Perfect Presents for Your Peeps

Doing some last-minute holiday shopping and scratching your head over what to get for your loved ones? Or, worse, are you in total panic mode? Yikes! Chill it, OK? We’re here to light the way (kinda like Rudolph).

Perfect Presents for Mom

  • The mom who needs a break
    You can easily put together a spa-day-at-home gift pack by rounding up toiletry items at the dollar store. Simply toss soaps, sea salts, bath scrunchies and scented candles into a pretty basket!
  • A green-thumb mom
    Get an oblong planter and place a small bag of potting soil and some packets of seeds inside of it so Mom can grow her own herb garden on the windowsill. This is also great for moms who love to cook!

Perfect Presents for Dad

  • A sports-fanatic dad
    Official sports gear can be pricey, so why not take the fun, unofficial route? Whether he needs socks, sweats or whatever, use your dad’s favorite team as inspiration by sticking to a color scheme.
  • The cerebral dad
    Bookstores have huge markdowns on books they want to move. Hit up the clearance rack to pick out a good read for your dad.

Perfect Presents for Sibs

  • The “I’m bored” brother
    A great way to beat boredom? Board games! If your budget is super-tight, you can get old-school classics like Chinese checkers, backgammon or dominos for less than $10.
  • A style-conscious sister
    So you don’t have the dough to splurge on expensive designer duds? You can still hook sis up with some awesome accessories. Go for earrings, belts, scarves or headbands.

Perfect Presents for BFFs

  • Your sentimental besties
    Buy each of your closest friends a blank journal and write a personal message on the inside cover. Pick up some pretty pens, then use colorful ribbon to tie one to the front of each journal.
  • The casual acquaintances
    Hit the drugstore to stock up on inexpensive tubes of lip gloss. Attach holiday gift tags and pass them around to your group of gals.

Perfect Presents for a Boy

  • The laid-back boy
    Get him some incense and a nice holder -- something tough, such as carved wood. And be sure to go for more masculine scents, like spices and musks. Stay away from florals, OK?
  • The boy who plays guitar
    So what is it about a guitarist that makes girls crazy? We’re not sure, but if you’re lucky enough to have a BF who strums, guitar strings and picks are super-duper cheap -- and he’ll love ’em!

Nix the Negative Friendship Patterns

You abso-tootin-lutely love your girls. Their silly antics have you in a fit of daily giggles, and they always know just the right thing to say to turn your frown upside down. But sometimes the road to friendship isn’t all fun. Read on to find out how you can end friendship drama once and for all.

“My BFF always copies my look!”
You work hard to have a standout style, so it can be mucho a-ggrrr-vating when a bestie snags up your original fashion finds.

The Sunny Side: Ever hear the old saying, “Imitation is the best form of flattery?” It’s obvious you’re a trendsetter -- not a follower. So before ya huff and puff that your girl has played copycat for the umpteenth time, remember that it’s only because you’ve paved the way. She’s not trying to be you; she just loves your taste. So use your fashion sense to help your BFF find a unique style all her own.

“My friend always ditches me for boys.”
Your girl is with you through thick and thin, but the moment a brown-haired babe enters the picture, she goes missing.

The Sunny Side: Put yourself in her shoes and try to be understanding. Remember when you were totally gaga over that guy and you were anxious to spend every moment you could with him? Your girl feels the same way. Don’t worry, though; once the starry-eyed phase is over, she’ll be back by your side. Can’t wait? Let her know you miss her. But be confident enough in the friendship to let her enjoy her trip on Cloud Nine.

“My girlfriend mooches off me, and I don’t get much allowance!”
Sure, you might have thought buying a cup o’ joe for your gal at Starbucks or picking up the popcorn at the movies was no biggie. But now your girl is outta control.

The Sunny Side: Since your girl doesn’t have the cash to cover, think of other alternatives that you can do for free. This way you’ll both save money! You don’t need to spend dough to have fun with your girl, so stick to zero-cost outings and adventures when you’re hanging with your fave gal pal. Hit up a nature trail, break out the board games or bake a batch of brownies!

Make Nice With Mom

When it comes to mothers and teen daughters, you can bet there are conflicts about hair, friends and messy bedrooms! How can two people who love each other (admit it!) disagree so much?

Until recently, Laura, 13, felt she could confide in her mom about anything -- boys, grades, her period, whatever. She loved just hanging out with her. But lately, Laura admits, being around her mom is…stressful. “My mom always asks questions, like a detective. I feel she doesn't trust me anymore. She’s always criticizing me!”

Laura's mom sees it differently: “My daughter used to run into the house after school to tell me about her day. Now, I have to prod to have a conversation, or I wouldn’t know anything. I ask about her life because I love her. It’s not criticism.”

Truth is, you will wake up one day (maybe many years from now) and wish for a fab relationship with your mom. It helps to lay some groundwork now.

1. Make it a movie night Kick it on the couch with some popcorn and watch a flick with Mom! Movies are great equalizers because you don’t have to talk, yet there’s something intimate about it. Choose a light comedy -- nothing too heavy unless you want to end up in a too-deep convo.

