Is he too old for model cars? Too young for a real set of wheels?
Then you'll welcome these ideas to round out your preteen's holiday haul:
MEMBERSHIP TO A MAIL-ORDER CD CLUB
These clubs usually offer a choice of free CDs to start, followed by a monthly catalog of CDs to buy, including a featured selection sent (and billed) automatically unless the club member instructs otherwise. (Caution: This gets expensive for kids who aren't responsible about responding.)
Choose a general-interest publication for teens, or find one that focuses on a special interest—sports, entertainment, a favorite hobby.
Most art and science museums offer family memberships for about $40 to $120, which allow frequent visits for more than one person, gift-shop discounts, and other privileges.
At zoos that offer adoption programs, the money often goes toward the care and feeding of anything from a hedgehog to a hippo, while the adoptive "parent" may receive little bonuses such as pictures, tote bags, or information about the animal.
For a preteen just beginning to learn fiscal responsibility, a little something to pad his wallet is always welcome. Besides giving him the obvious—cold hard cash or gift certificates—consider buying him shares in a mutual fund.