30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | Creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

So, my parents are kinda crazy.  Crazy as in “crazy awesome!”

For my 30th birthday last month, they decided to send me not one gift, not two, but…(wait for it)…thirty.  Yes, thirty individually wrapped gifts to be opened by yours truly over the course of 30 days.  30 gifts to celebrate 30 years of life.  I told you they were crazy awesome.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

I got permission to share their card with you all.  In it, my Mom explains, “There is a gift for each of the 30 days surrounding your birthday!  …  We suggest you open one a day starting March 1st and until March 30th.  30 days of gifts for 30 years of life….

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | Creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

 And then she shared the inspiration behind this gift, which traces back to her childhood.  She writes, “A sweet lady gave me a package like this before I went off to kindergarten…for the 7 days before school started.  I have never forgotten — one was a lunchbox, one a box of pencils, one a new dress.  It really helped me get excited for going off to kindergarten.”

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | Creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

I couldn’t believe how much she remembered from those early years!  Clearly, those gifts had a lasting impact.

So, starting March 1st, the gift opening began!  The experience of opening one gift a day brought back childhood memories of opening up the tiny doors on our Christmas advent calendar in anticipation of Christmas, only it continued after my official birthday ended.  Instead of only one day to celebrate my birthday, it turned into a month-long celebration…one I’ll not soon forget.

I couldn’t help but think how this concept could inspire gift-giving for so many other types of celebrations.  Here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • Back-to-school prep.  Just like the woman did for my Mom, you could give a child a gift for each of the seven days before school starts, as a way to build up anticipation and ward off the end-of-summer blues.
  • Retirement celebration.  If a co-worker is retiring after 20 years at your company, you could invite your colleagues to each contribute a gift to be a part of a “20 gifts to celebrate 20 years” celebration.
  • Baby shower in a box.  For that pregnant friend who lives far away, invite friends to contribute individual gifts for a “baby shower in a box” care package…perhaps, 30 gifts for the month before she’s due.  ***Click here for my post on a New Mommy Survival Kit.
  • Anniversary celebration.  10 gifts for 10 years of marriage…or even “10 things I love about you” written on 10 different slips of paper to be posted daily on the bathroom mirror.  ***Click here for my 12 Months of Date Nights Gift & FREE Printable and 30 Last-Minute DIY Gifts for Your Valentine.
  • End-of-year teacher gift.  Before the end of the school year, collect gifts from each student in the class to give to their teacher for the first 20 or 30 days of summer (depending on how many students are in the class).  As a teacher myself, I can attest that this would be #themostepicteachergiftever.  ***Click here for my KEEP CALM T-Shirt Gift for Teachers.

The individual gifts don’t need to be big or expensive; in fact, if you were coordinating this type of gift giving for a group, you could set a price limit of $5 or $10.

And to help inspire you, here’s a glimpse at some of the special gifts I received over the past month:

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

My writing utensil of choice: Pilot G2 pens, rainbow edition.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

A New York Mug to remind me of my home state and a Starbucks gift card, which has already been put to use!  These were two different gifts for two different days.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

What can I say, I love to bake!

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

Finger puppets from IKEA; fun to be had with my nieces and nephews!

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

Yummy spa lotion.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

Colored pencils made from Tamarind branches.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

Treats for my sweet tooth!

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

Some new Diana Krall beats.

30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years | A creative gift idea via The Thinking Closet

An old embroidered cloth just asking to be upcycled in a d.i.y. project.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for an incredible month of thoughtful gifts.  It was, for lack of a better phrase, crazy awesome.

Your Turn

Dear reader, what other ideas does this spark in your mind?  Have you ever been the recipient of a barrage of gifts?  If so, I’d love for you to share your story in the comments below!

Hungry for More Creative Gift Ideas?

Thinking Outside the Gift Box eBook by Lauren from ThinkingCloset.com - Chock FULL of frugal yet meaningful gift ideas to get your creative juices flowing!If this post has whet your appetite for more gifts that aren’t too expensive but come straight from the heart, guess what?  I wrote a 143-page eBook to help my comrades come up with meaningful and one-of-a-kind gift ideas quickly, some in as short as 5 minutes.  And this 30 Gifts to Celebrate 30 Years concept even inspired one of my 21 chapters!

The book includes:

  • 21 gift ideas
  • 78 actionable-examples
  • 20 pages of printables.

Oh, and most of the gift ideas will cost you $10 or less.  Truth.  So, what are you waiting for, friend?  Click HERE so you can read the sample chapters before nabbing your copy of Thinking Outside the Gift Box.

Join the revolution as we rediscover the joy of giving.

This is Lauren, signing off.

Lovely comments so far...

  1. says

    What a wonderful and thoughtful gift from your parents!! My husband’s birthday is March 12 so last year I did ‘The Twelve Days of L’. And starting March 1st each day would bring something — a note about how much I loved him, cooking his favorite dinner, small inexpensive but thoughtful gifts — and then on his actual birthday his main gift. Was a fun way to spread out his special day.

