Middle school girls and boys can often be worlds apart in how they think and how they act. What we found, though, is that these usually opposite groups are actually pretty much in sync with each other when it comes to holiday gifts.
Both genders, ages 11 and 12, said they want all sorts of tech products for the holidays. And before you begin rolling your eyes, if you listen closely, their rationale is actually quite honorable.
One sixth-grade boy said he wanted a Fitbit so that he could jog with his mom. Another sixth-grade girl said she wanted one too so that she and her pals could keep track of their "steps." She said they're all pretty competitive about who walks the most or runs the longest distance in P.E. class. For kids, there's the Ace 2, which is $69.95. And at the same price, there's the Inspire, which looks a little more mature. The most expensive Fitbit product is the Versa 2 at $199.95, which is loaded with a sleep tracker, menstrual cycle tracker, and guided breathing sessions among other bells and whistles.
Middle schoolers all seem to really like GoPros, too. A few boys and girls said they skateboard, ski, and mountain bike (yay, to the outdoor activities) and like to strap video cameras to their helmets so they can make zany or slow-motion videos for their social media feeds. There are a variety of products, many of them costing about $300 to $500. But GoPro is currently offering a deal where if you trade in any of their digital cameras in any condition, they'll take it and you'll get $100 off the Hero8 Black or $50 off the Hero7 Black, which would make them $299.99 and $279.99, respectively.
The Polaroid was invented in 1937 and first went on sale in Jordan Marsh in downtown Boston just before Christmas 1948. In 2001, the Polaroid Corporation filed for bankruptcy and 2001 and the popularity of the instant cameras waned. In the last few years, however, they've made a comeback, and adolescents of all ages have been snapping them up. They come in cute colors too, like pink and turquoise. One 12-year-old said she really wants one for the holidays because she's not allowed a smartphone and this would allow her to take pics of her and her friends and plaster her walls with her buddies. Target sells them for about $75 and there are Amazon deals for a little less than that.
Ah, the gift cards. Sure, at first blush, the plastic rectangles might seem impersonal. But really, pre-pubescent kids don't want Grandma or Uncle Joe to shop for them and get them a dorky game or super geeky clothes. They want the cash, or the gift cards, so they can pick out the items for themselves. Plus, a day shopping at Bay Street in Emeryville with their friends (without their parents) is half the fun. Here's some of the brands the kids like these days: GameStop, Playstation, American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger, Champion, Guess, Zumiez, Glossier, Sephora, Alta, and Brandy Melville, to name a few.
OK, after polling thousands and thousands of middle schoolers, we did find one who didn't want anything electronic. So, if you have this kind of wonderful kid in your family, here's what this young lady wanted: Drawing supplies. Of course, there is Michael's, where you can peruse the aisles and pick out any number of pens, pencils and paint tubes. But how about supporting Blick Art? There are stores in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. The staff are usually artists and art students themselves and they all give student and teacher discounts.
Among high school-age girls (and boys for that matter), the hot-ticket item is no surprise: AirPods. Music, of course, is all the rage. And looking hip while blaring hip-hop is paramount. The kids don't want messy cords getting in the way, and the tiny buds look very, very cool. Here's the downside. They're pretty expensive. What Apple product isn't? A pair will cost you $159 and the AirPods Pro is $259. What some of the kids and thrifty parents are doing is looking for second-hand and second-generation gadgets, which can be pretty easily found through eBay or word of mouth.
One senior in high school is already feeling a little nostalgic for home. This 17-year-old said she wants an Oaklandish or "Hella Oakland" T-shirt for the holidays so she can "represent" when she goes off to college. There's a bunch of cool designs at 510Brand.com on Grand Avenue, where the shirts are selling for about $25. There's even some on sale for $10.
After years of lobbying for increasingly more expensive, and annoying, video-game systems, one 16-year-old boy we surveyed has become a clotheshorse. Our gratitude for this transition cannot be expressed in words. Clothes just last longer. Here's what's on his wish list this year:
All the rave with the slick-set at Oakland Tech, Superdry offers stylized, durable gear at surprisingly reasonable prices. The Superdry Men's Padded Elite Jacket features a bungee cord adjustable hood and hem, a main zip fastening and elasticated cuffs with a hook and loop fastening. Finished with a textured Superdry logo on one shoulder, a rubber Superdry Elite logo badge on one sleeve and a Superdry logo patch above the hem. As of this writing, this coat costs $109.
Like his father at that age, this teen is all about matching. The Superdry Men's Core Overhead Cagoule has a fleece-lined body and branding across the chest flap. The integral mesh-lined hood has a bungee cord adjuster along with a small peak. The coat is finished with a small logo patch above the hem and branded zip pullers. Again, this coat only costs $109, making these two dream purchases way less than the cost of a gaming system.
Adidas Originals NMD R1 Runner, "Black Graffiti." By combining the old with the new, Adidas has been doing some very interesting things with its NMD line. With scribbles on the Boost midsole and artistic tagging on the heel tab, the Adidas NMD R1 "Graffiti" comes in red, white and black. They can be accessorized with a pullover hoodie but, then, he's already getting one. The $130 price-tag still means this Christmas is under-budget. Yeah!