Non-Consumer Gifts For A Teenager

by Katy on October 13, 2008 · 3 comments


My older son turned 13 this week, and it took some extra thinking to figure out a gift to buy that wouldn’t break The Compact. (Buy nothing new.)

This son is always kind of hard to buy for because, unlike his younger brother, he doesn’t crave things.

He loves rock music, and has gone with his father to see both U2 and The Foo Fighters in concert. He’s crazy for music, so I gave him a home made gift certificate for a rock concert of his choice. (To be accompanied by Dad.) I had looked in the paper to see if there were any bands he liked, but nothing really struck a chord. So now he gets the fun of finding a concert on his own. 

This was not a cheap present, as concert tickets can be pretty expensive. But I would rather he have a great and memorable experience, than some manufactured object. (Although I am going to try and help him find something somewhat inexpensive.)

When people asked me what he wanted, I told them iTunes gift cards. (Or to choose something themselves, as I don’t really like to dictate gifts.) He has an iPod that he got as a birthday present three years ago. He listens to music on it almost every day. I feel good about this as a gift. With the exception of the plastic card and cardboard hang-tag, the iTunes gift card is a very compacty gift. There’s no excessive packaging. And the gift itself is pretty much virtual.

There’s no thing that had to be manufactured, shipped, stored and then disposed of. 

He’s received three so far in varying amounts.

He also got a $10 Blockbuster gift card from a friend. He was able to find a $9.99 used video game, and was quite proud of  himself. 

Teenagers can be hard to shop for, although being five days into parenting a teen hardly makes me an expert.

I feel I was able to figure out good gifts that stayed within The Compact, without sacrificing my kid for a cause.

What gifts have you found to be a hit with your teens? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

jinger October 13, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Well, my last teen is almost 20 now and she wants a gift certificate for a massage this year. Last year I gave her a gift certificate for a mani/pedi at a local salon which she loved as well. iTunes cards are my staple stocking stuffers for Christmas and this year most of my gifts will be handmade. This young woman will be getting an apron,a cookbook of all her favorite homemade recipes and a kimono style robe…all home made.


Jennifer October 13, 2008 at 3:17 pm

I am giving my soon-to-be 16 year old daughter the opal ring her father gave to me. It’s her birthstone, and since her father and I are now divorced, I’m sure she’ll enjoy it more that I ever will.


Cheryl October 15, 2008 at 7:39 pm

My twelve year old son craves cash. He is very, very good with money and locks it up in a lock box in his room. He then enjoys a) knowing he has it and b) taking his sweet time deciding what he wants to use it for. Often, the cash stays in the lock box for months…He feels empowered that if he wants something to eat (like expensive smoothies when we are near the shop) he has his own money to buy it with.

I let him chose his home cooked birthday dinner and I honestly think he views that as his “special” present…


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