Gifts for Teens: What Teens Actually Want This Holiday


Stumped about holiday gifts for teens? Never fear.

Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and more: we hear you! Buying gifts for teens during the holidays is tough. Asking teens directly what they want often leads to the “I don’t know. I don’t care” or the “I want [insert something that costs $1 million here].” conversation that gets gift-buyers nowhere. Yet, much to our dismay, teens really do know and do care about what they want and receive, they just won’t tell us that.  

When it comes to buying gifts for teens over the holidays, many shoppers feel totally lost for that reason: we don’t always know what exactly teens want, but they will be disappointed if it’s not right. Teen disappointment and drama is a total holiday buzzkill, so stay on the teen’s nice list and shop for the gifts that won’t reinforce why they still have a seat at the ‘kiddie-table’ come dinnertime.

We are listing our top ideas when it comes to gifts for teens and are including everything they want… or would be cool with getting, at least. Avoid any potential gift exchange eyerolls and take our five ideas. Trust us.


Ultimately, when it comes to gifts for teens, you can’t beat a pair of earbuds. Earbuds, especially bluetooth ones for the ‘coolness factor’, are a necessity for screen-addicted teenagers. Between keeping a spare pair at school to losing another set in their messy (read: should-be-condemned) rooms, teens will always be happy to accept a new pair. All teens want during the holidays is to tune everybody out and to escape their aunt’s pryingly embarrassing questions. Earbuds let them do that and that’s why they are our winning suggestion.

Amazon Fire Stick

Because who doesn’t love to binge watch?! Any teen (and, honestly, adult!) would seriously appreciate the all-in-one streaming device. Streaming devices like the Amazon Fire Stick have hundreds of streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu, web browser access, music players, and even games. The gift of countless hours worth of entertainment will totally impress any teen. The Amazon Fire Stick is a nice gift with an even nicer price tag, so it’s set to make you (AKA your wallet) and the recipient very happy. Make sure the teen has their own TV to plug the device into and they’re set!

Subscription to a Streaming Service

Looking for an unconventional idea when it comes to smart gifts for teens? Try getting them a subscription to a streaming service. 3 months worth of unlimited basic Netflix, Spotify, or Hulu plans will cost you less than $30 and is a gift that will be used every single day. Cash-strapped teens, teens who want to stop sharing the family account with their younger siblings, and/or the parents of a teen who might be paying for their teen’s streaming subscription(s), will love this creative and unexpected gift.

Reusable Water Bottle

Insulated, reusable water bottles are a great option to give if you are looking for an inexpensive but not cheap feeling gift. From sports practices to school backpacks, a water bottle that keeps liquids hot or cold all day long will totally come in handy for busy teens. Gifts for teens don’t need to be expensive or tech-related, and a water bottle is a perfect example of a small, nice gift. Reusable water bottles are eco-friendly and also come in a variety of colors and patterns, which is a total selling point for most teens and gift-givers alike. Be sure to buy a color or print that matches the teen’s personality or get one in a neutral shade if you want to be safe!

Money (*sigh*)

Unfortunately, there is no avoiding this suggestion when it comes to gifts for teens. Cash is king and is honestly what many teens want most of all.  …that is, if you can’t buy any of their highly unrealistic wishlist items like a luxury car or fancy spaceship computer. If you do decide to give cash, you won’t look like you didn’t care. You won’t look like you didn’t spend time or weren’t thoughtful enough. You will just look like the really cool person who cut to the chase and gave the teen what they wanted most of all. For what it’s worth, this gift is a total win: let the teen buy what they want rather than risk the drama of getting them the wrong thing. Problem solved!


Shopping for the holidays is stressful and shopping for recipients who have a tendency to be picky makes things even more so. However, we love our teens. While we still encourage you to try asking what they want and hoping for an answer, if not an answer that is actually tangible (sorry, ‘dream vacation to Bali’ idea), it is really hard to go completely wrong on selecting gifts for teens. So long as you can’t see a middle schooler liking the gift(s) you plan on giving, it passes the teen-approved test!

Stick with our suggestions and if that’s still not enough, just refrain from telling some embarrassing childhood stories of the teen at your family’s holiday gathering. That might very well be the best gift of all. Still wondering what to get for everyone else? Check out our Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for more gift ideas for the twelve people on your must-buy-for list!