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Teenagers are notoriously hard to connect with, which makes finding the perfect gift the holy grail of life with a teenager. No matter their interests, you’re sure to find something that will take you from lame to cool—or whatever it is that the teens say these days.
Not sure where to start? While you shop, be sure to consider each pick's recommended age, safety features, and educational value, as well as your teen's interests to narrow down your search.
Here, the best gifts for a teenager in your life.
Big Potato Games Mean Girls Party Game
Mean Girls is a classic teen movie, so a game inspired by the infamous burn book is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Ideal for ages 14 and up, the party game asks players to answer questions about each other anonymously.
The game, which can accommodate 4-8 players, includes 100 cards, 7 cardboard mats, 2 answer pads, and 1 scoresheet. At the end of each round, each player gets to pick an answer they want to reveal to the group—and if you pick yours, you'll be making your own confession.
flybold Slackline Kit
If your teen is into outdoor activities (or you want them to be), slacklines are all the rage with the younger set. These kits can be set up in the backyard where your kid can master the art of balance as they try to walk across the slackline. Think of it as tight roping, but with a wider base. This kit will give your teen everything they need to get from Point A to Point B while also getting in some fitness.
"My children had a blast with the Flybold Slackline Kit. It’s a deceptively simple solo activity that just about anyone can try, and every friend who came by wanted a turn."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Kodak Zink Smile Instant Print Digital Camera
This Kodak camera combines the gratification of instant pics but with a bit of a retro look. The camera features automatic focus, flash, and the viewfinder makes it easy to snap the best pic. Not only can photos be shared, but they can also be printed out. There's even the option to print two photos on a single sheet. Printed pics have a sticky back and there's even the option to add a border or filter.
Now in Books Book Club
A gift that keeps on giving month after month is sure to please anyone. A Now in Books subscription gifts your favorite teen with newly released novels. The book titles will vary, but each box also includes activities, discussion topics, and even a curated playlist that corresponds to the theme of the book. Choose from several delivery options.
Ranch 23 inch Professional Wooden Concert Ukulele
This affordable wooden ukulele is actually quite comparable to pricier counterparts. The kit comes with many extras, such as a neck strap, digital tuner, padded carrying bag, and microfiber polishing cloth. The company, Ranch, also offers free online video lessons, with the final one teaching "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," a song made popular by the late Hawaiian musical icon (and ukulele player) Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
Homall Gaming Chair Office Chair
The gamer in your life will absolutely appreciate Homall's gaming chair that's built for function. The foam fits the body comfortably and there's the ever important headrest and lumbar support. Also, the seat has a tilt back function that can be adjusted between 90 to 150 degrees. The casters move easily on hardwood floors or carpeting.
Kunodi Outdoor Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Kunodi's bluetooth speaker is tiny, but mighty and you'll love the wallet-friendly price. It easily fits into the palm of a hand and seamlessly connects to devices. Take it on the go and attach to a backpack or handlebars (thanks to the carabiner). You can even store it in your bathroom. There's a suction cup mount, as the waterproof design makes it perfect for listening to music in the shower.
GMYLE AirPod Case
AirPods are pretty expensive, so if your teen has a pair, consider gifting them this sturdy case. The silicone casing protects the actual cover, while still allowing access to the charging port. There's even a carabiner so it can be strapped to the inside of a backpack or pocket. With more than 30 colors to choose from, there's something for every style.
Masterclass Virtual Cooking Class
A Masterclass membership is a great option if you want to expose your teen to learning that's fun and appeals to a wide variety of interests. The online classroom provides access to pros and tastemakers like chefs, producers, writers, and more. There are writing classes, cooking demos, and pretty much everything. The virtual classes can be viewed at leisure and your teen is sure to learn a lot.
Miady 2-Pack Dual USB Portable Charger
"I forgot to charge my phone." That's no longer an excuse if you gift your teen this portable charger. The slim device easily fits in any backpack, purse, or even some pockets. The USB charger juices some phones up to three times, so even when your kid isn't near an outlet, they can stay with a full battery. Even better, you don't just get one, but two chargers in the pack.
