Holiday Gift Guide for Teenagers

Shopping for teenagers this holiday season and have no idea what to get them?

You are not alone, my friend. Shopping for teenagers can be tough. Things they really want are often too pricey. (I asked Chandler what he wanted for Christmas and he told me a car. Yeah, I’m not the only hilarious one in the family.) And things that are affordable often miss the mark. (Hint: no highscooler wants a polo shirt for Christmas even if it was on sale at Old Navy for only $5 and it will really bring out the color in their eyes.)

So what do you get them that will bring smiles to their faces that are actually genuine? Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list below.

Gift Cards

gift cards

 

I know, I know. Gift cards are boring and  seem so impersonal. But wouldn’t you rather spend your money on something that will be appreciated and used? The trick is buying the right gift card. Marley loves Hot Topic, but I wouldn’t presume to know what I-can’t-believe-my-darling-daughter-likes-that-screamo-music-from-that-tatted-up-derelict-looking-band shirt she is craving this week. And forget about me buying her something cute at Forever 21. It turns out we have very different ideas of “cute.”

And Chandler loves the privilege of going off-campus at lunch with his friends, but doesn’t have a job so he has very little money (which means a lot of PBJ lunches). He would consider a gift card to Panda Express or In-n-Out a real treat. (Hint: any teenager would love a gift card to In-n-Out. Even my vegetarian friends love In-n-Out – they make a wicked grilled cheese.)

Many people shy away from gift cards because they might not have a lot of money to spend and think that on-sale Polo shirt will look impressive. But wouldn’t you rather give a $10 gift card to Starbucks or Chipotle that will actually be used instead of a shirt that will sit in a closet unworn? (And BTW – any kid that is ungrateful for a $10 gift card is unworthy of being on your holiday shopping list.)

 

Magazine Subscriptions

mad magazine

 

This is another gift where you have to know your audience, but a magazine subscription is something that is a little bit different, and if you get the right one will definitely be appreciated. Marley really wants a subscription to Alternative Press (or what the cool kids call AP). At $15 for a two-year subscription, I’m happy to oblige. And Chandler loves Mad Magazine. Yep, that’s right, it still exists. It’s a little pricier at $20 for one year (and only six issues a year), but still pretty affordable. If you know what the teen you’re shopping for is into -whether it’s cars, video games, comics, fashion or celebrity gossip- you can probably find a magazine they’ll enjoy. Need some suggestions?  Click here.

 

Movie tickets

movie night gift basket

 

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat since a movie ticket is kind of like a gift card, but if there’s one thing teenagers like to do it’s go to the movies. And movies are crazy expensive now. I remember when I was eighteen years old I worked at a movie theater and couldn’t believe the price went from $4.50 o $5.00! (Crazy, right?) Now, depending where you go movies cost between $12 and $20 per ticket. Yikes! I say head on over to Costco and buy two tickets to your local theater for $16. If you want to make a cute presentation add some Red Vines or Jr. Mints and make a little gift basket.

 

Home T

california_home_t-shirt_f_grande
If I give Chandler this shirt for Christmas maybe it will remind where is home really is when he goes away to college.

 

Now, I know I told you that kids don’t want clothes. Well, boy kids don’t want clothes. Girl kids probably do. But I think that a boy or a girl would definitely dig this shirt. There is a shirt for every state and they come in different styles. As an added bonus a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is made with every purchase. This shirt would be especially great for a kid that is going to college out-of-state. You know, so you can remind them where their home really is (and that after four years they will definitely need to come back).

 

Books

You just rolled your eyes didn’t you? I don’t blame you, but I do stand by this 100%. The trick, like the magazines, is knowing something about the teen you’re shopping for. Got a nephew who is a computer nerd and totally owns it? How about the book Geek Wisdom ?

geek wisdom

Did your granddaughter just swoon over The Fault in our Stars (and who didn’t)? Try another wonderful work by John Green about precocious teens such as Looking for Alaska or An Abundance of Katherines.

abundance of katherines

 

Is your best friend’s daughter an ivy-league-bound over-achiever? How about something to make her lighten up and LOL for five minutes when she needs a break from AP Calculus? Chandler gave a book called F This Test to an over-achiever we know at a gift exchange party and she thought it was hilarious.

F This Test
Even over-achievers need to lighten-up and laugh for five minutes before getting back to work.

 

Trust me when I say that the right book can be a definite home run.

And if none of these gifts sound like they would be a good fit for the teens on your gift list, you can always buy them a car. I suggest one that looks like this:

hot-wheels
This will be in Chandler’s stocking for sure.

 

Photo credits: gift cards, movie night gift basket, home t, Hot Wheels

How (Not) to Wrap a Present

gift giving

Chandler went to a Sweet Sixteen birthday party at a swanky hotel in the city on Saturday night. We decided to give a gift card to a trendy local shop that all the teenage girls seem to love because I believe it’s important to shop local. Also, because Chandler has no idea what to buy a girl. And I don’t know the girl so I have no idea what to buy her either.

I asked Chandler if he needed help wrapping it. I have little boxes and adorable girl wrapping paper. Nope. He had it covered. He had a tin from a gift card he received at Christmastime. Of course it was green and red and not what I would choose, but I’m walking that fine line between having my kids do things independently and teaching them the proper way to do them.

“What about a card?” Dave asked as Chandler was heading out the door to buy the gift card. (Yes, Chandler has his driver’s license now. But that is a blog for another time. I’m going to have to take a few swigs of freezer vodka before I can work up the courage to write how I feel about that!)

“I have something,” I said. I have a stash of gift tags and generic cards. Because while I’ll give Chandler twenty bucks to buy a gift card for some girl I don’t know so he can enjoy his childhood and maintain a semi-cool social status by going to cool birthday parties, I draw the line at spending $3.49 for a birthday card every time he heads to a party. (Sorry Hallmark, your wit and sentiment is for my friends only!)

Although, now that I think of it, it would be rather entertaining to see what kind of card Chandler would pick. (Oh to be a fly on the wall while that’s happening!)

Before Chandler headed out the door to the party I asked him if he needed a card or a gift tag. He told me no. And then he showed me this:

How-to-wrap-a-present
Name blurred to protect the innocent!

Yes, dear reader, that would be masking tape on the bottom of a Christmas gift tin. All I can say to Chandler’s future wife is I’m sorry. I really have tried. But this boy is hopeless.

Top photo by asenat29 courtesy of  Creative Commons