Birthday Gift Suggestions for a Gymnast?

Updated on May 09, 2019
N.K. asks from Miami Beach, FL
17 answers

My daughter has been invited to a birthday party on Saturday. Her friend is turning 13. I asked her what her friend likes, and she said Starbucks, and she'd like a "credit card" (I assume that's teen talk for a gift card). Maybe I am a bit old school, but I don't like to reveal the monetary value of gifts to strangers, if it's family, I don't mind. I have never met this kid or her family. I feel like giving a $20 gift card might be considered tacky or even cheap by her family (and yes, maybe it's all in my mind), but the value is revealed, unlike a regular gift that might make an even bigger impression yet cost less. At the same time, I feel like spending $50 is a lot. I know this kid is big into gymnastics and even competes out of town, so I thought maybe a gift related to that might be nice. What kind of suggestions do you have? I assume she already has a gym bag, so that's probably out. I have Amazon Prime so I could get something shipped to my home within the next couple of days and still have it in time for the party. What ideas can you come up with that a teen girl may like? Thanks!

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answers from Washington DC on


there is NOTHING wrong with giving a gift card.

I personally can't STAND Starbucks. It's overpriced and I don't drink coffee. I've tried their "hot chocolate" and wasn't impressed. My best friend LOVES them. So I get her Starbucks gift cards.

If she has a gym that she goes to? Find out if they have a "pro shop" and if you can get her a gift card to that.

I do get the visa gift cards for kids so they can get what they want. Yeah - there's a $4.95 fee for it - but oh well - that way she can use it the way she needs/wants.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

At that age I started giving all kids either a gift card or cash. That goes for friends and family. No one has ever complained. Kids love getting what they can use. Don’t stress or worry about what others think. Give an amount you can afford to duplicate for all friends birthdays.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow, where I live (in a pretty upscale community) spending around $25 on a kid's friend's birthday gift at this age is completely normal and standard. I'm not sure why you would think it was cheap or tacky, teenagers LOVE cash and gift cards, it's their favorite thing! If your daughter is crafty she can wrap the cash in a cute, fun way. We always included a small card and candy bar or balloon to make it more festive.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

As soon as my kids starting hitting that age, all friends birthday parties got $20 bill. So I don't think it's tacky. Kids (teens) like cash to buy and do what they want!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

My son has always gotten giftcards at birthday parties. I understand what you are saying, because I was always told that, too. My parents told me that giving money was tacky (except, of course, for grandparents or aunts and uncles). We have to remember that societal rules often change, and this is one ways in which our society has changed. Giftcards are not only socially acceptable, they are very, very common.

Honestly, I'd just give her a giftcard and call it a day. Choose whatever amount you feel comfortable with. Some of my son's friends gave him $20 and some gave $25. I think those were the only amounts, but I'm not sure.

Try to relax about it. Most people are honestly just appreciative that you gave something thoughtful. Anyone who's going to think poorly of you because of the dollar amount you chose, was most likely going to find another reason to think poorly of you, anyway. It's not worth the worry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

While I like Starbucks I think that a 12/13 yr old with a Starbucks habit is a bit much and probably has too much available cash on-hand if that's where she's spending it.
It's great that gymnastics is her thing but a birthday gift doesn't have to be about that.

I had to re-write what I just wrote - it would have been rude - because the notion that $20 of anything might be looked down upon upsets me.
If they are nice people they should accept what ever gift she gets with grace and a thank you note.
If they respond any other way then I wouldn't be concerned with earning their respect in the first place.
She's probably a very nice girl but the thought that she might feel entitled to receive gifts above a certain value - well she wouldn't be a friend of mine for very long.

How about a gift card for your local movie theater?

Too much caffeine for kids/teens is a problem and its getting worse.
Our son is a sophomore in college (20 yrs old) and he's been cutting back on the coffee this year.
He told me that it magnifies his anxiety especially around midterms and finals and he hates feeling that way - he had a hard time with it as a freshman last year.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think $20-25 is totally appropriate. I get what you're saying but this is the age where they are really into gift cards and Starbucks. And honestly, there are worse things to be interested in that Starbucks. My kids love going there for a treat and there are plenty of non-coffee items. I like the idea of doing a reusable Starbucks cup (and you could include just a $5 GC which is about the amount of one drink) or a Swell water bottle.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

A gymnast who travels and likes coffee.

How about a S'well bottle or pretty thermos / Starbucks travel tumbler? With a $10 Starbucks card just as a fun extra.

ETA: I once gave a friend a personalized tumbler from Etsy, but that took a few days for processing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I never go to Starbucks (I'm the one person in the country who doesn't like their coffee) but I needed a gift for an acquaintance who loves everything Starbucks. So I went into a store and found they had some nice gift cards. I bought one, and asked for an empty cup with a lid. I wrote the name of the recipient on the cup, and put the gift card inside and sealed it with the lid. The person I gave the gift to loved it. She thought I was giving her an empty cup, and was confused, until she opened it.