    I love the idea of 30 for 30 though!! And I also love ideas you came up with. Especially Baby Shower in a box! And now I am very intrigued about your New Mommy Survival Kit post coming up :-)


    • says

      Wow! I loved hearing about “The 12 Days of L.” I can’t help but start singing, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree….” I bet that was memorable not only for him, but for you! And out of curiosity, what IS his favorite meal? Knowing your culinary skills, I bet you cook it to perfection.

      Glad I have piqued your curiosity with the New Mommy Survival Kit post. Should be able to click publish tomorrow or Friday! Thanks for being such a great bloggy friend, Kenley.

    • Paula says

      This was a wonderful idea that you had for your daughter. My daughter just recently moved and I was looking for something special to do. She loved it!!! It made me feel so happy!! Everyday she sent a picture of the gift she had opened. The fun part was I didn’t know which one she was going to be opening. Thanks again for a wonderful idea for my daughter’s 30th Birthday!!

  2. says

    WOW!!! I can’t begin to describe the jealousy I have over your amazing gifts. What a cool concept and for sure something that can be duplicated for so many different holidays. Your mom (parents) really are insanely awesome!

    My mother-in-law used to something similar for my husband’s younger sister when she would travel. I remember her laying out a display of cards each labeled to be open on a specific date of her travels. Every day my sister in law got a new card reminding her of what she meant to her parents..I thought it was just too cool and something I’ve always planned to do when we travel away from Colin.

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you about our meet up. My little guy is in school Tuesday and Thursday mornings which is usually my shopping time, but I’ve been utilizing these hours to get comfortable in my new ‘work from home’ position. Let’s plan for a date the week after next? I should have my barrings by then. ps- If you tire of your Diana Krall CD by then I will be more than happy to take it off your hands Ha!

    • says

      Ooo! What a great idea with the cards to be opened for each day of travel on a special trip! It’s such a great way to stay connected to your loved ones at home while seeing the great wide world. I’m sure Colin will appreciate that coming from you one day….

      Take your time getting into the swing of things with your new job. I’m sure it’s quite an adjustment at first. Whenever you’re needing a little escape or respite from the “daily grind,” let me know! I’ll be there. (With Diana Krall in hand, ha ha.)

    • says

      I heard a story once that whenever this lady’s husband went on a business trip, she would pack his suitcase and she would put each days outfit stacked together and for each day, he would find a note or picture or something special tucked in with his outfit. Every morning, he started his day out with a smile and love from his wife!

      • thethinkingcloset says

        Debbie, these tales are AWESOME! Thanks for taking the time to pen them. I love the idea of the bundle of 13 things for your 13th birthday! And that the tradition has lived on for future generations. I might have to implement that one myself when we have kiddos someday. And the story about the special notes packed into the husband’s suitcase about broke my heart. Wow. I actually have goosebumps thinking about it. With our four-year anniversary coming up this Thursday, you’ve given me a gift idea. THANKS!

        • Dan says

          My wife does this for me when I go away on business. It really is the most amazing feeling to know someone cares about you that much to write out little notes and hide them all through your bags.

          I’m putting together a 30 presents for her 30th now (thanks to your blog). Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. says

    Really great idea Lauren! I think for any big monumental event this would be a perfect idea! It’s funny b/c for the end of the year teacher thing I am probably going to be doing just that. A gift box of smaller items packaged up vs one big thing.Great idea! Happy Anniversary to your parents!

    • says

      Love that you’re planning on the end-of-year teacher gift…would love to see what you end up gifting! Maybe you’ll write a post on it?…hint hint. 😉 (Any teacher would be lucky to receive a gift from you, Alex…however big or small.)

      • says

        Not an end of the year gift but a thoughtful gift for a teacher who has 5 children and a wife at home and spends next to nothing on himself. He wears bow ties to school each day. So, we put a small Christmas tree in his classroom at the beginning of December. It was decorated with colorful LED lights and half a dozen bow ties. By Christmas the students had filled the tree with multitudes of beautiful colorful bow ties. Not only did he keep the bow ties which he religiously wears each day but he also asked if he could keep the tree!

  4. Robyn says

    That is the sweetest thing ever. Your parents sound simply wonderful! I can just tell that you have an amazing family. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse!

  5. says

    I love this idea! And now I see exactly from where you get your wonderfulness – your love for others, your art of the surprise note, and your fun spirit! Way to go, Lauren’s mom and dad!! And thanks for giving the world such a blessing by rearing your daughters the way you have!

    What I like best about the barrage of gifts is how every little gift comes from knowing you so well. Only someone who really knows you and your intimate details could buy so many small, but deeply personal or meaningful gifts. Having someone love you enough to have that intricate knowledge of your likes and desires is a very special gift indeed.

    I am pinning your post as a reminder to do something similar for my husband for our 10th wedding anniversary in December!

    • says

      Thanks for your loving comment to my parents (Carolyn and Jay). I’ll make sure they read your comment, Jessica!

