Gifts for Teens
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Gifts for Teens
To piggyback on the thank you note debate, what happened to
gift giving? Both my daughters had nice 16th birthday parties
and one had a high school graduation party last year, and some
of their friends showed up empty handed. Not only that, but
the ones that did not bring gifts also made one or two large
plates of food to take home without asking. These girls attend
a private school and have extremely well to do parents (so
finances are not the issue). Yes, of course I celebrated out
of my happiness and because I'm proud of my girls, the parties
were not planned to collect gifts, and so OK with teenagers you
can chalk it up to them being teenagers (although many of them
were dropped of by a parent and you would think the parent
would ask about the gift and teach better manners), but what
about adults? When I bought my first home a couple of years
ago, the majority of my friends did not bring a house warming
gift the first time they visited (specifically to see the
house), granted I did not have a house warming party.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about extragavant
expensive gifts, what I mean is a small token of something, a
plant, a pair of earrings, something homemade, just something
to show you share in the special occasion. My daughters took
gifts with them regardless if they had received a gift from any
specific person or not. They also sent money to their friends
even if they could not attend the graduation parties. We are
not very well off, so we give gifts that we can afford and not
I always take a small gift if going to someones house for the
first time or when invited to dinner at someones house (this
does not apply to close friends). Recently, I visited my aunt
(a distant relative, but someone I'm close to) who was here
from out of state and staying at her son's house. The son and
his wife had recently bought a house and had a one week old
baby. When I went, I took a house warming gift, as well as a
gift for the new baby. I don't know the son very well (last
saw them at their wedding). Did I go overboard on the gifts?
I teach my daughters that we are happy these people attended
and the gift is not important (I got the impression that some
of the teenagers came for the food), but it just puzzles me all
the same......... Am I just old fashioned? I guess what I'm
asking is, what is the ettiquette for gift giving?
It's the thought that counts
Gift-giving is not passe, rather, many children are not being
raised with proper manners. Heck a small bunch of flowers, a
handmade card, anything, is better than just showing up to chow
down on free food. I totally agree that a small token of any sort
is appropriate. It should never be expected, as you note. It
sounds overall as if some of your daughter's classmates are just
plain rude, and that is a big part of your question about gift
giving. Who goes to someone else's party and takes home plates of
food without it being offered? You are also well within your
rights to ask them to please leave the food where it is (or stop
them from whatever boorish behavior they are exhibiting).
Of course, in the end result, you should respect how your
daughter feels about her friends and give her the appropriate
guidelines as to how she should behave.
On the one hand, I do think it is nice to take host/hostess gifts when I go to dinner at
someone's house or a baby gift when there is a new baby. On the other hand, I never
expect people to bring me gifts for any occasion and it wouldn't occur to me to keep
track of who had brought or not brought gifts. My big pet peeve is with people who
send wedding or other invitations with a card informing me where they are registered.
If I want to send a gift, I will ask.
Let it go
I think you are asking a lot, especially of teenagers....Most
teenagers think of a party as ''Come over to my house to hang
out,'' not ''My parents are hosting a party for me, would you like
to attend?'' This is true especially for graduation parties, since
they may attend 4 or 5, many on the same day. And, yes, most of
them do come for the food.
I would usually bring a gift to a new house but I would not
expect it from others. I couldn't tell you whether someone
brought a gift to a party or not....I just don't pay very much
It seems like you are doing a bit of score-keeping.....Maybe if
you let yourself slide on a few events you might feel better
about the rest of us when we do it, too!
I don't think your ''cause'' is on the level of the thank you note
issue. I think we all agree that a thank-you for a gift is
always required but I'm pretty sure Miss Manners says a gift is
NEVER required. Of course, there are traditions. I thought that
kids'/teens' birthdays still got gifts but maybe these excellent
East Bay children were all brought up with ''no gifts
please''/book exchange/donate-to-buy-a-heifer birthday parties.
Maybe since you are a grown-up person who already lived in a
house before, your friends felt that you did not
need ''housewarming'' presents, much like people don't get a
shower for a 2nd kid or receive dishes for a 2nd wedding.
At the same time, your gifts are very nice and not over the top.
I think so many people have expressed or heard expressed the
idea that they have too much stuff, that they are holding off on
gifts just for the sake of giving a gift.
