Shopping for your teen can be hard. How do you pick a gift that shows your love and appreciation for them without setting them up for future entitled expectations? Their moods and interests shift with the wind, what do they even want?
Here are 5 tips for deciding what to buy for your teen:
1. Decide on your budget
Start with an estimated budget of what you think is a reasonable gift for your teen. The reasonable amount of money spent on holiday gifts is different for everyone, so instead of feeling obligated to buy the newest Playstation for your teen, sit down and figure out what the reasonable range is for you. Spending within your means and budget sets a good model for teens on financial responsibility. Choosing a thoughtful gift that fits with your budget can also show that the best gifts don’t have to break the bank.
2. Reflect on their personality
As a parent, it is safe to say that you have a good understanding of your kid. Although you may not know the name of the most current celebrity they like, there are usually more stable characteristics of their personality. For example, for your extroverted teen, what are gifts that can enable them to socialize more with their friends? If they are more introverted, what would be something they’d like to cozy up with? If they’re athletic, what gift could help them take their performance to the next level or enjoy the outdoors? Bonus if it’s something that fits their personality but they wouldn’t “splurge” on for themselves.
3. Choose something meaningful
The best gifts often represent something. Can a gift represent your intention in supporting them towards something they love? Or can the gift be uniquely theirs by choosing a personalized gift. From portraits to socks, hoodies to accessories, and even pet portraits; a lot of small businesses are great at combining their creativity with a more personalized touch. You would also be benefiting small businesses when purchasing these personalized holiday gifts!
4. Opt out from physical gifts
For the teens who have everything, experience-based gifts can often leave a more lasting memory. What about getting them a spa day, a white water rafting trip, or a hot air balloon ride? You can even provide an invitation for a friend or family member to join them to make it a memorable event.
5. Ask them directly
Sometimes, the best way to give without scraping your brain for ideas is to simply ask. Some teens can be surprisingly honest with what they’d like. You can also help other friends and relatives out by asking your teen to create their wishlist.
We asked teens what would make great gifts, and here were our favorite picks this season:
For your social-loving teen:
Board Games: Board games are great additions to social events, they are engaging but still allow people to talk and bond while playing. Your teen can play these age-appropriate games with friends or family.
Never Have I Ever ($12.95)
Catan ($50 $43.88)
Escape The Same Room ($29.99)
7 wonders ($43.96)
Code names ($14.88)
Sushi Go ($12.94)
Electronic dart game ($44.13): For games that are a little more active than board games but still engaging and exciting, we recommend getting this electronic dart game for your teen.
Cameo offers a personalized video from someone famous, from sports stars to music artists. You can have their favorite celebrity record a personalized message to your teen, they will be sharing this to all their friends!
Polaroid ($59.95): If your teen loves socializing, get them a polaroid to keep all their favorite moments
For your home-loving teen:
Pay for their streaming service:
Music streaming services such as Spotify are $9.99/month
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is $14.99 monthly (Lots of teens may want “add-ons” or “bundles” for their games to build up their character or world -- consider asking which “add-ons” they might want and you can give them those!)
A standard Netflix plan is $12.99/monthly. Other streaming services such as Hulu, Disney+, and HBOMax are also great options. If your teen uses any of these services, you can buy them a gift card to pay for their subscription.
Room decorations: With quarantine, most people are spending more time at home; so why not help them upgrade their room?
String lights and other types of room lights are always good additions! Especially the cool light bulbs that change color with a remote control. Or these projectors that turn their walls and ceilings into the galaxy and are trending on Tiktok! For more subtle lighting that can also help their sleep schedule, look into investing a Sun lamp for them.
Your teens are probably still doing some hybrid model of studying from home! You can help upgrade their desk, their chairs, laptop stand, or their headphones to make the online schooling experience more enjoyable.
Spending a lot of time in the same room can be stressful, especially having to deal with the stress of school. With items like a comfy bean bag, some greenery, vinyl player, or a mini bedroom fridge, your teen can turn the corner of the room into a softer, more relaxing space for themselves.
Cooking/Baking: Is your teen a foodie? Consider investing in some kitchen items such as a gastronomy kit, a beautiful cookbook, or their own cake decoration kit. These are all things that can spark their passion and will be perfect to do as family activities too.
If your teen is a homebody, some cozy items are surely great gifts.
A nice skincare set: A nice skin care routine makes for a perfect self-care ritual and it is not limited to girls! Sustainable brands like Then I met you, gentle and natural brands like Glossier, and acne targeting brands like Proactiv are all suitable for your teen.
For your tech-savvy teen:
Affordable: There are a lot of techy gadgets you can get your teen without breaking your bank.
Portable bluetooth speakers ($20.89)
Selfie sticks and selfie light set ($28.99)
Disposable cameras ($24.96)
Something fancier: If you have a higher budget, there are also a lot of cool items you can choose from.
Smart mug ($99.5-$129.95)
Software for their devices: Your teen might be into video-editing or illustration. Movie-editing softwares like FinalCutPro or the illustration software Rebelle are powerful tools but they can be slightly expensive. Christmas is a good time to give your teen these gifts to invest in their interest.
For your athletic/outdoorsy teen:
Hydro Flask ($35.95)
Scratch off maps: If they love adventures, exploring national parks, or traveling, you can buy them scratch off maps so they can keep a tab on their journey!
At home workout equipment: Even though gyms are not necessarily available right now, they can still work out at home. Get them a resistance trainer, ab rollers, or foam roller so they can still be active during quarantine.
For your activist teen:
Donating $55 to the World Wildlife Fund will allow you to choose an animal to protect and adopt. The WWF will send a certificate, a plush toy of the animal, and other goodies to your home. Now they technically own a wombat in Australia, how cool
Support small or local businesses: For your social-impact-inclined teen, buying things that support small or sustainable businesses would mean the world! Here are some ways you can support small businesses:
Shop locally: If you’re able to safely shop in person, it can be helpful for retailers who only operate out of a brick-and-mortar. Visit the corner boutique with your mask on and pick a christmas gift there this year!
Sustainable small businesses: If shopping in person is not an option, there are some online businesses that you can support. These 10 businesses are great ones to look into for some holiday gifting option.
Find them on social media: Many people’s jobs have been seriously impacted by COVID, and have turned into creative entrepreneurs to offer unique service. For example, can find talented artists on social media doing personalized portraits. Don’t know where to start? Etsy is always a good idea since it allows for independent sellers only.
For your fashion-loving teen:
Clothing: Clothes are generally a safe bet, but for your fashionable teen, a revamped wardrobe is a great way to end the year and start on the next.
Sweatpants / joggers: Brands like Athleta, Lululemon, and Alo Yoga are trendy brands that offer both style and comfort. A really cute idea if they have a dream school for college, you can get them branded apparel to support them!
Winter coats: Winter coats are essential for the winter season, but they can be pricey. Consider picking out a nice winter jacket to keep them warm and cozy. North Face, Everlane, and Patagonia are all good options.
Accessories: Accessories are the final touches of an outfit. Necklaces, belts, and watches are all great gifts that can last them lifetime. Here are some brands that are suitable for teens:
Swarovski is a named brand but offers a lot of reasonably priced jewelry. Bracelets for $69, birthstone pendants for $89. Pandora is another choice since your teen can collect charms that are personal to them.
Nixon has a versatile collection for watches and is affordable yet high quality.
Fossil also has good watch options as well as belts. You can also shop for jewelry, handbags, or wallets at Fossil.
Stocking Stuffer ideas & Affordable gifts:
If you’re looking for something small this year, or need ideas for some stocking stuffers. Here are some good options: