This in our house is an arduous task involving lots of lists and coordination with in-laws over who is buying what and where from, and whether anyone is chipping in towards main presents for the kids and what not. It has nearly broken me, although due to the Internet, I will admit that its a hell of a lot easier these days than when we all had to go around actual shops and stuff.
This year's Christmas shopping chaos was largely started by my husband arriving home from work one evening with a little bag from Paperchase containing four stocking filler sized presents for the twins, after which he lost interest and
In fairness to him, he's dealt with the bulk of our large Christmas gifts for the kids this year. I can't fault his enthusiasm, although don't feel too sorry for him, he also managed to acquire a brand new TV and speaker system during this process (I'm still a bit baffled at how he managed to get me to agree, although he did promise to redecorate the living room, which I think is what lawyers call a Compromise Agreement).
But now the present shopping is done, and aside from the teen boy, everyone has been catered for.
But the teen boy? Does not know what he wants.
Well, he does. Apparently he wants things that are going to cost me almost absolutely nothing, which sounds amazing but probably isn't.
You would think that given we've told him he just has to name one thing we could buy just for him, he'd be full of new ideas. But no.
It kind of put me in mind of when people say "ooh kids, they're far happier playing with the cardboard box than the present that comes in it", or something.
Then I thought, wouldn't that be fabulous? What if you really could get a load of teen suitable presents from stuff that you had lying around or that didn't cost you anything at all.
So, let's examine the list of the stuff that my teenager really wants that will cost me practically nothing (according to him).
1. Your old mobile phone
Getting an iPhone upgrade this year? Well then, you my friend have the perfect free present for your teen. As soon as your upgrade email arrives in your inbox, your teen will be circling like a vulture around your current handset. They just want your old mobile phone. It doesn't matter if it isn't worth much as long as it is an iPhone (this is the most important thing), because all their friends, their friend's brothers and their friend's brother's six year old cousin's dog all have iPhones and they are the only one without one. Which is like some kind of social suicide. If you can't afford a new one for them then your old one will do just fine
Real cost: A new mobile phone contract for you and an unlimited data and text plan for your teen (but paid for by you, obvs.)
According to my teen, nothing says I love you or Happy Christmas more than a sizeable bank transfer to their account. It is also the no effort present option, because you don't have to wrap it, and you have loads of money in the bank because you're an adult (yeah, right...).
Cost: Nothing because you haven't bought anything (teen logic)
Real cost: All your hard earned cash which they then will spend on MacDonalds and a shit-load of other useless tat.
3. Your Widescreen TV
You know that TV that my husband just bought? Well it didn't take long (about 36 seconds fwiw) for my teen boy to point out that if we moved our existing family TV into his room we could also move all the assorted games consoles in there too. It would be more peaceful for us and also make it "the best Christmas ever" for him. Somehow even though he got his own way (his father's son) he still asked the question "so, when you get another new TV in a few more years, can I have the one you've just bought?". Yes already eyeing up my brand new TV. Sodding hell, is nothing sacred?
Cost: Nowt, you already own it.
Real cost: A new TV every 4 years or thereabouts *sob*
My teen has a Christmas list, a Christmas list with a difference. For this is a list of things to fill his face with that will make the festive period complete. When he was little he was happy with some chocolate coins at the bottom of his stocking but now? Now, he has his sights set on the entire contents of my fridge, cupboards and freezer (usually leaving a trail of crumbs, plates, glasses and packaging in his wake). The more expensive the better - M&S party food is the main goal but anything in the kitchen is fair game. And the best bit? The fairies replenish our cupboards (and also do the cleaning up). Didn't you know? Forget the fact that last year I battled round a busy M&S two days before the big day to procure said delights, only to find that a £5 tub of luxury cashew nuts that I was saving had been cruelly devoured in secret (and the empty pot replaced in the cupboard as if untouched). Nothing left to give to guests with their drinks. Nothing left to enjoy my bastard well self. *still bitter*
Cost: Well, the food's just there isn't it?
Real cost: £100s - I've always lamented the extortionate cost of our Christmas food shop and now I know the reason why.
5. My Car
My teens are a few years off learning to drive
Cost: Just your old car, sitting on the driveway, it isn't as if you even use it Mum.
Real Cost: Sell a kidney on Ebay to fund the cost of their car insurance for the year/the cost of new car finance.
|A "handy" Venn Diagram|
They do say the best things in life are free, but in my case I beg to differ. I weep for the days I could fob him off with some Duplo or a set of Thomas the Tank Engine books. Something that had an affordable, fixed cost.
Teens, costing you the earth since well, forever really. Now, where did I put that cardboard box?