I’ll never forget my dad’s 50th birthday. Not because of the party, but rather because my sister and I have never had a better time poking fun at my dad (an incorrigible prankster, jokester, and pot-stirrer) for being “over-the-hill” in the weeks before and after his birthday.
Though we had a blast making jokes, it really was an important event. With 15 years of parenting and more than 30 years of working under his belt, he had crossed that invisible line into his 50s. Now, he could look back and feel proud of all he had accomplished in the past five decades.
There’s a lot to celebrate when someone reaches a new decade, so it’s important to make it a special occasion. But getting the perfect gifts for dads is notoriously difficult. Luckily, these 50th birthday gift ideas for dad will make sure your father feels like the king of the hill (even if he is officially over it) on his 50th birthday.
50th Birthday Gift Ideas for Dad: Presents
Let’s face it, men can be hard to shop for. And if he’s reached his 50th birthday, he’s probably accumulated quite a bit of stuff already. However, there are a few gifts you can make or purchase that are guaranteed to put a smile on his face.
A Silly Over-the-Hill Gift
“Santa beards are on sale!” My sister’s voice came through the phone, excited and out of breath. It was nowhere near Christmas—June, in fact—but we were trying to come up with the perfect gift for our Uncle, who was turning the big 5-0.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “And see if they have any reading glasses. The biggest ones you can find!”
My family is full of pranksters, but none more so than Uncle Reg. That’s why we decided to lean into the over-the-hill hilarity for his 50th birthday. We put together some handmade over-the-hill gag gifts, including a bedazzled denture case, along with the Santa beard and reading glasses in an “old geezer in training” gift basket. Getting older isn’t always fun, but injecting some humor into the day helps the passage of time go by more easily.
A “Through the Decades” Photo Album
“That hair!” “Those clothes!” “Aw, remember Marge from across the street?”
My aunts and uncles were crowded around a photo album my sister and I had made for our mom on her 50th birthday. Instead of putting together an album organized by specific events, we made it more like a scrapbook, highlighting her life over the course of those five decades.
It’s fun to look back at the styles she and my other family members wore in their youth. We added extra details like newspaper clippings and fun stickers representative of the different times. It wasn’t just a celebration of my mom’s life, it was also a look at what the world was like as she became the person she is today. It was a hit with the whole family, and we take it out whenever we’re all together.
50th Birthday Gift Ideas for Dad: Experiences
What do you get the dad who has everything? Sometimes, you’re better off skipping the shopping trip and creating a fun event to celebrate his birthday. You can go simple or elaborate, but the overall effect should be the same: making him feel loved and appreciated, even if it doesn’t come in the form of a wrapped gift.
A Dream Vacation
My grandmother lived in Ireland when she was young but never had the chance to go back. That is, not until when, for her birthday, my mom took her there on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. They visited the town our family is originally from, explored the Cliffs of Moher, and took pictures of my grandma singing her heart out with a folk singer and a group of revelers in a cozy seaside pub.
Is there a trip your dad has talked about taking but never managed to make happen? His 50th birthday is the perfect opportunity to whisk him away. Reach out to his family, friends, and co-workers, and let them know that instead of gifts, they can contribute to the trip fund.
On the big day, let him know that you’ve all come together to make one of his travel dreams come true. Nothing makes getting older easier than realizing how many new memories there are still left to make.
A Night Out with Family
“Shhh!” “He’s coming!” “Seriously, shhhh!” About 40 of us were huddled in the dark, an excited, nervous energy buzzing in the air. We were crowded into the banquet room of my grandpa’s favorite Chinese restaurant, waiting for him and my mom to arrive so we could surprise him. Finally, we heard footsteps in the hall, and waitress saying, “Funny, I’m not sure why it’s so dark in here…” The door opened, the lights flipped on, and we shouted, “Surprise!”
My grandpa, who was turning 70, turned about fifty shades of red, a huge smile on his face and, to my surprise, tears! I had never seen him cry before, but he told us later that he had never had a surprise birthday party before and that seeing the whole family together was the best present he could ask for.
Make your dad feel special and loved by throwing him a celebration with his friends and family. You can go out to a restaurant, host a party at home, or organize an activity like beach volleyball or a cricket match—whatever dad loves doing.
A Man Cave Reboot
Not all dads love being the center of attention, which my BFF learned the hard way after trying to throw her father a huge birthday bash that left him unusually quiet and uncomfortable. He appreciated the gesture, but the attention made him nervous.
The next year, my friend decided to think about what her dad really wanted. Just because people expect a party doesn’t mean that’s the path you should take for a serious introvert!
Instead, while he was on a fishing trip one weekend, she got together with her brother and some of her dad’s friends to makeover his “man cave” in the basement. They upgraded his TV, converted an unused cabinet into a small bar area, repainted, and added some new lighting. When her dad got home, she surprised him by revealing his newly remade, private hangout space. He was ecstatic that his favorite place was even more of a retreat than before. Because my friend thought about what her dad would truly want, she was able to give him the perfect gift.
Making His 50th Birthday the Best One Possible
Birthdays can be rough. Getting older has a lot of baggage attached to it, but with the right present, you can help your dad focus on all the amazing things he’s done so far and all the wonderful memory-making he still has ahead.
Whether you opt for an actual present, the trip of a lifetime, or the perfect introvert’s hideaway, these ideas will help you think about what would really make your dad smile on his 50th birthday. As thankful as he’ll be for whatever gift you shower him with, nothing can match the gratitude a child (even if they’re all grown up!) feels for having such a great father.