      And you hit the nail on the head that though the gifts were small, they were “deeply personal or meaningful.” And to do that 30 times? Well, that takes some knowing! 😉 My parents have been incredible models of love to me and my sister, and if I’ve managed to pick up an ounce of that great love, that’s all God and not me.

      Wow! That’s right – – you and your husband have a big anniversary celebration coming up this December. How exciting! I trust that no matter what gift(s) you give him, it will be deeply personal, meaningful, and straight from your loving heart. I’ve learned that that’s just part of who you are.

  6. says

    your parents are awesome! it’s so beautiful and thoughtful what they did for you! :-) you are a very lucky lady! their 30 day idea is amazing and I’m really happy you shared their idea and their beautiful card with us! btw, I love the Starbucks cup you received from New York and those beautiful colored pencils

    • says

      I am so thankful to have the parents I do…and feel truly blessed. You know who else is an incredible blessing to me with her oh-so-sweet comments? You, Ingrid!

      Wish I could have you over for an afternoon sometime, Ingrid…I’d serve you a cup of something warm and delicious in the New York mug, and we could sketch the birds flying over the lake using those colored pencils. Sound good to you? Sure does to me!

      • says

        We do celebrate Mothers Day here in Europe, but it doesn’t have this political background. In Germany especially it got introduced from the florist’s union, so a lot of people say it’s only about commerce! And then there’s still the bad thing, that it got really famous during the time of Nazism – women with a lot of kids got medals for that, for getting kids and Mothers Day got a holiday.
        (okay, well … Mothers Day has a political background here. Oops.)

        But Mothers Day does get celebrated here anyway. It’s always on the second sunday in May… (in Germany – other countries have other days. For example in Sweden it’s always last sunday in May.)

        …so far my little history lesson :)))

        I may send my mom a little gift for Mothers Day. But I don’t celebrate it that much… and I’m not going to buy something. (Yes, I’m one of those saying that Mothers Day is only for commerce…)
        And my mom’s birthday is as well in May, so I don’t think, there’s a need to buy two bigger presents in only two weeks.

        Love, Midsommarflicka

        • says

          Thanks for the history lesson on Mother’s Day in Europe! I never knew all that (or its origins being commercial). Ours is also the second Sunday in May, and coincidentally, my mother’s birthday is in May like yours. Let me know if you have any fun gift ideas! I like the idea of not spending much, but making something instead (surprise, surprise). 😉

          Happy weekend to you, Midsommarflicka!

          • says

            I didn’t expect you to know all that… There’s a lot of American history I don’t know! But here, well, you always hear about our German history. It’s for sure important that it never get’s forgotten, but sometimes it’s just annoying. I wanna live today, not 80 years ago…


            Yeah, it’s not really a surprise that we like to make something as gifts, haha!

            A happy weekend to you as well! <3

  7. says

    I love this idea. No wonder you are so special, you are the spawn of some amazing people! I’d love to go on poetically about these more, but I don’t have time to type. I just wanted to give you a quick comments to say, “So WONDERFUL!”

  8. says

    Wow! This is SO cool! You do have crazy awesome parents. I’m thinking this would be a fun idea for my son when he starts kindergarden, or for a new mom, to give her a gift every week for the first 3 months (which were hardest for me!). LOVE LOVE LOVE

    • says

      Good to know about those first 3 months being the toughest; I’m sure you are not alone in that! That’s a great reminder for me that if I can’t get my act together to send a gift before the baby has been born, 3 months later is not too late, and might be all the more appreciated!

  9. says

    that is so sweet. my mom gave me a care package of essentials in college that always stuck with me it was lots and lots of necessary things with a few quirky things too and of course an article from the newspaper on “staying safe ” after dark- it was fun and I will have to do this for someone soon- it is neat because all your eggs dont go in 1 basket like a 50 dollar giftcard that they may loose or never use but more like 10 5 dollar gifts or something- tre cool!

    • says

      Oooo! A care package of college essentials is a great idea…pedantic newspaper article included. Ha ha. (My father still sends me newspaper articles, but mostly on education or theatre! Must be our parents’ love language.)

  10. Diana says

    Thank you soooo much for sharing this! I’ve been trying to come up with something simple to do for our soon to be 15 year old away at school. This will be his first b-day away from family! :( We had a mini early celebration with gifts (much needed for the spring term) during spring break, but that doesn’t cover the celebration when the day arrives. A sweet package full of small thoughtful gifts and inspiring messages like yours should ease the distance between us.
    Easter was our first holiday apart (except Halloween and Valentine’s Day, not big enough to count) but with it so close to break and knowing the suitcase would not immediately be unloaded, I tucked a few of his favorite treats in plastic eggs in the far corners of his suitcase…a little mini egg hunt in and of itself!

    • says

      Oh, it makes me happier than a pig in mud to know that this post inspired a gift idea in you, Diana. I know your son will love a package of 15 gifties from you for his birthday celebration…probably just as much as he loved hunting for Easter eggs in his own suitcase (how sweet!).

