Anyway, she is a very hip, DIY kind of kid, so a nice silver necklace is probably too boring for her, but some kind of "real" jewelry that is silver and not costume is one idea I had, maybe something off of etsy? She already has a smartphone and a laptop so I can't really think of a cool gadget she's missing, already has a ukulele and is getting the keyboard for Christmas, not really a lot of other cheap instruments out there... She is pretty much only interested in music and clothes. I thought about getting her one of those vintage style portrait sittings but she has braces and is self conscious. Anything unusual or personalized is a plus!
Yeah 16 wasn't too different for me either. However, my mom sent me to a surprise restaurant dinner with two of my friends and left me her credit card to pay. I didn't really do parties or want/ask for them so that was big for me.
I don't recall anyone spending more on my gifts than they normally did. I was never big on jewelry, but a nice piece would be something she would have forever. I'm 21 and really like baltic amber and hazelwood necklaces, but idk if a teen would.
I like the idea of silver jewelry from an Etsy seller. That's the kind of thing that 17 y.o DD likes. We bought her a silver necklace at an artisan's fair last Christmas and she wears it everyday.
I dion't know any 16 y.o. who got a car for their birthday and we live in a fairly comfortable neighbourhood. Although, admittedly, there are classmates at DD's school who have their own cars, so who knows? But typically, it's bikes for birthdays or Christmas, not cars. Jewelry, electronics (laptops, iPads), sports equipment (eg. skis), musical instruments, clothes....the sort of thing that you have already mentioned.
My dd, who will be 16 in a few months, has always enjoyed most the birthday gifts that are experiential, especially when they include us taking special time with her. A couple of years ago, we took her to a somewhat unusual restaurant (an urban, Japanese small-plate place) and then a play. That was a memorable birthday she really enjoyed. This year she's asked for nothing but a fancy dinner with us.
Is there a musical, a play, a concert or anything happening in your area around her birthday? Maybe a smaller production with less-expensive tickets (I know often those things aren't cheap). That, or some sort of special destination meal -- it doesn't have to be an expensive place, just different or off the beaten track.
Does your town or a nearby city have any other unusual events or places a teen might find fun? Near me, for example, there is a community dinner theater, a fancy movie theater where you can have dinner while watching cult movies, midnight showings of Rocky Horror, etc.
Since she is into DIY, how about a Saturday class in an unusual but easy to pick up craft like resin jewelry, sewing, saori weaving? Something really crazy like glassblowing?
A day of thrift-store or vintage shopping or urban window shopping with a grown-up lunch at a cute spot? My brother, dd's uncle, took her last year for a day of walking around the city, going to thrift shops and lunch at a hole in the wall place. She had a blast. He bought her a cute piece of vintage jewelry at one of the shops. A great memory for dd.
I find that my oldest enjoys several small gifts rather than one big gift. She gets excited with things like t-shirts with her fav logo, movie tickets, ice cream gift cards, and itunes gift cards. When my dd gets invited to a birthday party I take the same strategy on a smaller budget and we pick out a collection of smaller items like a drink container, some lotion, and other stuff like that. The gifts are always a hit.