Our Top Picks
Best Retro: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera at Amazon
“The perfect pick for selfie-loving, memory-capturing, hip teens.”
Best Splurge: Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector at Amazon
“Transport this mini-projector virtually anywhere, it only weighs one pound.”
Best for Gamers: X Rocker Video Gaming Chair at Amazon
“They can actually feel the game as they play.”
Best Game: Pandemic Board Game at Target
"An excellent game to foster teamwork, cooperation, and problem-solving skills."
Best Active: Spikeball 3 Ball Game Set at Amazon
“Ideal for teens to take wherever they will gather with friends.”
Best for Music Lovers: Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones at Amazon
“Play music for up to 20 hours.”
Best for the Outdoorsy: A2S Paracord Bracelet K2-Peak at Amazon
“12 feet of paracord that can hold up to 550 lbs of weight.”
“The sound quality is superior and they will last through college and beyond.”
Best Action: flybold Slackline Kit at Amazon
“Think of tight roping but with a wider base to walk on.”
Best Style: 'Kånken' Water Resistant Backpack at Nordstrom
"Teens are wild for these Scandinavian backpacks.”
Best Practical: AgentWhiteUSA Cell Phone Wallet at Amazon
“These cell phone wallets make a great stocking stuffer.”
Best Creative: 642 Things to Draw: Journal at Amazon
“Filled with 304 pages of ideas for your artistic teen.”
Best for Social Media Lovers: Gray Felt Letter Board at Amazon
“Older teens might enjoy taking these off to college."
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Best Retro: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
Yes, we know that Polaroid photos are so retro, but that’s exactly what makes them so darned chic! And now there’s a new take on the once-famous bulky Polaroid camera. Fujifilm has reinvented this iconic camera in their fun-sized Instax Mini camera. The Instax spits out mini 2” x 3” instant photos and is available in a variety of bright colors, making the Instax, well, quite frankly one of the cutest cameras we’ve ever seen. The new design combined with instant photo gratification makes this the perfect pick for selfie-loving, memory-capturing, hip teens.
While this camera may be fun to use, it does come with some legit features for improved photo quality. Budding memory makers can adjust the dial on the camera to compensate for different lighting conditions. With f-stop control that varies from 12.7 to 32, photographers can capture images indoors, outdoors, in the shade, in full sun, and even at night. A close-up attachment lets teens take artsy images as close as 35 cm away with perfect clarity. A small mirror on the front of the camera will help teens frame up the perfect selfie. There’s even a mode that will soften images—perfect for portraits. The Instax camera is available in cobalt blue, flamingo pink, ice blue, smokey white, and lime green. Film is not included so make sure you pair this gift with a pack for a gift that’s point-and-shoot ready right out of the box.
02 of 13
Best Splurge: Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector
For the serious cinema buff in your life, the Nebula Capsule Smart Mini-Projector is the perfect splurge-worthy gift. Boasting an array of cutting-edge features and incredible clarity, this smart cinema is powerful enough to replace any home theater system, and yet, it’s small enough to fit in your hand.
The Nebula Mini-Projector is able to play content from your preferred streaming app (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) or mirror whatever’s playing on your phone screen. And thanks to its omnidirectional speakers and advanced IntelliBright algorithms, the sound and picture quality rival that of a movie theater. Teens will love that they can take this mini-projector virtually anywhere—its sleek aluminum body makes it easy to carry and it only weighs one pound. It also displays pictures up to 100 inches big and is able to deliver up to four hours of video on a single charge. Everyone in the family will be fighting to use this handy little projector!
03 of 13
Best for Gamers: X Rocker Video Gaming Chair
Let’s be honest, their video gaming habit is real. So something to support their hobby will be especially appreciated. This top-ranked gaming chair allows them to immerse themselves in their console. With two forward-facing speakers, a powerful subwoofer, and an audio side control panel, they can actually feel the game as they play. Additionally, the chair design has a fully supportive back and foldable disposition to keep them comfy during all their hours of activity.
