Shopping for gifts for men turning 50 can be an intimidating prospect, given that the recipient has had five decades to refine, hone and develop specific personal tastes. After years in the workforce, he’s also had plenty of time to funnel money toward things he wants or needs so that his wish list is either short or nonexistent. Not to worry, this just means that he’ll be especially appreciative after receiving the thoughtful gift you’ve carefully chosen.
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Irresistibly ripe for over-the-hill jokes, men turning 50 years old often receive gag gifts from mischievous friends and family members. Coffee mugs, calendars, t-shirts and other items emblazoned with naughty jokes, deprecating statements about old age and cartoon images of quavering old geezers. Build a funny “emergency first-aid” gift basket containing hemorrhoid cream, adult diapers and arthritis ointment. Present him with 50 lollipops and a note that says, “Sucks to be you.” Or, give the 50-year-old a bottle of prune juice cradled in an ice bucket, along with plastic champagne glasses.
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Commemorate the celebrant’s 50th birthday with an engraved gift to honor the special occasion. Watches, cuff links, and iPods offer just enough space to include engravings featuring his name, his birth date or a memorable message. Time-tested quotes about turning 50 years old abound. If you’re looking for something with the right blend of cynicism and humor, consider Bob Hope’s witticism, “Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.” For something a bit loftier, opt for James A. Garfield’s, “If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old."
For some people, turning 50 involves some glum assessments about navigating the well-traveled rut of work, family responsibilities, household projects and routine social interactions. Remind the birthday boy about the wild blue yonder with the gift of travel. Budget permitting, you can take a short cruise to Baja, relax at a desert resort for a few days, spend the weekend skiing at a nearby resort or finally make a long-deferred pilgrimage to a preferred destination, whether it’s the Grand Canyon, Elvis Presley’s hometown or the Italian village from which his family immigrated long ago. If money’s tight, rent a fun sports car for the day and roam around your area’s back roads, pulling over for an inexpensive diner lunch.
If there’s one thing that a 50-year-man needs, it’s more time in the day. That’s hard to gift-wrap, so settle for gift certificates that will encourage the birthday boy to carve out time for his favorite activities. Enroll him in the woodcarving class he’s always longed to take, or buy gift certificates for cooking classes at the Thai restaurant around the corner. Gentleman’s spa treatments, fishing charters, or tickets to a nearby theme park for the family all nudge him toward investing in some of the interests, talents and hobbies he may have felt to time-pressured to pursue.
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