Milestone Gifts

Many cultures celebrate the transition from childhood to adulthood with some sort of coming-of-age event. In addition, most people recognize a 16th or 18th birthday as a major milestone in a teenager’s life. These events are usually celebrated with a party or reception, and milestone gifts are appropriate at these times.

Sweet 16 Gifts

Sixteenth birthdays are a major milestone in teenagers’ lives. Although they are not legal adults yet, 16 is the age where they really begin to leave childhood behind. In many states, teens can learn to drive at this age, and many are already looking at colleges and pondering their futures. A sweet-16 gift should recognize this gradual entry into adulthood.

Some parents assume that they’ll be buying their teen a car as soon as they’re old enough to drive. Others may have reservations or budget constraints. Teaching the teen to drive or paying for driving lessons may be more practical and helpful sweet 16 gifts.

Sixteenth birthdays provide a great opportunity to give teenagers access to technology that they might not already have, such as cell phones. Laptops are also a great gift. If you go this route, shop carefully and invest in a computer that will last through college.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Gifts

A bar mitzvah (or bat mitzvah for girls) is a coming-of-age event in the Jewish faith. When boys turn 13 and girls turn 12, they become adults in the eyes of the Jewish community and are obligated to follow the commandments of Jewish law. A bar mitzvah is a very important occasion for most Jewish families and is typically celebrated with a religious ceremony followed by a reception.

Bar mitzvah gifts are usually given at the party following the ceremony. Gift ideas can vary according to your religious upbringing and your relationship with the celebrant. However, anything you would buy for a 13-year-old’s birthday is appropriate here. Boys typically enjoy sports-themed gifts, electronic gadgets, movies or music. Girls may enjoy jewelry, makeup, clothing or electronics.

Specific Jewish-themed gifts make great gifts as well. For example, the number 18 is important in Jewish tradition as it represents the Hebrew word “chai,” which means “life.” Checks or gift cards in multiples of $18 are popular bar mitzvah gifts. Another good gift idea is a shofar, a horn used in Jewish music. If the celebrant is a voracious reader, a book on the history of Israel or Jewish faith would make a great bar mitzvah gift.

Quinceanera Gifts

In Hispanic and Latin American cultures, girls celebrate their coming-of-age with a “quinceanera,” or 15th birthday party. If the family is Catholic, the celebration begins with a mass that is followed by a reception. Traditional quinceanera gifts include jewelry (especially earrings) and religious keepsakes such as bibles or rosaries.

Confirmation Gifts

Catholic teenagers celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation usually between the ages of 13 and 16, although the exact age can vary. It’s the point at which young adults officially confirm their belief in the Catholic faith. Confirmation gifts can include new Bibles or religious items such as crucifixes or rosary beads. Since Confirmation candidates choose a patron saint during their preparation, a medal or prayer card of that saint is also an appropriate gift.