Teen Gift Buying: 3 Categories to Help!


You know, you would think after being a mom for coming up on 14 years I would just believe people with grown children and their advice.

I heard how crazy teen years are but what I didn’t realize is that there’s ways that having a teenager is 10 times harder than my 2.5 year old’s biggest emotion filled temper tantrums (aka throwing things while yelling like a wild banshee).

But yep, my 13 year old boy who is now the equivalent of moss on a log most the time has definitely unlocked some new level in the Things You Can Never Prepare For As a Parent Game.

I actually thought this Christmas was one of the easiest to shop for him though – one benefit to older kids is the legit communication you have and let me tell you – older kids know what they want.

In my house we do a 3 present + 1 experience format when it comes to Christmas shopping.

When I was thinking of my oldest son this year I broke the 3 presents down into 3 different categories that helped me narrow things down. Maybe this can help some other teen mamas out there too.

Category #1 – His confidence 

Look, image is everything as a teen. Fortunately (well it doesn’t really matter how your teen is as long as they feel comfortable being themselves) but my son is very much like me – a bum. However, he is OBSESSED with sneakers right now. It’s apparently all the rave and he hasn’t been able to stop talking about this certain pair. I remember being in school and all the kids had Adidas shell toes and the colored GAP sweatshirts (anyone else part of my era?). I know how much these sneakers would mean to him and strolling into school having that moment of “cool”. The thought of my baby feeling that happy – easy choice for me.

Category #2 – Just for fun

It gets harder the older they get when it comes to “fun toys” you can imagine them enjoying. However, I do love this age because they are still just kids. There are pieces of ‘toddler them’ still in there that just want to be silly and play. I love keeping that spark in him still alive. There was one certain toy that I knew he would truly enjoy playing with. So I got it for him because hey, he’ll have a ton of fun and I’ll get to enjoy still seeing those slivers of my little boy in there (it’s hard when he’s already 7 inches taller than me) *insert sob*.

Category #3 – Something him and a friend could do together 

My last thought was – he’s super into having sleepovers and sleeping over at friends’ houses at this point. What is something they can enjoy doing together when here – and keep them out of our hair with their crazy boy stuff? We haven’t had a gaming system in our household up until this point so I know he is going to completely lose his mind. He’s a teenager and I know doing some gaming time with your friends during a sleepover is basically the ultimate win when it’s coming to toning it down for the night. My son has his own man cave in our basement. So I know when he has friends over and it’s getting closer to bedtime they’ll have a blast taking snacks down there, sleeping bags, and playing their favorite games.

For our experience we got tickets to a night at Kalahari and a +1 for my older son to bring a friend. I have a 6 year old and my toddler who demand our attention and I want him to get to experience it not feeling like he has to be part of the parent crew and go off alone. I want him and his friends to have memories!

Ultimately my biggest piece of advice when it comes to buying for your older kids is think of who they are as a person, what’s important to them and their values. I think it’s really easy to want to impose what we WANT for them and ideas we have for them. But I think how you can really make Christmas special is to step back and make them feel accepted and appreciated and EXCITED for who they are as individuals.

It’s never about the present, the cost of it, or the luxury of it. It’s what the thought and heart was behind it.

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Emilee Wilson
Emilee has spent just over a decade as a health coach with a passion to help women figure out how to be healthy for their own lives. She teaches women to ditch the extreme diets, how to find the best exercise for them, and how to care for their mind as much as their body. She is a certified personal trainer, certified Behavior Change Specialist, and has a BA in Psychology. She has 3 boys, Gaibreal and Graysyn and Geo. She is married to a Toledo Police Officer, Adrian, and together they serve in the Air National Guard. She can eat donuts all day every day, creating new episodes for her podcast the Love Yourself Naked Podcast is one of her favorite hobbies, and she loves the world of comedy because she believes laughing and enjoying life is essential for our health.


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