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Traditional gifts for a sweet 16

Updated February 21, 2017

In the United States, the sweet 16 birthday is considered a rite of passage for many young women as it marks the transition between childhood and adulthood. Traditional birthday gifts for a sweet 16 can vary widely depending on the setting, style and budget of the party as well as the individual tastes and personality of the birthday gift recipient.

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The sweet 16 is a time when the birthday honoree often receives jewellery as a gift. In some circles, a birthday tiara is a traditional sweet 16 gift, and it may be made of real jewels or faux stones, depending on the gift budget. Family members often bestow other jewellery such as a bracelet or specially designed ring. Sterling silver jewellery is a reasonably priced option even for those on a budget. A silver charm bracelet allows friends or family members to pool financial resources to purchase the bracelet and individual charms to mark the occasion and celebrate the birthday girl.


One of the most popular gift options commonly associated with the sweet 16 birthday party is a new car. The 16th birthday marks the age at which a young person can receive a driving license and legally operate a car without an adult present in the vehicle. Many families choose to give the gift of a car to mark this occasion. Although the cost of a new car may be too much for some families, friends and family members can work together to provide a substantial financial gift that may be put toward the down payment of a new car or the cost of a used vehicle.

Other Gifts

Additional gift options may depend on the needs and interests of the birthday girl. If college is in the near future, a suitable sweet 16 gift may be cash or savings bond to help cover the costs of tuition and books. Even if college is not in her future, she may still appreciate some spending money so she can purchase a specific handbag or pair of shoes which she may have had her eye on. A copy of her favourite CD, a DVD of her favourite movie or tickets to see her favourite band in concert are some other options for gift ideas. She might also appreciate a trip to a salon or spa, and several party guests can chip in to pay for multiple treatments such as a manicure, pedicure and facial.

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About the Author

Sara Melone is a mother of three and a graduate of UNH. With prior careers in insurance and finance, photography, as well as certifications in fitness and nutrition, Melone draws directly from past experience and varying interests. She contributes with equal passion to birth journals, investment blogs, and self-help websites.

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