Finding the perfect holiday gift for teens isn't easy. Teenagers have diverse tastes and interests, and what's in vogue one day could very well be passé the next. You might think you've found something they'll love, only to find it stashed in the back of their closet a month later. But worry not, we're here to help. We've curated a selection of the best gifts for teens, using research and plenty of input from the teenagers in our own lives.
While cash and gift cards are always appreciated, this list includes solely physical items that are sure to make an impression. Some of these gift suggestions are practical, like noise-canceling earbuds and a handy tote bag. Others are small luxuries to help ease their stress -- for instance, fragrant candles, soothing lip balm, and a fuzzy weighted blanket. And then there are just-for-fun items: a turntable, a Nintendo Switch and even a boba tea kit. Whichever you decide on, it's bound to bring a smile to your teen's face. And they might just be appreciative... for once.
The Hydro Flask is so last year. The Stanley cup is now the drinking vessel of choice among teens. Being a tumbler, it's not completely leak-proof, but it keeps your beverages cool for hours, and it fits perfectly into a car cup holder. The 40-ounce size might seem a bit big, but it's actually perfect for keeping your teen refreshed at school throughout the day without having to constantly refill. And the straw is a nice touch for teens who want to stay hydrated at the gym or on the go.
A portable Bluetooth speaker will let your teen take their music with them wherever they go, whether it's a pre-game tailgate, a bonfire at the beach or just hanging out in the backyard. The Bose SoundLink Flex is CNET's top choice for the best Bluetooth speaker. Available in five colors -- black, cypress green, carmine red, white smoke and stone blue -- CNET audio expert David Carnoy says it's "arguably the best-sounding wireless speaker for its compact size."
Yes, it's expensive, especially for a candle, but fans of Taylor Swift know exactly why. Woody, luxurious and suitable for any season, Byredo's Tree House candle is Taylor Swift's fav. The 2.5-ounce votive costs $45, and the 8.5-ounce size is a whopping $94.
If you know a teen who loves skin care products -- or has chronically dry lips -- Laneige's lip sleeping mask makes a perfect gift. Slather the vitamin C-infused mask on before bed for some instant TLC. They'll wake up with hydrated, super soft lips. It comes in eight delectable flavors, but caramel apple is the fan favorite this season.
Amazon's newest Echo Dot with Clock, available in cloud blue or glacier white, offers better sound than its predecessor and has a built-in motion detector and temperature sensor. It can even function as a Wi-Fi mesh extender for Eero routers. As with other Alexa devices, this smart speaker can check the weather, stream music, set alarms and more, all just using your voice.
Spikeball is a super-trendy, fast-paced game that combines elements of volleyball and four-square. Instead of hitting a large ball over a straight net, you're smacking a softer, grapefruit-size ball onto a bouncy, ringed one, sort of like tetherball but without the string. This is a physical game, one that requires fast movement and probably some diving if you want to score points. It's a great way to get teens off their screens and outdoors.
Sure, Spotify is great, but there's nothing quite like the retro feel of real records and spinning vinyl. This Bluetooth-compatible, portable turntable hits all the right notes. Not only can you play LPs, but you can stream music wirelessly from any device. And while the sound isn't as top-notch as some more expensive models, you can't beat the cool retro aesthetic.
Lululemon's Everywhere Belt Bag is so popular that it's often out of stock. This fleece version is perfect for winter and is a great hands-free alternative to using a tote or purse. Teens can stash their keys, phones and credit cards in this easy, on-the-go accessory.
Candles are a great go-to gift, perfect for the teen who wants to wind down after a busy day at school. With so many options out there, it can be hard to find the perfect scent that your teen will appreciate. But the folks at Homesick have made it easy by coming up with unique candles that will speak to every interest. Hogwarts fans will appreciate Homesick's Harry Potter collection. But you can also find candles that are inspired by US states, MLB stadiums, Star Wars and more. The standard 13.75-ounce size starts at $38.
