Help me be a cool older cousin and get awesome gifts for a 14 and 15 year old.
December 18, 2007 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Help me find gifts for remarkably un-greedy teenage girls: they are 14 and 15, and absolutely refuse to tell me what they want (I think their mother, my aunt, raised them too well.)

More details: The older one has gotten into music lately, but she seems to mostly be into one band and has all their stuff already. (Both already have MP3 players.) She's a popular social butterfly type, goes to concerts and such with her friends all the time. Was very into Harry Potter. Has a boyfriend.

The younger one is a bit more nerdy, likes to read but doesn't have much time because she's very busy with school. She also does cheerleading, but contrary to the stereotype she's pretty introverted and quiet. She loves dogs (they have one), and likes to cook.

At that age I'd have wanted video games or computer stuff but they're entirely unlike me so I am baffled. Plus they're super polite and don't admit to wanting anything. I've even tried taking them shopping and only with great great reluctance did they let me buy a couple of DVDs and books. For birthdays I just gave them $50 apiece but that felt impersonal so I'd like to do real gifts, with approximately the same budget.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Mr Bunnsy to Shopping (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One possibility: gift donations to, a microlending site. You can give the girls a credit of $x, and they can browse the various applicants and lend $5 to this one, $10 to that one, and so on. They then get monthly reports of how the recipients are doing as the loan is repaid. When the loan is completely repaid, the amount can be withdrawn, loaned out again, or donated to any combination of that. Take a look at the site and you can see the kinds of loan applications that are up now to see if the idea works for you.
posted by LeisureGuy at 10:08 AM on December 18, 2007 [3 favorites]

How about vera bradley stationary or cosmetic bags? I was into makeup at that age.

the one who likes to cook might enjoy a fancy cake pan set from williams-sonoma, or chocolate pellets and a mold to make your own chocolate with.

What about clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch? Can't go wrong with clothes at that age either, b/c they can always return it if they don't like what you chose.
posted by chickaboo at 10:09 AM on December 18, 2007

What band is the older one into? It may be possible to come up with somebody similar that she'd also like but doesn't yet know that she'd like. Or, if she likes concerts, and somebody good is going to come to town, maybe a couple of tickets.
posted by willnot at 10:14 AM on December 18, 2007

Kiva.or- You can give the girls a credit of $x, and they can browse the various applicants and lend $5 to this one, $10 to that one, and so on. Actually, the investment point for any business is $25. Still a fun idea, though!

For $50, you could probably buy some really nice classic looking jewelry pieces. Something nice for them to have forever- a cuff braclet, nice stud earrings, pretty necklaces. I was thinking Tiffanys sterling silver, but I checked and those pieces run closer to $100. Would be fun to give the girls the blue box, though, if you're willing to stretch your budget.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:14 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

If they use iTunes or the like, you could give them credits/gift cards for that. I don't, personaly, find that as impersonal as, say, a Target gift card as music is so personal.
posted by d4nj450n at 10:20 AM on December 18, 2007

A second thought: at that age, a nice hard-bound journal with a nifty pen could be appealing: they're going through lots of learning and changing, and a journal in which they write their own private thoughts about them could be quite interesting, useful, etc. For the privacy part, you could give each of them one of these.
posted by LeisureGuy at 10:21 AM on December 18, 2007

For the girl who cooks: A cute, funky apron and a neat cookbook of some cuisine that she probably doesn't cook at home.

For the social butterfly/concert girl: I'm thinking of some sort of memento box/case where she can store her ticket stubs and other things of that sort.

OR you could go the clothes/jewelry route. If you buy them clothes, try going to Nordstrom or another high-end department store, so that if they decide to exchange them they can do so for makeup, shoes, or other clothes that fit their tastes.

Definitely don't buy one girl clothes and the other girl, say, a cookbook. She might be hurt.

And yeah, Tiffany is so totally awesome on the sterling jewelry front. No one can argue with a nice pair of Paloma Picasso earrings or an Elsa Peretti pendant.
posted by brina at 10:33 AM on December 18, 2007

The girls genuinely may not want presents from you. The chances of an adult's coming up with the "right" gifts for teenagers are very slim. Why not donate to Have a Heifer in their names?

Or if you must give stuff, take them each on a shopping trip to pick it out.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:52 AM on December 18, 2007

I'm going to go against the classic jewelry route. I got a few things in that vein for my bat mitzvah (granted, a year or two younger than them), and I hardly wore in then and I never wear it now. And if they're that adamantly ungreedy, I just don't think jewelry is the way to go.

I do like brina's cooking and scrapbooking ideas. Or: do they have cameras? Photo albums?