      That’s gotta be tough for you two to be apart. But I can attest that during those college years when my parents and I were far apart in miles, we grew closer than ever in our hearts. That’s really when my relationship with them shifted for the better. Distance and perspective can do that! (Also, maturity.) Hoping you and your son grow ever closer through this season!

  11. Andrea B. says

    For our 15th wedding anniversary I did 15 things I love about M (my spouse). And stuck them to his favorite treats.
    But I just saw a friend do 30 notes for a 30th birthday, and she gathered notes from his friends and family and stuffed them in balloons. He had to pop each balloon and read the notes. I thought I might do something similar for my hubby’s 40th birthday (but put all the notes in a book).

    • says

      I love the idea of sticking love notes to your husband’s favorite things. For my husband, Mark, that might be his stand-up paddle-board or drill-press. 😉

      And the notes-in-balloon ideas is fantabulous! How fun to pop 30 balloons to get to 30 sweet notes from your beloveds.

      And then the 40 notes in a book? Brilliant! My mind is reeling with all of these great gift ideas, Andrea. Thank you!

  12. says

    What a cute idea! I may have to borrow this for some landmark birthdays coming up…or for next year when my best friends and I all turn 30!

    What I like to do for Christmas is find something on the family member’s Christmas list and pair it with a couple items that match. My mom wanted scone pans a few years back, so my dad and I each got her one. Then I also included a few scone mixes and assorted jams so she had stuff to make! It’s a fun little surprise to get something you want AND something that compliments it.

    The Good Groupie

    • says

      Miranda, your idea to take a wish list item and run with it, adding complimentary gifts, is just lovely! And oh so creative. (But why am I surprised? I can tell you have creativity by the bucket-full.) And I love that by taking something that’s on their list, you’re ensuring that it’s something they already want or need. I’m going to have to use that one next Christmas, and start requesting wish lists from my family!

  13. says

    My 40th birthday is August and I totally want someone to do this form me. It would be way more fun than just celebrating one day. Thanks for sharing your birthday with us.

  14. says

    How wonderful. I received something similar from a friend for my 21st, but luckily she didn’t make me wait and open one a day, I got to open them all in one go. I am so impatient I don’t think I could have handled waiting! Did you have a favourite gift within this ginormous parcel? xxx

    • says

      Ha ha. I suppose my love of surprise trumps my impatience…though if you catch me on the subway platform in N.Y.C., I’m about as impatient as they come! Love that your friend had you open a bunch of little gifts all at once. I could get into that! (And I officially need to start using the word “parcel” more. You Brits have such a way with words!)

      To answer your question, though, about a favorite…that’s a tough one. One gift I didn’t show was some money to enjoy a special activity with my sister during her visit. So, we went out for tea and quesadillas (strange combination, I know) during our afternoon of Sister Summer Camp. That was such a sweet time, I think that has to be my favorite gift! {Good question, Hannah.}

      • says

        Is this the 2nd or 3rd time now that I have said something British and not realised?! I didn’t know you don’t use the word parcel. 😀

        That is a very sweet choice as your favourite present. sounds like you had a fantastic time. What are quesadillas – that is something I don;t think we have over here.

          • says

            They look like crazy tortilla triangle sandwiches. Look yummy though 😀 thanks for the link.
            And don’t worry, the british phrases will keep on coming, mainly becasue I don;t realise I am doing it

          • says

            Ha ha, they are crazy! And oh so good…. If and when we meet one day, Hannah, I know what meal we’ll be sharing: chicken quesadillas! And I love your British spellings, too (“realise” for example). I spell “theatre” the British way…mostly because I got in the habit during graduate school (where my program was Educational Theatre), but also because it looks prettier to my eye. You Brits have a way with words, what can I say?

  15. jodi girden says

    crazy (awesome) does seem to run in your family!! how fun. i’m sure you being you has been such a gift to your parents over the last 30 years – i can’t even imagine having a child that long and loving them for so many years. this reminds me of our last anniversary…matt did 8 different cards with memories of that year of marriage, and picked a song for that year and a small gift for each year too….it was incredible (and made me do a last minute scramble for an equally-amazing gift! ha!) i am now ironing his work shirts for a year, and every time i iron one, i think of that gift and smile. thanks for sharing a peek into your presents. being a very nosy person, the suspense of the box of wrapped gifts was killing me!

    • says

      Jodi, thanks for this gift of your comment! Being the recipient of so many of YOUR incredible gifts over the years, I have a feeling that your little ones are in for a lifetime of incredible gifts from their Mama…mainly, her incredible love. Watching you goof around with them last weekend and redirect them so gently is such an example of “love is patient, love is kind.” You’re my role model!

      I delighted to hear about your and Matt’s gifts to each other last year. I can totally see Matt loving you with carefully selected music (mix making is definitely one of his love languages). And if you share even a fraction of my disdain for ironing, then I know what a labor of love that is to iron all of his work shirts for a whole YEAR. And the fact that you’ve turned it into an opportunity to recall how he loved you with that gift, well that just brings tears to my eyes. Literally.

