And let’s face it: Teens can be hard to read. They’re smack-dab in between being a kid and an adult, and relating to them (or even communicating effectively with them!) can be a teensy bit difficult. Which is why buying them the perfect gift that they’ll be truly stoked about is basically Mission: Impossible.
Luckily for you, we talked to a bunch of teens. Like, a lot of them. Boys and girls ranging from 13 to 19, from seventh graders to upperclassmen in college. And guess what? They all want the items below. If none of these gifts seem like a fit, check out our ideas for gifts for him, gifts for her, gifts for pet lovers, top-rated Nordstrom gifts, 5-star Amazon gifts and gifts for everyone else.
Baggu Fanny Pack ($48; baggu.com)
In case you missed it: Fanny packs are back…and we’re not mad at any carryall that will keep the kids more organized. Perfect for storing their phone/wallet/inhaler, this compact option from Baggu comes in seven colors and patterns and can be worn around the waist or slung over the shoulder.
Chia Pet “Star Wars” The Child ($19.99; target.com or $24.99; amazon.com)
Say it with us: Ch-Ch-Chia! That’s right, Chia Pets are once again having a resurgence, this year in the form of the cult-favorite “Star Wars” character the Child. Help your teen spread the chia seeds all over this clay planter and before you know it you’ll be transported right back to the ‘80s.
Casetify Custom Phone Case (starting at $45; casetify.com)
While most teens would probably prefer to go case-free with their Galaxy or iPhone, we adults know it’s a must. Entice them with these adorable and durable cases from Casetify that you can completely customize with initials and names in a variety of colors and fonts. From the shock-absorbing Ultra-Impact Case that covers 3 meters of drop protection to chic leather options, this site has you literally and figuratively covered.
More to know: They also offer some seriously fun case collabs with “Stranger Things,” Heinz, Hello Kitty and Pokémon, to name a few, and the brand’s customizable AirPods cases are worth checking out too.
Meketec Skateboards 22-Inch Retro Skateboard ($34.99; amazon.com)
Skateboards will always be cool, including this 22.5-inch longboard from Meketec. The skateboard has 60mm urethane wheels and comes in 26 colors and patterns, all for just under 35 bucks.
J.Crew Polartec Sherpa Fleece Half-Snap Pullover ($69.50, originally $138; jcrew.com)
Sherpa everything is hot right now, and that includes cozy, fleecy pullovers. We adore this women’s option from J.Crew that is equal parts comfy and cute. Cut in the oversize, boxy style that teens love, the fleece comes in four colors (we’re obsessed with the green/blue combo) and sizes XXS to 3X.
Philips One by Sonicare Battery Toothbrush ($24.99; target.com)
If you know, you know: Stockings are the perfect opportunity for parents to stock up on their kids’ essentials, and that includes new toothbrushes. We love this super-cute electric option from Philips — yes, the brand that makes the ultra-fancy Diamondclean that we’re obsessed with — dubbed “One by Sonicare.” Available in four fun pops of color, the brushes are a major step up from grocery store options but much more affordable than most electric toothbrushes on the market.
J.Crew Nordic Half-Zip Pullover in Polartec Sweater Fleece (starting at $59.50; jcrew.com)
Fear not, J.Crew’s got boys covered in the fleece pullover department too. Perfect for layering, this Polartec sweater is polished enough for dinner with the parents but hip enough to wear to class. Featuring cute contrasting zipper pulls, the pullover is actually super warm, thanks to its fleecy interior lining. More to know: It comes with three zippered pockets to hold all his things.
Minted Custom Snap Tote ($30; minted.com) & Dopp Kit ($34; minted.com)
Minted recently unveiled a collection of personalized bags, pouches, weekenders and backpacks that is the perfect custom gift (at an unbelievably reasonable price!) for your teen. For girls, we recommend the Snap Tote, and for boys the Dopp Kit, both of which come in more than a dozen cool, artist-created prints. More to know: Their name can be monogrammed for free on a foil-press leather tag.
Eddie Bauer Stratuslite Down Snap Mock for Women ($64.50, originally $129; eddiebauer.com) & Men ($64.50, originally $129; eddiebauer.com)
A pullover puffer is a wardrobe staple, and the Stratuslite his and her options from Eddie Bauer make for excellent gifts. Ultra warm, thanks to premium down insulation, the water-repellent jacket comes in a slew of cute colorways that are highly Instagrammable. We don’t know about you, but the current sale price is a delightful savings as we head into the holidays.
Game of Phones (starting at $10; uncommongoods.com)
Teens may sometimes love their phones more than they love you, so they are going to love this hilarious game that turns their phone into the source of a scavenger hunt. Here’s how it works: Gather friends, family and phones, draw a card and then…see who has the most alarms set on their phone (they win that card). Or who has the lowest battery percentage, can offer up the worst selfie in their camera roll or has the most embarrassing app of the group. The person with the most points at the end wins the game!
