Nothing. There isn’t anything. Gift card, maybe.
As we enter the Land of Teens, I’m finding it more and more difficult to choose good gifts. It’s partly that the things teenagers would like to receive are usually out of our price range now. And it’s partly that teenagers seem less delighted in holidays and gifts in general.
Well, we muddle though as best we can, relying heavily on these ideas:
1. Stuff from Zazzle (screenshot from Zazzle.com). I started messing around making custom things on Zazzle, and the children were RIVETED. You could make your OWN STUFF?? And then HAVE IT?? And then they started browsing, and of course they were cracking up at every lame joke the rest of us have heard a hundred times, because the world is all fresh and new to a child, and that world includes rude homework/gassiness jokes. Zazzle stuff is pretty expensive, but they have sales all the time for 50% off in a particular category, such as mugs or t-shirts. I have the kids send me links to things they like or things they custom-designed, and then those make good gifts.
2. Game/movie/book tie-in stuff. This is where we generally find the greatest riches. Is the teenager a fan of Minecraft? Portal? Harry Potter? The Hunger Games? Then it is your good fortune to live in a capitalistic society, because if there is any product that can be tied in, it will exist. My particular teenager is a fan of the video game Portal right now, so in addition to Portal 2, we got him this Aperture Science t-shirt (photo from ThinkGeek.com) and Wheatley flashlight. Last year it was Minecraft: the t-shirt, the magnetic play set, the foam pickaxe.
In fact, I recommend ThinkGeek in general. They have tons of “things I never would have thought to even think of” in the category “It’s not necessarily what he wanted, but he will think it’s neat, and he didn’t know what he wanted anyway.” It can be overwhelming because there’s SO MUCH to look at; I usually start with science toys, cube goodies, and games and puzzles.
3. MP3 gift card (photo from Amazon.com). What I like about these, especially for someone else’s teenager, is that they feel like giving a specific gift (”Here’s some music! But you can pick your own songs!”), but actually the card can be used for any Amazon merchandise. It just LOOKS like it’s only for MP3s. So if I get it for a kid who has all the music they need, no problem.
4. MP3 player (photo from Amazon.com). Perhaps this should have been #3, and #3 should have been #4. We’ve had good luck with this inexpensive Sandisk MP3 player, which I chose based on (1) price and (2) available colors. The reviews are mixed, so when one of the two players we bought conked out in the first week, I thought, “Oh, great, it’s just like the reviews said!,” and I prepared for a big hassle of returning/exchanging/etc. I went angrily to the Sandisk website, which wanted me to look at the FAQ before I contacted them. “Fat lot of good that’ll do!,” I said. “This thing is BROKEN.” Then I read the FAQ. “There is NO WAY this tip will work, but I will try it just so I can say I tried it when I contact customer service!! ….Huh. It worked. Interesting.”
5. Video games (photo from Amazon.com). One thing I like about this idea is that many of the games can be played with a friend or sibling. Another thing I like is that when a child at our house tires of a game, there are four other children who can still play it.
I have fourteen more years of buying gifts for teenagers… Oh, man, it just occurred to me that by the time I’m done with teenagers, I could have grandchildren. Let’s not think about that now. Let’s go with the question I was heading for, which was to ask you if you had any good ideas to add to the gift list.