Christmas Presents for Teenage Grandchildren: Gift Cards Again This Year?

My husband and I have five grandkids. Actually, they really aren’t “kids” anymore since they range in age from 16 to 21.

Three of them live in Nashville and the other two in Florida.  We live in North Carolina and generally don’t see them during Christmas (Thanksgiving has been “our” holiday with them over the years). So, we ship their presents by mid-December.

When they were little, we enjoyed shopping for toys and cute little outfits and wrapping them in sparkly bags and boxes, often with candy canes or chocolate Santas.

In those early days, we only made one big gift mistake when our second oldest grandchild, Terra, was around three years old. We shopped at FAO Schwarz and bought a life-sized talking doll that said things like “it’s time to get up” and “let’s play”.  Terra was scared of her doll and told her mom that it was “too bossy”.  Back to the store it went!

Otherwise, we seemed to have done well with the toys and outfits we chose for the five of them at a time when their parents were happy to have our help with Christmas presents.

As they moved into their teens, however, it got more difficult.

My husband’s two daughters couldn’t help much. They had their own problems figuring out what to give their picky teenagers.

A few years ago, we tried outerwear jackets. Apparently they weren’t cool enough. Another year we tried clothes. Ditto.

We started buying accessories like earrings and necklaces and makeup for the girls and belts and wallets for the grandson. These were safer and worked well for a couple of years. But the older they got, the more they seemed to evolve into “fashionistas”.  Grandma Cathy and Papa weren’t too cool when it came to choosing clothes. And, we didn’t really understand what they might want in technology either.

So we did what their parents suggested. We began giving them gift cards so that they could buy what they wanted.

At first we tried to find out which stores they liked so that the gift cards could be “special”.  That wasn’t easy. Ultimately, we bought generic “use anywhere” cards.

We’ve been doing that for a few years, and even though it seems a little impersonal to us, they have all seemed to appreciate them.

So once again this year, as December rolled around, my husband and I found ourselves talking about giving them another gift card.

Then it hit us. It won’t be long before all five of them are out on their own – with jobs, their own homes and even their own families.

At that point, we probably won’t be buying them personal Christmas gifts anymore.

So, this year we decided to go shopping to buy “real” gifts once again. We are going to wrap them in pretty Christmas paper and ship them to their parents’ homes to be opened on Christmas morning.

The gifts might be the wrong color or style.  But that’s OK.  We like to think that they will know that their grandparents picked out each gift – just for them — with love.

Cathy Green