Birthday gift ideas for 13 year old daughter
June 9, 2009 6:30 AM   Subscribe

My oldest daughter is turning 13--I need birthday gift ideas!

My 13 year old daughter has given me no ideas whatsoever for a birthday present, and I"m struggling with what to get.She is very bright, into sports, and already has a nice cellphone and mp3 player. If I give money, she just saves it. I'd love to surprise her with something cool that says I think she is responsible, fun, and unique. She hasn't come up with a single idea to give me. She isn't really into clothes or girly stuff. Everyone is going to give her gift cards to the bookstore. i want to do better. My price limit is around $100. I'd be very grateful for any ideas!
posted by midwestguy to Shopping (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe some tickets to a concert of a band/singer she likes.
posted by alligatorman at 6:32 AM on June 9, 2009

If I give money, she just saves it.

Kudos to you for raising a responsible kid!

What about a small pet, if you don't already have pets? Something less care-intensive than a dog; perhaps a gerbil or guinea pig? That will certainly show her that you think she's capable of taking care of it.

At that age, I was a big reader, too—as a result, everyone always gave me bookstore gift certificates, too. I secretly wanted a different kind of gift certificate, though; I wanted one to the movie theater! It might be really cool of you to give her two gift certificates for the movies: one for her and one for a friend.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:39 AM on June 9, 2009

Take her shopping. Time with Dad is special, and she can pick something she likes.
posted by theora55 at 6:41 AM on June 9, 2009

Day passes for her and several friends to a local waterpark/amusement park. No younger siblings allowed, just a vanload of 13-year-olds.
posted by headnsouth at 6:56 AM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Got my 13-year old an iPod docking station - seemed to go down well.
posted by Phanx at 7:11 AM on June 9, 2009

Beads, some for-real beads: pearls if her birthday is this month or rubies if it's in July, with findings. I was not particularly girly at 13 but would've been thrilled to make a necklace out of real pearls or rubies.
posted by kmennie at 7:15 AM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

What kind of sports is she into? Can you get her cool sports shoes/other equipment or take her and a friend to a sporting event? I played tennis when I was in middle school, and my parents took me to see Steffi Graf play in a tournament -- it was awesome.
posted by bluefly at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2009

It might have been my 16th birthday, but for one of my teenage birthdays my mom took me to a real Broadway show for the first time, Les Miserables. That was one of the coolest things I'd ever experienced.

I like the waterpark for her friends idea a lot too, or movie passes. Is there a DVD set of a show she loves?

What does she save her money for? Is she saving for a big goal, like a car or something? Could you promise to contribute matching funds to what she saves as a gift?

Does she play any instruments or sports? I think I was around 13 or 14 when I was given some nice backpacking gear--I loved camping, and I finally had stuff that was all mine, sized to fit me instead of using my stepdad's old stuff.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:24 AM on June 9, 2009

What my father sometimes did for us was to take us out of school for a day and he would take a day off work and we would spend a day together, usually out at our camp by a lake. He always worked a lot (he is a doctor) and so was often wiped/cranky/busy in the evenings/weekends, so the days off were our time to bond. We'd fish, make a meal together, play cards, and starting around age 13 he would give me mini driving lessons on the dirt roads on the way to the camp. We called them "Daddy Daughter Days" and they are by far some of the best memories I have with my father and meant a whole lot. Plus, skipping school is always kick ass. Where school is almost done, a day where the two of you go off on a 'date', where you go have a fancy pants dinner together would also be great.
posted by gwenlister at 7:29 AM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