Smoko Heated Snoopy Slipper ($38; urbanoutfitters.com)
Keep them cozy and toasty during late-night study sessions with these heated (and hilarious) Snoopy slippers from Smoko. Embedded with USB ports for warming up, the oversize slippers are one size only.
Lululemon Align Pant II ($98; lululemon.com)
Pretty much every teen girl we talked to had the Lululemon Aligns on their list. Why? You can’t find a softer, more supportive legging. And, of course, the Lululemon brand name does hold major sway among Gen Zers. Available in 28 colors, three lengths (25-, 28- and 31-inch) and sizes 0 to 20, this is a home run gift. Looking to spend less? Check out these Amazon lookalikes for a fraction of the price.
Spikeball ($59.96; amazon.com)
In this age of screens and social media, a good ol’ fashioned outdoors game is just what the doctor ordered. Bring out their competitive side with Spikeball, a two-on-two ball game described by the brand as “if volleyball and four square had a baby.” LOL, yes, really. The good news is that the game can pretty much be played anywhere — your backyard, the beach, a tailgate or even your basement.
Vabogu Manicure Set (starting at $15.89; amazon.com)
Given the pandemic, trips to the nail salon for teens have probably slowed down, so arm them with everything they need for the perfect at-home mani/pedi. This cool kit that has nearly 4,000 positive Amazon reviews covers not only hands and feet maintenance but will also help them tame eyebrows and facial hair. The set includes stainless steel clippers, cuticle trimmers, tweezers, nail files and more. Want to earn bonus points? Throw in this cult-favorite OPI cuticle oil too.
J.Crew Ribbed Beanie ($39.50; jcrew.com)
She can never, ever have enough beanies, and this one from J.Crew is a must-have, especially at this sale price. The perfect stocking stuffer, the ultra-soft hat comes in four colors, from lovely sage green to a subtle neutral cream, and it’s got a matching scarf ($34.50) too.
Maono Podcast Kit ($64.99; amazon.com)
Got a wannabe podcaster on your list? Set them up for success with this kit that includes a condenser microphone with a 192kHz/24bit sampling rate and sturdy boom arm set with a pop filter and a foam windscreen — all of which is to say it’s perfect for beginners who want to look profesh.
More to know: With 2,400 positive Amazon reviews, it’s got a solid customer base too. Looking for something more in-depth? Check out this pro-level PreSonus kit that also has great reviews but rings in for quite a bit more.
SomethingFeisty Starbucks Holiday Color-Changing Cups ($13.59, originally $16.99; etsy.com)
Starbucks recently released its holiday collection, and teens are obsessed with the reusable, color-changing cups. This Etsy store offers customizable hot cups in six colors, while this store offers monogrammable cold glitter Venti tumblers in Christmas hues.
Cameo Custom Video Message (prices vary; cameo.com)
Blow their minds this holiday with a custom video shout-out from one of their idols…or maybe Oscar from “The Office”! While Snoop Dog is going to cost you a pretty penny ($900, to be exact), Ice-T is a bit cheaper at $350. Who else is available for a message? From musicians like Lance Bass ($249) to pro athletes like Johnny Damon ($100) and Mia Hamm ($125) — trust us, this site has got you covered.
BalanceFrom Colored Neoprene Coated Dumbbell Set With Stand ($40.67, originally $45.15; amazon.com)
Let’s face it: Working out from home is the new normal. And teens who are looking to stay devoted to strength and fitness during these times of social distancing will be thrilled with this compact weight set. Nearly 10,000 Amazon reviewers have given the set a 4.7-star rating, saying it’s worth the purchase.
Packard Bell Home Theater Projector and Screen ($98; urbanoutfitters.com)
Movie nights are more popular than ever, and this convenient set will ensure your teen is hooked up for the foreseeable future. The 2,000-lumen projector has built-in speakers, can be adjusted for viewing from 32 to 150 inches and connects to their gaming system or cable or streaming box. More to know: The ultra-light foldable screen can be hung on walls, a garage door, in between two trees or wherever movie night takes them.
Uniqlo Ultra-Light Down Parka for Women (starting at $39.90; uniqlo.com) & Men (starting at $39.90; uniqlo.com)
A big ol’ puffer is always in style and these ultra-light options from Uniqlo are among our current faves. Why? First up, the cute colorways will suit every personality out there, from low-key ladies to extroverted dudes. Second, they’re not kidding — this jacket is seriously lightweight but also super warm, thanks to the down filling. Third, the price can’t be beat.
Nike Air Force 1 (starting at $90; nike.com)
The sneaker that was universally on the wish lists of all the girl and boy teens we checked in with? Nike Air Force 1s. The brand offers more than 50 iterations of the old-school classic, from crisp white low-tops to very, very colorful options. Custom Air Force 1s are also available (and fun to make!) — check those out here.
Peace Out Salicylic Acid Acne Healing Dots ($19; sephora.com)
One of the biggest downsides of teendom is surely dealing with the havoc puberty wreaks on the skin. Arm them with these discreet acne healing dots, which have more than 2,000 positive Sephora reviews, including one titled “Holy Grail,” where the customer writes, “These are so effective at reducing the size of my pimple overnight and absorbing all the gunk! I’ve tried cheaper alternatives, but none of them work as well as these!”