      Ha ha, and I wouldn’t call it “nosy.” “Curious” is more like it. (I share that trait, too.) Glad to have satiated that curiosity. Pop over next time your in Orlando, and I’ll show you the rest of the gifties! 😉

  16. says

    This would so be my mom! She has always showered me with gifts. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m her only girl out of four children. We have always been super close (mommy and daughter summer camp! So going to do this with her!). Her favorite gift to give now that I am an adult is to give me a gift that reminds her of my childhood. I received a fairy princess wand as one of many gifts she gave me for my birthday this year. I think she misses her sweet little princess.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea with us! I am totally going to steal it!

    • says

      I have loved learning more about your Mom lately, Bethany. She sounds like an incredible woman with a great sense of humor and immense love in her heart. Ha ha, and I love the idea of Mommy and Daughter Summer Camp! I can just see you two traipsing around together, you with a camera around your neck and princess wand in hand.

      Steal away, my friend. Steal away!

  17. Thalita @The Learner Observer says

    This is sooooo sweet!!!!! The year my husband and I started dating I gave him a birthday card for every day of his birthday month. His birthday is at the end of the month so it worked well. I even mailed some of them! So though there were no gifts, there was a special message for each day :)

    It really sounds like you had a spectacular birthday!

    • says

      I love the idea of a whole month of birthday cards! And that you even mailed some of them. How cute! I’d consider each and every one of those gifts in and of themselves.

      Mark and I used to correspond through cards and letters when we were dating because we were long distance and preferred it to email, so now you’ve got me thinking it might be fun to revive that tradition for his birthday this year. Thanks, girlfriend!

  18. Gianna says

    Wow! That’s an awesome gift! Sounds like one of my all-time favorite gifties that I received from a dear friend of mine when I was leaving to study abroad in Cuba for four months (wink, wink). I seem to recall countless bits of encouragement, quotes, pictures, readings that ended up decorating the wall in my dorm and filling my heart when I felt lonely. I STILL open that gift and look through it every once in a while. If I ever wondered where you got your thoughtfulness and creativity, it is no doubt a reflection of how God has gifted your entire family. What a blessing you all are to one another and to everyone you meet! I love you, dear friend!

    • says

      That’s right! I had so much fun putting that gift together; it was a small way of feeling connected to you during that season when you were living and studying abroad. And I’m glad to know that it helped lift your spirits, too! And that you even still have it. :-)

      Thanks for your encouraging words, friend. Speaking of gifts from God, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I am so thankful He brought you into my life when He did, and that He continues to use you in my life to speak words of truth and love. You are such a treasured friend, Gianna. I love you to pieces!

  19. says

    What a sweet and thoughtful gift.

    My dad has told me a similar story from his childhood where he had to have surgery and be in a wheelchair for two months and a family friend gave him 60 gifts, one to be opened each day. They were little gifts, but he also talked about how the thoughtfulness of the gift and the fun of having something each day meant a lot to him.

    I love this idea!

    • says

      Wow, 60 gifts?! That takes this concept to a whole new level. I can only imagine how much that helped your dad cope with being in a wheelchair for two months. Thanks for sharing that story, Jess!

  20. says

    Lauren!! This is such an amazing gift idea. I adore things like this. How fun to open one little present as you counted down the days to the big 3-0! I will have to pin this idea to use later. You’ve got me thinking…thinking…..thinking…….

    • says

      I saw your pin before I saw this comment, Kelly, and it made me smile! Thank you. And it’s fitting that you like gifts like this because it’s somewhat reminiscent of your incredible birthday gift for your hubby (the alphabet book), which is like 26 individual gifts in a way. I’m definitely giving that one a go someday. 😉

  21. says

    How fun
    We did something like that for our Secret Santa at school for a couple of years.
    For 5 days we give a gift and on the 5th we’d reveal who the recipients secret Santa was

  22. Marmie says

    My darling first-born daughter…still amazed that it’s been 30 years since you were born. But what wonderful years and memories with new joys to come! Jess mentioned her dad getting 60 gifts; well, the only other time I did something like this was when my mom (Mor Mor) had her shoulder surgery and I did send her about 60 little gifts so she would have something fun to look forward to each day as she recovered for about two months. They really were little gifts and I made several different boxes as I did for you.
    Like the family friend of Jess’s dad, I think a series of gifts to be opened each day is a good idea to use for people who are sick and recovering.
    It really made it do-able that I sent you about 5-6 gifts per box starting a week ahead and then another box every 5-6 days. That gave me time to plan ahead and yet not have to tackle all 30 gifts at once. Collecting the gifts, wrapping, and sending them also helped me prepare for you to turn 30 and be excited along with you. It was fun to plan some gifts around Lisbeth’s visit and some with Mark and nieces and nephews in mind.
    I knew 30 was a milestone for you (though mine was 29 years for some reason)…so I knew it would help to have a fun distraction. If I had thought about this idea sooner I could have been more creative, sent more silly gifts…and made you something home-made, but I accept my limitations and am thankful you were able to share this and inspire others. So many great ideas have been generated from this post that I am going to “steal” as well.

