Yet another What to Gift Question
February 26, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

My niece is turning 17 this year and I'm not sure what a good gift would be. My mother, her mother and I are going to give her cash and take her to the swishest mall nearby, but I'd like to actually get her something a little more thought out. Complication: when I flat out asked her what she wanted, she said "I don't know. I thought we could go get dinner and maybe if it's nice out go for a walk?"

What that tells me is she wants some one-on-one hang outs, which is great and I'll make sure that happens. But I'm the cool aunt and I like to try to get her things Moms wouldn't think of. For Christmas I got her Lumberjanes and a few spotify playlists of things I liked in high school and she seemed to like that a lot.

According to her mom, she wants a pacer watch. She's in track. I don't think she wants a fitbit. Mom says she's not really interested in heart rate. She mostly wants to track distance and pace. This isn't something I want to spend a ton on, because she's hard on electronics and also the family has a pack of dogs that will 100% eat/slobber over a watch or anything else that smells like her. So recommendations on one under $50 would be great.

Beyond that, interests include:
Art - She draws and uses the pottery wheel at school.
Sports - She's in basketball, track and soccer.

She doesn't read much. She loves her dogs. She loves the outdoors. They live in a rural area and Mom doesn't like her wandering on her own, so it's down to anything she can do in the front yard.

She's very smart but she has very little patience. We sometimes play video games together but if she starts failing she gives up quickly.

She is learning to cook. She'll fry veggies and toss them with rice. In the past I've bought her spices, but I think I got on Mom's nerves with that one because she took it as "What, do you think I can't feed my own kid?" So I have to be careful there.

I asked her if she would want to go somewhere and her answers weren't super helpful.

I'm interested in gift and experience ideas, but I'll only be with her for one weekend. No jewelry or makeup. Please help?
posted by Bistyfrass to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For the pace/distance tracker, looks like you could get her a refurbished Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch for around $50.
posted by damayanti at 2:46 PM on February 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

If she likes drawing, high quality art supplies are always nice -- good paper, expensive pastels, etc. There also might be a good subscription art box, subscription boxes are great fun.
posted by jeather at 2:47 PM on February 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you haven't yet, check to see if she has an amazon wish list.

If she's really into drawing, it's hard to go wrong with sketchbooks and pencils. You could step it up and include some nice pens, markers and/or pastels. Watercolor pencils along with a pad of decent weight paper and a brush could be great if she's interested in painting.

Maybe a cookbook?
posted by bunderful at 2:47 PM on February 26, 2017

I just got my niece a subscription to Hobby Box and one for myself with the idea that we would do the hobby "together" over text/skype.
posted by dogmom at 3:17 PM on February 26, 2017

You would be an incredibly cool auntie if you bought her a turntable and the beginnings of a record collection, because vinyl rules.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:17 PM on February 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

You can absolutely never have too much paper if you like to draw or paint. Copic markers are really big with that demographic but are kind of pricey, so make good gifts - my resident arty teenager was super thrilled with a set of those over Christmas.
posted by Jilder at 9:07 PM on February 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

To be honest, if I were 17, I would prefer cash. I understand your thoughtfulness and applaud you for this, but in my experience, well-meaning gifts (unless yiu know exactly what she wants) usually fall short of the mark.

As a 17 year old, I was generally short of cash. Cash to hang out with friends, cash to get coffee from Starbucks, cash to buy clothes or books or whatever I fancied. If yuh want to get her a gift all the same, you could accompany the cash with an inexpensive item (cookbooks or art materials less than $10). Or you could take her out to the mall and pay for whatever she wants to buy.

Note this advice doesn't translate to adults with a job -- as an adult with a job, I have money to buy what I want, so well-meaning but slightly random gift is delightful. I also have read enough Kon Mari to not feel guilty about binning such gift.

Please do not get her a turntable unless she specifically has asked for that. If I had received such a gift, I would be like ????? and it would have sat in the attic gathering dust.
posted by moiraine at 11:59 PM on February 26, 2017 [7 favorites]

Definitely get her the pacer watch referenced above. The thing about gifting for someone's interest is that they normally know much better than you will what specific item they need. My husband ran distance in high school and college and still runs about 70 miles per week. His watch is super important because it really allows him to see the progress he is making. In track and cc every partial second counts. Watches made for tracking that stuff can take a good beating so try not to worry about it not lasting. Instead think about how every time she goes for a run she'll be super happy you got her that watch.
posted by donut_princess at 4:56 AM on February 27, 2017

Get her a highly rated pacer watch in your price range from Amazon or another online vendor with a very easy return/exchange policy, just in case.

Don't get her a turntable, for god's sake. Nobody uses them anymore, they take up a ton of space, and she's probably off to college soon; there's no way she's going to take something like that with her.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:57 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

If she is learning to cook (which I consider to a be a great skill), how about taking a cooking class together. There are a lot of places these days with one day classes for a few hours and something like knife skills, or how to make pasta, or pizza from scratch would be great. You get time together and a new skill for her (and maybe you). I plan to do this with my daughter this summer when she gets home from college as she has finally gotten more interested in more than just the basics and will have a full kitchen next year.
posted by maxg94 at 8:31 AM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everyone! Along with some cash I'm going to get her a watch and a SketchBox subscription. A few years I gifted her a ton of Sharpies and she still talks about it, so I think that's a safe bet. I love the cookbook idea too, that will probably be an Easter gift.
posted by Bistyfrass at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just wanted to say that I am impressed with this young lady. She doesn't ask for stuff, but instead for quality time with loved ones. How mature!!
posted by leslievictoria at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

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