In the life of a teenager with military parents, holidays can have an added layer of emotional complexity. The season of joy may also be a time of absence, making the choice of gifts particularly poignant.

Here’s a holiday gift guide designed to resonate with teens who have parents serving in the military, focusing on connection, appreciation, and resilience.

Communication Tech: Keeping in Touch Across the Miles

Military families often face long periods apart. A gift that can shorten the emotional distance is priceless. Smartphones or tablets with high-quality cameras can be a teen’s lifeline to their parent, regardless of where they are stationed. 

Prepaid international calling cards or subscriptions to services that offer video calls and messaging can also make communication more accessible. Additionally, a stylish, durable phone case with a personalized military print can be both practical and meaningful, reminding them of their parent’s courage.

Memory Keepers: Cherishing Moments Together

For teens with military parents, memories are treasures. A digital photo frame loaded with family pictures or a custom-made thin ribbons rack to remind them of their parent in the military can be a heartfelt gift. It’s not just about looking back; it’s also about creating new memories. 

Giving a high-quality camera or a scrapbooking kit encourages them to capture and preserve moments of their own lives to share with their parents once reunited. For a more modern twist, a portable instant printer that connects to mobile devices allows them to print and send photos to their parent overseas, making each shared moment tangible.

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Comfort Gifts: A Hug from Afar

A cozy, custom-designed throw blanket with a printed message like “Brave Like My Mom/Dad” can wrap them in warmth and comfort when they miss their parent the most. 

For something more personal, consider a build-your-own care package service, where you can select items you know they’ll love and appreciate — snacks, games, books, and personal care items. Including items that can be shared with the parent during visits or care packages sent overseas can also be a subtle reminder of the support system they have at home.

Inspirational Reads and Entertainment

Books can be both an escape and a source of comfort. Consider novels featuring characters with military parents, non-fiction that explores military life, or inspirational stories of resilience and adventure. 

Audiobooks and e-readers are also excellent for teens who prefer digital media. Additionally, subscriptions to streaming services that offer movies, documentaries, and shows can provide some entertainment. These can also be a topic of conversation with their military parent, helping them maintain a shared interest.

Activities and Experiences

Sometimes, the best gifts aren’t things but experiences. Look for activities that can help them connect with other teens in similar situations. These might include military youth camps or things that simply allow them to enjoy being teenagers, like concert tickets, adventure park passes, or art classes. 

These experiences can provide a welcome distraction, promote self-expression, and offer opportunities to make new friends who understand their unique life challenges.

Personalized Jewelry: A Token of Enduring Connection

Jewelry can serve as a constant reminder of a loved one’s presence, even when they are miles away. For a teenage girl or boy, consider a tasteful piece of personalized jewelry. That might be a bracelet, pendant, or dog tag engraved with a meaningful message, a significant date, or coordinates of a special place. 

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For an extra touch, add a family crest or the insignia of the parent’s military branch. This gift is not only a stylish accessory but also a deeply personal keepsake that can provide comfort during times of separation.

Educational and Self-Improvement Tools

Investing in a teen’s future is a gift that can keep on giving. Educational tools such as language learning software, a high-quality set of reference books, or a subscription to an online learning platform can be especially valuable for military families who move frequently and face educational disruptions. 

For personal growth, consider a journal with prompts for self-reflection, a planner to help them stay organized, or even an app that teaches life skills such as cooking or budgeting. These gifts can empower teens to take charge of their personal development and feel more in control of their changing circumstances.

Embracing Resilience: A Gift Beyond the Season

For the holidays, the greatest gift for a teen with military parents may be knowing they are understood and appreciated. Each carefully chosen present holds the potential to ease the challenges of military life, reinforcing their resilience and fortitude. 

Remember, the perfect gift need not be extravagant; it’s the thought that counts. Let this holiday guide be a starting point for expressing your unwavering support for these admirable young individuals and their families.