Socks and underwear. What do these have in common besides both are worn under your clothes?
These two items are underappreciated Christmas gifts given to teens by well-meaning relatives. Money, on the other hand, is a very appreciated gift by teens but is one some relatives would rather not stoop to. Luckily there are compromises which make both parties happy.
The best solution to the quandary, "What do I get my grandchild, niece/nephew etc.?" is the simplest: Ask the teen what he or she wants. When young relatives are children, the surprise of a gift is half the fun, but when they grow into teenagers, most would rather forgo the surprise to ensure that they really want the gift.
However, if you prefer to keep the surprise of gift-giving, there are options for that, too. Many gifts that teenagers want can be broken up into two categories: clothes and entertainment.
Lizzy Pierce, a junior at Modesto High School, is asking for a pair of Uggs for Christmas. She also likes gift certificates to popular stores such as Old Navy and Gap.
These kind of gift certificates are perfect for those relatives who like to give clothes but don't want to buy clothes that won't fit. They are available from individual stores, or Vintage Faire Mall offers a card that can be used in all its stores.
Guys, however, would likely prefer the clothes, not gift cards.
"I would like new shirts and pants because I never go shopping," said Colin Horne, a junior at Downey High.
There are also perfect gifts for the music lover. Accessories for iPods will guarantee a happy recipient.
Modesto High junior Tjiska Conrotto would love an iHome, a speaker system, while fellow Modesto High student Radhika Bali would prefer an iTouch, the latest iPod. For the relatives who aren't sure just what electronic equipment their teenager already owns, a gift certificate to apple.com would be perfect. There, you can buy both new songs and new equipment.
For some teens, CDs are still in style. A CD of a favorite band or a gift certificate to a music store would be perfect.
Tim Sutter, a drama fiend and junior at Modesto High, could always use a ticket to "Wicked" or another musical or play. DVDs work for him. too. "There are a lot of movies out right now that I really want to own: 'V for Vendetta,' 'Hairspray,' 'Freedom Writers' ..." he said.
Now that TV seasons are being released on DVDs, TV fanatics can get their fill whenever they want. Lizzy admits a love for "Ugly Betty" and has the first season of the show on her wish list.
Athletes always need new equipment. Atul Bali could always use some more tennis racquets for use on the Modesto High tennis team. Others would prefer gift certificates to athletic stores. Many equipment companies have online sites where teens can use gift cards to buy more specialized and varied equipment than is offered locally.
While some adults believe that teenagers are too materialistic, many teenagers would prefer something from the heart instead of Aisle 3.
"I really like the gifts that reflect my relatives as well as me," said Modesto High senior Bekah Cherry. "For example, my paternal grandmother sews a lot, so something made by her would mean a lot more to me than something store-bought."
Nora Cassidy is a junior at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.