Birthday ideas for a Teenager

When the kids are little, it’s easy to think about birthday gifts. You simply find a toy that makes noise or has their favorite characters and you are set. We were always able to find fun surprise gifts for the young kids based on their latest favorite cartoon, movie or activity. But as they get older and hit their teen years, birthday gifts get a little more complex. Here are some ideas to help you plan a birthday and gifts for a teenager!

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Birthday ideas for a Teenager

Even though most teens will tell you that money is their favorite gift, they still love the idea of opening a gift (and of course the envelopes that have money are always a bonus).

One year we didn’t give our 13-year-old any presents for his birthday. We had teased him for weeks that when you turn 13 you didn’t receive presents anymore. So on his birthday, he came to the table with a cake, a big pile of balloons and absolutely no presents. When he guessed that he was going to have to go on a scavenger hunt to find his gifts, we told him that all his birthday was there in front of him.


It took him about 10 minutes to realize that his presents were inside the balloons. He then understood that he was going to have to pop each balloon to find his presents. We had rolled up money, gift cards, coupons for activities and special things and slid them inside the balloon. And for bonus fun, we dropped confetti inside the balloons so he would have a burst of confetti with each pop.

If you’re like me, it’s really tough to think about what to get a teenager. But if you know the right questions to ask, you can make these birthdays a great experience and pack them full of memories.

What is their favorite sport/movie/activity?

Do they love sports? Look at the gear and see if there is something that they want to upgrade? Is there a favorite movie? Then think about posters, bookends, water bottles, or even pillows or comforters.

Is there a favorite phrase?

Some teens have phrases that they use a lot. They become a sort of catchphrase. Talk to a local T-shirt shop and ask them how much they would charge to print that phrase on a shirt. For less than $20 you can create a personalized shirt.

If you have a Cricut machine, this is even easier. Just design a shirt and create it yourself! Check out what’s new at Cricut and get started on something amazing!

Serve more than cake:

My son is not a big fan of cakes but he loves doughnuts. Instead of serving a cake for his birthday, we bought a dozen doughnuts and stacked them on a cake plate. My brother always loved rice crispies so Mom often shaped the crispy treats in the shape of a cake and stuck a candle on that. Birthday cakes don’t have to actually be cake. Just serve the favorite dessert with a candle on top!

Tip: In our house, we always make a small cupcake or in this case a separate doughnut to put the candles on. It’s just not a good idea to serve everyone else a cake that has the birthday boy’s spit.

Can you do an activity instead of a gift?

As kids get older, it’s not as important to have a big stack of gifts. Maybe a special gift or two and then a ticket to a concert or event. Making memories and sharing an experience is sometimes more important than a simple gift. We have spent birthdays playing laser tag, doing a breakout room and even something as simple as going out to eat together with extended family to help celebrate the birthday VIP!

Give Clothes

Before you get worried that the clothes might not fit, just check out these ideas for turning dollar bills into clothes! With a little practice, you can turn money into a super fun gift idea!

How do you celebrate birthdays for teenagers? Got any tips? With 3 kids who are growing up quickly, we’ll have many more of these teen birthdays and I definitely want to make them special!

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