The child in your life has reached the age when he doesn’t just tell you the name of a game that he’d like for a birthday gift. Now, your child only wants a gift card. Or cash. But you long for the days when you gave the “perfect” gift, and your child rewarded you with hugs, kisses, and smiles. And most likely, you’re missing the time the two of you used to share. If you’re struggling with what to get the teen or tween in your life, here’s a list of nine suggestions for non-gift-card gift ideas; ideas that have built-in time together.
Related: Things to do with Tweens in Los Angeles
Take a class together. Whether your child has a passing interest in a certain area (ice skating), or used to take classes (gymnastics), or wants to take classes (cooking), try one together. It’ll give you something to do together, and it may re-ignite a lost passion or stir up a new passion. Some ideas include a cooking class, an art class, horseback riding, and golf.
Plan a spa day. Make a day of it, and get glammed up. Get your hair cut. Get manicures and pedicures. Get shoulder and neck massages. Either check with your usual spa of choice to see what they can plan for you and the birthday girl, or look into one of the spas that specifically caters to younger clientele. Some spas will even come to you, so you can plan a spa day in the comfort of your own home.
Get out of town. Hop on the Amtrak and spend the day in another city. Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo are a relatively short train ride away. Wander the city. See some of the sights. Take some fun pictures. And then head home. And while you’re on the train, you’ve got time to talk. To relax. To just hang out together.
Go shopping. Take the birthday teen out shopping for his/her own gift. Go for a drive and head to the Camarillo Premium Outlets. See for yourself what items catches your teen’s eye. (And don’t think shopping is only for girls. You’ll also find a Sony Store and a Nike Factory Store here).
Take a (stylish) drive and play tourist. For a special splurge, you can rent a limo and be taken for a drive. Head down to the beach, spend the afternoon at Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier (and you don’t have to worry about parking). Where have you been meaning to go but just haven’t recently? Or ever? Has it been awhile since you’ve wandered around LACMA? Or what about a great meal and shopping at Olvera Street?
Plan an outing. This may not be something you do on your child’s birthday. It may be several weeks (or more) out in the future. We’re fortunate here in L.A. to have a variety of teams and venues to choose from. Get tickets for a sporting event. A live performance. A musical concert. (For Star Trek fans, the Hollywood Pantages has a special performance planned for early April – for two days only).
Have a special meal out on the town. Going out to eat for a child’s birthday is pretty common-place, but now think beyond common-place when you make the reservations. What about dining aboard The Queen Mary? Or maybe you’d prefer to head downtown to The Westin Bonaventure Hotel?
Venture to an amusement park. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve done the screams and thrills at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Head out to Valencia, and make a day of it. Or maybe your tween prefers Universal Studios, Disneyland, or Legoland. Here in southern California there is no shortage of parks to choose from; just make sure to let the birthday guest of honor pick!)
A bedroom makeover. If it’s been a while since your child’s bedroom has been redecorated, a birthday may be the perfect time to do it. Go looking online for ideas together, go shopping together, make a plan, and then get to work — together. When it’s done, your tween will have a revamped bedroom and the memories of you helping to make it happen.