    It was SO special this year that your birthday month ended with EASTER!! What hope, what joy!! Sending much love and gratefulness for YOU!

    • says

      Most “crazy awesome” comment ever! Thank you again, Mom (and Dad) for the showering of love through your carefully selected gifts. I’m still reveling in it all!

      And I didn’t remember you giving Mor Mor 60 gifts during her shoulder surgery recovery. Wow! I’m sure that really powered her through the pain and limitations she might have felt during those 2 months. And great idea to space out the gifts with different boxes. Less pressure to produce 30 amazing gifts all at once! And what’s this talk of limitations? I don’t think you could have been any more creative with this than you already were.

      Yes, it was a triumphant end to the month with Easter Sunday on March 31st. And I don’t know how the weather is faring in NY but spring has most definitely sprung down here in Florida. Sending some warmth and a huge hug your way!

      • Marmie says

        Thanks for your generous words and warmth and huge hug!! It is just starting to warm up here in the north! We are appreciating every day it gets into the 50s!! Yes, your Dad was instrumental in the gift-giving and I was remiss not to mention that in my previous comment. He contributed the G-2 pens, Swedish Fish, Lapland Lake Mug, $2.00 bill from Lake Placid, Shortbread GS cookies, and more, and was always weighing in with ideas!! So thankful to have a generous and giving husband who is also a “crazy awesome” father! xxoo

        • says

          Mark was really excited about that $2 bill. You don’t see one of those everyday! And how neat that it’s from Lake Placid. Also, just snacked on the shortbread cookies, today! Dad hit the nail on the head with his gift contributions, fo’ sho’. And you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned him being a “crazy awesome” father Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • says

      I am seeing where Lauren gets her cute and clever wonderfulness — it all goes back to her roots. She blesses so many here, much credit should be given to how she was raised. Blessings to all the extended Thinking Closet family!

      • says

        Hear, hear! My parents indeed deserve so much credit for the love and care they poured into me throughout my upbringing and beyond…as well as for all they put up with! Especially during my adolescence. {Batting eyelashes innocently.} Thanks for your kind words, Linda, and for your blessings. I’ll pass them along! (Though they’ll probably read about it here first.)

  23. says

    Lauren, I can see where you get your generous, clever, and sweet personality from! I am completely borrowing this for the husband’s birthday in November…but I’ll need to come up with 50 small gifts!;)


  24. says

    I love presents like this!! What wonderful parents you have :) Back when all my friends and I were turning 16, I would decorate papermache boxes with pictures and whatnot and fill the boxes with 16 things… But you know, dollar store stuff cause I was a broke high schooler. 😉 haha!

  25. says

    Love all your ‘gift’ posts, what a loving way to make someone you love really feel it. My eldest daughter is turning 30 this year and I think I may just use your idea. Actually, my Mother is turning 80 also and is in a nursing home at present, this would definitely brighten her days, I will have to start soon for this one, Thanks again, you have a beautiful soul….. :)

    • says

      Wow! 80 gifts to celebrate 80 years would be epic. If that seemed too overwhelming, you could invite others to participate, whether through writing cards or giving small gifts. Or you could do 8 gifts for 8 decades of life, with gifts along the theme for each decade. Either way, I’m sure you’re going to give your Mother a birthday for the record books. And thank you for your oh so kind words at the end there.

  26. says

    Oh. My. Goodness. That is just about the sweetest thing. What a wonderful, wonderful idea. Your parents are true gems, lucky you!! I’ve pinned this for future reference. LOVE IT!!


    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw, thanks Debbie. I really do feel so blessed to have the parents I do! And thanks so much for the pin love. I appreciate it!

  27. says

    How did I just now see this post!? I agree, there are few better words to describe this than CRAZY AWESOME! The WHOLE time I was thinking, “I totally see where Lauren gets it now!” You must have grown up surrounded by so much love and sincerity – it explains a lot if ya know what I mean! And what a special idea to open up a gift a day. Will definitely be trying this one day. :)
    Side note: Those Pilot pens are my favorite, too! Rainbow edition? Mom and dad know what’s up.


    • thethinkingcloset says

      Ha ha, they do know what’s up. (And clearly you do, too, Melyssa.) My Dad has been a Pilot G2 pen aficionado for years, and although he doesn’t always rock the rainbow collection, he knows I do! With pride.

      And thanks for your sweet, sweet words about my family. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in the loving household that I did. While we were far from the Cleavers (and truth be told, I’m glad about that), our family grew from a strong foundation on love that has carried us through many bumps in the road of life. And I am grateful.

