Wanderings – Xmas shopping for teens

I dislike giving gift cards as presents for close family members and friends. It’s impersonal. Unless the gift card is for an experience I think the gift receiver might like, those plastic cards are taboo. But now there is the challenge of shopping for Christmas presents for teenage children.

Over the years, my wife and I have enjoyed Christmas shopping for the kids. Looking for that right gift, reliving our own childhood memories of presents and toys, and the non-commercial magic of the season.

That has changed somewhat with teens who have jobs. It’s now become more like shopping for our parents. Difficult to shop for because they can buy what they want. And you feel like you’re being judged even though they aren’t doing that.

Kids with jobs want to buy things that kids with jobs want. So that makes it that much more difficult to buy them the “perfect gift.”

For one kid, it’s still relatively easy but the older the kids get, the more difficult it is.

The American shopping phenomenon “Black Friday” was this past weekend. Armed with an email account full of offers and flyers, I found the perfect present for one teen who already has everything – new headphones. Not just any headphones, but Beats.

I generally eschew buying trendy brands just because they are trendy. Labels on clothing, no thanks. Brands are just me paying for corporate sponsorship.

My everyday attire is jeans and a t-shirt. I got married in a Hawaiian shirt so high-fashion and style is not in my DNA.

But I do know quality items and after doing some research, I saw that the trend is not just hype. Like many things in life, the science is sound.

So with coupon code copy-and-pasted from my email, I ordered said pair of Beats ear buds, thinking that I had bought the one present said kid would never buy himself.

My euphoria over ordering a great gift lasted all of 24 hours when having met up with said kid for lunch on the weekend, I noticed a pair of Apple Airpods jammed in his ears.

“When did you get those,” I asked, hoping those were cheap knock-offs or dollar store clones. “A month or so ago. They were on sale,” was the reply. “Didn’t you notice them before?”

Cue the colourful comments muttered under my breath here. Said ear buds have not even been delivered yet, and I already have to fight to return them – and start the hunt for yet another gift.

This may sound absurd, but it is more common than I knew. Talking to some other parents in our circle of friends, I learned this happens all the time. The solution for them, gift cards. No thanks. Back to the drawing board.

Even shopping for my significant other has become more difficult. Last year, I bought what I thought would be the perfect gift for her, only to realize it was so perfect this was the second time I had bought it for her.

Three years before, I had found said perfect gift. It was. She loved it. But she did not need a second of the same. I don’t remember what the replacement gift was that I bought her though. I know it was the perfect gift, and two years from now I will remember what it was when I buy that perfect gift again.

In both instances, the errant gift purchases were made before Christmas. This saved the embarrassment of the gift receiver trying to come up with something nice to say about receiving an unneeded or duplicate gift. That is a present onto itself – you’re welcome family members who may read this column.

I still have time left. There are 10 more shipping days left before the great post office deadline. And at publication time there are 23 shopping days left in the Christmas season.
There is an old cliche that men leave Christmas gift buying to the last possible minute, usually on Christmas Eve. Now do you see why?