72 Gifts for Teens That Are Actually Cool, According to Real High Schoolers
Whether the 15-year-old you’re shopping for is into beauty, theater, sports or sleeping (somehow it’s always sleeping), finding a gift they won’t roll their eyes at can feel like an impossible assignment. (Yup, our niece actually asked us to include the gift receipt with the present we got her last year.) So, to avoid disappointments, this year we went to the experts—high schoolers themselves—and quizzed 49 of them, from ages 13 to 19, about their holiday wish lists. And here's what we learned: It all comes down to quality, style and cool factor. In other words, anything that makes them stand out.
If your niece goes from the classroom to practice, scoop up Lululemon's viral Align top. Or, if they've been tapping into their artsy side, why not get them an easel set? After all, it's not about how much you spend—it's about whether it aligns with their personality. So to get you started, here are 72 gifts for every teen personality—from gamers to beauty enthusiasts to the astrology-obsessed.
“I’m asking for this portable speaker so I can use it to blast music while I shower, or in the basement when my friends come over. I like that it has 12 hours of playtime per charge because I’m horrible about remembering to plug things in,” one 18-year-old tells us. Reviewers say it’s impressively durable too, just in case your teen isn’t exactly known for being careful.
This buttery soft, weightless and sleek top is so comfy and effortless that she'll never want to take it off. Plus, it contours to the body for customized support and it's TikTok-approved, making it even cooler in her eyes.
Available in sizes 0 to 20
One mom says her 17-year-old daughter is always experimenting with self-tanner, but the bottles from the drugstore always leave her covered in orange streaks. So she’s giving her this set from Isle of Paradise which comes with face and body self-tanning drops, self-tanning water and a tanning mitt, to ensure that her hands don’t end up splotchy.
If they're fans of candles, but their parents don't love the idea of them playing with matches, why not gift them with this diffuser set? It doesn't require a lighter, has a similar candle feel and won't upset mom and dad. It's a win-win.
Whether they're a doodler or take extreme pride in their art class, they'll love this set. It's loaded with painting essentials (142 pieces, to be exact), from all sorts of brushes to boatloads of paint, an adjustable wooden easel and more.
The flexible deck on this skateboard has spiked traction pads, a kick tail and nose and a concave design that lets riders carve better and faster than ever before (but newbies can have a gentle ride, too). Just be sure to gift a helmet.
This one is a gift for your favorite teen and really, the whole family, since it sounds a blistering alarm and flashes a strobe light when activated. And it works for 40 continuous minutes, so you're safe in the knowledge this siren has their back on multiple close calls.
One outdoorsy teen wants this Swiss Army knife to take hiking, trail running and camping, in his own version of the Boy Scouts motto "Be prepared." As well as a 2.45-inch blade, this has a can opener, Phillips screwdriver and more.
A performing arts-obsessed teen told us she'd seen this on her favorite ballerina's Instagram feed. Athletes also enjoy this simple, versatile tech, which you use to balance atop, do pushups against and various other tortures available to learn via a downloadable instruction manual.
Another product that’s gone viral on TikTok? These galaxy projectors, which make any ceiling look like a mesmerizing night sky. “I’ve been wanting one for my room ever since I saw this video, but I don’t really want to spend $60 on it so I’m hoping I get it for Hanukkah,” one teen explains.
14. Spotify PremiumBest for Audio Enthusiasts
It’s rough out there when every third song is interrupted with an ad, so we’re not surprised that two freshmen mentioned wanting Spotify Premium. This card is redeemable for a full year of the streaming service, which means your music aficionado can jam out without fear of interruption.
“I really want a disposable camera for Hanukkah this year. My friend had one over the summer and the pictures turned out so cool when she got them developed,” says one 14-year-old. These cameras from Fujifilm apparently take great quality pictures, earning them over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Here’s a practical gift one senior told us he’s hoping to receive this year. He explained that his Carhartt beanie from last winter is looking a little worn out and this Adidas one is more his style these days anyway. Sounds like someone raised him right.