  28. says

    I’m joining in saying this is a CRAZY AWESOME post! I love how the Castelli/Lankers specialize in thoughtful, specific gift-giving, from our one special homemade secret santa gift at Christmas to this. Wow and that kindergarden story of Mom’s is so precious–I never heard it before. And those are some pretty sweet gifts (yay finger puppets!!) for a pretty sweet woman. I’m thankful to be part of such a loving family. A continued Happy 30th to you, sis…glad to find you’re enjoying this year more than ever!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Isn’t that kindergarden story so precious? And that she remembered those gifts all these years later? Surely, I’ll remember this showering of love through M & D’s crazy awesome 30 gifts for years and years to come. Not to mention the amazing and unforgettable gift of your surprise visit. Wow…this really was a birthday for the record books. Thanks for making it so special, sis!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      My parents are no strangers to wonderful gift-giving…and as you saw, my 30th birthday was no exception. They’re my gift-giving role models!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Yes, indeedy…I was overcome with joy every single one of those 30 days that I got to open a little giftie. My parents pretty much knocked it out of the park with this one! 😉

  29. says

    I love love love this idea! To me, the true value of a gift is in the surprise and love that goes into putting it together. Providing that value everyday for 30 days is just awesome! I really love the variety of gifts, and how everyday when you use one of the pens, drink from the mug, or bake those cupcakes, you will have the wonderful memory of receiving this gift. Fabulous!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment; it’s in keeping with your site! A Thoughtful Presence! Yes, you’re so right about the best gifts being the ones jam-packed with thought and love…I really was overcome with a flood of emotion each day opening the carefully selected gifts. I hope to be able to pay it forward someday. Have a great week, Mary!

  30. says

    When each of us kids turned 13, my mom bought 13 gifts and each gift had 13 of the same thing…for instance 13 quarters, 13 dimes, 13 dollar bills, 13 batteries (who doesn’t need batteries for all their electronics!) I loved paper so she got me 13 reams of paper, 13 pens….just small inexpensive stuff tailored to each kids likes. I loved it so much that I did it with each of my kids too. My oldest daughter just started her family, we will see if she does the same. If she doesn’t, I will ask her if she minds if I carry on the tradition for my grandkids! 😀

    • thethinkingcloset says

      I love this tradition, Debbie…and how specific the gifts are to the recipient’s likes. And good for you for continuing in this tradition. I think it would be so special to do with your grandkids, too! (Congrats on being a Grandma, by the way!)

  31. Jeannie Schlessman says

    Noticed that you went to Wheaton College. Did you know Josiah Schlessman and Jessica Leggett?
    Your website is sooo inspiring for someone who has no creativity. You have saved my day.
    God Bless,
    Jeannie Schlessman

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Jeannie, I looked up Josiah on FB and although I don’t recognize his picture, it turns out we share 5 mutual friends. Was he class of 2005? Is he your husband? Or bro? And Jessica Leggett isn’t ringing a bell, but perhaps if I saw a picture. Wheaton really is such a small world, and I love connecting with other Wheaties! Also, thanks for the kind words – – I’m delighted to know you found some creative inspiration here. Blessings on you!

  32. Samantha MEnchaca says

    I’m doing the same for my boyfriend, so far I have the following:

    1) Frame with all his accomplishments due his 30 years (has been nominated on the 30 under 30 list) $20
    2) A box of candies of the 80’s, he loves candies! http://www.oldtimecandy.com/ $39.50
    3)a Massage coupon for a spa for $75 dlls
    4) we have a joke between us of a t-rex so I found a t-rex sculpture he has to build. $15
    5) A magazine of the year he was born so as a cd of the best hits. $25.45
    6)The book: Book of Ages 30 $12.95
    7)A personalized coffee travel mug saying :”Keep calm I’m the Project Manager” and his initials in the back $32
    8)An Age survival kit: (funny gifts) energy drink, stress ball, arthritis lotion, cheap glasses, etc. $30
    9)A customized Master View toy with pictures of us $42
    10)A t-shirt “Made in 1983” $31.47
    11)A Pizza Baker $50
    12)A really cool Bike Chain Tea Light Holders $25
    13)3 Great Books: “A life without limits, Four Agreements and the Missing Piece” $45
    14)A cool Cast Iron Tool Bottle Opener from etsy. $19
    15)A flight lesson $99
    16)A customized street sign with his last name $15.99
    17)Cheesecake by me $30
    18)A pizza delivery to his house with a heart pizza $65
    19)Tipsy Wine Glasses!! amazing look $25
    20)A customized art Letter made specially for him by an iron artist in Tennessee $100
    21)Draw set for his hobby rock climbing from REI $79
    22)Cole Hann Shoes $156
    23)Weber Grill $376.92

    I’m still looking for 7 more gifts, He will open one every day for 30 days, and on his birthday he will receive 30 balloons hanging a picture of every year of his life…

    Anyways! He is the best, I loved your gifts too! I might add some of them for my 7 left gifts.

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Oh. my. goodness. Samantha, you have outdone yourself! He is going to flip his lid! Seriously, every gift is personalized just for him, and I love that some of these are activities, celebrations of inside jokes…and a Weber Grill?! Being married to someone who sings the praises of Weber Grills on a regular basis, I can tell you with confidence that your boyfriend is going to LOVE it. All of it. Even just one of these gifts alone would be epic…so putting it all together, I can just imagine how loved he is going to feel. Well done!

