30 Unique Sweet 16 Birthday Gift Ideas They'll Love

Give your favorite teenager the best birthday yet with these standout presents

Sweet 16 birthday gifts

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Someone you know celebrating their sweet 16 and you need gift ideas? It's a special milestone birthday, which deserves a special gift as your teen is edging closer towards official adulthood.

A teen's 16th birthday is important for many reasons: they can now get a job and a driver's license, which means an abundance of freedom to a young person. This is the best birthday to begin teaching a teen that with these freedoms come great responsibility, skills, and habits needed to handle all that growth. In addition, a 16-year-old may be thinking about passions and interests in a deeper way, which is great news if you're looking for gift ideas.

If you're perplexed about gift ideas for sweet 16 birthdays, it's easier than you think to hit it just right. Ask the guest of honor what's on their wish list. Some traditional sweet 16 gift ideas involve jewelry or cars. Or read on for help in choosing one of these gift ideas for a sweet 16 birthday, which ranges from trendy to unique.

  • 01 of 30

    Mobile Charger

    mobile phone charger

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

    Phone batteries don’t always last very long. Mobile chargers are a great gift for that person who spends so much time on their phone or tablet, running out of battery long before making it home to plug back in. Mobile chargers, also known as portable chargers or battery packs, are compact battery devices that can recharge your device on the go. What teen wouldn’t love the gift of extra battery time?

  • 02 of 30

    Car Gifts

    Car keys

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    For many teens, the most exciting thing about turning 16 is that it’s the magical age where they get a driver’s license or learner’s permit. Any gift that relates to this life event is likely to be well received. Some ideas include:

    • Gift cards for gas
    • Seat covers, steering wheel covers, or floor mats
    • Fuzzy dice
    • A bucket filled with car washing supplies like a sponge, chamois, car brush, and wax
    • Vanity license plate frames
    • If you're feeling really generous, a car
  • 03 of 30

    Clothing Gifts

    clothing for a sweet sixteen gift

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

    Let’s face the hard truth here: most 16-year-olds wouldn’t like you to choose their clothing. There are a few apparel gift ideas, however, that can be considered a safe bet when gifting to teens. These include popular footwear (think name-brand sneakers), band T-shirts, accessories that are currently on-trend, and, the safest bet of all, clothing store gift cards.


    If you are not close enough to the birthday person to know sizes and preferences, a little homework might be in order (like asking their parents).

  • 04 of 30

    Fine Dining

    birthday meal

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling 

    Turning 16 is a great opportunity to try new experiences. An evening of gourmet dining at a fancy restaurant may be one of those experiences that a 16-year-old would enjoy as a change from the high school cafeteria, fast food, and after-school snacks. Treat the teen to a night of fine dining as your guest, or give a gift certificate to a fabulous restaurant so the teen can get dressed up and dine out with friends.

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  • 05 of 30

    New Experiences

    fashion show tickets

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

    Speaking of new experiences, perhaps a day out trying a fun activity would make a great gift. Is the teen adventurous? Buy snowboarding passes or a day of zip-lining. Into fashion? Give tickets to a runway show.

  • 06 of 30

    Wifi Hotspot

    wifi hotspot on a tablet

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling 

    Like the mobile battery charger, a mobile Wifi hotspot device is another gift that a 16-year-old would likely appreciate. These devices can connect to Wifi on the go, and then connect a device to the mobile hotspot they create. Since many tablets and electronics come with a Wifi-only setting, a mobile Wifi device will allow them to connect from anywhere.

  • 07 of 30

    Selfie Accessories

    selfie stick

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling 

    Think taking all of those selfies is simple? Think again. Thankfully, the market has answered the call for selfie-help products, such as the selfie stick. Any of these products are likely to please as a 16th birthday gift.

    In addition to the selfie stick, consider the suction cup designed just for the cell phone, for hands-free bathroom mirror selfies. Other selfie-help items include a Bluetooth shutter control, a tool that works as a selfie stand and clicker remote, and a lighted phone case to provide the perfect lighting for your selfie. Throw in a few ​photo booth props and you've got everything you need for hours of selfie fun.

