Gifts that engage your teens and keep them laughing and talking

Engaging teens during the holidays can be difficult. Instead of an iTunes or gas gift card, get your teen a gift to remember. Photo: Twosomes by Mark Chester

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2013 - Teens are not the easiest to shop for. What they want is not always practical to buy and a gift card for gasoline, while practical, is not a lot of fun.

Here are some ideas that provide gifts that are not only memorable, but will spark conversations this holiday.

Twosomes by photographer March Chester have images captured by a veteran street photographer over the last 40 years plus side-by-side in a broad format hardcover book. The images show Chester’s ability to capture the whimsical and the poignant from around the world in a black and white format that has our eyes dancing over the grays. 

Placing images, taken not together, but over the course of Chester’s career which share a theme have readers seeking what is the same in images that often appear quite paradoxical. 

The theme is there. It may be as obvious as the age of the persons, or is it the place where these images where captured. Is it that in both images we see wizened elderly faces, or is it that the faces, while being very much the same, are in a place that is very different.

Because of the place, we can tell a much different story for two very similar people.

Chester’s images from the last half-century contrasted against a companion or on their own will evoke conversations as to the time and place of their capture and the story that they contain. 

Anything that creates a conversation between generations is worthy of your gift list.



Footed pajamas from may be the best gift found under the Christmas tree this year. I guarantee your teen will love them and evoke laughter as we remember that same young person in their very first footies. 

Perfect for lounging around in with new iPhone or phablet in hand, texting, tweeting while chatting it up with friends that are funny. has a line of toe warming, hooded and footless one-piece PJs. They come in a variety of colors, prints and materials from super warm fleece and luxurious chenille to super soft cottons. 

You can even order PJs with drop seats.

Prices vary from $19.99 to $49.99 for adults. Military themed and pet versions are also available.

One of the wackiest winter weather wear items, featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, are the Zeke Beardski “Be the Beard” face warmers.

These ski masks fit snugly over the nose and chin, securing with Velcro around the back of the head.  Made of thermal fleece with vented neoprene mouth and chin, Beardski’s are water resistance and feature silk backings.

Each Beardski features a Duck Dynasty worth quota of facial hair. Perfect for the teen with a sense of humor and the absurd, as well as those who are out and about enjoying the winter cold.  

Twelve different styles, from a Rasta beard to gnarly pirate.

Practical and fun embrace your inner Zeke Beardski $34.95 - $39.99.

Keep them warm with the Slumber Rest personal heated wrap by Sunbeam. An electric blanket for your shoulders, this 57 inch long wrap has two pockets for keeping hands warm while the luxury Royal mink/Fleece is not only soft to the touch but machine washable too.

A bonus to the heated wrap is its versatility. It can be used as a lap blanket, or draped over the back of your chair it provides a soothing, and warm, rest for tired shoulders. 

Oprah Winfrey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian are all fans of Spanx, the body shaping wear famously created by Sara Blakely, whose first design was footless pantyhose to wear with summer sandals, who feels there is no body problem, for men or women, that can’t be smoothed out with some appropriately placed spandex

This holiday cover her back…end… with Spanx Shapewear from panties and body suits to leg shapers and now Spanx Denim Leggings.

Spanx make the beautiful woman she is even more confident and allows for a bit of holiday indulging without holiday bulging.  

Shoppers can visit the Spanx web site where a shopping guide allows her to choose from style to solution – say leggings, tummy taming with a super slimming level. 

Give her a gift of a gift card she can use at or retailer Nordstrom where she can try on all the great Spanx items including front closure bras, body shapers, the new Star Power Spanx shaping tights and the taking the world by storm Denim Leggings that everyone loves.

A bargain purchase for the ladies on your list are PurMinerals the Art of Decadence ($24.00) is a wonderful collection of essentials that will put a spring time glow into the short winter days. 

The collection include Golden Age Eyeliner/Eye Shadow duo, Mosaic Powder in gold toned ornamental case, Boutique Pink Nail Polish and Vintage Pink Lip Gloss. 

If pink tones won’t work, try the Untamed Glamour 3-Piece Collection ($26) that include a limited edition leopard print mineral glow bronzer, liquid precision eyeliner and big blink mascara with Argan Oil.  Every purchase of the Untamed Glamour kit results in a donation to the National Geographic’s Big Cats initiative.

We are never too old to play and the Spin Master Air Hogs Atmosphere ($27) is tons of fun to play with.

The orb hovers over surfaces, including your hand. The control comes from the propeller pushing air down. 

The light frame and round shape keeps it bouncing off the walls, or ceiling. Creative types can create all sorts of new “hot potato” type games. The Atmosphere comes with a charging station that requires six AA batteries (not included). It takes between five and ten minutes to charge and then it runs

This toy has mixed reviews. We had no problems playing with it. However there are plenty of complaints. Make sure you keep the receipt (good advice for any gift).

The whole family can get involved, along with a handful of close friends or relatives, when you play the classic board game Apples to Apples.

The great thing about Apples to Apples is that no player, regardless of age, has an advantage over another as players are dealt Red Apple cards that feature an action, like Cracking Your Knuckles, or a person, like a French Maid, an event, like a Honeymoon, a celebrity like Al Pacino, a place Amsterdam, or an item like Chopsticks, Dandruff or a pop culture icon like Darth Vader.

There is no rhyme or reason as to what cards you will get.  This is a game of randomness. 

The hand’s dealer, who is determined by winning the previous throw down, plays a green that might say ancient, deadly, fake, masculine, saintly, or zany.  The dealer picks the top card, and the other players put the card in their hand that best describes or “works with” the dealers Green Apple card. Let the silliness begins. 

Let’s say the Green Apple card is Patriotic. Players, choosing from the limited cards in their hand, may throw down George F. Patton, Alien Abductions, Apple Pie, Backstreet Boys and Bacon.

The fun comes in as players try to convince the dealer, mostly by laughing at the other card choices, in order to get them to choose their Red Apple card, without letting on which card is theirs. The player’s whose Red Apple card is chosen by the dealer, gets the green card and “deals” the next hand.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Jacquie Kubin

Jacquie Kubin is an award winning journalist that began writing in 1993 following a successful career in marketing and advertising in Chicago.  She started Communities Digital News in 2009 as a way to adapt to the changing online journalism marketing place.  Jacquie is President and Managing Editor of Communities Digital News, LLC and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times Communities as well as a member of the National Association of Professional Woman, New American Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalist.  Email Jacquie here

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