Dear Readers: It’s time again for our direct-from-the-source teen and 20 shopping list! As usual, please resist buying stupid stuff just because other kids have it. Definition of stupid stuff: video games, “smart” phones, and computers and TVs for kids’ bedrooms. If they need a computer, upgrade your centrally-located family computer station. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics now says no TV, laptops, or smartphones in bedrooms for kids — including teens.
Upward mobility for young adults is at a 50-year low. Most really do have less than you did. Especially challenging: transportation and higher education. Consider gifting a used car, bicycle, driver’s ed course, tuition or books. Get to know the young person on your list so you know what to give. See today’s website edition for top games and books. More ideas below. — Lauren
Austin, 24, Alpena, Mich.: The best gift is a productive hobby, whether a musical instrument, skateboard, or yarn and a how-to-knit book. Hobbies have life-long benefits, socially and personally. Video games, TV and smart phones are not hobbies! My Casio “dumb” phone from the Bronze Age has more scars than a war veteran — but it works. Constantly gazing into your smartphone’s magic Internet tunnel is rude! To communicate, don’t show that video of the dog doing the salsa. Tell your own story! Or do you spend so much time gazing online, you don’t have one? Get rid of all that stuff and spend a week in a tent, catch a fish and eat it. Alone in the woods you’ll learn things about life not found in Wikipedia.
Ryann, 16, Tustin: I only want things I NEED, like basketball gear, new clothes, and shoes. My family is financially stable, but asking for luxury items is silly. With difficult economic times, my extended family picks names on Thanksgiving and we pair a homemade gift with an inexpensive bought gift for whoever we choose. Exchanging them is the most fun part of Christmas!
Taylor, 16, Santa Rosa: Gym membership, Ugg boots, mini fridge (still trying from last year!), O.P.I. nail polish, slippers, bakeware, money for clothes (let me pick them out!). Top gift cards: Forever 21, Amazon, Bare Essentials, gasoline.