Given that everyone from Selena Gomez to Gigi Hadid has been spotted wearing these open-toe slippers from Ugg, we’re not surprised that one 16-year-old told us she wants a pair. “They’re so cute, and I’m hoping they won’t make my feet sweat like my other slippers do,” she said.
“I’m asking for a movie projector this year so I can have my friends over for football Sundays. When it’s nice out, we can watch the game on the garage door, or project it onto the whole basement wall if it gets cold out,” says one 17-year-old. (Sounds like it’ll make for some pretty epic movie nights, too.)
19. Starbucks Gift Card
Best for Coffee Lovers
Multiple teens mention that a Starbucks gift card would make their lives a little easier. (C’mon, have you seen the price for a grande Frappuccino lately?) And thanks to Amazon, you can load a gift card up without ever having to set foot in a store. The retail giant will deliver it to your doorstep, and you can pop it right in their stocking. Done and done.
20. Birthdate CandleBest for Astrology Believers
Whether your 15-year-old cousin is a budding astrologer, or she just enjoys reading her horoscope every morning, she’ll love this personalized gift. Select her birth date, and the brand will send a candle with a scent that’s made to appeal to them. It’ll come printed with info about her astrological sign, as well as personality traits of people with her birthday.
21. Apple PencilBest for iPad Users
If your teen’s a devoted iPad user, he could probably benefit from an Apple Pencil. A 17-year-old told us he has one on his Christmas list because he wants to be able to draw and take notes on his iPad Pro. A gift that might make them more willing to do homework? Sign us up.
We’re obsessed with the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and the salon-worthy blowouts it produces, but we had no idea teens were into it, too. Apparently they are now, thanks to TikTok. “It’s all over my FYP and everyone’s hair looks amazing after they use it. I’m really hoping it’ll tame my frizzy waves,” says one 15-year-old we spoke to.
As it turns out, some kids actually do want socks for Christmas. One teen boy we chatted with says he’d love another pair or two of Bombas but can’t justify spending his own money on them. What makes them so special, you ask? The long-staple cotton is supersoft and sweat-wicking, and the special stay-up technology ensures he won’t be yanking them up every five minutes. Stocking stuffers, made easy.
At the top of one 14-year-old girl's list? A simple initial necklace that she can wear every day. And while she didn’t specify which brand (if any), this Kate Spade style has racked up almost 700 five-star reviews, making it a sure winner. This more affordable option from Anthropologie is popular too.
One tenth grader told us she’s currently in the process of revamping her childhood bedroom, which inspired her to ask for a set of fairy lights for the holidays. The flexible copper wires make it easy to place them around picture frames, mirrors or other decor for a pretty effect (that won’t ruin your walls).
“My grandparents usually get me one big gift every year, so this year I’m asking them for the newest GoPro. It has way better picture quality and stability than the previous ones which will be perfect for my snowboarding videos,” says one 18-year-old cold weather sports enthusiast.
Chances are, you’ve already overheard her discussing this wildly popular makeup brand with her friends. But she could always use another product for her ever-growing makeup collection. Cloud Paint is a gel-cream hybrid blush that she can sweep on with her fingertips. It’s subtle, glowy and virtually foolproof.
Making your own bubble tea at home is actually way easier than you might think. Gift your boba addict this DIY kit—which includes loose leaf tea, uncooked boba, milk tea base, brown sugar, straws and a recipe—and maybe she’ll finally stop spending her allowance at the tea shop every weekend.
Buying Lululemon leggings on a babysitter’s paycheck isn’t easy, one 16-year-old tells us. That’s why she’s hoping her parents come through and put a new pair or two under the tree this year. “They’re basically the only leggings I wear because they’re so comfortable...but they’re so expensive,” she explains.
