Stress-Free Shopping for Teens

By Deanna grubbs Warning: Holiday gift shopping for teens can cause shallow breathing, dizziness, heart palpitations and dry mouth. This panic attack happens because teens are picky and their gifts can be pricey. Long gone are the days when you could walk into the dollar store and pick up a large pack of army men, wrap it up and put it under the tree. Fast forward ten years and the army men your son wants are in a box that loads on a game system and costs you sixty times the price of the plastic men. Here are some ideas to help with the teen on your Christmas list. Wish List Have your teen write up a list of gifts he would like. This step should be a no brainer, but every year my son makes 5 lists with different items on each list depending on the latest fad. Then, each list contains at least 3 to 4 items over $100.00. Set a limit to the items on the list and the dollar amount. Christmas Savings Your teen is old enough to understand the concept of a budget. If you don’t have a Christmas savings account, set up one in January. Give your bank a dollar amount each month to be placed automatically into this account. The difference with this type of account verses a regular savings is you can’t dip into the cash until November. Figure out how much of this savings will be used for your teen. Then try to stick to it. Cost Analysis To stick to the amount you have allocated for your teen, have him itemize the cost of each item on his list. He can either do some reconnaissance on the Internet, the mall, or discount store. This way, he will be accountable for sticking to a budget and it forces him to prioritize his list. Hopefully by implementing this step he will have fewer items still left in boxes a month after Christmas. Conquer and Divide What do you do if you have a large extended family with many teens to panic over? Draw names in your family, putting the kids in a pool to buy for each other. If teens are drawing other teen’s names, there is a fighting chance that they will know what to buy. Now that you have a strategy, you need some ideas. As children age, they do become more difficult to buy for. This is especially true if you don’t live with the teenager. If you have younger children, but a teen nephew that lives on the East Coast, you may draw a complete blank. This problem can be particularly sensitive if your spouse has teen children who live in another part of the country. You don’t want to appear to be the clueless step-parent! Help is on the way: Gift Ideas Gift certificates The number one fail proof item on any teenager’s gift receiving agenda is a gift card. These little plastic goodies are easy to throw into an envelope and mail to the teen who lives far away. You can either go to their favorite store or order them online. Some ideas for gift cards are as follows: sporting goods clothing store fast food stores gas cards iTunes card movie theatre tickets sporting event tickets Cash Cash is king with teenagers. If you don’t want to come across as the aunt or uncle who was too lazy to shop, here are a few creative ways to present what teens love most. Put the cash in: a new wallet a colorful envelope and put in a book about money a funky box you found at the dollar or discount store origami shapes (look on Internet for ideas) Ordinary stuff made extraordinary Buy the everyday things that your teen uses and decorate them with bows or place in colorful plastic containers or organizers. favorite junk food magazine subscription inside a copy of the actual magazine makeup bag filled with cute makeup board games with a bag of microwave popcorn and a six pack of pop or juice favorite sports team memorabilia in a matching garbage can calendar of favorite band wrapped together with markers and stickers One final gift of “ordinary stuff made extraordinary” is your time. He may act like he doesn’t want to hang out, but your teen really craves it and is too cool to ask for it. Make a book of coupons that gives them an hour of your time to play a board game, or to go out for ice cream, or to see a movie together. You could even make a coupon to sit down for an hour and play with the army men that came out of the box and into the game system. Whatever gifts you give to your teen this year, don’t panic. If it is given with thought and love, it will be appreciated and if not, there’s always next year. SFM Deanna Grubbs lives in Billings, is a mother to two teenagers and a school librarian.