Have a meaningful birthday gift engraved with a special phrase or sentiment to make it much more personal. Choosing the perfect engraving will largely depend on your relationship with the birthday celebrant, the gift and both of your personalities. The engraving could contain a joke or symbol, as long as it's something meaningful to both of you.
For Your Significant Other
Purchase a gift for your significant other to have engraved with a special and personal message. Jewellery pieces, such as rings, lockets, watches and pendants are items someone can engrave. A sentimental message could include something like "Happy 25th birthday my love" or "With all of my love on your birthday."
If you're always joking about trading your partner in for someone younger--and she finds humour in the joke--engrave something to do with the joke. For example, "A one year extension for your birthday" or "I'll keep you around for another birthday" might work.
General birthday messages can include a simple heart, your initials, the celebrant's initials, your monogram or any other symbol to put a personal twist on the message.
For Your Child
Have a special message engraved on a gift for your child. Jewellery, keepsake boxes, a key chain, personal electronics (such as an iPod or MP3 player) or any other item you can engrave is ideal, particularly for milestone birthdays. "Happy birthday to the loveliest daughter a mother could ever want" or "Happy birthday to my little man" would work for any birthday. "Happy sweet 16 to my lovely Sarah" or "Happy 18th birthday Josh--I'm so proud of the man you've become" are some ideas for milestone birthdays. Include your child's name, the date or another special element in the engraved message. Write a short poem or message for engraving on the birthday gift. For example, "For my baby son, because you're turning one" or "13 years ago, all of my dreams came true...happy birthday Jessica, it all started with you."
For Your Mom or Dad
Let your parents know what they mean to you, or tease them a bit as they continue to age, by engraving a special message in their birthday gifts. A simple "I love you dad" or "Happy birthday Mom" is good for a smaller item without much space. Longer messages could include more emotion, such as "Happy birthday to the best mom ever" or "Happy birthday Dad...I am all that I am because of you." Play off your parent's new age with a simple, lighthearted message such as "Oh no! The big 5-0!"
For a Friend
Engrave jewellery, wine glasses, shot glasses, picture frames, journals or other keepsakes for a friend. Simple messages such as "Happy birthday Tommy" or "Wishing you a year full of love and joy" are fine for a friend. Let a good friend know how much they've impacted you by having a deeper message engraved such as "Happy birthday to the best friend a girl could ever wish for."
Some items don't have a lot of space for engraved messages. For those, simply write "Happy 30th birthday Mark," or your friend's name and the date.