Birthday cakes and parties are time-honored traditions, but an element of surprise makes the special day even more memorable. Do something unexpected and fun.

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You’ve shopped, clicked and searched for the perfect birthday gift, but still have no idea what to buy.

Not to worry. Finding a gift even the most hard-to-shop-for friend will love is easy if you get creative.

“Birthdays are a time to feel special,” said Amy Myers, vice president of creative services at the national gift retailer, Things Remembered. “The best gifts are personalized in a way that speaks to each person’s uniqueness or your relationship with one another.”

Here are some tips for finding the right gifts for upcoming birthdays:

Recall small talk

What’s going on in their lives? What are their accomplishments,

life changes or aspirations? Recalling dropped hints or recent conversations can help you choose gifts that have personal meaning.

An aspiring writer might appreciate an engraved journal to encourage new passions. A wanderlust traveler would love a travel clock or digital photo keychain to capture far-off memories. The friend who loves volunteering might like a day off her feet. Hire a housecleaning service or handyman to complete unfinished household chores.

Commemorate memorable occasions

If he or she is celebrating a milestone birthday, commemorate it with a gift that lasts beyond the big event. Think about timeless classics – a pocket watch for him or a piggy bank for the little one often become cherished heirlooms.

“Think about the occasion,” Myers said. “Is it her first birthday since becoming a mom? Or first as homeowner? If gifts touch that milestone, they’ll always be viewed with a smile.”

Charm bracelets are also great ways to celebrate special memories. For example, engravable charms, such as a birthday cake or birthstone can truly personalize the gift.

Celebrate your relationship

The relationship you share has been built on years of experiences together. Whether you celebrate your loved one’s birthday with a trip to a museum or a party at an arcade, gifts that celebrate special moments you’ve shared together will make the memory last.

Gather photos and get creative in your presentation. Keepsakes come in all shapes and sizes. Create a display board with fabric, ribbon and buttons to hold photographs. Or, gifts like a photo bookmark are both practical and meaningful.

Do something unexpected

Birthday cakes and parties are time-honored traditions, but an element of surprise makes the special day even more memorable. 

Take a vacation day, let your child stay home from school, or have the office book your spouse’s calendar and surprise him with a day off. Try something adventurous like whitewater rafting. Or make a birthday last longer by taking a class – anything from pottery to poetry will do.

For more gift ideas, visit

Remember, birthdays are meant to indulge. Don’t be afraid to think creatively and give gifts that say something.

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