By Kristen Daukas, author of the blog Four Hens and a Rooster
Remember when your child’s list to Santa was thicker than the phonebook? When Disney’s favorite Princess or Nick Jr’s favorite handyman could save the day for Christmas bounty? Those long lists have been replaced by much shorter ones that primarily involve cash and gift cards. If you’re like me, you want to give something more than “just” a gift card but what items are on the “must have” list for our Teens and Tweens?
Shoes are always at the top of every mini-fashionista’s list. Ever popular UGG bootshave a variety of offerings from the traditional boot to the new and very sparkly version. They’re not on the cheap list so don’t be fooled by sites that proclaim they have “deeply discounted” UGG boots. UGG very rarely discounts their boots. Click here for more information on counterfeit UGGs. If you’re looking for a shoe that can be worn more than two months out of the year, consider a pair of Toms. Not only are the trendy, but they’re socially conscious (remember this TMoM post about Toms?). With their One for One program, the company will give a pair of shoes to a child in need with every pair you buy.
Clothes: Of course there are the usual suspects, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, Hollister, etc. They each have a kid’s section so if you’re put off by some of the older models and outfits, you may find a happy place with one of the younger sites. Interested in a gift that will give past December? How about a “shirt of the month “ club? BustedTees has a few different levels of membership and you can customize the shirts they’ll send to you. This is a great gift for the teen guy in your family.
Jewelry and accessories: At Hip Chics in Lewisville, you can pick up one of the adorable Logi B scarves made by the owner’s daughter. Using recycled sweaters and buttons, she creates some very unique scarves. Average cost is $28. Interested in a new take on a BFF bracelet? For $8 a piece, you can order several of theSodderbug Zipper Friendship Bracelets. Your daughter can keep one side of it and give the other side to her friend or combine several to make one longer bracelet for her. Another Sodderbug idea is to customize one of the beautiful photo charm necklaces with photos of friends, family or pets!
Electronics and Gadgets: I could write an entire post on which computer, phone, camera to buy so I’ll just hit the high notes. If you’re willing to invest the money any teen is going to love an iPhone. The new 4s is pretty cool but like all things Apple, within a year, it will be replaced by the next greatest edition. Same goes for MacBooks (which I’ve heard are getting a major overhaul in 2012). If an iPad isn’t on your list of reasonable options, consider a smaller, lighter version such as theKindle Fire. It’s considerably cheaper at $199 and does almost the same thing. The most obvious difference is there is no camera on the Fire but if you’re looking for music, apps, movies, reading, etc it will fill the bill quite nicely.
If you’ve invested in the higher end gadgets, you’ll need to protect them and there are plenty of fun and unique options for that! One of my favorite sites for skins is Schtikers. You can choose from thousands of designs or create your own! They have skins for laptops, tablets, phones and more. The iPhone or iTouch certainly has a lot of bells and whistles, but why not take it up a notch? With these accessories, you can turn it into an alarm clock, personal DJ booth or a pinball machine!
Some other ideas that we thought were fun and easy on the budget. From Perpetual Kid: The “You To-Do Wall Chart”. Think of it as a bucket list for the family. Have a music lover or sports fan in the family? The Ticket Stub Diary from Uncommon Goods is perfect for keeping all of their ticket stubs and mementos safe. Finally, if you are the proud parent of a budding philanthropist, what better gift than the gift of charity? At JustGive.org, you can buy a gift card that will actually pay it forward and allows them to decide which charity will be the recipient of the donation.
Christmas used to be as simple as cruising the aisles of Toys-R-Us or clicking thru thousands of items on Amazon but now, between their wants and your budget, it’s just not that easy anymore. However, with a little bit of thought (and hopefully this list), you can still score big with your tweens and teens.