Does food waste wind them up? Do they donate to a homelessness charity each month? Are they passionate about supporting disadvantaged women?

A cardboard food parcel is handed from one person to another, their faces out of shot

You can easily find a social enterprise gift that lives up to values like these and many more in our birthday favourites collection. Your recipient will be chuffed that other people or the planet (or both) will be benefiting from their birthday. 

Failsafe birthday gift ideas

Our birthday favourites edit is a one-stop shop for feel-good gifts that go down a treat. Here are some top picks from the collection, to give you extra gifting inspiration. 

Social enterprise hampers

You can’t go wrong with one of our hampers. Full of social enterprise treats, these are curated based on different themes – so you can easily pick one that reflects your loved one’s interests, values or needs. 

The Me-Time gift box shot from above with its contents inside including Tea People tea, Delicious Body body scrub, a LUX LUZ candle and a Divine Chocolate tasting set.

Like The Me-Time Gift Box, which is perfect for that person in need of rest and relaxation. It contains products to help them unwind such as Tea People’s Relax blend and a delicious Fairtrade tasting set of Divine Chocolate. 

Food and drink

If sweet treats are the way to their heart, they’ll be beyond delighted to open up a box of Bobbie’s Brownies. These are epic gooey brownies, which also tackle the global issue of child hunger by providing meals for kids in need.  

A classic 6-pack from Bobbies Brownies on a pink and green background

Similarly, Miss Macaroon is creating social change through delicious macaroons, kickstarting the careers of disadvantaged young people on their life-changing training programme. They’ve teamed up with drinks brands to create excellent gift hampers too, including Burning Barn Rum and planet-friendly winemakers Sea Change

A gift box with a box of macaroons and a bottle of Sea Change prosecco rosé

Sea Change Prosecco is also one half of the Sparkling Wine Duo gift set, which will please the palate of fizz enthusiasts. The other bottle is believed to be London’s first sparkling brut, made by Forty Hall Vineyard who run an ecotherapy project for the local community in Enfield. 

A wooden wine box showing its contents of two sparkling wines by Sea Change and Forty Hall Vineyards

Other social enterprise bevs in the birthday favourites edit include beers from Tap Social, whose brews help end the cycle of reoffending for ex-offenders. And One Gin, who use their premium spirits to fund clean water projects. 

Clothes and accessories 

A woman wearing a Gung Ho Khanservation design sweater

Find a Gung Go sweatshirt based on an environmental issue your giftee cares about. They range from a colourful clashing weather design supporting Friends of the Earth, to their signature bee design raising money for endangered British bees.  

A woman wears a white tee that has an embroidery saying "power to the people" she's smiling and looking over her right shoulder.

They can also wear their love for fair and ethical fashion with Birdsong’s timeless organic cotton tees, which feature slogans like “Sisterhood is powerful,” “Dress in protest” and “Optimist.” 

Behind the scenes at Quazi, showing earrings being made in a workshop

If they’re never without earrings, add to their collection with a pair from Quazi. Their stunning recycled designs, made from 100% waste materials, create reliable employment for female artisans in Swaziland. 

Homewares 

Are they addicted to scented candles? Send them Vegan Bunny’s Bestseller Candle Set. As well as a dreamy trio of scents (Playful Chai Latte, Uplifting Ginger & Lemongrass and Calming Lavender), there’s a lot of goodness packed into these cruelty-free candles. They raise money for both the animal rights charity Viva! and the domestic abuse charity RISE. 

The bestseller vegan candle set, as shot from above

Homebodies who love kicking back in their abode will enjoy Scintilla’s Mini Relax Candle and Bath Salt Gift Box. It’s another gift that supports worthy causes, with 10% of profits going to SEED Madagascar (Sustainable Environment, Education & Development in Madagascar) and mental health charity Mind. 

Birthday cards

Finally, it’s impossible not to crack a smile at Artbox’s birthday cards. Their fun and funky designs are created by artists with learning disabilities, who are given a chance to hone their skills and promote their work at the Artbox studio. 

10 greetings cards all laid out on a yellow background, each one has illustrations with animals or flowers

Still undecided on which birthday gift to give? Shop the full birthday favourites edit.