Giving gifts is as much about the giver as it is the recipient. But when it comes to gifting for a 13 year old, it’s sometimes hard to find a way to forge what can seem like a big divide. In my work with seniors and their families arranging in-home care, I’m often asked what to get “the kinder.” With teenagers of my own, this is comfortable territory for me – albeit an ever-moving target (much like anything teen-related). And so, here is a roundup of my ever-expiring wisdom about what the kids like these days. Mazal tov!
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera: It’s the Polaroid for a new day. If you hand them this, there’s a chance they’ll put down the smartphone long enough to snap a few selfies and delight in the immediate prints. Insist on taking home a few for your fridge. Amazon.com, $69
“Modern Jewish Baker” cookbook: Penned by Shannon Sarna, a cook, food writer and editor who loves Christmas cookies as much as rugelach, this fresh take on traditional flavors will delight the budding baker. First stop: unicorn challah. (Countryman Press, 2017). Shop.Hazon.Org, $29.95
Neon Green Perspex Candlesticks: No one ever said ritual needed to be traditional. For the Bat Mitzvah girl who lights her own way, these candlesticks, made from an acrylic material, will be a sign to her that she can practice our rich heritage from a perspective that feels uniquely her. ModernTribe.com, $38
Selah: Helping Immigrants in Crisis: Demonstrate the mitzvah of tzedakah, providing an important life lesson to the B’nai Mitzvah who needs nothing – and a lifeline to those in need. Selah is one of the most crucial nonprofits in Israel today, helping immigrants in Israel in the more dire of circumstances. You may look through select recipient profiles on its website; read about Parisa and her daughters who fled Iran (the younger of whom is a recent Bat Mitzvah). Selah also helps groups of immigrant grandparents raising their orphaned grandchildren. Selah’s site allows for quick and easy online donations in honor of a simcha. Selah.org.il
Q&A a Day: A 3 Year Journal for Teens: Do you remember what it was like to be 13? Even if you have some memories, chances are the details are all a blur. Help your B’nai Mitzvah do it better. With a question for each day of the year, as the years pass, he or she will have a keepsake time capsule that shows how much his or her answers change (and which ones remain the same) – and how they might compare to, say, a wiser, older relative. Amazon.com, $16
KanJam Mini Game Set: Becoming an adult at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is serious business. The rest of their life doesn’t need to be. Enter the KanJam – the antithesis of seriousness – and adulthood. Because they should be able to be kids for a few more years. KanJam.com, $14.99
Geospace Walkaroo Wee Balance Stilts: Even though this milestone is supposed to mark their entry into adulthood, they may still not be able to quite reach your shoulders. Give them a boost with these impressive extensions. Walmart, $37.99
NAOMI FINK COTRONE is the founder and president of Right at Home, Rhode Island, which provides care to elderly and disabled adults throughout Rhode Island. Her favorite gift from her Bat Mitzvah was a menorah from her uncle John – something she still treasures to this day.