Snap Circuits Teach Tech Mech 5 Mechanical Coding Robot
A great STEM toy combines the love of play with education. Teens will enjoy hours of fun with Snap Circuits' coding robot, which teaches basic coding skills and engineering. Once the robot is constructed, they can watch it throw, lift, kick, and even draw. Though it's geared toward kids ages 10 and up, older teens and even adults who are curious about coding will also enjoy this.
YNAB You Need a Budget App
Finances aren't exactly the topic most teens think about, but they absolutely should learn and know the basics of money. A subscription to an app like You Need a Budget provides them access to financial pros and budgeting advice. This is really helpful for teens who have their first job or who may be heading off to college soon.
Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones
Of course the teen in your life likes to zone out listening to their favorite tunes. Why not gift them a new pair of headphones that come in seven different colors to rock out to? While these aren't the super expensive brand of headphones, they're still high on function. These can play music for up to 13 hours wirelessly, so they won't need to charge them all the time. The headphones can also be used to make and answer calls, and since they have Bluetooth capability they are wireless.
Minted Heart Snapshot Mix Hues Photo Art
Imagine this: you or your teen have digital photos languishing in the cloud or on your hard drive. In just 10 days or less, Minted will transform your fave pics into a gorgeous piece of art complete with a frame of your choosing, although unframed is also an option. It comes in six different square sizes, and frame choices include brushed silver, champagne silver, matte brass, and classic options like black and gilded wood.
642 Things to Draw: Inspirational Sketchbook to Entertain and Provoke the Imagination
Teens draw and doodle on just about everything—their arms, their pants, their shoes, and anything else they can get their hands on. So why not give them a creative outlet for self-expression? The 642 Things to Draw journal is filled with 304 pages of ideas. It’s got everything from the ridiculously simple—like a cupcake—to things that will take a bit more artistic know-how—like the Northern Lights. Packed with plenty of blank space for teens to stretch their creative legs and hundreds of drawing prompts, this journal is the perfect home for everything from doodles to masterpieces.
Uncommon Goods Long Distance Friendship Lamp
For your teen who's missing a friend far away, there's no better present than this Long Distance Friendship Lamp. Buy a pair of lamps, one for your teen and one to send to their friend. When your teen touches the lamp, the corresponding lamp, whether it's a few blocks away or across the world, emits a glow. The light can stay illuminated from 30 minutes to up to 24 hours and is a great way to let someone know you're thinking about them. This is a sweet gift for friends or family members who want to stay connected in a sentimental way.
Uncommon Goods Magnetic Notebook
Sure, your teen probably has digital notes, but nothing beats a good 'ol notebook. However, this one from Uncommon Goods combines the convenience of being able to remove and rearrange the pages. The magnetic pages snap in and out of the spine. This is great for your young creative who wants to organize any notes, doodles, or ideas.
Frigidaire Portable Retro Mini Fridge
No need to wait for college to gift your teen a fridge for their room. This pint-size, retro-style Frigidaire holds up to six cans or four one-liter bottles—it's also a great place to stash small snacks or beauty products like gel eye masks. It comes in fun colors like blue, red, and pink, and has a quiet motor that makes it ideal for a bedroom. This can also be used on road trips as the mini fridge plugs into a 12V car adapter.
Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Water Bottle
Thanks to this BPA-free bottle's double insulation, hot drinks stay hot for up to 12 hours and cold ones keep cool (even ice remains solid!) for up to 24 hours. The Hydro Flask water bottle has a handy loop to keep it securely attached to a backpack. While the standard cap will work for most, if your teen is active, consider buying the sport cap that makes it easy to stay hydrated without missing a beat.