I, for one, am glad that gift-giving in the situations you describe is becoming less
common. At both my bridal and baby shower I asked specifically that no gifts be
brought. I have been recently invited to several children's first birthday parties in
which the host requested that no gifts be given. (Of course, in each case the child's
family gave him gifts, so it's not like he didn't get anything). But to give a gift to each
of the children whose b-day parties I've been invited to recently would be a financial
drain. And think about what kinds of gifts people give for housewarming parties or
graduation gifts: usually stuff that the other person probably doesn't need. For
economic and environmental reasons, I think it's great that we learn how to express
our affection and strengthen our social ties in other, non-material ways.
Personally, I wish there was less gift-giving! I know gifts are
well-intentioned, and thoughtful, but I would prefer not to get any. I spent
far too much time trying to get rid of stuff I already own. Especially for
housewarming, when I've just moved in and am still trying to figure out where to
put everything.. the last thing I want is more! I don't understand the point of
a card that someone has spent $4.95 to buy and just written their name on, which
I will then send to the landfill in a week. (Handmade cards from kids, however,
I cherish.) In terms of giving gifts, I hate spending time & energy to give
something simply for the sake of giving "something." So I really try to
minimize gift-giving and getting, and when I do give a gift, I try to make
it something consumable, like candy, a gourmet food item, or wine.
My daughter is a very social 16 yr old. She has lots of good
friends and it seems like it is always someone's birthday. Her
group of friends (albany high school) rarely give gifts to
their friends for their birthdays. They often bake cupcakes or
chip in to buy flowers for someone but that is about it.
I think the reason for this is
1) teenagers are not very organized or forward planning
2) many of her friends don't have much money.
Just my 2 cents.
mom of teenager
You are right. Giving a gift is required on certain occasions, and many people just
blow it off. It's rude. Attending a birthday party that you've been invited to and not
bringing ANYTHING (a gift, a special card, a bottle of wine...) is just rude and wrong. I
am in the exact same boat as you. I always bring a gift when going to a
housewarming, whether it's a party or not. I give gifts to new babies and their parents.
It's just good manners. Manners are falling by the wayside these days, unfortunately,
and it's becoming socially acceptable to not give gifts on these special occasions.
Listen up, parents--teach your children manners! Write thank you notes! Give a gift if
the occasion demands it! A card costs $3.00 (less at the Dollar Store--stock up!), and
writing something personal inside is free. Don't go empty handed!!! Ok, off the
Berkeley mom of 3
If I may ask, what are your relationships like with the girls
and the parents who you feel a bit peeved about? In my
experience, relationships are ten times more important than
gifts or how much food one takes from a party.
My advice is develop a relationship with every girl and her
mom. Reach out to them through the phone and shared events. You
will get to know them on a personal level and understand their
Not everyone is into gifts, but they may still have lots to
offer. If you develop a multi-dimensional view of people you
will understand them much better and that will lead to better
relationships all around
My niece will be having an extravagent birthday party held in
two weeks at a fancy hall and given the ''works''. Unfortunately,
she has the body frame that I had when I was a teen-ager and is
about 150 pounds overweight for her small frame and of course
it's a very touchy subject and something her folks have
forbidden for anyone to discuss and it's not something we choose
to discuss anyway as it's not our business, but the men (her six
uncles) in the family have expressed to me that they are
indecisive as to what to get her and are concerned if they get
her clothes that are too big, she'll be insulted, and if it's
too small, she'll be hurt. I have suggested gift cards so she
can purchase whatever she likes. But I'm, as her only aunt, am
concerned because I really don't know what to provide her as she
has everything materially imaginable, and I wish I could give
her something that would have lots of meaning to her in the long
run, but I'm not sure what. Can anyone offer any suggestions as
to what to provide this young woman, e.g, something that
provided special meaning to you as a young woman that you
cherish now in middle age? I'm the mother of sons and don't
have a clue what to give. Thank you.
I'm not sure how much you'd like to spend - but what about a
silver piece of jewelry from Tiffany's? I've seen bracelets
and other items in the catalog for $100 or less. You could
probably get the same kinds of items somewhere else, but a 16
year old may think getting something from Tiffany's is kind of
I agree that giving your niece something other than ''standard'' Sweet Sixteen
(jewelry, clothes, gift cards, etc.) would be nice. How about a certificate for
her and a
friend/frineds to spend a special day doing something: going to a pottery studio
creating something, attending a concert, dance performance, etc., taking a
scrapbooking, cooking or photography class, etc. Depending on budget, the day
include a nice lunch somewhere
What about a necklace that has sentimental value? Or a charm
that can hang from a necklace?
