Choosing teen birthday presents is a creative challenge but can be tremendous fun. The teen years are highly experimental as these youngsters morph into adults, causing their likes and interests to change monthly or even weekly. Their excitement with the “new” can quickly fade to ennui until the next “big thing” comes along. Individuality and peer acceptance are a teenager’s primary motivators, so parents and other adult gift buyers need to keep on their toes when shopping for teen birthday presents.
Shopping for useful teen birthday presents is an adventure that requires planning, research and imagination. Without sacrificing planning and research time, pay attention to your teen’s interests as close to his or her birthday as possible and identify the rising trends. Nothing says “no, thanks” more than a gift that is “so five minutes ago”. For your gift to remain useful, though, balance out trends with some of your own maturity.
What music, games, or movies do they play most or discuss most?
Plan Ahead – Do Your Research
Observe his or her interests and learn the emerging trends in those areas. What music, games, or movies do they play most or discuss most? How do they spend their free time? What are their favorite extracurricular activities? Some pundits counsel you to ask the teen directly, but often teens reply with an incoherent response; teens resent the inquiries of those “over 30.” If, however, you are determined to obtain your research straight from the horse’s mouth, be the “horse whisperer,” and approach non-judgmentally, preferably from the left.
Another approach to selecting teen birthday presents is to examine your teen’s personality type. Is he or she more cerebral or more focused on education? Teens appreciate school supplies; especially laptops, software, and accessories. Consider a gift of SAT Prep books or classes, or a gift basket or crate of pens, calculator, notebooks, and highlighters. Books are always appropriate for the studious teen, but know their tastes in literature no longer include “Thomas the Train.”
Is your teen active in political or environmental causes? Look for gifts that support those causes.
If your teen is committed to team or extreme sports, he or she can always use more gear, tools, or accessories. Mugs, caps, posters, or apparel of their favorite sport, team, or athlete will likely impress your teen. Consider tickets to the next game or event. Is your teen active in political or environmental causes? Look for gifts that support those causes.
Teen birthday presents for tech heads and gamers can be the most fun. Consumer electronics – cell phones, mobile services, PCs, game boxes - and their accessories make for the most interesting shopping trips. Do your homework on the technologies and look for reliable, bleeding edge devices and useful accessories that will make your teen the first in his or her circle to own.
Art supplies, musical instruments, microphone or theater tickets will be sure to please (a creative teen).
If you are shopping for a creative teen, art supplies, musical instruments, microphone or theater tickets will be sure to please. Are you trying to please a fashionista? Fashion accessories make totally do-able birthday gifts for teens. Look for trendy scarves, bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings or handbags (watch that budget!). His or her favorite fragrance is also a thoughtful gift.
Take your sense of humor along when shopping for teen birthday presents for the “class clown”. Look for humorous books, DVDs and CDs, bobble heads or mugs of their favorite TV show or film characters, or hire a professional to give them a few lessons in stand-up comedy or public speaking. Remember, at this age, bathroom humor is no longer as funny as it was when they were five.
Consider gifting your teen with an “Experience.”
Give Your Teen an “Experience”
If a tangible gift seems out of reach for you, think outside the box. Consider gifting your teen with an “Experience.” Find fun activities like cooking classes, sky diving, ski trips, and guided tours that will give them vivid memories as well as lock you in as one of their coolest friends or relatives.
Cash is All Good
When all else fails, cash and gift cards make welcome birthday gifts for teens. The typical teen has no job and a minimal allowance, so he/she will be thrilled to have some independent buying power. If you are concerned about the impersonal nature of Cash or Gift Cards, include a handwritten note or birthday card along with something small like a box of candy, electronics batteries, or spare headphones.
Whatever your gift choice, know that with your teen’s interests at heart and proper research, you are likely to choose a teen birthday gift that will not only please them today but supply them with a fond memory of the gift giver who cared.