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The Best 40th-Birthday Gifts, According to People Who’ve Reached 40

Photo: Courtesy Universal Pictures

If you have a friend or a loved one about to turn 40, it’s likely that they’re currently taking stock of all they’ve accomplished so far, while in the back of their mind gearing up for a whole new batch of anxieties. It’s a birthday that can feel “like a whirlwind,” according to Christopher Choa, the director of cities and urban development at engineering firm AECOM. “Hopefully, you’ve mastered what you need to do for family and work,” he told us, “but you’re anxious about having to deal with so many responsibilities on your own.”

It would make sense, then, that such a transitional moment might call for a gift that seems a step up from the types of things you might give on any other birthday. According to Choa and the ten other cool people we spoke to — all of whom have marched past the milestone themselves — the best 40th-birthday gifts can be things to help one stay calm and relaxed or allow for a bit of self-pampering, items that let the recipient further indulge in a favorite pastime (like a nice cutting board for the home chef), or special pieces that the recipient could have for the next 40 years. (After all, “by 40, you’ve learned to take care of your favorite things,” says Scott Schuman, the founder of the Sartorialist.) Below, our eleven cool people share 29 ideasfrom a sleek hairbrush to an anti-aging moisturizer to a statement pair of socks to the aforementioned cutting board — that they say will help anyone entering their fifth decade do so in style and at peace.

Things for self-care

While many of the gifts we heard about were described as having a calming or rejuvenating effect on top of their original purpose, four specifically came recommended for their restorative powers. If your recipient is carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, restaurateur Michael Chernow (who owns The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s) says slapping one of these patches on there will help. “I’ve been buying them for all my friends,” he says, “because CBD products are not things that people who aren’t into it would ever buy for themselves.” The product, he says, is a “game changer” that he uses to “stay ahead of my recovery, anxiety, and stress. What 40-year-old isn’t dealing with that?”