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Buying gifts for teens can be a thankless ordeal. It’s the age where preferences seem to change daily (or hourly), and where kids are perhaps least likely to love gifts not from their best friends.
But that doesn’t mean you should resign yourself to accepting your teen’s indifference to gifts you agonized over choosing. We’ve put together this list of cool gifts that has something for every teen. To choose the products, we sourced our own past coverage, including expert recommendations.
Best gifts to buy for teens
To help you find the best gifts for the teens in your life, we revisited our previous expert recommendations and rounded up highly rated items aligned with Select reader interest.
One of the most popular current-generation gaming consoles, the Nintendo Switch is unique for its versatility: It doubles as a traditional console (like a PlayStation) and a handheld (like the old Nintendo DS or Game Boy), a good feature for busy teens on the move. Its library includes games for all ages, including the well-known and kid-friendly Super Mario franchise and more mature offerings, such as Doom Eternal and The Witcher 3.
OK, maybe teens won’t love this gift at first, but they’ll probably appreciate it in the long run. Sleepy, groggy teens never have to fear missing morning classes again with this explosive disguised as an alarm clock. The clock uses a 113-decibel alarm and includes a 12-volt bed shaker to wake up even the deepest sleepers, according to the brand. We featured it in our guide to alarm clocks for every type of sleeper in 2021.
AirPods are a status symbol these days, but there’s one great reason beyond the superficial to buy them for your teen — we previously described them as high-end earbuds for iPhone users in our guide to wireless earbuds and wireless headphones in 2021. Pairing with Apple devices is simpler with the H1 chip than using Bluetooth, according to Apple, and AirPods also include noise-cancellation, touch controls, adaptive equalization that adjusts music based on your ear shape, and a 360-degree audio format for gaming and watching movies.
This curling wand from Remington is available for under $30 and in two sizes: one for ½ inch to 1 inch and another for 1 inch to 1 ½ inches. The barrel heats to 410 degrees Fahrenheit and is tapered. We previously highlighted this curling wand in our guide to curling wands in 2021.
Teens love music, and we previously highlighted this speaker for its affordability in our 2021 guide to Bluetooth speakers. While it doesn’t pack the same punch of other top Bluetooth speakers, it is compact and portable, with a strap to attach to your backpack. It also has an IPX7 waterproof rating.
Polaroid pictures make for great photo walls, and a Polaroid camera can be a great gift for a teen who loves photography. This Polaroid Go weighs about a half pound and is more compact than other Polaroid models. It has a battery that won’t run out until 15 packs of film are used, according to the company.
Featured in our guide on how to choose a weighted blanket, this weighted blanket is more affordable than others in the guide, checking in at under $50. It’s available in weights from 12 to 20 pounds.
A prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption, we featured this video game in our guide to Xbox, Nintendo and PS4 video games in recent years. As the outlaw Arthur Morgan, you can experience the Wild West in 1899 via the game’s open sandbox. Plus, it has a free online component where your teen can form posses with friends or just go fishing. You can play the game on Xbox, PlayStation and PC.
Phone cases from Rifle Paper Co. feature hand-painted designs, which will appeal to teens who want a personal touch for their phones. This iPhone 13 case from the company is slim and clear with gold accents and a pleasant floral pattern. They have cases in many other designs, too, including strawberry fields and wildflowers. We featured these cases in our roundup of iPhone cases and accessories.
Growing teens need snacks, so why not give them a supply of healthy snacks? This subscription box includes 12 or more snacks per month, related to the current season. It comes in Classic, Vegan, Gluten-Free and Classic + Gluten-Free options.
This ceramic mug has a 12-ounce capacity and a matte silicone exterior and comes in several pastel colors and terrazzo patterns. It’s also dishwasher-safe, according to the brand. We previously featured itin our guide to travel mugs and reusable cups in 2021.
Teens these days all seem to go through wannabe podcaster phases, but a good microphone is a solid investment even if you just like high-quality video calls. We previously remarked on this microphone’s stylishness and portability in our guide to microphones in 2020. It has three different settings for instruments and voices.
This organizer has separate compartments that can stack on top of one another. Each compartment is made of metal and comes in a fun color, giving the organizer a distinct style. It’s also suitable for kitchen use, since each compartment is safe to store food in, according to the brand. We’ve highlighted it in our guide to desk organizers in 2021.
Featured in our guide to fitness watches and fitness trackers in 2021, this is a great gift for active teens who want to get more from their workouts. The Charge 4 comes with features such as step counting, guided breathing routines and sleep tracking. It also uses GPS, so they can plot their runs on a map. Its battery lasts for up to a week, according to Fitbit.
Well, well, well, how the turn tables — in other words, turntables are back in style. And whether your teen is a classical musical prodigy or a metalhead, an easy-to-use turntable is sure to have them excited this holiday season. This turntable, which we featured in our guide to record players and turntables, is automatic, so you only need to press a button to listen to your favorite vinyl tunes.
Saying that your teen will love this gift may be a stretch (and it may work best paired with something more fun), but they’ll appreciate it in the long run. We featured a Rocketbook planner in our guide to planners in 2022, and the company’s academic planner is a must-have for any teen trying to stay organized. It comes with reusable pages — you can use a wet cloth to wipe away the ink when you need the page again — and the Rocketbook app where you can read notes you’ve saved to the cloud, according to the brand.