13 Year Old Birthday Present

Updated on April 08, 2015
M.G. asks from Olathe, KS
21 answers

Hello, My son is turning 13 and he is REALLY into video games. He has a computer and a Nintendo DS. We have asked him to give us a wish list with things other than video games on it and he can't come up with anything. He doesn't play baseball anymore. He is in Boy Scouts, but he's fully equipped for that. I'm at a loss too.

Any ideas?



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answers from Anchorage on

My son is the same way, and it is a birthday, so I try to honor his likes and get him what he actually wants.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Video games. Why not? IMO, I'd rather have gotten my SS what he was really into than something I chose that he wouldn't use or like.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

If he wants video games, why can't he have a new one for his birthday? If you're adamantly opposed to that, maybe instead of giving him "stuff" give him an experience. Maybe visit somewhere he would find fun or interesting, or concert tickets, or tickets to see a ball game? My daughter is going to turn 13 in a few months, and asked for tickets to see the San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker next year (she is a ballerina herself, so she has an interest). The tickets will be a small fortune, but it will be something she remembers for a long time!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I agree with Megan S. - a special day out of his planning/choosing. We have been doing that with our grandkids for a few years now - special outing with GM and GP for their birthdays. They really enjoy it and it creates lifetime memories.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Why not expand on his love of video games? If he likes a particular game, say Dragon Age for example, Amazon sells books related to Dragon
Age, like The Art of Dragon Age. The books are really beautifully illustrated and show how the designers started with a pencil sketch and developed the characters. You might include a sketchpad and good charcoal pencils for your son, in case he gets inspired.

Or there are sites like this: http://littlebits.cc/shop. Their base model allows people to start learning about circuitry.

Amazon and Microcenter and book shops (Barnes and Noble) have books about video game design, video game creating, etc.

ThinkGeek also is a good site that has gifts that tie together with video games.

Or a Bamboo (Best Buy sells it and similar things) that allow you to draw on a pad (not a tablet) and the drawing shows up on the computer.

Or a specialty tool set to learn to fix computers (tiny screw drivers, etc) and a book about upgrading graphics cards, and disc drives.

Just take that love of video games and run with it! Now that he's 13 he can do more than play. He can start to explore what goes into designing and producing a video game. Just type "video game design" into Amazon or Google and search for books. Or go to Microcenter.com and look for video game design books. Or, on Amazon, look at Minecraft and besides the game, there are lots of books about how to design a Minecraft of your own or learn to program in Minecraft (I'm probably not saying it correctly, but I hope you get the idea).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can't go wrong with cash. Most kids that age love cash.

I like the idea of an experience... We have Top Golf here that is a lot of fun for the family. How about a baseball game, concert, etc. Give him a few options and let him pick.

One of our daughter's (now 20) favorite birthday presents were front row tickets to see New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys when they were in Dallas a few years ago. We bought 2 tickets, she took a best friend, had a limo service (town car) transport them to/from the event and they had a blast.

Sometimes an experience is a great gift!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

We got our gamer boys tablets for Christmas. There are a TON of free games in the Google Play store (which this Android platform tablet uses). We haven't bought ONE game or app for it. The Nintendo DS is a moneypit. Don't spend another dime on games for it.

Be sure you get a good case for it, like a Otterbox.

My boys also love remote controlled helicopters, longboard style skateboards, guitar equipment (amps, pedals, strings, etc.), we bought a zipline and installed it in the woods behind our house...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know if there is anything close to where you live, but we have these little educational places popping up in Los Angeles where they teach kids how to code (make computer programs, video games, etc.)
One of them is called UCode. Maybe google it and that will lead you to a resource near you.
I know Disney just came up with a coding instructional program you can use online.
Also, I homeschool and one of the curriculum companies I buy from (www.sonlight.com) has two coding packages listed under electives you can buy. One is called Kidcode, the other is TeenCode.
Hope that helps.
Another boy catalog I really like (as you mentioned he's in Boy Scouts, so he might be outdoorsy) is JM Cremp. It's loaded with awesome boy stuff, everything from Slacklines to survival gear to bows and arrows :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our son has always been into Legos and he's built some pretty complex kits.
Legos are great for any occasion!
It's sure been a lot of help with his robotics and engineering!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Game Stop gift card?
Any MLB games nearby? Game tickets. Tis the season!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

ETA: I love Elena B.'s idea. In addition to her suggestions, I wonder if there are classes at one of your local colleges or community centers geared toward kids that teach kids about video games, how they are made, the work of gaming and other things related the world of video games.

How about doing something spacial with him? Instead of giving him more video games, with encourages more screen time, maybe you can you can give him a day with you (and dad if he's in your son's life). Let him plan the day.

It could start with a special breakfast at home, and then a trip to a favorite place (a park, game arcade kids museum, etc.) Then maybe lunch out and then a movie of his choosing. Then maybe a trip to a bookstore to choose a new book (or another favorite place to get something new), and then either dinner out or order a special diner in. End the day with something special of your choosing.

