Thursday, December 02, 2010

Bargainista holiday shopping guide – part 1: teens

As part of Bargainista’s holiday features this year baby bargainista columnists Jenny and Rebecca are bringing you a three-part holiday shopping guide for the kids (teens, school-aged and toddlers) in your life.

I know, they’re not babies anymore so technically not the right age range for a baby bargainista post! But for anyone who has a teen on their gift list, it can be hard to know what to get for them – especially if they’re not close relatives, but are instead the son or daughter of a friend, or a distant family member. Teens are also the most-often requested group for charity toy drives like Toy Mountain, CP24/Chum Christmas Wish, The Toronto FireFigthers Toy Drive or other ones in your community.

It’s easy enough to buy a stuffed animal or doll or noisy truck for young kids – chances are they’ll like it; but it can be a struggle to come up with a suitable gift for a teenager you don’t know well (or don’t know at all, in the case of donated gifts). The most coveted items seem likely to be expensive electronics.

So, how do you stick to a budget and still give that teen something they’ll be happy with? By giving them the gift of choice!

1. Cash. It seems impersonal, but to a teen whose only spending money may be allowance or earnings from a part-time job, a little extra cash to spend on something – or to add to their savings – can mean a lot. If you're sending gifts in the mail and don't want to send actual cash, you could try pre-paid credit cards.

2. Gift cards. If you can find out their favorite store, clothing or activity, this gives the teen the option of choosing something they really like, or putting the card amount towards a bigger purchase (like electronics). Some of those giant gift card displays even have amounts that can be put towards fun outings, spa days or entertainment packages.

3. iTunes credits. Like a gift card for music, but without the CDs (does anyone under 25 even own CDs anymore?).

4. Movie passes. Whether it’s just the cost of admission, or package covering refreshments as well, this can offer the teen on a budget the gift of a night out with friends.

Something that teenagers crave is independence and all of the above give them the ability to choose how and when they’ll use your generous gift.

Do you have any go-to gifts for the teens on your list?

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