Gift-giving woes

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: As the holidays draw near, I like to be prepared and buy my gifts early. Every year, I get stuck when it comes to thinking of a gift for my younger brother “Henry.” Henry is a teenager whose only interest is playing video games. For Christmas, the only things he ever asks for are video games and money. I have made very clear to him that I don’t want to get him electronics or money for Christmas, but he never tells me anything else that he would like.

I have given him gifts that I thought he would like, but the books go unread, and the hobbies go untouched. I am to the point where I may just buy him socks for Christmas this year. Do you have any advice for how to shop for video game-playing teenagers? — Stumped Santa

Dear Stumped Santa: The decision not to get your brother any more electronics sounds like a great one. Gift-giving is tricky in this situation because you love your brother yet don’t want to encourage his passion for video games.

However, seeing as he loves games, what about a board game? That way, you could play with the whole family and engage with one another while at least temporarily avoiding the dreaded “screen time.”

Another possibility is to get tickets for a game or theater performance that might interest him.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to