As people grow older, it’s sometimes more difficult to buy birthday presents for them.
They become more settled in their lives and the housewarming gifts they previously needed are already part of their household.
Buying presents can be particularly difficult if you’re unsure of their hobbies or the type of clothing that they like to wear.
You may also worry about underspending or overspending.
Here’s what you need to know about the ideal cost of a birthday present.
How Much Money Should A Birthday Gift Cost?
On average, most people spend $15 and $30 on a birthday gift.
However, if the gift is for a family member or close friend, many will spend upwards of $50 for a gift.
Your relationship with the birthday individual and the presence of any milestones may influence the price one way or another.
In most cases, you can get away with spending $15 to $30 as most etiquette experts believe that’s a reasonable sum.
However, there are some cases where you may splurge and end up spending $100 or even over $100.
Here are some factors you should consider that might help you narrow down a budget if you’re unsure about spending the standard $15 to $30.
1. Personal Relationship
One of the biggest factors that will determine how much you spend on the birthday gift is your personal relationship with the person having the birthday.
For example, if the person is your co-worker or a friend of a friend, then you shouldn’t spend too much.
Overspending on someone you don’t know that well can make them feel awkward and unsure of your intentions.
It can also seem like you’re trying to steal the attention away from the birthday individual by giving them a flashy gift.
If everyone else is stuck with a low budget, then you might also make them feel as though you’re trying to show them up.
Sticking with the $15–$30 for a co-worker or friend of a friend is ideal.
That changes if it’s someone you know well.
For example, if it’s a relative or friend, then you might want to increase your spending a little.
Spending $15 to $30 is still acceptable, but it’s also a bit more agreeable if you push that budget up to $50.
If you know that your friend really wants something, for example, then they’d likely appreciate the gift even if it cost you $50.
The budget for a birthday gift further increases if it’s a loved one, child, parent, or sibling.
These are people that you know well and spend a lot of time with.
In this case, the standard $15 to $30 budget is still acceptable.
However, you may want to make them feel special.
It’s with this group that you may find yourself spending $100 or more.
2. Age Of The Birthday Individual
Another big factor that can determine your budget for birthday gifts is how old they’re turning.
In life, certain milestones are more significant than others.
When someone turns 10, they’ve finally hit their double digits.
When someone turns 16, they’re seen as a peak teenager who can drive.
At 18, they’re legal adults and when they hit 21, they’re able to drink alcohol.
Adults have some major milestones, too.
Thirty is often seen as the first step from young adulthood to middle adulthood.
Fifty is often seen as the peak of your life.
After that, some people like to treat each decade as a major milestone while others don’t care much until they reach 80, 90, or even 100.
If someone turns an age between any of those numbers, then it’s not quite as significant.
The day is still special and the birthday individual should still feel special, but it doesn’t have any extra meaning to it.
This impacts your budget because it’s easy to stick with the $15 to $30 for non-milestone birthdays.
For big birthdays like turning 18 or 30, you might want to increase your budget a little to pay tribute to the fact that the birthday means a little something more.
The amount that you choose to spend can vary based on the other factors involved like your relationship with the individual.
In most cases, it’s acceptable to double your budget for milestone birthdays.
This means you might want to spend $30 to $60 for milestone birthdays.
If the birthday individual is close to you, then you might even spend around $100 to make the event even more special.
Birthday milestones can affect your birthday gift budget.
3. Environment Or Theme Of Birthday
The theme or tone of the birthday can also impact your birthday gift budget.
Some birthday individuals prefer to use their birthday as casual get-togethers.
They want family and friends to share time together more than presents.
They may even establish a no-gift rule.
Others may have an indulging birthday where they’ve spent a lot of money on a venue, food, and entertainment.
Because they invested so much in their birthday, they might expect others to do the same with their gifts.
Understanding the kind of theme the birthday has or the sort of tone that’s being set for the birthday can determine your budget.
Even on a birthday where gifts aren’t suggested, it’s still a good idea to bring something that cost between $15 and $30.
For the birthday that is expecting presents, then you might want to double the budget.
Some birthdays may also cater to a theme like, for example, dinosaurs or superheroes for children.
Getting a gift that goes with the theme can delight the birthday individual since it’s likely they chose the theme because they like it.
You can usually find some sort of gift within the $15 to $30 range for specific themes.
Understanding tone and theme can help you determine your birthday gift budget.
4. Experiences And Not Gifts
Finally, there are some instances when an experience is a better gift than an actual present.
The birthday individual might want to do something for their birthday instead of receiving gifts.
For example, they might want to go bowling, to an escape room, or even on a cruise.
Instead of a gift, they might expect you to join them instead and share in the experience.
When it comes to something like bowling, going to an escape room, or even eating out at a restaurant, it’s usually good etiquette to cover the birthday individual’s expenses.
You can share the expense with the other party-goers.
For example, someone can cover the price of the first bowling game and someone else can cover the price of the second bowling game.
For a restaurant, someone can cover the birthday individual’s meal while someone else covers their drinks.