Gift tip: Given the set’s small size, they’re stocking-ready.
Digipower #LIKEME Vlogging Kit ($40; urbanoutfitters.com)
Vlogging is here to stay, and this Digipower kit at Urban Outfitters will have your teen up and running in no time. It comes with a cube light, shotgun microphone, universal smartphone holder and grip tripod — but the content is all up to them!
American Eagle Tailgate Gear (starting at $14.70; ae.com)
American Eagle recently launched its Tailgate collection of tees, hoodies, hats and more for men and women, and we’re predicting teen sports fanatics are going to be obsessed. Covering all your favorite collegiate, NFL, NBA and MLB teams, the line is full of high-quality materials, from thick fleece sweatshirts to cool, vintage-looking long-sleeve shirts.
Bubble Tea Kit ($38; uncommongoods.com)
Kids these days, they love their bubble tea. Avoid schilling out 10 bucks (or more) for a cup o’ bubble downtown and instead make them at home with this adorable kit that comes with two flavors of tea (royal milk and rooibos chai), a bag of tapioca pearls and two metal straws.
Offline Camo Sports Bra ($19.97, originally $39.95; ae.com) & High-Waisted Legging ($32.97, originally $54.95; ae.com)
Matching sweatsuits are a major trend right now, and just as popular is matching workout gear. We love this option from Aerie’s subbrand of activewear dubbed Offline. Having tried out the goods IRL, we can attest that the quality is top-notch — the leggings are buttery soft, thick and warm (not see-through!) and the sports bras have ample support. The best part, however, is the affordable price point.
Turquoise Sea Apple Watch Band ($34.30, originally $49; society6.com)
Gussy up their Apple Watch game with a gorgeous band from Society6. Made from vegan leather with a super-soft, suede-like feel on the underside, the bands come in 38/40mm and 42/44mm and work with Series 1 through 5. With hundreds of band options — all created from prints and artwork from Society6’s community of artists — the hardest part will be deciding which one fits your teen’s personality best.
BlissLights Sky Lite (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)
Influencers have long been obsessed with Sky Light, and they’re not alone — the projector has more than 16,000 positive Amazon reviews. Like a night light for big kids, the small device projects a galaxy of vivid stars (not to mention a nebula cloud) onto the ceiling or wall, perfect for lulling your teen to sleep or providing an ultra-cool backdrop to a sleepover.
More to know: Brightness can be adjusted, multiple light effects are available and the projector has a six-hour timer.
Glossier The Makeup Set ($40, originally $50; glossier.com)
If Glossier were to have a collection of greatest hits, this set would be it. Containing the brand’s cult-favorite Boy Brow (for taming eyebrows), Cloud Paint (for cheeks and lips) and Lash Slick (for lengthening lashes), these essentials are going to be their makeup go-tos.
Crocs Classic Clog (starting at $24.99; amazon.com)
We can’t believe it either, but Crocs are cool again. Like Chia Pets and fanny packs, the iconic clog is being embraced by teens, and we sort of get it — lightweight, water-friendly and easy to clean, the shoes are also incredibly comfortable and come in every color under the rainbow.
Tulip One-Step 5-Color Tie-Dye Kit ($18.19, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
The tie-dye trend doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, so we might as well embrace it, and even encourage it, at home. This cute kit is a bestseller on Amazon and comes with five dyes and bottles, gloves and rubber bands, and the teen can pick what they want to transform first. Our recommendation: A good ol’ Fruit of the Loom T-shirt.
Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
The verdict is in: Diffusers are the ultimate relaxation tool. Not only that, they’re thought to boost moods too — and find us a teen who doesn’t need a mood booster every now and again. This one has a whopping 60,000 positive reviews, comes in four colors and retails for under 20 bucks.
Zodiac Glow LED Sign ($39; urbanoutfitters.com)
Set a warm tone in their room with this peaceful, glowing zodiac sign that can be mounted to a wall or placed on a tabletop. More to know: It’s battery-operated (be sure to have three AAs on hand), which means no cords.
Hydroflask Customizable Water Bottle (starting at $38; hydroflask.com)
What’s the status symbol of 2020? Well, there are many, but Hydroflask water bottles are certainly one of them (especially if you’re a VSCO girl!). There are dozens of pre-fab iterations available, but if you want to go the thoughtful route, you can even customize a standard- or wide-mouth bottle with your teen’s favorite colors. Personalize the strap, cap, bottle and boot hues to create a bottle that is completely and utterly intrinsic to them.
EWA Pro Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($17.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
Keep their tunes flowing and the dance parties rocking with this teensy-weensy Bluetooth speaker that has more than 12,000 positive reviews. Waterproof and rich in base, the speaker is less than 2 inches in size and weighs only 6.2 ounces and charges in just a half hour, allowing for six hours of playtime.