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Piggy backing on Christmas

justmakingthebest's picture

For those of you with teenagers- What on earth are you getting them this year???

I can't get an answer from any of them! We have DD15, Exchange Student 16, BS17 and SS22. 

BS17 actually said can I just get a rain check on Christmas, there isn't anything I really want or need right now.

DD15 just keeps telling me she is thinking about it, but doesn't want clothes or shoes. 

ES16 is sweet as can be so won't ask for anything

SS22 shrugs and walks away.


I refuse to just give cash and I really can't think of any fun experiences for them right now for some reason. We do have a big cruise planned in April, so I told my parents to give them ship cash for their accounts so they can spend on the extras they like... but other than that I am just at a loss. 


justmakingthebest's picture

I wish! DH won't be able to go though (they aren't allowing any leave) and SS22 (Autistic) would probably die! LOL

Cover1W's picture

Well I don't get SD16 anything, for Xmas and birthdays, now because she just shrugs when asked what she would like. DH got her random things last year and only one item is being used, the rest are in her closet. She literally doesn't care, zero excitement about Xmas. I don't love the holidays myself but there were at least, and still are, a few things I liked. So for her last year I donated to a charity in her name. A good amount too.

I'll do the same this year.

My niece is fun to buy for, loves her gifts and appreciates and uses them all the time.

justmakingthebest's picture

I'm not too sure what is going on with them, other than maybe they are all getting to the point where they don't just want stuff to have stuff and are stumped too... They are always very grateful and I enjoy giving to them.

It's not like with SS18 where we wouldn't even get a thank you and the one year he spent Christmas with us, he opened his stuff and spent the rest of the day in his room. 

classyNJ's picture

After SS24  turned 21 he has gotten Uber cards every year in his stocking :)  We know that he will be at the bars in AC and we live 45 minutes from there, so Uber it kid!  He really appreciates it.  

SS20 doesnt get anything from me, but DH will get him a $50 gift card and both SS's get their annual socks and underwear LOL  If they specifically ask for something, we will get that as well as long it is not over $500.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

She's. My brother is 16 and he gave my mom a total of 3 ideas otherwise he has no idea besides money but we just gave him money for his birthday in September and don't want to give him money again. My sister is 20 and she has not a clue what she wants either. So we are at a total loss right now. DH found this Bluetooth beanie that we are considering for my brother so far and my sister we don't have any ideas yet. 

justmakingthebest's picture

I got SS18 and DH a bluetooth beanie like 2 years ago and they loved it! Both are runners so it was perfect. 

advice.only2's picture

We are getting BD16 a new phone, after three years of having this phone her screen cracked, so we are going to upgrade her to a new phone.

BS22 travels a lot now and I plan on giving him gifts cards he can use while he’s on travel, such as Uber, Door Dash things like that. 

It really is hard to figure out what they want at this point as they both have jobs and really aren’t consumers the way I was at their age.  So they pretty much have hefty savings accounts and really only spend money on the necessities.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Does BS17 drive and have a car? If so, gift cards for gas, tune ups, oil changes, etc. Car accessories or necessities like jumper cables, etc. Anything he would normally have to spend his money on because it's not something you all pay for (e.g. expensive hair cut or toiletries, name-brand boxers). 

For ES16, I'd be a little more forgiving on the cash front just because she may really not know what she does or doesn't want. Are there any local experiences that she hasn't gotten to do that you could take her to, maybe just the two of you? Or if her and your daughter are close, a joint gift to do a spa day or something they may both enjoy as teens? 

SS22 I assume is difficult because he probably has a set list of items he likes and doesn't navigate much outside of that. I'm not sure what would be good for him other than to maybe upgrade some items he already owns that are falling apart or outdated.

If none of this strikes your fancy, give them cash BUT make them work for it (SS22 maybe being the exception). Amazon and other retailers have puzzle boxes for money and gift cards. It's really hilarious to watch teenagers trying to access the cash by solving the puzzle. Just make sure you get a puzzle that either has a key or is easily smashable.

Finally, as a family, we have a lot of fun with a Saran Wrap ball every year. Fill it with little trinkets, candy, singles, and gift cards. You can look up online how to make one and how to play a game with it. They're still getting cash, but there is a memory attached to it.

justmakingthebest's picture

These are a lot of great ideas!

BS does have a car and I am sure we can come up with some stuff for him for it- gas gift cards, etc. 

