Gift for 13-yr old Boy Who Needs Nothing
September 13, 2015 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Please help with your best gift recommendations for a smart, thoughtful 13-yr old boy whose interests have included superheroes, LEGOs, computer games and sports.

I have three siblings (in our 40s and 50s) but only one of the four of us managed to have a kid - a quiet, tall, athletic boy who (used to?) like superheroes, video games and Legos. I think he plays tennis and soccer.

His Bar Mitzvah is approaching, and his very busy parents (my brother and his wife, who you may have guessed I don't speak to very often - mainly because they are busy and I am hermit-y), have so far not responded to my pleas for a list of things he likes.

Those of you close to intelligent boys 12-14ish, can you provide some kickass gift suggestions in the $150-$200 range? My brother is insisting on paying for many of the travel expenses, so part of that saved cost is going toward the gift.

I am trying to avoid a gift card or other cash equivalent.

Or, do any of these ideas sound good?
Fancy Legos?
Leather bomber-type jacket?
A fancy soccer-related sports accessory? (His dad is a big tennis player so he probably has the best raquets and such)
Hand-held technical device of some sort?

[Once I've picked a few things, I will certainly ask his parents to make sure they will be a good fit and also something he does not have.] Thanks!
posted by Glinn to Shopping (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about a R/C drone with a camera? Wouldn't normally suggest it for someone his age, but he sounds responsible enough not to fly it onto the White House lawn or something.
posted by un petit cadeau at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unless he is a fanatic, he is generally past the age of LEGOs. You say you have reached out to his parents, why not reach out to HIM and talk to him about his interests? Perhaps your gift could be an experience, with you, that he would not have with with his parents and would start to build a relationship where he can turn to you in future for mentorship or advice.
posted by saucysault at 9:30 AM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was going to suggest an experience too. Maybe tickets to a sports event or a cultural event that his mom or dad could take him to or that he could attend on his own with a friend.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:32 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If Lego it would need to be the programmable mindstorm robotic stuff. Lots of room to learn some programming etc. Also consider a Raspberry pi and some peripherals (keyboard, mouse, USB game controller) possibly with some retro gaming packages or the Minecraft Raspberry Pi edition
posted by aydeejones at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2015

In this day and age as a 13 year old I would consider an Amazon gift card (no fees) or a Visa gift card (fees) a flattering gift respecting my eventual autonomy...
posted by aydeejones at 9:34 AM on September 13, 2015 [9 favorites]

iTunes or Amazon gift card. Or even better: cold, hard cash. I don't know why it's considered tacky to give cash.
posted by ostranenie at 9:37 AM on September 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is super cheap, so maybe as part of a multi-part gift (and just because I'm telling everyone) - amazon has some seriously impressive hand-held, battery-lit 120x microscopes for around $10.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:50 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

In recent years my just-turned-15-yr-old has most appreciated cash. He saves it all up for really specific expensive things that we would never spend money on for him. Cash is actually a good gift for a kid that age>
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:53 AM on September 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Cash (or cash equivalent) is really the only foolproof gift for someone you don't know very well, and it sounds as though you don't know this kid very well. If he's an average 13 year old, it is unlikely that he still likes superheros (or if he does, likely not the same ones he liked a couple of years ago, and likely more in a "I'll read the new comic books when they come out," kind of way) or Legos. If you insist on going with a non-cash gift, please make sure it's easy to return for cash or cash-equivalent (Amazon return credit good, return credit for a store that only sells one thing or isn't available in his area bad) so that he can do that, and make sure it's clear that you will not be the least bit upset if he returns it for the money.
posted by decathecting at 10:01 AM on September 13, 2015

But yeah, if you want to be the cool uncle, Amazon gift card is the correct answer. The cash will likely all end up in a college fund (because that's what parents tend to do with Bar Mitzvah gifts). But the Amazon gift card, he'll be able to spend on what he actually wants.
posted by decathecting at 10:02 AM on September 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Find something reasonably priced and personal - watch, etc. Something that he will keep (because it is from you) but not be excited about until he is older and he can see the value. Then supplement with cash - that he will love and use right now.
posted by NoDef at 11:17 AM on September 13, 2015

No specific suggestions from me, but browsing around ThinkGeek for a while should give you some ideas.
posted by dondiego87 at 11:23 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cash and a book that you inscribe, or cash and a moleskin that you inscribe, or cash and a personalized/monogrammed thing (wooden box, money clip, toiletries bag, leather overnight bag).

