Eat, Keep and Use; How to Buy Birthday Presents for Anyone

Buying a birthday gift for someone you’re close to should be one of the most easy and enjoyable events of the year. You know what they like, you know what will make them laugh, and you know what they need. However birthday present buying can often cause undue levels of stress; a quick look on Google Insights shows that the top search terms related to ‘birthday presents’ are: ‘ideas’, ‘good (birthday presents)’ and ‘(birthday presents) for girls’ showing that many people turn to the search engines to figure out what to buy their acquaintances; particularly those of the female variety.

As a guide it is always good to get three smaller gifts than one large one. These should fall into the following categories; eat, keep and use.


Boxes of chocolate are always a good go-to gift for last minute presents; however when you’re selecting the ‘eat’ component of your gift think about it wisely. Does your friend even like chocolate? Do they prefer dark, milk, or white? Luckily many of the high street brands now sell chocolate selections exclusively in each type, so it’s simple to choose a box of chocolates that they will truly enjoy with none discarded.

Your friend may have a sweet tooth, but not enjoy chocolate as much as jelly or boiled sweets. There are a variety of old fashioned sweet shops cropping up on the British high street as well as online, so perhaps a vintage pick and mix would carry more favor with them than the typical box of chocolates.

Perhaps your friend doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all; in this case it may be more prudent to buy some artisan cheese from a cheese-monger, or some luxury bespoke oils and vinegar. Putting slightly more thought into it than a supermarket fondant selection will make your friend feel special and appreciated.


Jewelry is the most popular choice for this component of the gift, especially if we are talking about a woman. Of course big name brands such as Tiffany’s would win you a few Brownie points, but unless the recipient is your girlfriend or fiancé this will be a waste of money. Try high street shops such as Next, River Island and Topshop as they often have quirky ranges of jewelry for a more reasonable amount of money. The recipient is more likely to wear this jewelry too, as it will be fashionable and they will not feel guilty about the amount it costs.

It’s difficult to find anyone in this day and age who doesn’t enjoy relaxing in front of the television after a hard day of work. Having a search through new dvd releases is another good place to begin; although this is perhaps best if you know what kind of film the recipient enjoys. If you have attended the cinema with them it may be thoughtful to look for the film you watched together, and a nice touch is to put the saved cinema ticket in with the DVD. This may be something you would do if you want to show the recipient that they mean more to you than just a friend.


Perfume and aftershave are popular birthday gifts, but it may be wise to ask the person which brand they prefer before buying it. Having received Peter Andre’s latest fragrance for Christmas, I for one wish people wouldn’t worry about ‘spoiling the surprise’.

If you want to avoid the traditional soap, socks and pants approach try vouchers. High street shopping vouchers are a popular choice, however can be a bit boring and can open another can of worms; how much do you spend on them, as the person will ultimately know. Have a look on deals sites such as Groupon and Itison to find cheap experience days, meals, and gifts such as canvas prints.

Don’t stress too much about choosing the perfect present. People are generally happy with the gesture rather than the gift itself. Unless you forget to buy anything and make a ridiculous excuse, it is unlikely that there will be any negative repercussions on your friendship.

Jennifer is a part of the digital blogging team at who work with a growing number of retail brands. For more information about me, or to keep up to date with the latest in retail news, check out my posts at or visit my Twitter account, @shoutingID.
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