The girls would love a spa day! That is perfect!

SS22 could use some new shoes now that I am thinking about it. Maybe a new jacket too. 

Thank you!

TheAccidentalSM's picture

But can I add something for the exchange student - some merch from one of the local famous universities like a hoodie, t shirt or jacket.  Teens like this stuff in europe because our universities don't do it as much.

TheAccidentalSM's picture

I just got my niece a swatchpay watch.  Not a full-on smart watch but its a swatch that you can enable to do contact less payments.  Big plus is once its set up you don't have to have your phone near by and you don't have to charge the watch ever night/couple of times a week.  My niece loves sailing so this will be a perfect way for her to have the ability to pay for things on sailing days without having to risk her phone getting damaged.  I can imagine they'd be great for going to the beach, pool or gym.

Caveat - not sure if they work in the USA.  But if they do, the watches are cheap compared to smartwatches and come in bright colours and designs.

Shieldmaiden's picture

I am getting my SD's 16 and 19 nothing. Can't wait to see their faces when they realize their actions have consequences. If they say I don't "contribute anything" then I guess they are right. 

SeeYouNever's picture

Aryclic purses are very in right now, I think I'll get SD15 a sparkle one with an evil eye because she literally always has some sort of evil eye jewelry on.

She always asks for a new phone or laptop every single year but there is no way that we are spending over $1,000 on new electronics because she's not on our cell plan. For years they have been locked in this power struggle where SD says she will call more often if DH gets her a new phone and DH says he's not getting her a new phone because she never called him or answers the one she has. 

Elea's picture

I let DH handle gifts for stepDiablas. I will probably get my dear BK's an air B&B gift card, book lights for stocking stuffers, jewelry and clothing. 

Felicity0224's picture

SD18 asked for us to take whatever we would have spent on gifts and put it towards her portion of college tuition. That was an easy yes. XH told me he'd prefer to just give SD16 the equivalent amount of cash, so I'm mostly off the hook shopping for them. I'll probably still give them both a few small stocking stuffers. They always appreciate cosmetic related stuff that they wouldn't usually buy for themselves - nice brushes, palettes, etc.

Last year I also gave each of them a lesson with a makeup artist who specializes in teaching people how to apply makeup themselves. They both got really excited about that and seemed to enjoy and get a lot out of it. 

Rags's picture

IMHO, Christmas is not about getting people what they want, it is about getting them what you want to get them.

So, I don't ask.  I buy gifts for the people I care about.  They get what I want them to have.  I have for many years been told that those gifts are extremely special and that they remember each one because I made it special rather than thh usual "Whatcha want?"

My IL clan does lists.  My envolvement in that shopping is to point at something on the list and saying "That one."  My DW spends a ton of time interpreting and finding very special examples of what is asked for.  When she runs out of steam on that effort, she goes with the inevitable Gift Card that is on each person's list.


Elea's picture

as far as he gets me what he wants to get but he also seems to have a less than $10 price limit. Needless to say, I have low expectations for old Pops and I am happy for my Mom & Step-Mom's 6th sense for gift giving. 

Rags's picture

gift spending model.

I generally do not set a budget.  When I find something I want for that person to have. I get it.  Sometimes it is reasonably priced, other times.... I have to ask my CPA (the one I have been married to for 28+ years) not to look at the accounts for a while.


justmakingthebest's picture

I have usually been the same with most people in my life. However, since my kids became teens I have REALLY struggled to find something that I "feel moved" to get them. I usually try to prioritize experiences vs. tangible things. This trip we have planned in April is a pretty big deal and so I am not going to be planning something like I usually do since that is already in the works and they know about it. 

ESMOD's picture

Sometimes I have a hard time when asked..because I don't know what the budget is.  Maybe tell the kids.. "Hey... I budgeted 100 for you for Xmas gifts... please let me know what you would want for that?

Then... Gift cards is always ok... at that age.. they often have some of their own money.. so like the enjoyment of spending it themselves.. probably more than getting a parented item.

Hastings's picture

Ugh! We struggle with this too. SS is only 11 (almost 12) but it's like pulling teeth. It's not just us, but we have to come up with suggestions for MIL, my big family, and then his b-day is at the beginning of January.

In our case, a big part of the problem is BM and her parents buy stuff for SS constantly through the year. Why would he get excited about Christmas or birthday? He already gets what he wants when he wants it.