Main Content

Blog Top

Gift Giving Lessons for Teens

AddToAny buttons

Gift Giving Lessons for Teens


With the holidays approaching it’s the perfect time to think about gift giving. It’s natural for kids to think about what they’re hoping to receive as gifts, but as they get older it’s important for teens to understand the holidays are as much about giving as they are about receiving.

The Center for Financial Empowerment, the nonprofit founded by SCE Credit Union, empowers teens through financial education. Sometimes life lessons naturally combine with money lessons, such as when a discussion about saving money includes tips about planning ahead for gifts. It’s easy for teens to assume they can’t give gifts for the holidays because they don’t have much money. But we encourage creative thinking about ways to give gifts “from-the-heart”.

Here are some interesting gift-giving ideas for teens.

gift-giving ideas
1 DIY gifts

Making gifts for loved ones is a sure way to bring more joy to the holiday season. Handmade gifts can be especially meaningful when they align with unique interests or skills. Trust us, the gift will be special to your family, friends, and loved ones regardless of the money or time spent. Try these suggestions:

  • Create a coupon book of chores or favors, like washing dishes or giving a massage
  • Design paper crafts such as paper flower bouquets, hand-drawn cards, or a mini piñata
  • Make a special painting or holiday cards
  • Use photography skills and frame best shots
  • Create a funny presentation or a music video using family photos
  • Put together Mason Jar desserts of dry ingredients, add a little note and wrap it in a ribbon
  • Create a family cookbook by asking family for their favorite recipes
  • Make candles, lip balms, face or lip scrubs
2 Create special memory moments

Family understands you can’t afford to buy everyone a fancy gift. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do things for and with your family to make a memorable holiday season. Consider doing some of these actions that might surprise them and put everyone in the holiday spirit:

  • Decorate the house with the family
  • Create a beautiful centerpiece and table settings for your holiday meal
  • Put on music and have a dance party while cleaning up after a meal
  • Be the MC at your holiday dinner by giving a toast, preparing fun introductions for each family member, and telling light-hearted jokes
  • Cook or bake with your family
  • Volunteer with your family or friends at a local food pantry or soup kitchen
3 Get frugal

If you have some money to spend, being really smart about how you spend will make your dollars stretch farther. Here are some good ideas to stay low budget but still make a meaningful gift during the holidays:

  • Shop at local thrift stores. You’ll be amazed what you can find for low prices if you take the time to look. Be sure to wash or sanitize any items you buy before you gift-wrap them
  • Buy flowers or small plants at your local market. Small bouquets of fresh flowers or succulents can brighten someone’s day and make a lovely gift for under $10

Helping teens focus on giving, as well as receiving, can make the holidays more meaningful for them and their families. It might take some gentle coaxing – or let’s be honest, maybe some firm prodding – to get them into the “giving spirit.” But the lessons learned and experiences gained make the effort well worth it.

Help us empower the next generation for financial success!
The Center for Financial Empowerment is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower disadvantaged youth through financial literacy education. Find out more about our work at