Gift for the exceptionally cool 13 year old dude
November 29, 2016 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I need to come up with a Christmas/birthday gift for an exceptionally cool, hip, mature 13 year old dude.

I need to come up with a Christmas/birthday gift for an exceptionally cool, hip, mature 13 year old dude.

He turns 13 in December and Christmas is close behind. He's really tough to shop for now that he's getting older. When he was younger, I could occasionally find unique toys or games or socks or whatever that I would gift him, but he's not so into the toys or games anymore and deserves a higher-caliber of thought behind a gift.

He's 13, but looks and acts like he's 16 and is very independent. He is fully devoted to skateboarding and has been since he was 7 years old. Because of this, he's really really good, and very particular about his skate gear and clothing (all clothing really), so anything skate-related is pretty much off limits. Also he's sponsored by like three different skate shops in the city, so he's good to go. He has too much skate stuff as it is.

He lives in Manhattan with his [also exceptionally cool] parents, so he doesn't have a yard for yard toys or outdoor games. I thought about getting him a drone with a camera that he can fly around the skatepark but that's out of my budget.

He has video games, but doesn't really care about them or get into them that much. They are only something he does when he can't skate. Same with tv or movies. He's into some famous youtube people like Ricegum and Comedy Shorts Gamer (mainly, vaguely offensive teenage dudes with smart humor who roast other random youtubers) and Epic Fail videos and Epic Rap Battles of History. He's very smart and very good at school and works really hard studying, but he's not super into any subject in particular (maybe a little partial to science) and doesn't do much reading outside of what is required of him.

I already have this cool hat that I know he likes to give him, but I'd like to think of a couple more things. Ideally for under $50. I asked his parents, but they are getting him his own new macbook, and probably some just some other stuff that he 'needs' like pants or whatever. He never has any of his own ideas of what he wants, no list or anything.

He has all the headphones and bluetooth speakers and go pro cameras he could ever want. He's very attached to his current backpack and is planning on using it until it falls apart (he's had it since he was 7). He has an iPhone and an apple watch. He's not even into junk food and pizza like a regular kid--he loves risotto and broccoli rabe and fancy tea.

I would just give him an apple or amazon gift card or something similar, but I do that all the time, and he's a very grateful person who actually appreciates thoughtful gifts [he gets me better gifts than anyone I know--he remembers things I say I like and even understands my style. Like my favorite sweater and my favorite throw blanket he gave me. This kid is amazing, I swear.]

His parent's are okay with anything, even if it's on the mature side. In case the relationship is important, I used to be his nanny when he was younger, but I have maintained a close friendship with the family and I take the kid out to dinner one-on-one and hang out once or twice a month.

Any ideas would be helpful!
posted by greta simone to Shopping (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Can you get hold of any of his pictures and have a book produced at Shutterfly?

Could you pre-pay a year's hosting or membership at a site (Flickr, SmugMug, whatever) where he could post his videos to share?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:35 AM on November 29, 2016


His dad works in fine photography printing so there are books/cards/photos galore printed up, and he has his own website where he edits and posts skating videos. Again. Since he was like 8. Kids these days.
posted by greta simone at 10:38 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Take him out for lunch in Soho and give him a gift card to the Evolution Store which is the coolest store in the world. Dinosaur teeth, real and fake skulls, jewelry -- NYC teens think this is a very happening store, trust me.

Additional fun would be lunch at Balthazar where you will undoubtedly see some celebrities.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 10:41 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Unless he's an obnoxious snob who will immediately turn his nose up at anything that isn't already directly within his line of interests, I would actually aim to be squarely in his "what he does when he can't skate" zone. Especially if it's a thing that's extremely cool which he hasn't discovered for himself yet. Something like an amazing standup comedy album, or the classic iteration of a type of music he likes (Beastie Boys? The Sex Pistols?), or a book or game or Blu-Ray in that area.

For example, I remember one of my aunts giving me a Tom Robbins book around that age and it seemed so cool and different and really set me on a lot of interesting new book rabbit holes (I was a reader, maybe you can find something similar for music or movies or something?).
posted by Sara C. at 10:43 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


For a precocious 13-year-old, I'd try to find the right book. The identity of the right book is a puzzle for you to solve. It should be a product of who you are, who he is, and what he's looking for.
posted by amtho at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2016


Graphic novels are the coolest. I highly recommend Serenity Rose (link for a signed hardcover edition!), The Nameless City and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (about building battle robots in high school).