  • 08 of 30

    Smartphone Printer

    smartphone and polaroid prints

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling 

    If you’ve got all of those selfie accessories, you might as well have a way to print them on demand. The smartphone printer is a portable printer that you can use to print photos directly from your phone. Like the Polaroid camera for today, teens will love being able to share instant images with their friends while making on-the-spot collages to keep for themselves.

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  • 09 of 30

    College Gifts

    Lawns, plaza and academic buildings, New York
    Barry Winiker / Getty Images

    If the 16th birthday child already has sights set on a certain college, you may want to give a gift that gives a head start on celebrating that school spirit. University apparel is one idea, with school colors or sports team logo.

    If the desired college is out of town, another fun gift would be a trip to tour the campus or spend a night or two visiting the area.

  • 10 of 30

    Life Changing Book

    pile of books

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

    It’s hard to guess what book would be life-changing to someone else, but most people have read a novel during their teenage years that has left an impression on their lives. Why not give that same book that influenced you? Include a heartfelt inscription about how it did so and why you’re gifting it to them on this milestone occasion.

  • 11 of 30

    Headphones Upgrade


    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Headphones are just things you sick over your ears for private listening, right? Not anymore. Headphones are a big deal with today’s teens. With features that enhance sound quality, cancel noise and adjust to the exact right “fit” for your needs, headphones have become more than just an accessory. They are as important to the user as the device they are plugging into.

    Add to those features cosmetic elements such as colors and name brands, and headphones become a trendy gift that top many teens' gift lists.

  • 12 of 30

    Tribute Video

    video phone call

    The Spruce / Ruthie Darling

    One very popular activity for teens is watching, posting, and sharing videos online. Gather some of the birthday kid’s friends and make a funny or sentimental video. Then send it to them to serve as a virtual 16th birthday card.

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  • 13 of 30

    Bedroom Makeover

    Pink and green pastel bedroom
    KatarzynaBialasiewicz / Getty Images

    If your teen is still living with pre-teen decor, a switch-up will be well appreciated. A bedroom makeover can include accessories such as new bedding, wall art, and lighting. But don't stop there, give the room a whole new paint upgrade to a more sophisticated but fun color.

  • 14 of 30

    Concert Tickets

    Concert tickets

    MJ Jo / Unsplash

    Give your teen a night on the town with just the two of you. Maybe it's time to let your teen out and about with a group of friends. A local concert venue could be the ticket to the best sweet 16 gift yet. Better yet, why not try to get tickets for the actual birthday night.

  • 15 of 30

    Meaningful Jewelry

    Birthstone heart necklace

    Patricia Zavala / Unsplash

    Now's the time to teach your teen the joy of being given a family keepsake or a real piece of jewelry that signifies this milestone. If your teen is the creative type, offer a gift of custom-made jewelry that they can design with the jeweler. Or choose the appropriate birthstone for a traditional gift.

  • 16 of 30

    Jewelry Organizer

    Jewelry box filled with rings

    Simran Sood / Unsplash

    With all that jewelry, why not help your teen set up a real jewelry organizer so it all stays in great shape over the years. This is the type of gift that may encourage young teens to take care of important items they own.

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  • 17 of 30

    Video Games

    Children playing video games

    Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

    Indulge your teen in video games or gift cards to play on servers. But if you are feeling very generous, how about upgrading their console and other pieces of equipment. A comfortable gaming chair could be the icing on the cake.

  • 18 of 30

    Mobile Devices

    Woman using a tablet

    Windows / Unsplash

    Is it time for a phone upgrade? Or, elevate your teen's digital experience with a new tablet. Go smaller with a smartwatch and you'll see how fast your teen will return your text.

  • 19 of 30


    Baking classes

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    More school for a 16-year-old? Yes, especially if it's a class you're giving as a gift for your teen to pursue a passion, such as cooking classes (maybe your teen wants to learn to make sushi), horseback riding lessons, or tennis lessons. It's the kind of gift that keeps on giving for a lifetime.

  • 20 of 30

    Sports Equipment

    Tennis racket and balls

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    Is your teen an athlete who needs to take their game up to the next level? Help them out with new sports equipment, gear, and outfits. give a rock climber new gloves, a tennis player personalized tennis balls, and a football player personalized sweat towels.

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  • 21 of 30

    Drone On

    Drone hovering

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    What teen can pass up the thrill of a new drone? It's for the responsible 16-year-old. Who knows, maybe your teen will be inspired to begin an entrepreneurial venture with a gifted drone?

