It happens once in a lifetime: the Sweet 16. The ceremonies that mark the transformation of a girl into a young woman vary from culture to culture, from elaborate Quincenearas to debutante balls to candle ceremonies to Daddy-daughter dances. In America, it’s often marked with the gift of a car—this gift list contains all the best Sweet 16 gift ideas that aren’t cars.
A promise ring from a father to a daughter symbolizes a lifelong commitment. It says “I’ll be there for you. Whatever life throws your way, you can lean on me.” The tradition dates back the 16th century, and the combined infinity/heart symbol means “you have my heart forever.”
Girls love getting flowers, no matter what the occasion. This sweet 16 gift might be the first real bouquet of flowers she receives. So make it mean something. Make it classy. Make it a dozen high-quality long-stemmed roses—she’ll save the petals, and remember the moment for years.
Put a personal beauty studio on her own room—you can get it set up when she’s off at school, and when she comes home, she’ll be overcome with delight. This sweet 16 gift acknowledges that she’s growing up and you support and value her journey to womanhood.
Infinity is defined as the largest number you can conceive. That’s how much you love her: infinity. These silver infinity earrings are set with a scapolite stone, which signifies inner peace and commitment to be yourself. Get her this sweet 16 gift to let her know you want her to grow, thrive, and be true to herself.
Gourmet Cookie Bouquet
Cookies! She may be growing up, but you know she’ll never outgrow cookies, ever. This sweet 16 cookie bouquet is as sweet as can be. Personalize it with your choice of colors, size, and design. The center cookie can be decorated with a message of up to twenty-five characters.
Luxury Princess Canopy Bed
Mind: Blown. A luxury designer canopy bed handcrafted in Italy is the least you can do if you’re not getting her a car, right? Your princess will sleep like royalty every night, dreaming of glamorous evening gowns, court dances, and princes lining up to ask for the next dance. Glass slippers not included.
Personalized Messenger Bag
She’s 16 and ready to graduate from a little kid’s book bag to a hipster’s messenger bag. No one ever said hipsters can’t be girly, though. This bag combines a classic monogram with cute design motifs to make a perfect sweet 16 gift.
Princess Canopy Screen
You guffawed, chortled, snickered, and spit out your coffee when you say the price of the princess canopy bed. Here’s a Sweet 16 canopy option that’s in a range that won’t strain the pocketbook. She’ll still dream of princes and being swept off her feet, and you won’t have to spend her college fund to buy it.
Fashion forward, high class socialites rejoice! Graduation day his here! Handbag graduation, that is. Mark her transformation from girl to young lady with a gift that will make her swoon: a genuine leather purse from Hermes. Her friends will be jealous, and your cred will be in the black for years.
BFF’s forever? Get this personalized bangle for your girl for her Sweet 16 and seal the deal. Let her parents and relatives get all the expensive stuff: you can swing this one with just one or two babysitting gigs. It’s handmade and comes in a cute gift box.
What does a 16 year-old want that’s not a car? The latest greatest iPhone, of course. The iPhone 6s has a great screen, a top-quality camera, and video apps she can use to edit videos. Buy this gift and guarantee a happy Sweet 16 birthday.
$649.00 and up
Commemorate her special brand of awesomeness with a Sweet 16 gift that’s a true multi-modal multitasker. This chalkboard can be a standalone gift, and accent to her birthday bash, or part of a full room makeover. Design, wording, and colors are all fully customizable. Contact the artist and make it perfect.
Magical Moment: the Sweet 16 herself walks down an aisle of adoring friends and relatives in a pair of girl’s flats. Her father awaits with tears of pride in his eyes. She slips out of the flats and he helps her into her first official pair of high heels. The Angel wears Prada!
She’s the girl who gave all her friends lectures on feminism when they tried out for the cheerleading team. She thinks Sweet 16 is synonymous with gender oppression. What to do? Get her an electric guitar: the Stratocaster has been the preferred axe of guitar gods…er, goddesses for half a century.
Peace/Love/16 iPhone Case
Peace, Love, and Sweet 16! Get the flower girl in your life—friend, sister, niece, friend of the family—a cool gift that will be with her more than all of her other gifts combined—because it’ll be attached to her iPhone. And count yourself lucky you’re not the one who has to spring for the big one.
Amai juu roku, tien shyr lio—that’s how they say Sweet 16 in Japan and China, respectively. Don’t worry, it does not say “there’s one born every minute.” We checked it out for you. This sterling silver kanji charm comes as a bracelet, necklace charm, or pendant.
Look Daddy, no carbon footprint! Steel frame, one gear, no brakes. It’s a mantra that only the cycling insiders know. Get your tradition-bucking, eco-conscious Sweet 16 the hipster equivalent of a car. Get her a fixie and she’ll have her freedom and the awe of her skinny-jean wearing peers.