Not a graphic novel, but I gave my nephew for his 13th birthday this fall The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and the kicker for this that wows the teens is knowing it is one of the top banned books in the US.
posted by jillithd at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


My cool 14 year old has been overjoyed to receive his own membership card to an art museum. With Manhattan as his backyard, you can choose a museum to suit virtually any interest (skyscrapers, contemporary art, NYC history, etc.).

He also enjoys creating stop-motion animation, so if that might interest him, there are all kinds of peripherals and so on to use with his existing phone, video, and computer equipment.

You could also get tickets to a concert or other performing art for the two of you to enjoy together.

He might also enjoy a circus arts lesson, such as trapeze, to give him new skills and experiences in flying through the air.
posted by gateau at 11:02 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Possibly get something written or signed by someone he admires/idolizes?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:05 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


A mini drone might be fun. We have the hornet and the kids having flying contests around the house.
posted by ReluctantViking at 11:09 AM on November 29, 2016


How about some albums to introduce him to the history of punk rock?
posted by MsMolly at 11:39 AM on November 29, 2016


Does he like to cook at all, with the broccoli rabe and the fancy tea? 13 seems like about the right age for getting into some of the more elaborate and sciency aspects of cooking, so maybe a class or one of those molecular gastronomy kids or just a copy of Kenji Lopez-Alt's Food Lab?
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:41 AM on November 29, 2016


The other experience kind of gift could be cool, but difficult for under $50 in/near Manhattan. Could you bring him to a concert with you? Or some whole-in-the-wall cafe that you love? Roadtrip out of the city to someplace weird or fun?
posted by jillithd at 11:55 AM on November 29, 2016


You said he likes fancy tea - take him to a nice tea shop, drink a pot with him, and maybelet him pick some that he likes to go if it's in budget. My favorite Manhattan tea shop is Tea Drunk, which specializes in Mainland Chinese teas - most of their tea runs $15-25/pot if they brew it for you in the store.
posted by asphericalcow at 12:03 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Two ideas:
- a live experience, like the "Lion King" stage show, only cheaper. College theater, or college humor/improv performance?

- something ancient, like a slab of limestone with a fossil in it -- which can be had pretty cheaply, but is way cool. If he hasn't ever thought about the actual scale of time very much, owning a piece of ancient history should bring it into focus pretty quickly! (For example, search eBay for the fossil fish species called Knightia and look for one about four inches long embedded in a slab maybe eight inches long. New York state and Wyoming are great sources for these; I picked up a couple at a mineral show for about ten bucks each, though on EBay they cost a little more: current Knightia auctions We bought some cheap plate hangers and they hold the slab just fine.)

Oh, and getting a card signed by one of his idols would be a coup, and probably not expensive -- but you'd need to hustle to beat Christmas, I fear.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:51 PM on November 29, 2016


Take him to a concert. There are so many great shows out there and depending on the artist/group you could both go for $50.
posted by gryphonlover at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2016


A cool dude needs sharp sunglasses. Take him out to choose the pair that looks best on him. If he wears glasses look into some prescription sunglasses, if that meets your budget.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:34 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Monogramed cardholder? I got this for a friend five years ago, and he still uses it everyday and it is still beautiful.
posted by momochan at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2016


Used turntable and a couple vinyl records.
posted by kapers at 6:52 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like the record player idea. Target has them, even with bluetooth too. Some records would be super cool.

Also, is he into books? Game of Thrones series books seem popular for kids that age right now. Also, you CAN get a drone that flies over the skate park for fairly inexpensive this time of year. ($50-75?).
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 9:08 AM on December 1, 2016


The entry level price on even the cheapest plug-and-play turntables is about triple the OP's stated budget. A couple of new records in good condition brings it closer to 4 times her budget.
posted by Sara C. at 10:40 AM on December 1, 2016


The Atlas Osbscura Book (like five people I know are getting it for Christmas this year) is pretty fun and he's precocious enough to get it. Bonus: it gives weird, reasonably explorable history of things around him as well as weird history of stuff he could plan to explore elsewhere a few years down the line. Bonus: if he decides he wants to explore some more exotic locales in times ahead you'll be ahead of the game on future gifts.

Also, binoculars. You cannot go wrong with binoculars.
posted by thivaia at 1:55 PM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


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