They have it all and they know it all, except for some days, when you wonder if they actually have a soul. He used to be the precious and admiring little person who wrote sweet letters to Santa at this time of year, but those days are long gone. What to get the teen who already has all the game consoles and every gadget to ever begin with a lower case "i?" Here are just a few, simple ideas.
10) A personalized copy of the US Tax Code. Because she already knows it all, you really need something substantial, and the tax code is so long, no one actually knows how many pages it is. That is, until now, because she will! Whether it's 16, 34 or 71 thousand, a tagged and ribboned copy of these 30 something million words is sure to impress her when she unwraps it on Christmas morning.
9) An amp. This gift only works if said teen possesses not the instruments or stereos or any device to which an amp may be connected; and preferably if he has no musical ability or inclination whatsoever. And nothing will date you, mom and dad, like scratching a number 11 on the dial (but on the other hand, maybe that joke actually is immortal).
8) Certificate of adoption. Easy to counterfeit and especially hilarious if you make the biological mother's name Rosemary. Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like disrupting every belief they knew to be true--everyone needs a good shake-up now and then, right? Be careful, however, as this choice could backfire. Your teen may actually be relieved to learn that you're not related--in which case, you'll have to be sure you can quickly produce a copy of their genuine birth certificate to cut them right back down to to their true DNA sequencing. Download, complete and print an adoption certificates here.
7) A new wardrobe in two words: estate sale. You know you've always wanted to go to one anyway, there's something so fascinating about auctions isn't there? Here's your excuse—she may want Abercrombie, but you hate the mall, so she'll have to make do with the double knit polyester pull-ons and smoky cardigans of the recently deceased. Retirement homes are a great source for estate sales (or at least, that's where my mom used to shop for me).
6) A job. You've made a few connections over the years, and nothing says I love you quite like a little nepotism. But be sure the employment you secure for your teen serves to your benefit. I hear the mining industry in Chile needs help. For visa information contact these guys at the D.C. embassy or refer to #5 on this list.
5) A gift certificate for legal representation. You know it's coming, eventually—those pesky DUIs, disorderly conducts and general recklessness and transient associations to WikiLeaks. So pick a lawyer, preferably criminal (or even immigration, see above), and let your teen know he never has to worry again! Be sure you impart your desire for him to call THE NUMBER ON THE CARD from jail at 2 a.m., and not the home phone. Finding a lawyer is pretty easy, and one who will take your money before you even hire them can't be too obscure. Jump aboard the state bar association's handy-dandy Illinois Lawyer Finder by clicking here.
4) A student loan. So what if she hasn't gone to college yet? You're not sure if she's even going to make it that far. Even a state school wouldn't do all the teaching you've done for the last decade plus for free. According to the USDA, an average 16-year-old costs her suburban, Midwestern parents $12,000 a year, and that's just until she turns 17. Pretty similar to the average, yearly public college expenditure...so why not start early? Let her know she won't be getting out of lifelong payment plans and interest rates just by skipping college, and stuff a modified FAFSA in her stocking with a note that says, "Merry Christmas, honey. You owe me."
3) The world's tiniest violin. Got a drama queen? No more excuses. Really--it's an app for iPhone, and you can buy her one here. You're welcome.
2) A governess. Why did this tradition ever go out of style? I would have given anything for an umbrella-toting governess when I was a kid, and then as a teenager, I would have given anything to keep the idea in the 19th century where it died. Now that I'm a parent, an omnipotent chaperone seems quite possibly like the most fantastic idea ever devised. If money is no object, she should look and act as much like Julie Andrews as possible, and preferably, deliver all instructions and punishments through song...but choose carefully, some seem to have a penchant for covering-up for their charges when they sneak out to see their Nazi boyfriends during thunderstorms. She should also be eligible to work in Chile (see #6).
1) Coal. Just because it's a classic, and I love the word "coal" and think it should be used as frequently as linguistically possible. Make sure to threaten him with the traditional "coal in the stocking" often in the weeks leading up to the big day, too. Then, on Dec. 26, when he's already misplaced his coal, tell him you can no longer afford the Nicor bill, just to show him how lucky he really was. Coal in a bag is available here.