5 Tips for Giving Your Teen the Perfect Surprise

Happy teenage girl hugging her mom

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Whether you want to surprise your teen with concert tickets or a new iPhone, special gifts can be a lot of fun for both parents and teens. But it's not always easy to keep those gifts a surprise. Teens have a habit of keeping their eyes and ears open when it comes to gifts, especially around their birthdays and the holidays. As a result, part of planning the perfect surprise means knowing how to keep your plans secret.

The following are some strategies for not only making sure your plans aren't foiled by snooping teens, but also how to go about finding the perfect surprise for your teen.

Be a Good Detective

Perhaps you aren't sure what gift your teen wants the most. Or you might worry you aren't getting the "right" laptop or the latest headphones. Although it is tempting to talk directly to teens about what is on their wish list, talking to them usually ends up tipping them off that you are planning something.

If you can, simply observe your teen for a while. Listen to what they have to say to their friends and where they linger when out shopping.

Make mental notes about your teen's interests and preferences but avoid appearing overeager to gather information about what your teen wants.

Teens are smart, and information-seeking can tip them off. Another option is to ask your teen's friends if they know what items your teen has been eyeing. Be sure to stress that everyone needs to keep the conversation secret because you want your teen to be surprised.

Take precautions with your surprise in other ways. For instance, if your teen shares your Amazon account, has access to your email, or other areas where they might see confirmation of your purchase, you will want to take steps to cover your tracks. This might mean ordering with a friend's account and having confirmation emails sent to your work email. Even shipping to a different address is a good idea. Nothing is worse than planning a surprise and realizing your teen has signed for the package.

Think About the Perfect Surprise

Coming up with an idea for a surprise can be the toughest part of the whole process. Keep in mind that a big surprise does not have to be a tangible gift. You can also surprise your teen with an experience. An overnight trip to the beach, an opportunity for a pedicure, or tickets for an adventure can be a great way to create lifelong memories. You could even create a gift basket filled with gift cards or themed items for the special night. 

Another option is to plan a surprise party for your teen. Of course, birthday surprise parties are fairly common, but you could switch up the surprise by planning a party for their half birthday, the last day of school, graduation from junior high, or the last day of summer break. Any noteworthy occasion can be cause for a surprise party.

Look for a Good Hiding Spot

If you're surprising your teen with a physical gift, you'll need a place to store your surprise until the day comes. Your teen may already have all your hiding spots scoped out. If you've been hiding gifts in the same closet for years and your teen knows it, you'll need to choose a hiding spot you've never used before. If your teen is suspicious or likes to snoop, you may even want to hide the gift at someone else's house.

If you do decide to hide the gift at a friend or relative's house, make it clear that the gift is a surprise. The last thing you want is for someone else to accidentally bring it up in a conversation.

Be sure your chosen hiding spot is safe and secure, especially if the item is expensive.

For example, trying to hide a new iPhone in your car is probably not the best idea. Not only could your teen stumble across the box, but you also run the risk that someone could steal it.

Be Careful Who You Tell

If you can avoid it, don't share the surprise with your teen's siblings. Brothers and sisters are easily bribed and can ruin the surprise, especially if your teen is suspicious and starts to pry.

Be careful which of your teen's friends you trust to keep the surprise. Some teens do a great job of keeping a secret and others will want to be a loyal friend and clue your teen in on what is being planned.

Meanwhile, other teens, and even some adults for that matter, just cannot help it. They will let the surprise slip. Though usually not done maliciously, it can be disappointing. In the end, if the gift turns out not to be a genuine surprise, that's fine. Your teen will still appreciate the thought and effort.

Decide How to Present the Gift

There are a number of ways to present a surprise gift. Of course, the simplest way is to save the gift until last if it is being presented on a holiday or a birthday. Another option is to wrap the gift in an oversized box to throw your teen off. Or you could wrap up clues and send your teen on a scavenger hunt.

In fact, a scavenger hunt, puzzle, or other game can build some suspense that makes opening the gift even more fun. You might even decide to capture the hunt as well as the big reveal on camera. Your teen's reaction might be priceless.

Another way to make your surprise special is to plan an evening out, like dinner at a favorite restaurant or ice cream as a family. Then give your teen the gift at the end of the evening. If your surprise is a birthday gift, your teen clearly will be anticipating a gift. But giving the gift the night before might make it an even bigger surprise, especially if your timing will catch them off guard.

You can do the same with a graduation gift. Graduation is such a hectic time and your teen may be busy running from one activity to the next. Choose a quiet day a few days before the actual graduation to present your gift. The timing will not only surprise your teen but allow you both to appreciate the gift together without being rushed.  

A Word From Verywell

Although it may seem like a lot of work to surprise your teen, it can be well worth the effort. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing someone genuinely surprised by a special gift. Meanwhile, if the surprise does not go according to plan, just roll with it. Remember that it is the thought behind the gift that matters. Likewise, if your teen is not excited about the gift, that is an opportunity to talk about graciously accepting items and dealing with disappointment. Even if the surprise does not go according to plan, it can still be a good experience.

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