Or how about an experience gift? Something they can do together, even if it's a nice restaurant nearby where they could go and feel like grown-ups for an evening? Or you could get them tickets to a concert or a play.
posted by bassjump at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2007

- Wii
- nice earphones/headset
- gift certificates: iTunes, Sephora, department store?
- art supplies if they're crafty/artsy at all
- cooking lessons? nice recipe books?
posted by barnone at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2007

One of those speaker sets with a dock for their MP3 player? Like the Bose kind - but there are lots of brands.
posted by barnone at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2007

How about a membership in a local museum? (Science Museum or Art Museum.)

They will be able to bring their friends, guests visiting their town, or kids they babysit with them.

Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificates are always a safe bet.
posted by Juggling Frogs at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2007

Best answer: A leatherman.
Savings bonds or a few shares of some stock.
Resistance bands for the cheerleader if it's an athletic sort of cheerleading squad.
Ugg and North Face are the must-have clothing brands among the 14/15 year old girls I know. Jackets and boots are pretty easy to pick out size wise.
How well do they get along? You could consider getting them something fun they could use together like a trampoline or a ping pong table. Get permission from their parents first.
Tickets to a concert/amusement park/sporting event for them and possibly a friend each.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 11:32 AM on December 18, 2007

A band t-shirt for the oldest for her favorite band.

A locking journal is a great idea for the younger girl.
posted by misha at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2007

Best answer: Maybe they'd rather do something with you? My brother used to give me $25, take me out to lunch, and then to a bookstore where I could do my own shopping. Give em $50 and take them to the mall. Or to the spa! Or, let them each pick a stock and give them $50 to invest in it, so they will learn. Or, give them $50 and tell them to give it away to someone in need. Or, board games (we love Blokus and Ticket to Ride and Cranium at our house).
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:59 AM on December 18, 2007

Dang Misha! Exactly what I was about to suggest so I will expand on the idea. For the younger girl, stationery - journal or notepads that come in coordinating colours - my 15 year old loves this place.

If not band t-shirts (and I can't recommend them highly enough, my daughter keeps putting them on birthday lists), what about posters, or books on the band?

If all else fails, a pampering kind of kit, you know, one of those little baskets with bath salts and talcum powder and stuff.
posted by b33j at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2007

Best answer: I agree with dpx.mfx, especially the spa idea. You can plead that it's just hang-out time with their cool older cousin, you can have the satisfaction of thoughtfully spending money on them, and they can have a great time without ending up with more stuff. Follow it up with a cheap but cozy dinner (so the relaxation isn't followed by potentially awkward forced formality), and I bet they'll love it.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2007

If they already have cameras, how about a digital frame?
posted by ceri richard at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, lots of good ideas! I will look into the spa idea - getting manicures/pedicures together might be fun and an opportunity to hang out. Or if I can't spare the time, I might go with the band T-shirt/cookbook/money to spend on kiva route.

I did the locking journal and the makeup in the past and so I don't want to repeat myself - but I'll definitely do something where we can bond a little this year.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 2:11 PM on December 18, 2007

I'm also one of those people who won't tell anyone what to get me. I agree with everyone who's saying to take them out to dinner or something instead of giving gifts. I know that from the outside it might seem like they're just being polite and secretly hoping that someone will get them something cool, but if they're like me, they actually really don't want any more stuff, and would much rather just have a good time hanging out.
posted by equalpants at 10:58 PM on December 18, 2007

Avoid the jewelry/makeup/soap and bath salts/spa/etc. route unless you're sure the girls would be into it. And heck, even then, be careful. Everyone gives those kinds of generic "feminine" gifts to girls, regardless of whether or not the girls are actually interested in that sort of stuff. Even if they do like it, they may have very specific tastes.

A nice restaurant might be a good idea - the kind of place they're unlikely to be able to afford themselves. Movies, concerts, museums, amusement parks, etc - make a day or an evening of it and have fun together. It'll be easier to arrange something that you can be sure they'll both really enjoy.
posted by ubersturm at 2:09 AM on December 19, 2007

You don't say how old you are or what gender (I'm going to guess male due to your handle?), or if you even live near the girls, but I would vote for an "experience" gift as mentioned above. Take them to a play or out to dinner, or is there some kind of class you can all take? One year for Christmas my aunt gave me a catalog for The Sewing Workshop - she told me to pick out a class and we'd take it together. Now, we're both very crafty/artsy and had a blast learning how to paint furniture, and that wouldn't work for everyone, but you get the idea.
posted by radioamy at 10:52 AM on December 19, 2007

I always loved getting money from my older cousins, etc. I never worried that it was too impersonal - I was just thrilled to get something I could actually use! You could always personalize with a smaller trinket (bracelets, cookies, etc.)
posted by lunit at 11:51 AM on December 19, 2007

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