2. Hit the mall Shopping is another good equalizer. Have fun trying on funky clothes together. Ask her opinion about a pair of jeans and help her update her style. You’ll be surprised at how much enjoyment you’ll get out of it -- not to mention those mad boots you’ve been wanting!

3. Say it in a card Having a hard time expressing your feelings? It’s often difficult to communicate face to face. Whether you have a gripe or just want to tell her you love her, write a note. Leave it on her pillow or in the car. She’ll get the message!

4. Help out Just like you, she goes through crazy times. Does she work all day and come home to a mess of chores? Lend a hand. No need to scrub floors, but a little effort goes a long way. Straighten your room, empty the dishwasher or do your laundry -- without being asked!

Shut Down the Boy Drama!

Wasn’t life so much easier back in first grade when boys still had cooties? Before guys practically hijacked every thought in your head space, the most annoying thing about your daily life was when your knee socks wouldn’t stay up.

But now? You’ve got this guy doing that, that guy doing this -- and none of it makes a lick of sense! Luckily, we’ve got it all figured out for you….

The Boy Who Should be Kissing You is Dissing You

  • The scene: You know he likes you -- his sister told your BFF. So why does he act as if you smell like burnt hair mixed with sardines?
  • The reality: It’s the teenage version of throwing sand at you on the preschool playground. He’s acting like he hates you because he likes you -- and he doesn’t want his buddies razzing him.
  • The happy ending: Keep being your warm smiley self, but keep it low-key and not over the top. He’ll eventually get that he can let his guard down because you’re such a chill girl. Right?

Your Best Guy Friend “Betrays” You

  • The scene: Your BGF announces that he has a crush on the one girl he knows you can’t stand. Grrr.
  • The reality: He could be trying to get a reaction out of you. And is it so bad that a guy wants to grab your attention? Or … he actually likes the girl.
  • The happy ending: Know that whom he dates is none of your biz. Give him your blessing, and don’t attempt to compete with his crush -- and be there for him when she dumps him for the next cute guy who comes along just because that’s the way she rolls.

The Official Boyfriend Is Acting … Different

  • The scene: He always calls, but this time he didn’t. He always puts his arm around you at lunch, but this time he didn’t. He always does whatever, but this time he didn’t.
  • The reality: Something is up, and OK, maybe it has to do with you. You can’t force a dude to show affection, so why try?
  • The happy ending: Ask him straight up what’s going on. You might find out he’s in a funk because his parents or coach are giving him heat. But if he says, “Nothing’s up” or (gulp) that the relationship is on the rocks, your best bet is to back off. He’ll reach out when he’s ready -- as long as he’s feeling it. Otherwise … embrace the fabulousness of being newly single!

Your Brother Is a Space Invader

  • The scene: He hacks your computer to read your private Facebook messages, copies and sends his friends the most secretive IMs between you and your BFF, and is generally ruining your existence.
  • The reality: He’s a turd who doesn’t respect boundaries.
  • The happy ending: Invasion of privacy is not acceptable. It really isn’t. It’s time for your parents to get involved. Tell them, maturely, about the problem. Betcha they’ll put a stop to it. Stat!

5 Awesome Ways to Totally Bond with Your BFF

Think you and your BFF are stuck together like glue and couldn’t possibly be any closer? Maybe…but doubtful. There’s always room for deepening a relationship. Here are five fun ideas for making your friendship even tighter.

1. Share a secret stash box
Lucy and her best friend Bridget, both 12, found a cool way to deal with tough-to-tackle feelings. They used markers and glitter to decorate a shoebox for holding sentimental items. “The first thing I put in there was a note from my grandmother because I really miss her,” says Lucy. Bridget took the box home and put something personal in it, and passed it back to Lucy. “We take turns with the box, and we always talk about what’s inside,” explains Lucy. “It’s helped both of us get through some stuff.”

2. Get an adrenaline rush
Ever notice how on dating reality shows the guy and girl who go bungee-jumping often wind up together in the end? That’s because high-energy activities create emotional bonds between people. Do something exciting with your best bud (that amusement park ride that’s not for the coaster-phobic, perhaps?).

3. Give each other space
Huh -- step back to get closer? Believe it or not, time apart strengthens relationship bonds. If you’re spending 24/7 with your BFF, you’ll inevitably get on each other’s nerves (even if you don’t admit it). Take timeouts, and here’s the real challenge: Do not act jealous if she tells you she was hanging out with another girl since she last saw you. Solid friendships allow breathing room.

4. Create something together
Build a go-cart. Paint a mural. Form a band. Doing any kind of creative project will not only bring you and your friend closer; it will help you both learn how to work collaboratively with others -- a skill that will always come in handy. But the best part? Sharing in the satisfaction of a job well done once you’ve brought something to completion.

5. Conquer your fears
You hate snakes, and your friend is afraid of heights? You can help each other overcome your worst fears. She can hold your hand while you walk through the reptile exhibit at the zoo, and you’ll hold hers as you take the elevator up to the top floor of the tallest building in your town. What are friends for, right?

Image: Corbis