      Thanks for sharing your list, and will you email me a photo of him opening one of these gifts? Maybe with you, too? I’d love to feature you in my next Reader Showcase!

    • thethinkingcloset says

      Aw. Thanks, Peggy! Yes, I feel oh so grateful for the parents God gave me. If I’ve inherited a fraction of their FUN and thoughtfulness, then I am blessed.

      Thanks for the comment-love!

  33. Jeneane Skelton says

    thank you for your ideas of 30 for 30. I have two best friends who share the same birthday, one is turning 30 and one 50. Yikes 50 gifts! I better start buying little things now!
    Now my question is this: their birthdays are March 13, so should I start the gifts on Feb 12 and January 23. I may have to do something different than 50 as that would be tomorrow!
    So basically what I am asking is are they supposed to open their last gift on their real birthday.

  34. says

    I think your web site is amazing and I love that you shared your gift from your parents that was a wonderful gift & very thoughtful gift for them to give to you!!! I hope to use that ideal for a family member who is about to have a baby I think she will love it so I am grateful you shared with us !!! Your crafts are very amazing keep sharing I love it thank you !!!!!

  35. says

    My In-laws-to-be did this for me on my 21st Birthday last year. I wasn’t expecting it and it made my day!

    In my box I got; things for the wedding, odd shaped Kilner jars (i LOVE jars!), lots and lots of sweets, cute cupcake cases, a swede with a drawn on face (in joke with my sister-in-law-to-be’s husband!), a monogrammed owl apron, a book about how to win the board game; Risk (in joke with my father-in-law-to-be), a sushi making kit, a few more owly things and i’m sure there are more small things but I forget!

    I love the idea and I will defiantly be using it in future for other family members!

  36. Kosta says

    Hi Lauren, I stumbled upon your post and it jogged a great memory for me. I coach a girl’s soccer team and for my 30th birthday they gave me 30 watches over 30 days, each with a little unique description. There were many corny ebay finds – a “gangnam style” pinky watch and marilyn monroe pocket watch amongst them – but there was one main (expensive) watch that was the centrepiece of their efforts. I think your suggestion (and the gift I received) are awesome ideas!

  37. Natalie says

    I got a gift like you for turning 30! 30 presents all in one day! My mum did a great job! There was a Cd by Madonna that I had as a kid on tape, vouchers, chocolate, washing up gloves because I never do the washing up etc! I helped her to do 21 presents for my brothers 21st and we are now doing 30 presents for my sister! It is 9 months in the planning but we are loving it!!!!

  38. WesTXGurl13 says

    One of my most-favorite cousins had to go through six weeks (30 treatment-days total) of chemo and radiation. I found those teeny-tiny paper bags like a convenience store puts a single soda-sized can in, and used these to put in silly little gifts. On each bag, I wrote the day, plus a heart, in red marker. I put in the gift, stapled the bag shut, and kept going until I had twenty-nine little bags. I found so many cute things to include–a tube of lip balm, a deck of cards, the pieces to a kiddie-sized puzzle, lotion, a small candle in a jar, a packaged oatmeal pie, gum, etc. For the thirtieth day, I got a bigger paper sack, lunch-bag sized, and made a “do-it-yourself party”. Balloons to blow up; those roll-out blowers; stuff like that, with “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT!” on the outside of the bag. Of course, my cousin felt pretty awful for a lot of those treatment days, but the “reward” of opening another teeny sack (the females in my family are all about the “teeny-tiny” factor!!!) gave her something to look forward to on her way home from the treatments. We’re never too old or too grownup not to enjoy something a little bit childish to put a smile on our faces! Love your website–you are so creative!!! Thanks, Ann

    • says

      Wow! What an incredible way to shower your cousin with love and make her stay in the hospital a bit brighter. And the “do-it-yourself party” is genius! (I need to try that sometime.) Also, I can relate to the teeny-tiny factor you speak of, ha ha. The females in my family share that obsession, too. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story, Ann. My heart is warmed!

      • WesTXGurl13 says

        Glad to know we aren’t the only ones who think, “The smaller, the awesomer!” Tee-hee! I promise, it IS genetic, because we all are drawn to little things, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, from birth!

        When/if you have children at college, or grown children that aren’t going to make it home for their birthdays, you can box up a cake mix, canned frosting, sprinkles, and “party supplies” like confetti or decorations or balloons and mail the party to them!

        What a cool deal, to get a personal email from you! You take the time to answer every one, which is “above and beyond”! Thanks for your website AND your generosity in sharing!!!

        Have a great week!


  39. Dee says

    35 cards for 35 years.
    I did something similar for my daughter. I collected cards from friends and family the number of cards equal the age at that birthday. Each card had a theme/hint of the content. Inside the card was a note and a reference number that corresponded to a package or instruction to call someone who would then present the gift. Example if you are feeling small. The card inside had a picture of a redwood tree and when you open the card it was a certificate for a zip line ride in redwood forest. Or “when you need a laugh” inside the card was instruction to call one of her cousins who told her a corny joke. She had a great time with this gift opening a new one each morning before she started her day.


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