You could even put some confetti in the cup; places like Party City have lots of specialized confetti in shapes and colors and themes. A teen girl might think that was fun.

I feel that if this girl competes in gymnastics like you describe, she probably already has a lot of gymnastics-related stuff. Since you don't know the family, I think a Starbucks gift card is perfectly appropriate, and $20 is just fine.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tyler on

Stick with the gift card, but $20-$25 is plenty generous!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

so you have an amount in your head that you feel is appropriate, but you are feeling pressured to spend more than you think appropriate because you don't want her family to think you're cheap.

think about that for a minute.

would you think someone cheap for giving your kid a $20 gift card?

if that's what the kid wants, that's what i'd get her.

if she or her family think anything except 'how nice', they can take a flying puck.

then give some more thought to why you are teetering on the edge of spending an amount you find inappropriate because of some nebulous worry over what someone you've never met *might* think.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I like chacha's suggestion.

I wouldn't give specific gymnastic gear because she may already have it, be specific in what she likes, etc.

A Swell bottle everyone likes and you can have two .. always useful.

I like her other suggestion too - a combo gift card and gift from her favorite coffee shop.

My kids would like those ideas. I would like that idea.

If you just go with a gift card idea and feel $20 is cheap, just go to $25. You're not buying gift wrap and your daughter can make a nice personalized card :) (I do not think you need to, but if it is going to bug you, then that's a way to think about it).

Just wanted to add - we usually do the gift card. Lately it's been $25 because that's the standard amount on the ones you buy off the rack. Or, we give money (my boys especially preferred to give/receive money). Add in a pack of candy - you're set.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You actually feel that there is a difference between gift cards that say the dollar amount and those that don’t? You know what’s really rude? You ask someone what they want for their birthday, they tell you, and you don’t like it and get what you think they want. Why would you presume to know what someone you don’t know likes? Get her a 20 dollar gc from Starbucks and move on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think serious athletes already have strong opinions about what they want/need, and they have a solid supply of it anyway. Most gymnasts have to put up their hair, so you could consider an assortment of hair accessories - you could check at any gymnastics studio to see what they sell. It's probably overpriced but at least you could get some ideas and then look for a better deal if you think they are way too expensive.

I am really against giving 13 year olds any help in buying coffee. Aside from the fact that teens are pretty sleep-deprived anyway, caffeine is very dehydrating and just a bad idea for athletes. My son was (and still is) a serious runner, and the coaches never allowed it for minors. Even as an adult, my son rations it. Some of the teens go for those horrible energy drinks (the shots, Red Bull, etc.) and they are having heart issues, especially when mixing them with caffeine. I think kids who won't be able to afford college shouldn't be dropping $8 on a designer coffee with fancy foam either. (Same for their parents who can't make the mortgage.) I think it's encouraging a high level of consumerism, and I'm opposed to its message. I love the idea below of putting a gift card in a coffee cup, but I wouldn't do it for a young teen, just an adult or at least a college kid.

I know what you mean about trying to keep the dollar amount under wraps. If you do a gift card, I'd do $20 or $25, never $50 for a casual friend you don't even know. That's ridiculously unsustainable if kids have more than 2 friends. For graduations, I tend to give $20.19 (last year, everyone got $20.18!) because it's memorable.

Something like earrings is pretty standard, and you should be able to find something she likes that won't break the bank. But if your kid is opposed to it, and these friends just want to exchange cash back and forth, I guess you can go that route, either with a gift card to a store or a Visa card.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think $20-25 is totally appropriate. I get what you're saying but this is the age where they are really into gift cards and Starbucks. And honestly, there are worse things to be interested in that Starbucks. My kids love going there for a treat and there are plenty of non-coffee items. I like the idea of doing a reusable Starbucks cup (and you could include just a $5 GC which is about the amount of one drink) or a Swell water bottle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Teens love gift cards. Get her a $20 amazon/target/visa gift card. Put it in a cute little bag with tissue paper and a nice card.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I see nothing wrong with gift cards. Both of my sons now 20 and 16 would rather have a gift card than almost anything. That way they can get something they want and if they get several gift cards if they want something expensive that no one person will give them enough for it they can get it. I also like Wild Woman's idea a getting a gift card for the gym pro shop. My youngest is a gymnast and is always wanting to get something as a snack while at practice. Our pro shop has all kinds of shirts that relate to gymnastics (That you can't get anywhere else) and leos. If you really want to get her something go on amazon with your daughter and put in gifts for gymnasts and go through the ideas it gives. You might be able to find something cute. That's what I have done for different people when I need to get a gift and don't know exactly what to get.

Good luck!

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