  • 22 of 30

    Beach Gear

    Kayaks on the shore of the beach

    Nareeta Martin / Unsplash

    What fun is just sitting on the beach when your teen could be kayaking or paddle boarding? Opt for inflatable equipment (still safe and reliable) if your teen is just starting out and upgrade from there. Offer a class or two to get your teen out on the water.

  • 23 of 30

    Biggest Bean Bag Chair

    Teen on bean bag chair

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    You don't have to makeover your teen's room, just add an irresistible and oversized bean bag chair or sofa to make it more comfy and cozy. It may even encourage a little extra reading time.

  • 24 of 30

    Mini Fridge

    Mini fridge on pink background

    Yulia Lisitsa / Getty Images

    Fill a new, fun, and colorful mini fridge with water (oh, okay, maybe a few other goodies) for the bedroom. You want your teen to be more self-sufficient, right? Start with a mini-fridge. Take this time to teach your teen good habits, like how to clean out a fridge, too.

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  • 25 of 30

    Upgrade a Pair of Sunglasses

    Closeup of sunglasses

    Stephanie Hau / Unsplash

    Sunglasses that last can be pretty pricey so help your teen out with a gift to get the coolest pair. You can do this in a couple of ways. Check around for an eyeglass retailer near you that sells the trendiest collection of sunglasses or head to the mall and search out a specialized retailer that sells only sunglasses. Offer a gift card or make it a day with lunch out and an appointment to get fitted for sunglasses.

  • 26 of 30

    Personalized Anything

    Personalized decor on a desktop

    John Mark Arnold / Unsplash

    Though we've mentioned it before, we'll mention it again, you can personalize anything for a 16-year-old and they'll love it. Why? They are emerging as individuals at this age. Help them be proud of who they are with a personalized item beyond the keychain or necklace, such as:

    • A neon nightlight that projects their name on the wall or ceiling
    • A phone case with their name and image
    • Personalized blanket and throw pillow depicting your teen and favorite pet or hobby
  • 27 of 30

    A Money Cake

    Closeup of a birthday cake

    David Holifield / Unsplash

    A money what? All teens love money, especially newly minted 16-year-olds who can drive themselves to stores. But what fun is it to just hand over bills? Make a festive money cake and it'll no doubt be one of the most memorable gifts your teen will ever get.

    You can make a money cake two ways; one is edible and the other is not. Cover and decorate foam cake layers (small diameter is fine, it doesn't have to be a huge cake) and pin on flat or rolled-up bills in different denominations. Fill in gaps with gift cards. Or, make a money box cake; you'll place money in a special compartment that you insert into a cake and your teen will pull out money from the middle. If this idea sounds awesome but baking isn't your thing, ask your local baker to make one for you.

  • 28 of 30

    Bullet Journal

    Closeup of a bullet journal

    Estée Janssens / Unsplash

    Inspire your teen with a bullet journal to capture this new phase in life. A bullet journal isn't your ordinary scheduler. It's sometimes described as a next-level diary designed to capture emerging ideas and more. To help 16-year-olds develop the habit and skill of journaling and jotting down important things, ideas, and dates, you'll need to give them a creative but simple way to do it. A bullet journal is perfect, especially for natural doodlers and artists.

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  • 29 of 30

    T-Shirt Memory Quilt or Pillow

    Overhead shot of quilting supplies

    Dinh Pham / Unsplash

    If you're more of a sentimentalist and a DIYer, here's the best gift ever: a quilted throw or pillow made from old and meaningful clothes. Instead of tossing all those memories that come in the form of camp T-shirts and sports jerseys, dust off your sewing machine and sew up a one-of-a-kind quilt or pillow cover (using one or two T-shirts). Don't stop at just T-shirts; you can incorporate baby clothes, pieces of other bedding, and fabrics that mean something to the recipient.

  • 30 of 30

    Vlogging Equipment

    Young woman vlogging

    FreshSplash / Getty Images

    Is your 16-year-old a budding YouTuber? Then you know exactly what the guest-of-honor needs: film equipment for better quality videos. But don't worry, you don't need to offer up a whole movie studio setup. Start with a light ring, microphone, or camera upgrade. Or opt for a vlogger kit which typically includes a video mic, lighting, and tripod.