Celebrating the reflective mid-life milestone

4 reasons why Fondfolios make great 40th birthday gifts

written by fiona

A thickkk coptic-bound Maple Fondfolio book with exposed red linen thread lays horizontally on a rose pink background, the left corner is tilted slightly so the book appears to be floating up. We created this book for a customer who ordered a Fondfolio for her own 40th birthday after her celebrations were cancelled due to COVID. 240 people contributed, which at the time was the most we’d ever seen in one book. The contributions were also of a really high calibre — top quality words! It’s engraved with a custom design inspired by words her friends said about her being a connector — a joyful bringer together of like-hearted humans.

published on March 11, 2021

2020 was a tough year to be celebrating a milestone of any kind, but especially something personal, like a birthday. Fondfolios have always been popular gifts for these big bdays and the initial inspiration for this idea came from a good friend’s 30th. This year though, it was 40th birthdays that dominated. Which got us thinking, what makes turning 40 particularly special?

Serendipitously, we came up with 4 (ish) reasons why we think Fondfolios make great gifts for those of us entering our 4th decade:

We’ve got our priorities straight(er)

By the time we reach 40, we tend to have a keen sense of our likes and dislikes, especially when it comes to stuff. We probably also have the resources to get those things ourselves whenever we want or need them. Unfortunately this means that any other “stuff” gifted to us is likely to miss the mark and will either go unused, get donated or re-gifted. Unless we tell someone exactly what to get us (which is much less fun than them getting something they thought of for us) there’s a high chance we’ll get something we don’t want or need.

A Fondfolio is a deep well of personalized positive energy which someone can tap into whenever their spirits need lifting.

The unwanted gift is an awkward situation that creates bad feelings on all sides, particularly if the occasion is significant. We’ve all had to feign excitement for something a friend or family member has given us because we didn’t want to hurt their feelings or seem ungrateful, while simultaneously feeling a bit sad and frustrated — wtf, don’t they know me?! It sucks, for everyone. It’s also a waste of time, money, and an unnecessary burden on an environment already in crisis.

A 40th birthday Fondfolio we made in 2020. Walnut wooden covers, coptic bound, the book is open standing against on a white background. A 40th birthday Fondfolio we made in 2020, for Z.

In turning away from more stuff we turn towards what makes our lives more meaningful – that which gives us energy, helps us feel connected and soothes our anxious souls — our friends and family! When it comes down to it, what matters most to most humans — especially those of us with a bit more wisdom on our side — is people and good relationships.

A Fondfolio is a gift that highlights those important human connections in a tangible way. Yes, technically it’s still a “thing”. However, as with humans, the superficial physical properties matter a lot less than the stuff on the inside — in this case, the thoughtful words people contribute. In that sense, it’s more of an experience, a collective reflection on an individual life, a person at a specific moment of time in book form. Also, it makes for a great surprise and by all accounts is very likely to spark a happy-cry! 🥲

We understand that we don’t know how much time any of us has

Only the luckiest among us has gone 40 years without losing a loved one or experiencing a brush with serious illness. These difficult moments force us to reckon with an unavoidable fact: we’ve got a finite number of opportunities to tell the people we care about how much they mean to us and we never know when the last time will be. Frustratingly, there aren’t that many chances to express these feelings in our day-to-day interactions. One such opportunity is the humble birthday card, but a blank piece of paper can be intimidating and most of us opt to scribble something banal or cliché.

Creating a Fondfolio also means creating an accessible opportunity to share and preserve those meaningful words that may otherwise go unsaid. Our carefully-tailored questions generate thoughtful responses and our helpful prompts reduce the chance of writer’s block.

A 40th birthday Fondfolio we made last month. The book has a walnut cover and a custom walnut slipcase. It’s bound with moss green linen thread and is laying across a pale yellow background. A 40th birthday Fondfolio we made in 2021, with a custom slipcase, for D.

We want to celebrate with all our favorite people, but don’t want to inconvenience them

At 40, perhaps a couple of career moves in, we may have groups of friends and family spread out across different cities, states, or even countries. Fondfolio gathers everyone together to make a memorable gift for a mutual loved one. Our online questionnaire allows contributors to add their words anytime, from any device, so even the most tech averse will find it simple. The digital version of the book makes the content sharable with everyone that contributed. Especially this year, when it's harder to gather in person, Fondfolio is a convenient (and safe) way to bring people together while still marking the occasion by creating something special.

We’re probably dwelling too much on our perceived failures

Birthdays are a time for reflection — milestones especially — and 40 can feel particularly significant because (if we’re lucky) it’s the mid-point. Half of my whole life is gone Perfume Genius contemplates in Whole Life, a song about loss, time and aging. Our human brains are great at rumination, but they have a well-documented negative bias which means we often dwell on the bad stuff more than the good. These two factors can result in some pretty serious birthday blues.

One way to temper the brooding is to remember we are loved by people we admire, for reasons that are as numerous as they are nuanced. A Fondfolio is a deep well of personalized positive energy which someone can tap into whenever their spirits need lifting. Plus, like a compliment spoken aloud, everyone involved gets to share in the joy.


You’re forty! Treat. Yo. Self.

Most commonly these milestone gifts are from spouses for their partners, but one of our favorite collaborations was with a fantastic woman who bought a Fondfolio for herself after her original 40th party plans got cancelled due to COVID. She smashed the record for most ever contributions and they were all incredibly thoughtful (this wasn’t a case of quantity over quality).

Being a creative herself, she also helped us refine our slipcase design and page layout — we take thoughtful customer feedback pretty seriously!

A decade worth reflecting on, fondly

We’ve made many Fondfolios for folks breaching later milestones and a common sentiment from those contributors is that their 40s was their favorite decade. It’s when they started caring much less about the stuff that doesn't matter, focusing more on the stuff that does, and recognizing the benefit of this shift. As our own mid-points rapidly approach, having weathered our individual blends of good fortune and crisis, we’re hoping to get a head start on channeling the more relaxed and generous vibes of our 40th chapters.

written by fiona

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