Tips for Giving Your Teen the Perfect Surprise

Tips for Pulling of the Perfect Surprise

A teenager opens a Christmas present.
A teenager opens a Christmas present. David Oliver/Getty Images

It is so much fun to surprise people with great gifts and experiences for the holidays and special occasions. It makes them happy and it should be an enjoyable time for you. The problem with surprising teens is that they aren’t as trusting as a 5-year-old that still believes in Santa.

Instead, many teens enjoy trying to figure out the surprise before it happens. If this is what happens in your family, here are some tips for getting around that sly teenager and pulling off a great surprise.

Tip #1 - The Perfect Surprise

If you are looking for ideas for a surprise, pay attention to the things your teen likes. Tune into what their friends are asking for and listen to what your teen is saying about things. If you do this, you will usually get a good idea in about a week.

The surprise does not have to be a gift, it can also be an experience.

Tip #2 - The Hiding Spot

If the surprise is a gift or other "thing," hide it at your friend’s home. Your teen has had all of your hiding spots scoped out since he was 11, so just give up them.

Be sure you can trust your friend not to blab.

Tip #3 - Avoid the Questions

When your teen starts to ask probing questions, quickly find something else to do. Open communication is not necessary here.

Make a phone call, leave the room – whatever! Just find a way out of answering. Your teen knows you as well as you know your teen. They will know when you are lying and the best answer is no answer.

Tip #4 - Don't Tell Anyone

Do not share the surprise with siblings. They are easily bribed and can ruin the surprise before you even get a chance!

If your spouse cannot be trusted with a secret and is not vital to planning the surprise, don't tell them either. A simple, "Oh, I have that taken care of" will do when they ask.

Tip #5 - In Plain Sight

When giving the gift, hide it in plain sight. Do you remember Poe’s Purloined Letter? I’ve done this and it works.

Once I placed a Christmas gift on the beds of eight teen girls, each having their own gift. The girls came home from school and I didn’t tell them it was there.

Three of the eight found it after going to their rooms, the other five ran back to their rooms after hearing about it from the first three. They had totally missed it but had looked right at it. It was fun to watch.

Tip #6 - Leave Clues

Do something to lead up to the day of the surprise. If you do this, be prepared for an onslaught of questions - see Tip #3.

For instance, place a small treat on their dresser three days in advance. Include a cryptic note about something 'special' coming their way.

Tip #7 - Avoid the Obvious Time

Give the surprise at a different time than they would be expecting it. It will make the surprise more valuable and memorable.

For example, if the surprise is a meaningful birthday gift, give it the night before.

This way, it’s meaning can be considered rather than glossed over by all of the other gifts.

Tip #8 - When the Surprise Fails

While the surprise is fun, it’s the thought behind the gift that matters. If it doesn’t work, try not to be disappointed. You can always try again next time.

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