Size range: 0 to 20
They love spending Saturday afternoons roaming Sephora’s aisles and swatching the newest products. Get them a gift card and they’ll be able to actually buy a few. Multiple teens we spoke with cited these gift cards as the number one thing they’re hoping to get tucked in a birthday or graduation card.
Supersoft and suitable for most teen occasions, these sweatpants will get her eco-respect, since they are made of organic cotton and include post-consumer recycled polyester. We love the idea of gifting with a matching sweatshirt.
Any avid Fortnite player will tell you the best part of the game is being able to talk to other players. This comfortable gaming headset offers surround sound to make the experience that much more immersive. Just know that he might never leave the game room once he opens this gift.
She’s always holed up in her bedroom, so you might as well make sure she’s comfy up there. Get her one of these super soft throw blankets to cocoon herself in during her Netflix binges. It's so cuddly, there’s a good chance she’ll love it so much that she brings it to college in a couple of years.
After using a 3D printer at school, one freshman says he’s begging his parents to get him one that he can use at home. Reviewers say this one is great for first-time users since it’s easy-to-use and more affordable than most advanced models.
Shopping for a bookworm? You can’t go wrong with a Book of the Month subscription. Each month, she’ll get to choose one of five just-released titles to be sent her way. And if none sound appealing, she can always surf through past months’ offerings.
Relax, crimpers aren’t making a comeback (at least not yet). But this similar-looking device has gotten really popular among teens. In fact, three of the girls we spoke to said they’re hoping to receive a hair waver this year—and this one heats in a mere 60 seconds.
40. Olive & June The Mani System
Best for the Nails Obsessed
Our teen cousin told us she wants some new nail polishes, but we’re going to go ahead and gift her this full manicure set from Olive & June. It comes with six of their no-chip polishes, plus seven tools to help her shape and polish her nails, just like the pros.
A gift so chic, she’ll never guess you only bought it to make the top of her dresser look a little bit neater. Now, she can hang her necklaces, bracelets and earrings in one tiered display, almost ensuring they never end up in a tangled mess again.
“This brand’s ads keep popping up on my Instagram and I’m dying to try out their razors. The cute packaging has totally sold me,” says one 17-year-old. This shaving set comes with a razor, four blade refills, shave cream and body lotion, so your gift recipient can get the full Billie experience.
“My 13-year-old has been hinting at wanting an electric scooter for months now,” one dad tells us. This one can reach speeds of 13 mph and travel up to 10.6 miles on a single charge, so she’ll obviously ride it around town for hours.
She’s been saving up her allowance for a pair of these Bean Boots for few months. But you can still feel good about the investment—they’re a practical winter boot she’ll use for years (L.L. Bean products are made to last)—just as long as her feet don’t grow anymore.
If he’s going to insist on sitting in front of the computer for four-plus hours a day playing video games, at least you can ensure that he has good posture. This adjustable chair tilts, pivots and offers lumbar support to help him stay comfortable while gaming.
Not only are they pretty but these 100 percent silk scrunchies will also ensure that she doesn’t get that annoying ponytail crease in her hair after having it up for a few hours. Plus, the gentle material protects against damage and split ends.
“I’m always experimenting with new products to keep my curls looking their best. Next on my list? Bread Beauty Supply. I’ve heard their Gentle Milky Hair Cleanser is amazing,” says one 17-year-old. This set contains that product, plus the brand’s Creamy Deep Conditioner and Everyday Gloss hair oil.
Sherpa is everywhere this season, and one 16-year-old we talked to swears this vintage-inspired jacket is at the top of his list. Psst: The windproof material has Patagonia’s HeiQ Fresh technology, which will keep it odor-free, no matter how many weeks he waits before finally throwing it in the wash.
Size range: XXS to XXL
Apparently, room decor is a major theme this year, because one junior told us she’s also looking to revamp her bedroom with a few wish list items. She sent us a link to this art print in particular, saying, “I just love the font and the message behind it.”
