Cool Gifts for Teens

The teen years mark a period of intense transformation, turning your child into a budding adult and prompting a quest for identity and independence. Those challenges of self discovery can complicate the search for holiday and birthday gifts, as the must-haves of preteen years fade onto the list of out-of-date items. Although trying to be cool rarely results in parental success, if you study your child's interests, you can figure out cool presents to make or buy.

Keep a List

Even if you don't start planning the next year's presents on the day after a birthday or holiday, teens offer you ample motivation to start early. If you leave gift selection for teens until the last minute, you may be faced with a panicked choice among uninspiring alternatives. From day to day and month to month, their reactions to the items they see in stores or in commercials provide helpful glimpses into their likes and dislikes.

Keep a computerized inventory of prospective gifts in a spreadsheet document on your computer and update it as your teen gives you new hints and ideas. Before you act on your list, find a subtle way to verify that the item he raved about a month ago still rates high on his list of must-haves. A casual question can help you rule out an item as a passing–or past–interest.

Handmade Creations

Even if your crafts draw raves from friends and you make a tidy profit selling them online, your teen may be less impressed than the rest of the world with the output of your talents. Part of the nature of teenagers' drive toward independence manifests itself in the ways they try to disconnect from their parents. Your teen's friends may rave about your creations while she shrugs in disinterest. If you know that your teen wants something that you're equally confident you can make, simply don't mention that you're the source. From customized storage boxes for media-player ear buds, to memory cards for a camera or camcorder to a personalized case for a tablet device, you can add a distinctive touch to a store-bought gift or make one from scratch.

Gift Certificates

Whether you give a gift card or make your own gift certificates, these presents combine your knowledge of what your teen likes with his opportunity to cash in on his specific preference. Crafting a gift certificate gives you the opportunity to build around the present itself. After you create the card on your computer and printer, you can construct an elaborate sequence of containers and wrappings. The box-within-a-box technique ends only when you run out of nesting cartons or patience. The small gift-wrapped box that holds the certificate itself goes inside a larger wrapped box, repeating the layering process on through to a large outer container. Omit padding so the result rattles impressively when shaken. You can make your custom gift certificates redeemable for serious presents, including large items such as a new bike, smartphone, computer or camcorder, or for adventures and opportunities such as concerts, special music or athletic camps.

Special Wrappings

How you wrap a present can make a big difference in how your teen receives it. Carefully folded paper currency makes an elegant statement as gift wrap for small gifts. Invest time in online research into origami techniques, and you can transform a $20 bill into an artful creation she almost won't want to unfold and spend. Use play money to decorate a package that contains real money. The same make-believe currency makes a clever token you can give as "family funds," your own private currency exchangeable for favors and bankable toward privileges.

Photo Credits: Demand Media

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