13Th Birthday - What Did You Do to Mark the Significance?

Updated on July 25, 2019
G.♣. asks from Springfield, IL
15 answers

Our son will be turning 13 soon. He doesn't need anything. The only thing he wants is money on his Fortnight account (ug!) We will rack our brains and think of something. Celebrating is the easy part. But are there any traditional "13th Birthday" gifts? What did you do (if anything) to mark the significance?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We had the same dilemma. In the end, we got him the new Xbox game he wanted and then just lavished attention - he got to choose dinner and got his favorite kind of cake, etc (the usual stuff). It seemed a bit anticlimactic to me (he's a teen! I can't believe it!), but honestly, I think that part was a bigger deal to me than it was to him.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hmm, we didn't really do anything special. But all three of my kids had Jewish friends so they went to several bar and bat mitzvahs at that age and those were always fun. I think my kids were a little bit jealous :-)

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answers from Denver on

How about establishing a new savings account (with the parents and birthday boy all as account holders) for the purpose of saving for something important - something only a teen can do, something that needs saving up for. For example, "a driver's permit account" to save up for insurance and gas, or "a first car" to save up for the down payment or whatever your family typically does. Or "the air fare for a trip next year to go visit your cousins in California". Birthday/gift money can be deposited from time to time (you could start the account with a birthday deposit), and you could occasionally add to it when you want to recognize something significant. He can make deposits into it, too, if he gets paid for mowing a lawn or something, but that's his choice. He can blow the chore money on buying something in a video game, or take more step towards his goal. The account would only be for the established purpose, and no one would take money out for fun or to buy a new video game. It shows that he's now a teen, and of course being a teen means more responsibility, but more privileges too.

That might help him look forward to the future, and to realize that growing up means setting goals and preparing for the big expenses. Make sure to look at the account together every so often.

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answers from Norfolk on

When they start getting into their teens it can be rough trying to figure out what to get them.
Some are into clothes as they are changing their look.
Others want music or games.
Our son is into archery (target shooting, not hunting) and for his 13th birthday he got a nice compound bow which is highly adjustable and it grew with him as his skill and draw developed.
Experiences are great gifts.
Tickets to a show, movies or a tour (around here it could be dolphin or whale watching depending on the season) would be good.

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answers from Boston on

I wrapped 13 gifts (1 big one and rest small like candy, PG-13 movie Ferris Buellers Day Off, book, giftcard etc.) with a quick note connecting each gift to him or being 13. He woke up to the gifts in the kitchen and loved it.

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answers from Portland on

We did not so far, and we didn't growing up .. maybe there are in different cultures/backgrounds/faiths.

Our kids were like yours - just wanted money more than anything, or had something specific in mind at that age. It keeps on going like that from then on ..

I would focus more on some kind of experience maybe? Even that wasn't so important here though really. We just still try to celebrate and do a whoop dee doo but kids don't always want that (especially as they get older).

ETA: Just an idea.

We just did something fun for one of our kids' birthday where the entire day was spent doing what they wanted. Hubby took day off and so we did brunch, presents (so out of order), outing to fun place, another place (both inexpensive), home for swim, pizza, cake, game of their choice (no groans),then movie (their choice) at home ..

It turned out to be the most fun we've had in ages. It was not at all what I thought they would have chosen. Even a half day would be enough - because we were exhausted, and it wasn't that expensive. They did something low key with a couple of friends outside of this another day.

I just did a banner - bought one of those cheap dollar store Happy Birthday ones and stuck pics of kid in between spaces of letters.

We did the something you want/something you need/something to wear/something to read gifts ... and then some *fun* (inexpensive) ones from pets. So you can still do your big gift (fortnight money) - for us it was apple iTunes cards. It was just enough and not over the top.

My kid said it was their favorite birthday so far. So I'll pass that along :)

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answers from San Antonio on

My son wanted three friends and all the junk food, pizza, cake and soda they could drink/eat and be left alone to play video games overnight. Done.

My daughter's is coming up and I have an idea she will want theater tickets or concert tickets...she is more into having experiences. For her 12th birthday I took her to Hamilton...still ranks as the best night of her life so far...

Each child is different and it is hard to say...oh, your question nope no traditional 13 year old gifts. I looked too...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I love Elena's idea! It would encourage saving/planning to use money for something special and it emphasizes that becoming a teen can carry new opportunities+privileges.

ETA: I also love Elmnt5's idea of a special trip somewhere with just one parent. Our daughter also didn't want a big party for her bat mitzvah last August, so I offered her a trip. It took us quite a while to actually do it, but we finally went to Miami for five days in June and had a great time. You might see whether the idea of a special trip fits for you.

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answers from New York on

Every family is different with their "traditions" in this regard, but 13 is certainly an age where you could give something along the lines of a piece of special jewelry, meant to last. For a boy, maybe nice cufflinks engraved with his monogram? Or a nice Swiss Army knife.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Gee...I have no idea...I’d have to ask my girls if they remember.😉. We have always done whatever they want for their birthdays though. Some years that was a friend party, sometimes they chose to go to NY to see a broadway show.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Don't think there's a traditional gift so I would:
-have them invite 3 or 5 friends
-take them out to eat to a burger joint
-take them to a movie
-come home to play video games
-have snacks
-let them stay all day

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

When my son turned 13 he had friend's over for the entire day. We ordered pizza and served snacks and they played video games and jumped on the trampoline and just hung out. It was both boys and girls...about a group of 8 kids! As for a gift, he wanted some upgrades to his PC computer...I believe a fancy mouse and keyboard that had LED lights and were specifically for gaming. I also got him a longboard, and he was over the moon about that. :)

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answers from Tampa on

I am not sure what everyone did but we are Jewish and my husband and I decided instead of a bar mitzvah party ( we only moved here 3 1/2 years a go) that hubby will take time off from and take him to Israel. So they were there for 12 days visiting biblical and historical sights and overall just loved the bonding time between them. Lol and he too got Fortnite money! Darn game!

But honestly I would still do something to mark my sons bday as a “1st teenager year”. Here we have go carts.. so I would probably do that, or reserve golf shooting range ( my 2nd son loves golf). Something that boys ( few friends) can do by getting together.

Another option is to travel somewhere here in the states..like if he likes hiking or nature go to Yellowstone. Or maybe a cruise with the family. I am big on traveling because honestly it brings people together, it also is the only thing that stays with you and experience is priceless! ( I don’t remember where like I got my first earrings but I remember my 1st vacation).
If it’s to another country it’s for a child to experience different cultures, foods, interact with others.. architecture is also very impressive.. just to have a child see how fascinating the world is.

Well, no matter what you do happy bday to him!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don’t really know, ask your son everybody is different. He probably doesn’t like celebrating birthdays now. Many kids that age don’t like celebrating birthdays. At thirteen I remember that I didn’t like celebrating birthdays, so I decided to go out for lunch. Good luck:)

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answers from Washington DC on

i don't know of any traditional 13th birthday gifts.

dang, it sucks that i can't remember precisely what we did with each of their first teen birthdays! i remember that it involved a couple of close friends (no more big kid parties), some sort of adventure and a sleepover.

i'd be with you in not wanting it to just be vid game money.


1 mom found this helpful
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