Should I give my ex a birthday gift? That's a loaded question, isn't it? On the surface it seems like such a great idea. You still have feelings for your ex, you entertain thoughts of getting back together with them so getting them a gift seems like a fantastic way to do that, right? Wrong! The quick answer to the question of whether or not you should be getting your ex a gift is no. It's not going to help you in your quest to win them back at all. In fact, it may even damage it.
The main reason why getting an ex a birthday gift is such a bad idea is that the meaning behind it can easily be misconstrued. If you two have been out of touch for awhile and you suddenly gift them with something, it's going to instantly be taken as a suspicious move. If you and your ex are still friends and you've slowly been working towards winning them back, the same misunderstanding can occur. They may actually believe that you're trying to win back their love by buying them something. The simple rule you need to follow is that since you two are no longer a couple, a gift isn't necessary or appropriate.
Obviously, you can't just let your ex's birthday pass without saying a word. That would be absorbed by them as you being rude or inconsiderate. That's why you should actually either call them on their birthday to send well wishes or pick out a very generic, generalized greeting card which then should be mailed to them. The key is to choose a card that you would send to an acquaintance. That means no romantic greeting cards allowed.
Keep the birthday greeting very simple and short. Don't go into any elaborate explanation about how grateful you are that they were born. That's better left for when you two get back together again. For now, view it strictly as one friend sending another birthday wishes that are coming from a platonic place.
This is also the advice you should be following for any other special occasion that may pop up. Use it as an opportunity to make contact with your ex. Just remember not to go overboard with your well wishes. The last thing you want is to make your ex feel uncomfortable if you hope to get them back one day. If you approach their birthday and the holidays from a place of pure friendship you'll handle yourself exactly the way you should.