If you're looking for an experience, possibly a flight in a glider plane (where there's a professional pilot who takes 1-2 passengers up at a time).
posted by samthemander at 11:24 AM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Small clarification: His family is wealthy and very well-traveled. With relatively high-powered parents, in both their fields. Would those who recommend cash or gift card still do so? He really is a great kid from my limited interactions with him, and not spoiled, but my guess is he can have whatever he wants already.

I guess I am hoping for a perfect combination of something he would really like, but would not think to buy for himself. If that is possible knowing him as little as I do.
posted by Glinn at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2015

If you end up willing to go the gift card route, a big Steam gift card (for computer games) could encourage him to try out games he might not otherwise?
posted by metasarah at 11:39 AM on September 13, 2015

From my observations, even kids with wealthy parents enjoy receiving cash gifts.
posted by wondermouse at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Higher than your given range, but I think with his interests maybe a GoPro camera.
posted by moonlily at 1:00 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think the bomber jacket is a great idea.

It has the potential to up his charisma in the eyes of potential love interests, and could help him learn to cultivate the kind of personal style which might be very beneficial to a young man others might be inclined to see as "smart and thoughtful."
posted by jamjam at 1:05 PM on September 13, 2015

His family is wealthy and very well-traveled. With relatively high-powered parents, in both their fields. Would those who recommend cash or gift card still do so? He really is a great kid from my limited interactions with him, and not spoiled, but my guess is he can have whatever he wants already.

Yes, because his teens are just the point when he starts wanting HIS OWN money, choice, and agency. I really wanted cash for my Bar Mitzvah, not because my parents denied me things (though they certainly weren't lavish), but because I craved independence. Families differ, of course, but for me, a gift which enables adult freedom would be perfect for a coming-of-age ceremony.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:06 PM on September 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Eh I grew up in a wealthy family and cash gifts were kind of annoying - almost came across as, you couldn't even spend time on selecting something?

I like Go Pro idea. Also if you know what activities he likes, be sure to get the accessories (like a skatboard Go Pro), etc. Or just a simple "arm." The accessories are not that expensive but make it more fun. I would go with the cheapest option at 100 - its still a great camera and not as fancy but he would enjoy it all the same.
posted by pando11 at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have all 11 and almost 15 year old -- cash, steam card, amazon gift card.

The only lego kit I might recommend is the architecture kit if he is into architecture. Or falling water... but only if he is a HUGE architecture geek.

I don't know any kids that wear leather bomber jackets.
posted by LittleMy at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is your nephew, right?

Are you able to spend any one-on-one time with him, whether on this trip or some other time? What if you let him pick something he'd like to do, or a day of events, that you could do together and you would pay for? For instance, go to a pro sports game, take a train trip to some other place that he hasn't been to, go to a fancy restaurant, spend the day at a comics convention. Or come visit you at your home, on his own?
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:01 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If cash wouldn't go over well (although most kids love it), what about slightly formalizing their presentation? (When I was in my 20s, I was happy to cash out some government bonds an aunt had given me for a birthday over a decade earlier. Seeing the interest return was like another birthday. I have no idea if bonds are still done, but maybe there's some other kind of investment that would be as safe as they used to be?)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:02 PM on September 13, 2015

If he's into Star Wars, this remote control BB-8 looks super awesome.
posted by slogger at 5:51 AM on September 14, 2015

Go Pro is a great idea! Even if he has one already, having a second one would really amp up his recording sessions. His friends would think that he was the coolest.

An atomic watch that is also waterproof. I know, no one wears watches now but, when you travel, and when you are near water, it is handy to have one, and atomic watches are cooler than regular watches. Bonus points for getting it engraved.

A nice wallet with gift cards for food places in his area. Boys that age love to eat.

A subscription to Loot Crate.
posted by myselfasme at 6:24 AM on September 14, 2015

Go Pro.
Remote control helicopter.
Electric scooter.
3D Doodler (3d printing pen).
Leatherman multi-tool.
Noise cancelling headphones.
Projector for movies in his room.
Anything robotic.
posted by shazzam! at 6:49 AM on September 14, 2015

The Sandman Omnibuses - I'm a smart and thoughful 29 year old girl, and I still covet those but can't justify the cost of them. we recently bought them for a 13 year old boy, and they went over super well. They're not exactly PG rated though, so you would have to make the call on the kid's maturity and the parents' level of strictness.

an online comic book subscription?

a console?

Doc Martens?

a gopro would be cool and I think it's a wish list item for kids right now.
posted by euphoria066 at 11:11 AM on September 14, 2015

I have loved everything I've ever purchased from this Etsy shop specializing in woodworking. A heirloom box with a gift card inside perhaps?
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:12 AM on September 14, 2015

« Older Medicare Part B Screw Up   |   In the movie Friends With Benefits, there's this... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.