Sixteen Years of Awesome
Made in 2000—the year that gave us the first wave of 21st century babies, aka millennials. This Sweet 16 gift is perfect to get for a friend, or for parents to get as an add-on to the big time gifts they have planned to knock her socks off.
Take it back to the boondocks with this Sweet 16 gift for country girls. Or hip girls who like to sport a cap low over their eyes at a rakish angle. Yeah, a gal can be rakish—it’s the modern world, people. We have a feeling this will be her go-to lid all the way to college.
Retro Ball Gown
Princesses, prom queens, aspiring homecoming court girls—this is a Sweet 16 gift made in heaven for young women who love all the trappings of tradition. She’ll look like she stepped straight out of the pages of a fairy tale when she puts this one. Get the hankies ready. The little girl is growing up.
The iPhone is one thing, but a MacBook Pro takes Sweet 16 to the next level. This top of the line laptop from Apple has all the power she needs to crank out her papers and work her spreadsheet magic. If she treats it right, it will last her all the way through college. The parent who gives this gift is a smart one, indeed.
$1299.00 and up
Sweet 16 Birthday Basket
She’s the sweetest thing in your life, so shower her with the sweetest Sweet 16 gift basket out there. This basket overflows with treats she’ll love. She and all her besties can snack on these treats all night long during her final slumber party as a young girl.
Personalized Leather Journal
You have an artistic, reflective, deep thinker on your hands. She’s got ideas to end world hunger, stop wars, clean up the oceans, and designs for clean, free, renewable energy all up in her head. Give her this journal for her Sweet 16, and she can get it all down in black and white: we’re waiting!
Canon Power Shot
She’s a Sweet 16 with a knack for snapping that perfect pic. Give her the best: the Power Shot is tricked out with the best optics for still photos and 1080 p HD video capture. Teen dream: it has an on-board Wi-Fi system that lets you upload images to social networking sites directly from the camera.
Sweet 16 Magazine Cover
Every girl dreams of seeing their name in lights and making the cover of the latest celebrity magazine. Even if she’s an alternative type, she’s dreamed of making the front page of something. Make her dreams come true with this professional-looking magazine cover you can customize for your special girl.
Freeze this moment in time forever: your Sweet 16, just like she looks right now. Send in photos of the birthday girl, and the makers will work with you to customize the clay figurine from head to toe. They’ll even send you a prototype you can look over and change to suit your wishes.
Sweet 16 Jammies
She may be growing up, but she still needs cute pajamas to cuddle up in when she goes to sleep at night. Lay them out on her bed the night before so when she wakes up, she’ll be in birthday mode already. Choose from flannel color combinations for the bottoms, from girly pink to grunge-style red and black lumberjack.
If your Sweet 16 is a thrill seeker, she can relive the best moments of her adrenaline charged adventures with a GoPro Action camera. Or she can use it to record the shenanigans that go down at her birthday bash, and watch them all later—after editing out the embarrassing moments, of course.
Sweet 16 Tote
Tennis anyone? For the country club set or the up and coming sorority girl, this Sweet 16 tote is all the way cute. The “SS” design says it all. She can pack her tennis stuff, gym gear, or use it for a school bag until she graduates—because when she gets to college, she’ll replace it with her new letter bag after rush!
This large format memory book gives everyone a chance to write down a special note during her Sweet 16 birthday bash. The bound spine is built to last, and the pages are lined to make it easier for friends and loved ones to jot down a few lines. With its slim design, she can tuck it under her mattress and relive the memories before she goes to sleep.
You are! This T-shirt brings some humor to the Sweet 26 birthday table. Sure it’s a big deal, but who says we have to get all maudlin about it. She’s only 5,844 days old after all. But like the shirt says, Who’s Counting? Just another day on the calendar, right?
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is the top-of-the-line video editing suite from software giants Adobe. It’s what the pros use to edit commercial grade, professional video. This is perfect for your Sweet 16 who’s into making movies and cutting together video. Get this software for your aspiring filmmaker and watch her art transform.
Wardrobe Revamp With Makeover
Fly your princess to Washington, D.C. and arrange for world-famous professional stylist to come give her a total wardrobe revamp and professional makeover. This stylist has worked with Presidents and Prime Ministers. This Cloud9 Experience is D.C. only, but you can easily find a similar makeover or spa package in your hometown.
International Summer Travel
Language immersion in China. Community service in Nicaragua. Conservation in Indonesia. Peace-building in Rwanda. Did your Sweet 16 ask you to give the money you wanted to spend on a birthday gift to charity instead? With an international travel program, you can give her a taste of the world—the world she wants to change for the better.
(You may also like: 25 Gifts for Girls Who Hate Girly Things)