Are you close? Because if you are, a lovely idea might be to go
away for a weekend together somewhere in the area for a ''girls
Jewelry! Classic things such as diamond, pearl, or her birthstone earrings.
The three things that sprang to mind when I read your post were:
-- Something related to a passion that she already holds...
Although it seems like you would have mentioned any passions in
your post if she had them...
-- Something experiential... a trip, a class -- something to
inspire a passion or broaden her experience and life outlook.
-- Books... give her a selection of books that inspired or
Happy Birthday, I hope...
How about jewelery? You could take her for a special shopping
trip and buy her a ring or necklace
if a necklace, make sure sure the chain is at least 18 inches
long, a typical 16 inch chain will likely be too short. a gift
card is far too impersonal for the special occasion.
jewelry will fit!
Great presents for important occaisions:
1- A big gorgeous World Atlas
2- JEWELERY a gold heart locket comes to mind....maybe an I
love you note inside from her loving Auntie....
3- make her one of those library/church stands that you can
leave a big referance book open on top of and it is a book case
below? Use nice wood or plywood and paint it her colors....
4- A giant dictionary
5- A gorgeous leather embossed Bible or Koran or some fabulous
copy of something really interesting to her.
I think you are really sweet to think this through so much!
Our nephew will be turning 13 and we would love to get ideas for
an appropriate birthday present. He doesn't live in the bay area
(he's in the rural mid-west) and likes things like football and
motorcycles. Any ideas?
Does he ever come to visit you in the bay area? He might enjoy
scuba diving lessons and then a chance to go diving in Monterey
on a subsequent visit. That's a lot money for someone else's
Model planes are timeless and cool. There's also a *huge* number
of games that you have access to that won't be widely available
in the rural midwest. You might check out Games of Berkeley on
Shattuck for ideas.
At 13, I think anything that's gadget-like or that involves
tinkering (or lessons to tinker) is an excellent gift.
If you knit, a sweater is a welcome gift for midwesterners,
though admittedly most 13 year olds won't appreciate it as much
as their folks.
Kids this age tend to have very specific tastes and desires, and
the best way to cater to this is to buy them a gift certificate.
My kid is a big fan of magic, a card game, so a gift certificate
to a collectibles store would be great. He would also love a gift
certificate to a music store, a store that sold video games and a
bookstore. Alternatively, a $20 bill in a card would make his day
in all sorts of ways.
Locally, he would love, love, love a gift certificate to Amoeba
records, Cody's and Games of Berkeley.
Mom to a tween
Another question coming up as I shop for my many nephews,
is where to find cool clothes for boys aged 7-13? The
East Bay has tons of stores with fun and funky clothes
for babies and toddlers, but maybe because my own son
is still little, I don't have any idea where to find
cool stuff for older kids. All the boys clothes I see
in department stores or places like the Gap seem pretty
generic to me, and the dominant view seems to be that
boys can only wear khaki, navy, or cammouflage
-- yecccch. I realize most boys aren't real adventurous
in the clothes department, but there's got to be
something a little more exciting out there....
It's been my experience that kids aged 7-13 know what
they want to wear, and that's what the rest of their
peers are wearing, and if it's only khaki, navy or
cammouflage this year, well, that's what they want to
I suggest you don't waste your time and money on buying
things YOU like for your nephews - they'll shove it in
the back of the closet and you'll get labelled as the
"kooky aunt who gives gross things".
Individuality in clothing and appearance usually comes
out after age 13. And no matter if you were a hippie or
a punk yourself, the next generation will find something,
anything that is meant to irritate you.
It may be a little more pricey, but try the stores that sell skateboards and
snowboards. They have some fun shirts. They also sell the popular long
shorts a lot of the boys are wearing these days. In a lot of the outrageous
colors that a lot of the kids like.
Try Destination 1440, at 1440 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley (a block or two
below Gilman.) They have very cool skateboarder/snowboarder/surfer type
clothes and accessories for boys, girls, men and women. Don't be
surprised if you find something for yourself!
I would recommend against buying clothes as gifts for pre-teens. My two
boys at that age had their own ideas about what looks cool, and they both
had completely different ideas. One insisted on punky basic black, and the
other would only accept jerseys for obscure sports for teams I never
heard of. If you have the former to buy for, you might find somthing at
510 Skateboards (on Telegraph), and the latter jock type might be satisfied
with something from the ASUC store on campus or Coplands. Otherwise I
would suggest cold hard cash or a gift cert. from a record store.
this page was last updated: Nov 17, 2013
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