“My favorite YouTuber, Brooke Miccio, has talked about these pimple patches a few times and I’m curious to see if they actually work. Fingers crossed I get them as a stocking stuffer,” says one 15-year-old we asked. (Plus, we love this brand’s messaging about ending the stigma around acne, too.)
57. Cloud Neon SignBest for the Décor Fan
“I’ve wanted a neon sign to hang on my bedroom wall for so long and I have a feeling my parents are finally going to get me one,” says one 13-year-old. Her favorite design is this simple cloud outline. (We kind of want one ourselves, now that she mentions it.)
Behold, the ideal gift for any high schooler with a creative side. A 14-year-old tells us that she used to love paint-by-numbers when she was little, and she just started to get back into them. “Painting really helps me relax,” she explains. And since you just have to fill in the spaces with their corresponding colors, these projects are great for aspiring artists looking to build their confidence.
TBH, we don’t really get the appeal of learning how to walk across a tightrope-like slackline in the backyard. But apparently teens are really into it. Two parents told us their sons are asking for slacklines this year after trying one out at a friend’s house. This particular kit comes with a training line they can hold onto overhead while they’re still newbies.
If gym is their favorite class at school, they’ll be psyched at the idea of being able to do pull-ups in the doorway. Don’t worry, Mom, this bar is made from high grade steel that can hold up to 300 pounds so it’s not going to come loose mid-workout (as long as it’s installed properly, that is).
When asked what she's eyeing, one 17-year-old immediately pulled up the image of these lightning bolt huggies on her phone. “I just got my second holes pierced so I have to wait a couple of months, but I can’t wait to put cool little hoops like this in them,” she says.
Sure, lots of students have access to school computers these days. But most don’t allow them to access the important stuff—like Netflix and Hulu. Hook them up with a MacBook Air so they can watch TV from the comfort of their own bed and also use it for non-schoolwork-related internet needs (you know, like researching new ways to be embarrassed by you). Plus, Macs are known to be long-lasting, so if they take good care of it, it just might last them through college.
This regulation-size and -weight basketball has two LED lights which make the entire ball glow upon impact. For shooting hoops after all the schoolwork is done, this will be a welcome way to blow off steam during the early dark of wintertime. Plus, it looks cool on social media.
We have fielded questions from our niece who is wondering about what kind of false eyelashes would be best on her, to which we say, gosh, like so many things about coming of age, you just have to experiment and see what you like. This set of no-trim, no-measure natural-looking lashes including a tube of lash glue and tweezer-style tool, is a great start for a teen girl's self-discovery.
Multiple high schoolers told us that they wanted a case for their AirPods, making it a foolproof option if you’re stumped on what to get your cousin this year. One teen we asked was partial to this glittery option, but Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters also carry a ton of different styles to choose from.
This California-based men's personal grooming line has no synthetic detergents or harsh chemicals and comes in a range of naturally-derived scents like spearmint, cedarwood, orange and cypress essential oils. This starter bundle, with its three bar soaps, deodorant, hair care and even a little wooden soap saver, makes showering so pleasant that he'll want to make a regular habit of it.
This is the new, more stylish iteration of the classic bean bag chair, with a plush covering and arm and back rests. It contains at least 65 percent polystyrene beans to shape to fit you, and the polyester cover resists stains.
“My whole family knows I’m obsessed with the Packers, so I don’t even really have to ask. They just know to get me new gear every year,” one 15-year-old tells us. If you want to really go above and beyond for the football fan in your life, gift them a subscription to Champ-Chest, which delivers five to ten pieces of team gear every three months.
If you thought the tie-dye trend had run its course, think again. Multiple teen girls tell us they’re hoping to add some more dip-dyed sweats to their collection this winter. Treating her to this relaxed-fit crewneck sweatshirt is sure to win you some brownie points.
Size range: XS to L