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

Why Small Business Saturday Is Better than Black Friday

Forget about Black Friday (please)! It’s all about Small Business Saturday. What is Small Business Saturday? It’s a brilliant marketing campaign by American Express encouraging people to shop local.

And while it is a marketing campaign, I really do like and agree with the message of it – let’s spend our money in our own town and with the small businesses that support it. Instead of heading off to Target or Walmart or Macy’s, why not look around your city at the little shops owned by locals and see what wonderful and unique things they have to offer?

Another great way to support small businesses is to shop online. It’s not quite the same thing as shopping local, but it is a great way to support a small-sized business with unique products and not pour even more money into mass merchandisers.

Here are a couple of small businesses I love that offer their products online:

Tomboy Vintage

I’ve already written about my friend Jeanne’s awesome new tee shirt company Tomboy Vintage. Her shirts are adorable and perfect for the tomboy in your life. She has six different styles for women and two styles for little girls. The only problem is picking out just one. (So go ahead and buy two or three!)

Here I am (as requested by Kim) in Jeanne’s latest design. (Is it me or is this picture really big?)

Tomboy Girl Power Tee Shirt
Girl Power!

Please note if you do buy a Tomboy Vintage tee shirt that they are sized for juniors and run a bit small – you may want to order a size up. (I usually wear a medium and am wearing a size large.)

Betty Belts

Betty Belts is another great company owned by a really cool woman named Donna von Hoesslin. I met Donna when I wrote this article about her for skirt.com. Talk about an incredibly interesting person – Donna went surfing for the first time at age 31 and it literally changed her life. So much so that the California native, who was living in Berlin, ended up moving back to California so she could surf all the time.

Donna is not only passionate about the environment, but about the people on our planet and treating them fairly. Donna creates environmentally friendly jewelry – her sea glass jewelry is her most popular- and has her jewelry made in Bali by artisans who are paid a fair, living wage.

sea-glass-necklaces
Sea glass necklaces designed and photographed by Donna von Hoesslin

Donna’s store, Betty Belts, is located in the Main Street area of Ventura, CA, but you can also buy her products online. In addition to the sea glass jewelry Donna also sells really cute earrings made from the leftover resin from making surfboards, silver jewelry, and super-cute belts.

surfboard resin earrings and necklace
Surfboard Resin Earrings and Necklace photographed by David Pu’u

Why buy costume jewelry made in China when you can buy something truly unique designed by a cool chick and made by a Balinese artisan who was paid a fair, living wage?

So that’s my Small Business Saturday plug. This holiday season why not shop small? (It’s so good for the soul!)

BTW – I was not compensated in any way for this post. These are just two really great companies (that happened to be owned by two amazing women) with fantastic products.

What small businesses do you plan on shopping at this holiday season?