How to Select an Appropriate Coming-of-Age Gift


Most religions and cultures have their own unique ways of celebrating young girls' and boys' rites of passage--the coming-of-age milestones that mark their transition from children to young men and women. Celebrate their new status in society with a special gift.


  • Celebrate coming-of-age in the Hispanic tradition when 15-year-old girls vow faithfulness to church and family, then are treated like princesses at elaborate celebrations.

  • Pick out a gold ring or buy a traditional tiara to symbolize the celebrant's entrance into womanhood.

  • Choose religious items such as a Bible with blank pages for dedications; or a rosary, cross or Lady of Guadalupe necklace.

Bar and bat mitzvah

  • Say "Mazel tov!" at Jewish coming-of-age rituals. The day marks the first time the bar mitzvah boy (age 13) or bat mitzvah girl (age 12) is called to the Torah to recite a blessing over the weekly reading. The celebration that follows usually includes a festive meal at a synagogue, restaurant or banquet hall.

  • Follow the tradition of giving cash in multiples of 18. (Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet corresponds to a number, and the two letters that form chai, "life" in Hebrew, add up to 18.)

  • Give a gold or silver symbol on a chain--a chai, chamsa (Hebrew for "the hand of God," to ward off the evil eye), or Star of David. Buy a mezuzah, a small case with a prayer scroll inside, for the boy or girl's home.

  • Buy Israel bonds ( or plant a tree in Israel (

  • Book a memorable trip to Israel for the child. Many bar or bat mitzvah ceremonies are performed there as well.


  • Celebrate the conferring of the Holy Spirit to 13-year-old girls and boys. These are smaller-scale events, but still important in the Catholic church.

  • Monogram or inscribe a white prayer book, or engrave a silver rosary bracelet. Engrave a silver frame with the child's name and date and put a commemorative photograph or keepsake invitation inside.

  • For girls, treat the celebrant in her traditional white dress to a professional portrait, a manicure/pedicure or a grown-up hairdo for the big day.

Tips & Warnings

  • Gifts of cash can be set aside for college or a large purchase.

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