Buying gifts, whether they are for Birthday’s, Christmas or just general tokens of affection gets harder as your children grow up. My two daughters are especially difficult to buy for. There are two reasons for this, one they are both in their late teens / early adult hood (one turns 18 next week, one turned 20 in September), the other is that they live 5000 miles away in the UK.
Trying to keep up with their interests was hard enough when we all lived in the same house, it became harder when I left but was living in the same country, at least then I could watch the same TV programs and get some idea of what they might be interested in. Now they are older and are further away I find myself scratching my head all the more. How do I even begin to find out what they are into? Where do I look for clues?
Technology To The Rescue
Enter technology, specifically in the form of Facebook. I love reading the new posts that both my daughters make to Facebook. Seeing photographs of parties, gigs and other events that they attend. What I hadn’t thought of was how much the comments that they make can reveal about them and what they are into.
I recently discovered that my 17 year old was really smitten with the Microsoft Zune MP3 player. She prefers it to the iPod. She has always been an iconoclast in training and this was another manifestation of it. Well so what? Well firstly great present idea for her up coming birthday, secondly I found out you can’t buy the Zune in the UK yet.
Off to the Internet I go and track down a great deal from Amazon, a 120GB Zune with a clear acrylic case for less than the local electronic big box is asking for the 80GB Zune on its own.
Its All In The Presentation
Now this might seem an easy cop out. Buy a gift online, wrap it up and mail it off. If I had left it at that, I would agree, and probably so would my daughter. Which is why that isn’t what I did. Being a distant Father means you miss out on a lot. Would I rather be there with my daughter on her 18th Birthday, absolutely, but unfortunately I can’t be. So how to close the gap just a little? Yes you guessed it technology again. Once the Zune arrived I carefully unpackaged it and read the instructions. I had no idea just how cool this little box was. What I did was to download the driver to my laptop, setup my video camera and record her a birthday greeting, I sang Happy birthday (she might not think that is a treat with my voice), included our cats and dog (all of whom she met on a recent visit this summer) and generally tried to get the point across that this was more than just a gift for her birthday, this was me attempting to bridge the miles, and the years and let her know how special she is.
So my tip for gift buying, especially for Teens? Personalize it, make it not just personal to them but show them your personal side, show them that you weren’t just buying something cool, but that you put something of you into it.