When it comes to something more expensive like going on a cruise, a theme park, or something similar, then you should only concern yourself with your own expenses.
You can always buy something small at the cruise, theme park, or whatever to commemorate their birthday.
However, the focus is on the experience rather than on giving a gift.
It isn’t fair, in this sense, to cover the price of a ticket since the birthday individual decided to go on that expensive trip in the first place.
It does make sense to get them a small souvenir to commemorate both their birthday and the trip.
In the case of sharing an experience instead of a gift with the birthday individual, your budget can fluctuate.
Should You Get Someone A Birthday Gift Or An Experience?
As people get older, it’s harder to buy presents for them.
Long gone are the days when you could simply buy them the latest toy or game.
While this is still valid for some people, others may not share such hobbies.
In this instance, you may consider buying them an experience rather than a gift.
An experience means you pay for the group, or at least the birthday individual and yourself, to do something.
It might mean skydiving, going through an escape room, going to a theme park, or even visiting a different country.
The choices can vary depending on your available budget and your personal relationship with the birthday individual.
That said, you may wonder if it’s worth it or if buying a gift is still the best option.
Here are a few reasons you should consider buying someone an experience rather than a gift for their birthday.
1. It’s Easier
Buying gifts is hard.
It’s difficult to know what someone wants without asking them.
If you ask them, then they know what you’re getting them for their birthday which makes it a little less special or exciting.
There’s also the chance that if you buy something for them, then you may discover that they already have it.
Even worse, they may have a few copies of it.
Buying an experience is better.
Even if they’ve already done the experience before, things are usually different enough that it’s still special.
For example, going to the zoo may seem like the same thing each time, but it’s not.
Different animals might be on display.
There might be different events or shows.
Even something as minimal as the weather can change the experience of going to the zoo.
If you know that the birthday individual enjoys going to the zoo, then they’re probably going to have fun, regardless.
Going somewhere, doing something, or simply having an experience is an easier gift to give someone than finding a physical gift to give to them.
Another great thing about giving an experience rather than a gift is that it’s more memorable.
In most cases, your gift will eventually stop having a use.
At worst, the birthday individual doesn’t want or need it at all, so it will never see the light of day.
At best, they’ll hold onto it for some time before it either ceases to function or takes up too much space.
Either way, all it does is remind them that you bought it for them.
An experience, on the other hand, is something that you get to share with the birthday individual.
If you decide to take a trip together, for example, then you’re sharing in the highs and lows of that trip.
If it’s hiking in a new area, for example, you get to share memories of discovering beautiful vistas.
You also get to share memories of the torrential downpour that soaked everyone in camp.
Those are memories that are going to live longer and mean more as you grow older.
You can reflect on them together.
The memories that you make through an experience can bring you closer.
One might say that since the experience is more memorable than a physical gift, the experience is priceless.
3. Learn More About Each Other
No matter what your relationship is with the birthday individual, it’s always a good thing to learn more about them.
Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your loved one, you’ll likely learn something when you take them out for an experience on their birthday.
It’s a great opportunity to try something new with them and see how they react.
For example, if the birthday individual has never gone surfing before, then take them out for lessons.
You may both discover that you have a natural ability for it.
You might discover that you both need to keep your feet on the sand.
Even something less physically demanding like going to an escape room or going bowling can reveal things about each other.
You may find that neither of you works well under pressure.
Perhaps you’ll realize that you’re both very competitive when it comes to bowling.
Discovering new things about one another can deepen your relationship.
It also makes it a bit easier to shop for them in the future.
4. Try New Things
A final reason experiences make for better birthday gifts than physical gifts is that it encourages everyone to try new things.
When someone does something new, they enrich themselves as a person.
They uncover new skills or weaknesses.
They learn how to depend on others or stand on their own two feet.
Doing new things is also exciting.
It helps shake up the monotony of life.
For loved ones, it could add a bit of spark to your relationship.
For friends, it could give you all something new to do now and then.
For kids, it might ignite a new passion that defines them later in life.
Until you do new things, you can never know your full potential.
Giving this opportunity to someone for their birthday is remarkable and priceless.
It beats a physical gift every time.
Are Birthday Experiences Or Physical Gifts More Expensive?
For the budget-conscious, you may wonder if it’s cheaper to give a birthday experience or a birthday gift.
That depends largely on the experience in question and if you’re sharing that expense with others at the party.
Since the average birthday present is $15 to $30, you can sometimes find experiences also worth that much.
Going to the zoo, running through an escape room, or even going bowling tend to fit in that price range.
However, activities like going out to eat, going skydiving, taking a cruise, or going on a hike can sometimes exceed that budget.
Sharing it with others can help ease the financial burden.
When several people share the expense of the experience, it can sometimes even become cheaper than $15 to $30.
Choosing the right experience and sharing the expense with others can make them cheaper than birthday gifts.
If you want to follow proper birthday gift etiquette, then you’ll want to buy a present that costs between $15 and $30.