Non-Tech Gift Ideas for Teens & Young Adults

Gift boxes with bow on wooden background


With the holidays upon us it’s easy to fall back on the latest gadget to gift teens or young adults. And, while that isn’t necessarily a bad idea, we’d like to offer some suggestions for non-tech gifts to give. We also encourage you to challenge your kids’ tech-heavy wish list by asking them what non-electronic items they might want, or prompt siblings, grandparents, and other family members to purchase items that don’t involve a screen.

  1. Tickets – Does your daughter love musicals? Is your son’s favorite band playing in your area in the next few months? Tickets to go to an event make a great holiday gift, and create memories along the way. Even better – get tickets for the two of you (or your entire family!) to do something together.
  2. Memory book – While young children are known to love looking at pictures of themselves, older children actually do too! Think of all those posts they make on social media … and use it to your advantage. Make a printable memory book to capture the highlights of their year.
  3. Take a Trip – Whether you plan something large, like a family trip to the Bahamas, or something small scale like camping, a vacation together is a great way to make memories. You can make it extra fun by buying something to indicate where you’re going – like a new tent or sleeping bag, or snorkel gear. To make it extra fun you can add a scratch-off map to their gift pile so they can start to track all the cool places they’ve seen!
  4. Lessons – has your teen or young adult wanted to try something but you haven’t been willing to spring for the cost of the lessons? The holidays are a great time to give them 2-3 months worth of lessons to let them try something new – from horseback riding to guitar lessons – the world is theirs for the exploring!
  5. Accessories – Teens and young adults want to be unique. Have they had their eye on a certain pair of shoes? Maybe they like funky socks? A new make up kit? Or maybe they want a new accessory for their room – like a light box for messages or a framed picture of their favorite sports team’s stadium.

We hope that gift giving this holiday season makes meaningful memories with your family! If your teen or young adult child is having a hard time with the holiday season, call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.


Managing Holiday Expectations


The holidays are a wonderful time of year. However, they often come with high personal expectations of buying the perfect gifts, participating in holiday parties and seeing family members not frequently seen. The prospect of facing the holidays can be daunting for everyone – and even more so for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, substance abuse and other mental health concerns.

As the holiday season is upon us, it is important to remember that you might not always be able to control what happens during the holidays but you can control your reaction to the events by managing your holiday expectations. We’d like to share five ways to keep your holiday expectations in check, from a blog written by Lucida Treatment Center.

How to Keep Your Holiday Expectations in Check

1. Don’t buy into idealized holiday notions. That holiday special where everyone is enjoying a “Hallmark moment,” singing carols in the softly falling snow? That’s a TV show. The snow is made out of plastic, and if you’re comparing your holidays to scripted ones with professional actors being directed on Hollywood sound stages, you’re setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment.

“When people are bombarded with commercials, greeting cards, and movies showing perfect families and friendships, they may start to question the quality of their own relationships,” said Adam K. Anderson, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, in an interview with Shape magazine. “This can make people feel lonely and less fulfilled.”

Life isn’t perfect, and holidays are part of life. Embrace their imperfections.

2. Be OK with celebrating your own way, even if it’s unconventional. One Thanksgiving, about fifteen years ago, I found myself all alone — just my dog and me — with no dinner invitation. Rather than feeling sorry for myself and spending the day drinking while watching football, I decided to take my dog for a hike in the mountains instead. We had a great time, and on the way home I stopped at a truck stop and had a turkey platter at the counter while enjoying an interesting conversation with the waitress stuck working that day. I now look back fondly on that day as one of the best Thanksgivings of my life. But it never would’ve happened if I hadn’t adjusted my expectations of what a “real” Thanksgiving was supposed to be.

3. Make it acceptable to limit the number of engagements you attend. Count yourself lucky if you’re invited to a lot of holiday celebrations. But holiday get-togethers can be time consuming, stressful and even terrifying if you suffer from social anxiety disorder. Decide how many events you can reasonably make and tolerate, and stick to that number rather than spreading yourself too thin. Ask yourself this: If a holiday celebration or tradition is causing you more stress than joy, is it really worth attending or keeping?

4. Know that it’s possible to enjoy the holidays without alcohol or drugs. “Taking the edge off” with a few drinks during the holiday season can quickly get out of hand. If you’re in recovery, it can be incredibly tempting to use alcohol or drugs when everyone else around you is using, too. And if you suffer from anxiety or depression, it’s tempting to turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate during the holidays. But the holidays can be endured and even enjoyed while sober. Millions of people do it every year, so why can’t you be one of them.

5, Don’t expect family members to be different because it’s the holidays. One of the biggest stressors during the holidays is getting together with family and quickly realizing why it is that you only see them during the holidays. But you can only be you, so let go of any preconceived notions of how you’d like them to be. That judgmental relative across the table making disparaging remarks about your lifestyle won’t be around forever, so do your best to enjoy their company and pass them the potatoes with a smile.

We hope you have an enjoyable holiday season. If your teen or young adult child is having a particularly difficult time around the holidays, or you feel as though their mental health condition is worsening, call Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.