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Q. "Now that my kids are teenagers, I'm finding it hard to shop for them, especially at Christmas. Throughout the year, we really just purchase the necessities, so Christmas has always been fairly big in our family. But nowadays it's difficult for me to buy them clothes, jewelry, or hair products, because their tastes are so different from mine. I don't want to just give them gift certificates on Christmas Day either. How can I choose presents that my teens will like?"
A. If your teenagers ski, ride bikes, or hike mountains, they would probably love the perfect accompanying outfit, but only if they can pick it out for themselves. It's just fine to go out with each separately, buy an outfit, and then wrap it up. Each will be excited to see what the other picked out. Or perhaps take one along to shop for the other, especially if your children have a close relationship. This is a great way for you to learn more about their tastes without giving away your gift-giving plans.
Also, stuff your teens' stockings with gift certificates, maybe not to clothing stores but tickets to the movies, bowling alley, or teen-friendly restaurants. You might even make your own gift certificate that offers an occasional later curfew.
Additionally, consider buying gifts that support your teens as they separate from you and move into adulthood. Here are some to consider.
If your teens...
Whatever gift you wrap up, it will be most eagerly received if it somehow communicates, "You're growing up, I'm supporting this push for independence, and my gift to you proves it."