American motivational speaker and author Denis Waitley once shared, “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” But try telling that to today’s tech-friendly teenagers!
Teenagers change their minds quicker than they change their fashion trends. Just because you know what they like this week does not mean some newer, hipper item will not catch their eye between now and their birthday.
Gifts that Avoid Teenage Mood Swings
Nobody wants to give teens an opportunity to be even moodier by giving them a lame gift. That is why it is best to follow a few simple guidelines when trying to find the perfect gift for teens. Here are some things I use when choosing presents for my own teenagers. Maybe they’ll help you also!
- It’s All About Them – Giving a teenager a CD of their favorite band or a gift card to that trendy store in the mall that caters to the fashion trends of the younger generation is more likely to gain acceptance than an uncool gift that you think they should have instead.
- Sporty Gifts for Athletes – If your teen is athletic then gifts that go along with their sport of choice is usually a sure bet. A new water bottle or other sport-related accessory, gift card to a sporting goods store, or tickets to a sporting event are met with rousing success with my own teenagers.
- Curing Writer’s Block – Artsy teens will appreciate gifts like a blank journal and a nice pen, a sketch pad and pencils, or some other type of art supplies. These don’t come cheap and even small gifts will be appreciated by teenagers with a passion for creating art
- The Fashionista – Is the teen in your life always the first to try out new fashion trends? If you can’t score tickets to Fashion Week, look for tickets to local fashion events. Better yet, consider sewing lessons for starting their own unique brand!
- Go Back in Time – Everything retro is cool again. Some of today’s teens are as happy with vinyl record albums scored at the local thrift shop as they are CDs of the latest Top 40 musicians. If you aren’t sure what your teen would like, take them for an afternoon of thrift store shopping followed by lattes at your local coffee shop.
- Turning the Page – Book enthusiasts might enjoy receiving a copy of a recent bestseller. College-bound students can always use a gift card to the campus bookstore. Barring that, you can almost never go wrong with a gift card to Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, which sells everything from books to banana slicers!
What Not to Do When Buying Gifts for Teenagers
Unless you have unlimited resources and do not mind showering your teen with an overabundance of tangible items every time some occasion takes place that requires a gift, avoid getting too much. Milestone birthdays like ages 13, 16, and 18 are the exceptions to this rule.
Don’t assume you know what the teenager in your life wants. A few weeks before their birthday, take them out for lunch or coffee and ask them questions such as: What music do you like? What is your favorite subject in school? or What are your favorite hobbies or things to do in your spare time?
And finally, don’t buy anything questionable for the teen without the parents’ approval first. Gifts like movies and games with anything higher than a teen rating, certain types of electronics, CD’s with questionable lyrics and some newer fashion trends might compromise rules that the parents already have into place for their teen.
When Good Gift Intentions Go Bad
The road to the return desk is paved with good gift intentions. But sometimes, for all the careful reconnaissance work and planning, you see a teen open a gift and watch their face fall in disappointment. You can always return it, right? Sadly, that is not always the case.
If you do not keep a paper trail from purchasing a gift, then according to the National Consumer League you may get an outcome that is neither to your liking nor the teenager’s. The same is true if the packaging is damaged, or if they tried using the gift, in some cases.
Fortunately buying great birthday gifts in the first place can prevent this from happening, even with the surliest teenager. If you have a teen birthday coming up, then there is no time like the present. Take the tips above and get shopping!