04 of 13
Best Game: Pandemic Board Game
In a world filled with apocalyptic video games, TV shows, books and movies, why not try a board game? Pandemic is a fast-paced, intense game that is built on the foundations of the hero's journey to save the world. In Pandemic, teens join together with their friends to role-play as doctors, scientists, dispatchers, researchers and operations experts to solve the pandemic that is threatening to wipe out the human race. Teams work together in a race against the game to stem the tide of infection and cure the plague. Pandemic is an excellent game to foster teamwork, cooperation, and problem-solving skills. Teens will love the fast-paced sense of urgency built into each of the game's many challenges and the strategic play required to overcome them and save the world.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
05 of 13
Best Active: Spikeball 3 Ball Game Set
This “as seen on Shark Tank” game is quickly sweeping the nation as the must-have game for outdoor fun. Teens love playing this athletic, fast-paced game that’s a cross between volleyball, tennis, and basketball. The Spikeball set is lightweight and portable, making it ideal for teens to take wherever they will gather with friends. This set comes with three soft balls, a net with collapsible legs, a drawstring bag for easy on-the-go storage and an instruction book. As an added bonus, teens can connect for free to the Spikeball community for tutorials or they can download the app so they can find pickup games for anytime fun.
06 of 13
Best for Music Lovers: 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. These bestsellers have 15,000 reviews and reviewers all rave about the affordable price and great quality. While these might not be the top of the line headphones, they serve a purpose and look good while doing it.
Parents can rest assured that these are not noise-canceling so you can still yell at them to do their chores. These can play music for up to 20 hours so they won't need to charge them all the time. They can also use these to make and answer calls, and since they have Bluetooth capability they are wireless.
07 of 13
Best for the Outdoorsy: A2S Paracord Bracelet K2-Peak
They can flex their outdoorsy nature with these hip paracord bracelets by A2S Protection. These bracelets began trending with teens a few years ago and have continued to grow in popularity. These have 12 feet of paracord that can hold up to 550 lbs of weight. It also has a high-quality compass, flint fire starter, fire scrapper, emergency knife and emergency whistle. It comes in a pack of two in a ton of colors so gift them one or split it up amongst siblings. They'll enjoy all the cool features while you feel like you provided them with some survival gear.
08 of 13
Best Tech: Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker
While headphones are great because the whole family doesn't need to listen to their music of choice, smart speakers are another smart pick because they can do more than just listen to music. Perhaps they've lost phone privileges and they need an alarm to wake up for school, or maybe they want to ask Alexa what the weather will be, or who was the 32nd President. Whatever the need—these Sonos Speakers are really cool and will be sure to be a treasured gift.
They can also be paired with other speakers in the house so mom and dad can blast a tune to help them get up in the morning or they can run on their own playlist. The sound quality is superior on these small speakers and they will last through college and beyond.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
09 of 13
Best Action: 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 tight roping but with a wider base to walk on.
This kit will give your teen everything they need to get from Point A to Point B while also getting in some fitness and meditation. Reviewers remark this is a great gift for the whole family (even young kids) but many mention to read the instructions so you properly install it.
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Best Style: 'Kånken' Water Resistant Backpack
Teens are wild for these Scandinavian backpacks that come in an array of colors and styles. If you are buying a gift for a teen you don't see often you should feel confident with this purchase. And parents, this backpack will be a welcome addition to their school time routine.
The Kanken is water resistant so their homework will stay dry through rain and snow. It comes in 31 colors so there really is an option for everyone. Reviewers love the size of these bags saying they aren't too big or too small to carry everything they need.
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Best Practical: AgentWhiteUSA Cell Phone Wallet
As your teen grows they need to be responsible for more and more stuff, like a license, student ID, debit cards, and more. A cell phone wallet is an easy way for them to keep their essentials close by because these days a wallet is just too cumbersome for the younger generation.
These cell phone wallets make a great stocking stuffer and might be a smart buy for each family member. They hold up to five cards and are sold in a pack for three so you have a few to gift out or use yourself.
12 of 13
Best Creative: 642 Things to Draw: Journal
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 their self-expression? The 642 Things to Draw drawing journal is filled with 304 pages of ideas for your artistic teen. 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 artistic legs and 642 drawing prompts, this journal is the perfect home for anything and everything from doodles to masterpieces.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Best for Social Media Lovers: Gray Felt Letter Board
These letter boards are all over social media these days, boasting inspirational phrases, funny quotes, or just random facts. The teen in your life will get pleasure out of expressing themselves (and not just via text) with these letter boards that come in 11 colors and have over 300 letters so they can get whatever they need out.
