Gifts for strangers?
November 23, 2008 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Gift ideas for a 14-year-old girl and 69-year-old woman we've never met?

My wife and I decided to donate gifts through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree this year. Each angel card lists a need and a wish, but we would like to do a little more than the minimum. We want to make this a great as we can, so we thought we'd draw on the hive mind. This is all we know:

69-year-old female, Kathy
Need: House shoes(small)
Wish: Bath robe(small)

We're a little reluctant to do anything like a bath set, given that scent is really subjective and there's always the possibility of allergies.

14-year-old female, Chelsie
Need: Coat
Wish: handheld game

We went all-out for starters here, and picked up a pink DS, Nintendogs, and New Super Mario Bros. What could be more awesome if you're 14 and aren't expecting much out of the holiday? We were thinking maybe some jewelry from Claire's/Icing/etc, or perhaps a popular teen book(Twilight? suggestions?). Also, my wife would like to encourage artistic endeavours without bashing her over the head with the idea. She's a little old for crayons and coloring books(we also sponsored a 4 year old boy and 7 year old girl this year, crayons/coloring books were perfect there), so what would you suggest?
posted by owtytrof to Shopping (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For the girl, how about a nice set of gel pens? Something like this or similar. Most teenage girls love gel pens, whether they are artistically inclined or not.
posted by everybody polka at 4:28 PM on November 23, 2008

Since the girl needed a coat, would she need a hat, scarf and gloves to go with it?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 4:29 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: For the older lady:

- A nice scarf and gloves set (if you're in the appropriate climate)
- Unscented, pretty candles
- A box of stationery/cards and a nice pen
- A big crossword puzzle book with a range of difficulty levels (or Sudoku, maybe)
- A gift certificate to a local department store (assuming she has transportation)
- A throw blanket for snuggling on the couch
- A box of fine teas
posted by tristeza at 4:31 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: For the 14-year old jewelry or Young Adult fiction would be great. I'd be inclined to get her more clothes. A sweater, socks, pajamas, or a trendy little messenger bag or purse from Target filled with the book and jewelry. As a 14-year old I loved anything to beautify: lotion, body wash, hair accessories, expensive shampoo and conditioner, nail polish, fashion magazines, etc. Pretty blank journals would be nice too.

For the 69-year-old, how about a cozy zip-up or button-up sweater in size small? Socks, too. I would suggest fancy teas or coffees but who knows if she drinks them. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 4:33 PM on November 23, 2008

for the older woman, why not get her the things the asks for, and then a good-sized gift certificate to wal-mart or target? she may have some family to take care of, or pets. or it may allow her to cover some necessities that public assistance doesn't pay for, or simply to have in reserve in case she finds she needs a new sweater or something.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:34 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe if you get the girl the coat put a five in the pocket with "Merry Christmas" on it. Does the DS come with a charger? Make sure she has lots of batteries or a ac adapter. Keep in mind though if you go to wild on presents for her, that she might end up with jealous siblings.

If you get the bathrobe for the lady get a nice fluffy one in a color besides white (they get dirty really fast). A nice warm throw blanket might be good, too. A mug with some specialty hot cocoa packets or teas inside.

(I just realized tristeza and had the same ideas on the throw blanket and teas).
posted by silkygreenbelly at 4:40 PM on November 23, 2008

For the older lady - maybe a shawl or a nice fluffy comforter. Also - don't forget the value of a nice head covering of some sort!
posted by amtho at 5:08 PM on November 23, 2008

Best answer: I plucked a 14yo's name off a tree this year and asking around got a number of assurances that multicoloured mini Sharpies are the thing (gel pens were mentioned, too, but the Sharpies kept coming up). A book light to go with any book you get her would be nice. I'd look at good reference books over popular fiction. Artistic endeavours + teen-aged girl = beads; go to a bead store and ask for a little selection of enough equipment (make sure you get the findings &c, not just the beads) to make a few necklaces.

What with the bathrobe request I'd think about throwing in a towel ('sheet' rather than towel size).
posted by kmennie at 5:17 PM on November 23, 2008

As someone who was not that long ago a 14-year-old girl, multicolored mini sharpies are a fantastic choice. If you can find silver sharpies, they are especially cool.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:20 PM on November 23, 2008

I would caution against things like jewellery and books, which are very taste-specific.

For the older lady, things like candles and specialty drinks might be a hit-or-miss since she might not be a candle person or a coffee person etc.

Why not just keep expanding on the angel card, as you already seem to be doing? I second the suggestions for bath sheets, comfy socks, snuggly blankets - things that are gifts of comfort, not decoration. You could also throw in a puzzle book - many older folk I know love sudoku, crosswords etc. They're relatively cheap, so even if your recipient doesn't like it, it won't be much of a waste.

Teens love extra spending money. The suggestion about putting some cash in the coat was good, just be careful that it doesn't fall out. Give her the DS and its accessories and a gift card to a game store instead of picking out games for her.

Beauty products would probably go over well, too, as suggested above. Get some body moisturiser (she might have sensitive facial skin) in a neutral but delicious scent like vanilla or chocolate or something lightly floral, and lip gloss - get a set of different coloured lip gloss. Lip gloss is makeup that's fun and easy for younger girls to play with. In fact, for makeup, variety would be key - you don't know what looks she prefers, so you'd be best of giving her the gift of trying on different things without paying a tonne for each bit of makeup. Try for a huge variety of inexpensive(!), reliable beauty products.

Seconding the advise about avoiding jealous siblings - if you get her personal things, this is unlikely to happen, but if you get her a bunch of cool gaming stuff, she'll have to share with siblings and friends.
posted by Xianny at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2008

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