Make the day special and make a lot of memories for him. Sometimes kids really don't want stuff, but a special day with mom and dad hits the spot. My parents did this for both my 10th, 13th, 16th and 18th birthdays, and frankly, those are the birthdays are my favorites and the ones I remember the most.

Just a thought. Have fun whatever you do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

By far my 13 year old's favorite gift was a debit card. Not a prepaid one, a real debit card that I load his allowance on every month. We put money on it as his bday present and he loves the freedom it gives him and I love that it's teaching him to budget his money. We used Upside Visa, but if I had to do it over again I would just open a youth checking account for him at our bank.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I would get him:
-a new video game that you choose but he can exchange
-and take him somewhere of his choosing for a fun experience & out to
dinner at his favorite place (somewhere fun)

Ask him if he'd like to GO to a professional baseball game?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My kids (12, 14 and 17) are into cold hard cash or a personal check at this point. It's what they want the most and appreciate the most. I don't like to give them "stuff" just for the sake of having them unwrap a gift. They're at a point where they like to go out with their friends and need $$ for lunch or a visit to Starbucks or for that t-shirt they want from Urban Outfitters that I won't buy them. So for now, until they tell me differently, it's money, in one form or another.

If your son can't come up with anything he wants now, maybe what he really wants is some $$ and the freedom to choose how to spend it when he finds something he DOES want...whether that's next week or in 3 months.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

If you feel that you must encourage him to have other interests, handle that separately from his birthday. Birthday lists are about a kid's interests and wants, not what the parent wishes was true. So ask him for a list of video games he'd like and choose one for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have been getting my boys things like gift cards and gift certificates for things they can do. Museum, zoo, YMCA memberships, gift certificates/cards for go-carting, trampoline place, bowling, movie theatre, mini-golf, paintball, zip-lining, rock climbing, ropes course, wake boarding and laser tag. Concert tickets, hockey tickets, baseball tickets. My older son goes on lots of school trips, so we got him a new suitcase. We enjoy camping as a family, so things like sleeping bags, mattresses, flashlights and tents. They like to fish, so rods, tackle and nets. My boys both like expensive sneakers, so new shoes are always appreciated. Does he have a bike?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i really dislike cash or gift cards for one's own kids. they're great for someone you don't know well, but i think it says something sad about our society if we just hand each other a fistful of bills (or the equivalent) and say 'go pick something out, you're not important enough for me to put thought into it.'
i understand the POV that it's his birthday and he should get what he wants, but i too was pretty hinky about over-feeding my teens' video obsession and wanted to get them gifts that would expand their view past the screen. i think adventures are the best way to do that. he doesn't play baseball, but most teenage boys love to go to a pro ball stadium and watch the big leaguers (or even AA ball if you have one nearby. i actually like them better.)
a scuba-diving lesson. hot air balloon ride. weekend horseback camping expedition. an overnighter at a beach or mountain cabin with your family and one or two of his best mates.
when my younger turned 12 what he wanted most was to go to a fancy restaurant. i took him and one friend (who's from viet nam and picked up his lobster and nommed it just like daryl hannah in 'splash.' it was pretty awesome.)
:) khairete


answers from San Francisco on

My son and husband are gamers too, and that's what they always wanted and got for their birthdays/Christmas.
Though my son liked books and comics too, and music, so there were a few other things.
What exactly is the problem?
New video games are exciting and expensive, a birthday is the best reason to get them!
My son is now a senior in college, computer science major and summer counselor at an educational technology camp. Gaming was/is truly a passion for him, maybe it's your son's passion as well...?



answers from Chicago on

gift card for basically anything.
movies, clothes, food place he likes. video arcade outside the house. tshirts with the video game he likes on it. tickets for an event (live performance of something, the zoo etc)


answers from Washington DC on

I can't imagine telling my kids they can't have what they want for their birthday, within reason. So they want a new video game? Great time to do that. My daughter will be 12 soon and she wants more Under Armour slides and Adidas pants. She has one of each, but fine - so two more slides and two pairs of pants should fit the $150 budget.

My son that just turned 8 asked for a new Play Station - way out of budget, so no. But he got a new bat (didn't really need one) and some baseball cards.

My son who will be 10 later this month showed me a bunch of GI Joes and WWE Wrestlers at Target that he wants. He has enough of each, but I don't care, it's what he wants.

If you think this is still an appropriate time to not get him what he wants, I'd say get him cash or a debit card, that way he can go shopping on his own. 13 is a BIG deal birthday. I really hope you get him what he wants.


answers from Santa Fe on

My son just turned 12 and I had the same request. He also didn't know what he wanted. I took him through some stores to give me ideas of things he liked. (Such as Target). This really helped because he really didn't know what kind of things were out there. We went through sporting goods, kids bedroom, toys, and games. We also browsed in a bookstore. He found plenty of things he didn't know he wanted! It gave me some good ideas and was helpful when Grandma wanted a specific idea of what to get him.

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