extra clarification: it is the 'treat her like an adult' thing that I would push for. A fancy dinner (where you have to dress up, multiple courses, spend the whole 100$ on that), a really nice adult necklace as suggested above, or mini driving lessons in a parking lot seriously would probably mean the most.
posted by gwenlister at 7:33 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was a bit like your daughter - not in to girly stuff, bright, interested in the outdoors, tended to save rather than spend. When I was 13, my parents gave me a big bouquet, which was accompanied by a few brief non-sappy words about me growing up. I'm sure I would have been horribly embarrassed if they had made some long speech about me being a woman, but it was nice to have the age acknowledged in that tasteful way. I got two presents on that birthday (if I remember correctly) - a nice, simple swiss army knife which I loved, and a huge science encyclopedia which I pored over for years.
posted by Cygnet at 8:01 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm with the "do something adult" people. A nice thin gold bracelet? Pearl earrings? You're aiming for classic here. A day together is also lovely, or a fancy dinner. Anything that says adult works -- a good bike (too expensive, obviously, but that kind of thing), a piece of art that you choose together (prints are excellent for this, but framing will probably lift it out of your price range).
posted by jeather at 8:03 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do something fun with her. Just the two of you. Offer some ideas. She sounds thrifty- make some offers that might cost a bit more than stuff you usually do (not crazy spendy though). I love watches and think they're a great gift- I got one when I turned 16, 21, 25 (thin gold dress watch, my grandma's watch, and an everyday one) and still have and wear them all.
posted by variella at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2009

At 13, I would've loved to have been given an electric guitar and an amp.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:06 AM on June 9, 2009

I always liked "doing something" gifts like concert tickets, theater tickets, dinner out, reservations at a campsite (one year it was at the bottome of the Grand Canyon!)

I also liked jewelry, which is wierd because I was not particualrly girly. If you go the jewelry route, I would do something like a ring with some kind of heart motif. It sounds super cheesey, but it's cool to see something and be reminded that my daddy loves me more than any doofus date ever could, ever.

For years in the future, useful things make really good gifts. I love getting tools (dremmel hand tool , nice pocket knives), but this is more of a college-age gift for kids who aren't always at home to borrow your useful things all the time.

You don't mention if she's into art at all, but I also used to love getting art supplies, like a nice big canvas and oil paints. I loved art, but those kinds of materials were expensive for a 13 year old's budget.

For the sports angle, a cool gift could be a nice new pair of sneakers for whatever sport shes into. Anotehr cool gift would be something like a volleyball set that you could set up in her yard and get a game going with her friends. Depending on what sports she does you might also want to get her a gift certificate to rent time somewhere (indoor tennis courts, golf course, horse stables, pool, racquet ball club, YMCA, fencing gym, dance studio, gymnastics facility, etc)

This all makes me wish I was still getting birthday presents!
posted by WeekendJen at 9:36 AM on June 9, 2009

One more afterthought - a camera would be a good gift if she does not have one as well.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:36 AM on June 9, 2009

She likes sports? Why don't you get tickets and go to a game together and then take her out to dinner? Or even better, a day baseball game and a day off from school :)
posted by emd3737 at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Perhaps a bonsai tree and a book about bonsai gardening?
posted by iviken at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2009

The ideas I liked from the above are the swiss army knife, the outdoor volleyball set (just a ball and a net), the camping idea and the father-daughter dinner-and-a-game idea.

I'd also add that thirteen is also the first time you're a teenager, which I remember for me at least (five years ago) was a really big deal. You're officially not a kid, you're a teen, an adolescent, a "youth", with your own new unique stereotypes to fill, places to go, people to meet, things to learn, etc.
So maybe something that has to do with that. I'm having trouble thinking of something specific but I really think something along those lines is pretty cool. Maybe even just as a side to the gift, letting her throw an awesome party for friends while you and your wife stay in your bedroom, showing her that a) she's a teenager and can have teen-style parties (not bowling parties, etc) which are fun, and b) she's mature and you trust her to handle being responsible for the basement for the evening.
posted by alona at 10:33 AM on June 9, 2009

When I turned 13, my mom gave me a ring with (tiny, but real) diamonds in it. I had never felt more grownup and wore that ring every day until I was 19 or so.

On preview, the ring was actually heart-shaped like WeekendJen mentions.
posted by moojoose at 12:39 PM on June 9, 2009

I am so grateful to all of you for the wonderful suggestions. Now if I can just narrow down the list! these really were great, and I feel so much relief at having some direction to go. I think of 13 as a milestone birthday, and I really wanted something special, and you all have given me lots of great thoughts. Thank you again!
posted by midwestguy at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2009

Is there something she wants to learn? Pay for some classes. That would have rocked my world at 13.
posted by divabat at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2009

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