Older teens might enjoy taking these off to college, whereas younger ones can use it on their door to warn younger siblings from entering. Whatever their use, teens can get super creative with these.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
We bought four top-rated gifts for teenagers and our reviewers tested them for 21 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these gifts, from their entertainment value to their longevity. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Gift for a Teenager
Practicality Most teens will appreciate a gift that they can use in their daily routine. Products that let them enjoy music, movies, or quality time with their friends are always a big hit. Also think about items that’ll encourage them to get outside and be more active—a practical, fun way to break up their screen time and keep them moving.
Quality While you don’t have to break the bank when buying a gift for a teenager, they’re old enough to appreciate a well-made product. Unlike younger children who may be more likely to misplace or break things, teenagers have (hopefully) learned to show more care for items they value. Especially in the areas of technology and electronics—like cameras, speakers, and more—it might make sense to opt for a quality product they can use for years to come.
Connectivity Whether it’s a cell phone, video game system, or wireless speakers, teenagers are some of the biggest users of technology. So it’s no surprise that many popular gifts—like Bluetooth headphones, smart speakers, and gaming chairs—integrate with different devices. Think about which ones your teen already has and what might complement them best.
Test Results: Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 (Best Retro)
What We Like
Easy to use
Takes great pictures
Ideal for parties
What We Don't Like
Selfie camera isn’t effective
Recommended settings aren’t always best
“My friends complimented me on this camera immediately when I took it out to take photos at a party,” raved one of our testers. “They were also super happy to have pictures to bring home with them!” One reviewer also thought that it was easy to use and one tester loved its “beautiful” design. Its seflie mirror, however, wasn’t very effective: “It’s was a cool idea,” explained one tester, “but it doesn't really help you frame selfies.” Lastly, the camera’s recommended light settings were a helpful starting point but one reviewer noted that she “didn't always agree with its choice in natural light.”
Test Results: Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector (Best Splurge)
What We Like
Easy to use
What We Don't Like
Our testers loved this mini projector for its durable, portable design, quality Bluetooth speaker, and intuitive interface. One of our reviewers said it has “one of the best speakers among any projectors on the market.” Another plus? “[The] Android Operating System makes it easy to browse installed apps like Netflix, along with an attractive menu screen,” noted one of our testers.
According to our reviewers, the downside is a “hefty” price tag. Plus, one of our testers noted that although the speaker is standout among other mini projectors, “compared to actual dedicated speakers, it leaves a lot to be desired.” The bottom line: “It's a bit pricey but comes loaded with modern features, such as a full Android OS, intuitive menu interface, durable design, four-hour battery life, and a decent Bluetooth-capable speaker,” one of our reviewers concluded.
Test Results: X Rocker II (Best for Gamers)
What We Like
Quick to assemble
Great built-in speakers
What We Don't Like
No ergonomic adjustments
Doesn’t accommodate taller people
Must be plugged in to use speakers
This chair won over our testers immediately with its quick and easy assembly process. Its built-in speakers were another plus, according to one reviewer: “The sound quality and dynamic range of the speakers were excellent,” he said. “The construction was sturdy, and the padding was soft and inviting.” However, on the other end of the spectrum, our testers wished that this chair had more options for ergonomic adjustments and also noted that it’s not very comfortable for people over six feet tall. One reviewer didn’t like that it had to be “plugged in at all times to use the speakers.”
Test Results: Pandemic Board Game (Best Game)
What We Like
Fun to play
What We Don't Like
Instructions don’t answer all questions
Although one of our testers thought that setting up this game was fast and easy, he thought that its instructions could have been more comprehensive: “The directions were clear when it came to setup and initial gameplay, but a few complex questions came up that were not clearly answered in the manual,” he explained. Overall, though, our reviewers enjoyed playing this game: “I like the unpredictability,” one tester said. “It starts relaxed and planned out, but Epidemic cards come out quickly, which changes the pace and draws reactions and excitement from players.”