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Holiday wish list for teens and 20-somethings

Straight Talk for Teens column
By: Lauren Forcella, Special to The News Messenger
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Dear Readers: I’d be lost without this list. I shop from it exclusively. Yes, I’m talking about Straight Talk’s annual shopping list for teens — (FYI: official adolescence goes to age 25). Direct from the source, we bring you the hot tech gifts, board games, books — and this year, the best boxer briefs! Keep in mind, most Millennial Generation kids enjoy their families and will prefer a shopping date over gift cards. You’re my superhero if you avoid video games, TVs and other brain-drains that isolate kids from real-time socializing. More superhero status if you hold off on a cell phone until high school. Include a box of thank-you cards (standing over your offspring while they are written) and you’re my choice for a Nobel. Happy shopping! ~ Lauren Hannah, 16, Safford, Ariz.: I’d like anything to upgrade my music: iPod, iHome, iPod car adapter, favorite CDs — don’t forget iTunes gift cards! Geoff, 25, Redding: I’d like admission to NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) for rock climbing in Alaska or kayaking in the Caribbean. Or a SCUBA certification. Hi-tech gifts: Avoid the iPad. Young people prefer smart phones and laptops. Best laptop buy is still Acer sold through Walmart. For smart phones, I prefer the Droid X or Droid 2 over the iPhone. Point-and-shoot cameras are a dime a dozen and all pretty good but smart phones take great photos and videos so cameras and video cams are redundant for smart phone owners. The Droid takes high-def video as good as any Flip cam. Games: 60-90 minute board games: Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Agricola (popular strategy games). Best family games: Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Taboo. Scrabble essentials: the electronic Scrabble player’s dictionary. Best underwear: Patagonia Active Boxer Briefs and ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go boxer briefs. Sawyer, 19, San Pedro: I’d like the game Setters of Catan, thick winter hoodie, jeans, snowshoes, See’s chocolates, movie passes. Top books: “Song of Ice and Fire,” “Wheel of Time,” “Power of One.” Farren, 23, Redding: I took the Landmark Forum last summer and got clear on every relationship in my life — and my career path. It is the best gift possible. Include a Kitchen-Aid mixer and food processor and you have everything! Well, almost. Add in snowshoes and good hiking boots. Michael, 18, Los Angeles: Great for working out: Bose earbuds for best sound from your phone or iPod. Clothes are always desired. A VISA gift card can buy clothes, gas, food, movies. Skiers? Get them a ski pass. Best books: “Outliers,” “Demian,” and my generation’s favorite read-again: “Harry Potter.” Akasha, 16, Sacramento: Please take me shopping for shoes and boots. Other thoughts: camera, laptop, massage certificate, math tutor, bowls and cookware to take to college. Top books: “A Walk to Remember,” “Love in the Time of Cholera,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Emma,” “Someone Like You,” “Along for the Ride.” Lennon, 24, Fair Oaks: New mattress, comforter, socks, underwear, jeans (best jeans gift cards: Express or Lucky Jeans), gift cards for Chipotle, haircuts, gas. Best books: “The Sun also Rises,” “The Sound and the Fury,” “The River Why,” “Confederacy of Dunces,” anything by Tom Robbins or David Foster Wallace. Mariah, 18, Sand Springs, Okla.: Candles, make-up, camera, perfume, gas card, gift cards to TJ Max, Pennys, Old Navy, Ross. Books: “House of Night Series,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Savannah, 17, Folsom: I want sweaters and boots. It’s no fun opening gift cards so include gift receipts and prepare that I might exchange things. I feel guilty doing it but it’s crazy not to. I’m hoping my relatives pitch in for admission to the Landmark Forum. It would be a self-discovery gift for life. Favorite books: “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” “Bel Canto,” “The Help,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Madame Bovary,” any of the classics. For more discussion, to ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit http://www.straighttalkforteens.com or write POB 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628. More from Lauren Forcella: I notice that more “experience” gifts are being requested this year. Two panelists mention the Landmark Forum, which I can’t recommend enough. It truly is a gift for life. I also can’t help noticing how many of the favorite books cited here are BBC Top 100 Books. Giving the gift of great literature just could turn a kid on to reading after all! (Our website lists other favorite books under our “Teen Gifts” tab.) I really do hope you can take your favorite adolescents shopping instead of buying gift cards. Not only is it a great way to bond and ensure that you’re giving them something they like but 25 percent of gift cards never get used — and that’s for the general population. For teens, that figure is much higher, with many cards simply getting lost. The “essential gift” of a box of thank you cards is a foil for the real gift of instilling this highly-beneficial practice in your child. It’s never too late to stand over them until thank you notes are written — and that’s usually what it takes. —Lauren