Gifts: Milestone birthdays

Several friends turned 50 and 60 recently, so I though it would be fun to ask them what were their most-appreciated gifts, and urge them to reveal the dogs, too. But one friend is too nice.

"Rachel", recipient of your pick, the Simon & Ruby "Foxwood" necklace, declares it tied for very favourite along with another handmade necklace from her friend Avril. 

Yesterday, she wrote:
"I continue to wear your beautiful necklace–and pearl earrings–with great pleasure. The colours are absolutely perfect and match nearly all of my tops."

High fives, readers!

I had to wrench evaluations out of her; she kept dithering and saying sweet things like "Really, being surrounded by all my friends and feeling their love was the best gift ever."

Rachel finally copped to enjoying "a bottle of good champagne" and "a gift certificate for the liquor store".  She clammed up when asked to name the dogs, but I suspect some of the 'inspirational' books might not be cracked open. Even though a decade birthday is important, a woman doesn't necessarily want to be motivated

Fortunately, the acerbic Penny, who turned 60 last fall, was more than willing to dish. "The plush bedroom slippers with big 60s on them? Trashed with the empties!", she wrote, and, "I haven't been a 36A since the moon walk, so my daughter grabbed a really hot bustier."
She gave herself a pair of classic nude Manolo Blahnik pumps, a departure– I've never seen her in heels higher than kittens. "For once, I didn't think so sensibly" she said, "I just indulged."

An aside: Penny's husband organized the party and had written, on the e-vite "No gifts, please". When Penny found out, she said, "What?!" He corrected the error.

Other friends and acquaintances contributed these favourite milestone gifts:

- A subscription to a professional journal ("OK, I'm totally into my work, but I loved this!")
- A visit to a psychic, I went with the friend who gave it. (Why are visits to psychics always prefaced by "Normally, I would never do this"?)
- A rescue dog, "then I went back a week later and adopted his brother" 
- An antique chair of (my friend's) that I had long admired
- Singing lessons
- A girlfriend getaway to Vegas; seven friends chipped in for my ticket and showed up at the gate dressed in wild outfits
- A friend made my favourite dish and served it to me at her beautifully-set table 
- A mural painted on our garden wall by my children and their friends
- A quilt made of sentimental swatches and photos printed on fabric, made by my sisters and mother
(Note: I've seen the quilt. There's Andrea as a teenager, sitting on a neighbour boy's lap: Ted Nugent!)
- A baby-blue vintage MG (combination 50th and MA graduation gift)

What are your memorable milestone gifts?


I really liked this post since I will have a milestone birthday this summer. Ideas like taking lessons and painting murals are so much fun. I will have to think long and hard about what I really desire for this should be special. Thanks for a fun post!!
Kristien62 said…
A guitar- for retirement. I played as a child, but after the parents divorced, I never studied again. I had always said, "When I retire...." and there it was when I did.
LPC said…
I like your friends! And the woman who overturned the "no gifts" rule, way to go! The milestone gift I remember was a teak bench for my garden, given for my 40th by all the friends I met during my child-rearing years. 16 years later, still wonderful.
I received a Sally Holmes rose for my 40th birthday and it blooms throughout the summer. I love it!
Anonymous said…
For my 50th birthday my DH offered me a tour from Vienna to Venise...and for my b-day we happened to be in Ljubljana, staying at a "relais-château" hotel! It was autumn, gold leaves falling around us, bright sun everywhere (even in Venise in November if you can believe it!!!) It was everything a "dream comes true"...
frugalscholar said…
I'm heading to a milestone in January. I still haven't decided what I want. Maybe a Longchamp Roseau bag--what do you think?
Swissy said…
A handmade chandelier for our new dining room. Lots of champagne.
Duchesse said…
Pam: Absolutely; make it special and tell us what you chose!

kristien62: The gift of an instrument holds such promise (and work)! Did you find it difficult to pick it up again?

LPC: A charming and enduring gift, terrific idea!

hostess: Roses, of course- so "you"!

Anon@10:23: That's a magical moment, a lifetime memory. Goosebumps.

frugal: You've been circling a good bag for awhile; hope you find one that sings to you. Roseau is actually a line, and I

find them simple and beautiful, especially the crossbody. (I can't carry big leather bags for more than a half hour or so, comfortably.)

Swissy: Illumination, an apt metaphor! And champagne- any birthday is a good excuse. That's what I asked for, for my 50th: to have an icebucket with champagne continually available for family and my visiting gf.

SewingLibrarian said…
For my fiftieth, my husband gave me a trip to Italy with my favorite sewing guru. She organized the trip for about twenty women, and she herself turned fifty during the trip. It was fabulous!
Anonymous said…
Nothing like any of these marvelous things; I guess I don't make much of milestones. But I loved the (homemade, I think) card my sister sent, a quote from Margaret Atwood in big black letters: "FOR YEARS I WANTED TO BE OLDER AND NOW I AM."

Susan said…

For my sixtieth birthday, my favorite gift was a long weekend in Santa Fe with my husband. The weekend included dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, a bit of jewelry shopping, another dinner with friends, and massages at Ten Thousand Waves. All is a very good memory of that milestone.
Duchesse said…
SewingLibrarian: What a sumptuous trip! You and several others who responded have celebrated in grand style.

C.: Perfect, I'm cloning that!

Susan: Love the combination of your beloved, your friends- and a special piece of jewelry. Giving me ideas and dreams!

Kristien62 said…
I really had to start over. I've been taking lessons since November and enjoy playing immensely.
Kathy said…
Strangely, at each milestone birthday, something more monumental was happening. My 30th, I was about to give birth, my 40th, a divorce, 50th my father had just died, and 60th, my daughter got married within days of.
However I've had many wonderful and memorable birthdays, and these were too - in a different kind of way.
We were going to do something special for our 10th anniversary, and now my daughter is due with my first grandchild very close to the date. Well - best gift ever!
Duchesse said…
Kristien; Good for you; learning an instrument now is like learning a language: great for the brain but so much harder.

kathy: What a profound and precious anniversary gift!
GP said…
Yes, profound! That's the word I was searching for. It would never occur to me to ask someone to tell me the 'dogs' of gifts they had received. What does it matter what you are given? What sort of friend would accept a gift from one and then go squeal to another?

No, I've made this mistake before. This blog is not materialistic.
Duchesse said…
GP: People do tell me these things. Usually the giver of the 'dog' is no longer in the recipient's life, or I alter identifying details.

Sometimes, the donor is fully aware of the gaffe, like my friend D.'s husband, who gave her a Swiss Army knife for her 50th- she cried, not from joy. He's been teased about it for years by her and their friends, so for her 60th he had a Swiss Army knife cake made and gave her diamond earrings in the shape of Swiss cross. Big hit!
Gretchen said…
I've never received any remarkable milestone gifts (safe for a gold bangle for each daughter's birth, engraved with their name, birthday, and time of birth), but I have purchased some for myself. My current plan is to load up my charm bracelet between now and my 50th birthday. I've been collecting charms for 20 years, and finally bought a bracelet for them and soldered the charms this winter. On a search for more so that every link is filled!
Beth said…
I'm not much for milestone gifts either, but for our thirtieth anniversary party I bought grey suede heels, which I've loved ever since even though I can't wear them for very long. For my sixtieth birthday my husband gave me a large square lapis-and-silver pendant to go with a ring he'd given me years before: we searched all over St. Denis and Av. Mont-Royal before finding the right one!

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