Fjallraven Kanken Backpack
The Swedish company Fjällräven is known for making rugged bags with a clean, minimalist design. The Kanken backpacks are ergonomically designed to handle several textbooks and this one also has a padded sleeve for a small laptop. Other handy details include easily accessible pockets on both the front and sides, padded shoulder straps, and a top handle. Eco-minded families can also feel good knowing the company supports conservation projects and uses sustainably produced fabrics.
Uncommon Goods Game of Phones
As much as you may try to encourage screen-free time, teens will inevitably be glued to their phones. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Game of Phones is a game of who can use their mobile devices the best and be the fastest. Users have to draw one of 150 cards and then create an emoji or find the best Google image to match the prompt. This is a game best played with three or more people so it's perfect for game night with friends or family time.
hOmeLabs Sunrise Alarm Clock
There's a likelihood your teen uses their phone as an alarm, but this alarm clock will surely change that. It's cute, sleek, can fit on any night stand, and the functions are useful. The LED light gradually brightens over 30 minutes to arise any sleeper and the timer dims the room when it's time to get some Z's. The clock also plays soothing nature sounds.
Anker Nebula Capsule
For the serious cinema buff in your life, the Nebula Capsule Smart Mini-Projector is the perfect splurge-worthy gift to create a home theater. Though it has an array of cutting-edge features, it’s small enough to fit in your hand. The Nebula Mini-Projector is able to play content from a streaming app (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) or mirror whatever’s playing on a phone screen. And thanks to its omnidirectional speakers and advanced IntelliBright algorithms, the sound and picture quality rival that of a movie theater.
Speks Magnetic Balls
Originally designed for stressed-out executives, Speks are minuscule ball magnets that come in sets of 512. Note that because of their 2.5 millimeter size, they are only officially recommended for children older than 14. With inspiration from the manual or their imaginations, teens will love squishing, rolling, or piling their Speks into shapes like cubes, hexagons, cylinders, chains, and more. These can provide hours of fun or a form of relaxation. Speks are easy to lose, so buy an extra set to avoid the inevitable disappointment when the first few go astray under your teen's bed or the couch.
What to Look For in a Gift For a Teenager
Teenagers see themselves as miniature adults, so steer clear of any gifts that come across as juvenile or not mature. Even if they maintain some of the same interests they had as younger kids, they are likely ready for gifts that they can grow into rather than out of.
Teenagers will soon be adults in their own right. Great gifts for teens are those that they can take into young adulthood that can keep them grounded, connected, and in touch with their interests. Some can even build responsible habits, such as budgeting or healthy cooking.
Teenagers can be risk-takers, but it’s still important to keep their safety in mind. If you’re considering a gift that requires safety gear, add a helmet or knee pads into the gift bag to make it easy for your teen to stay safe as they go extreme. Internet safety is another important consideration and conversation to have before you give them any gifts that include an online component.
Teens are the perfect age to take their learning out of the classroom and incorporate it more into their personal interests. A gift that teaches or develops a new skill, such as music or cooking, is great for a teenager. It is even better if these skills can grow to a lifelong passion or hobby.
Your teen may change interests faster than you can keep up, but try to get a feel for the things that they like when choosing a gift. Our list has something for everyone from a music enthusiast to a daredevil adventurer. Choosing a gift that works for a group is a great way to connect with your teen while participating in their favorite activities and interests.
Ask your teen about their interests and involve them to deepen connections between you. Chuck English, Virginia STEM Coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia, credits this philosophy for the success of a teens-focused STEM initiative at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond.
“We started with a teen space called ‘The Mix.’ The teen space ended up failing the first couple of times, but once we put in an effective student advisory board, it took off. We have had a full house for that program for several years," says English.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Patrice J. Williams. She has contributed gift guides to The Spruce since 2020 and included a few of her personal favorites like the mini fridge and portable chargers on this well-researched list. In addition to her work for The Spruce, she writes commerce articles, including product suggestions and reviews, for other outlets as well as appearing on air for The Today Show, WEtv, and she was the Savvy Shopper reporter for WPIX in New York City.