A colorful tote bag is perfect gift for teens who lug their laptops to school every day but don't want to use a backpack. The Duck Bag is made from recycled cotton canvas and is available in 9 colorful prints. Bonus: It's machine-washable.
Kodak's pocket-size projector is a cool gift for teens who love movies, TV shows or video games (which is pretty much all teens). The Luma 150 can project up to 150 inches (12.5 feet) onto almost any surface to give your teen an impressive big-screen experience. Plus there's a built-in speaker so no extra equipment is needed.
What's even better than a weighted blanket? A fuzzy weighted blanket. If your teen likes to sleep in on the weekends (who doesn't?), this blanket will keep them cozy and relaxed. It also adds a touch of style and texture to a teen's bedroom. This great gift comes in white, cream, gray, brown, navy and pink.
Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 -- splash-proof)
AirPods are a teen staple, so if you know a teen who doesn't have a pair yet or (shocker) lost them, this gift is a safe bet. The AirPods Pro 2 are the best lightweight earbuds you can buy, according to CNET's David Carnoy. They're powered by Apple's newer H2 chip, which offers more processing power while being more energy efficient. If you don't want to shell out $249 for the Pro 2, you could go with Apple's 2019 standard AirPods. They're not as feature rich, but they'll do the job.
If you know a teen who's really into sports and goes to the gym on a regular basis, they'll appreciate a massage gun to ease the muscle soreness that comes with intense exercise. Therabody has a lot of ultra-expensive larger models, but the Theragun Mini is a powerful, cheaper option in a smaller package. It's easy to throw in a gym bag, and it delivers a whopping 1,750 to 2,400 percussions per minute.
What's old is new again. While it's easy for teens to take pics with their phones, it's way more entertaining to capture their favorite moments with a retro digicam. This compact digital camera is easy to stash in a pocket or backpack. While you're not going to get the top-notch shots that you would from an iPhone 15 Pro, this isn't a bad little camera for the price.
This huggable llama is more than a cute stuffy. Pop it in the microwave and it'll warm up your bed or soothe sore muscles -- or you can keep it in the freezer and use it as an ice pack. It has a soothing lavender scent, and what could be more adorable than a llama? Or choose from a wide selection of the brand's other heatable plush toys including a sloth, an avocado, buttered toast and more.
The newest version of the Nintendo Switch is a splurge, but it offers more storage, better audio, and a newer, bigger 7-inch OLED display. According to CNET's Scott Stein, "The Switch OLED is the best Nintendo Switch there is, period." This mobile gaming system provides hours and hours of entertainment with games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Pimkin 4 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
If you're tired of your teen saying they couldn't text because their phone ran out of juice, the Nimble Champ portable charger is the answer. Nimble's 10,000mAh charger works with iPhones, iPads and Android devices and features PD 4.0 fast-charging (18 watts) via its single USB-C port. It's small and compact, so it's easy to throw into a backpack or tote.
If your teen likes a daily dose of boba, they're probably familiar with the Boba Guys, who made a name for themselves after opening up their first popup shop in San Francisco in 2011. This DIY kit comes with everything you need to make Boba Guys' much-loved strawberry matcha flavor: tapioca balls, Japanese matcha, strawberry jam, a bamboo matcha whisk and a reusable straw.
Sure, socks used to be the boring gift, but not anymore. Fashion-forward teens know all about Bombas. They're the comfiest socks out there, and thanks to their colorful patterns and fun prints, they're far from boring. Prices start at $13 a pair for ankle socks and $14 for calf socks (shown here), which isn't cheap for socks, but you can get 20% off your first order.
As much as it pains them, your teen doesn't always have access to their phone, especially when they're at school. But an Apple Watch will ensure they never miss an important notification. The 2022 Apple Watch SE might not be the flashiest new Apple Watch alongside the Apple Watch Series 9 and souped-up Ultra. But with a $249 starting price, it's easily the most practical Apple Watch for most teens. Bonus points if you throw in an Apple Music subscription.
Nike continues to dominate teen footwear. Give your teen the perfect pair by letting them customize it exactly to their tastes. Choose from a variety of designs, and then let them pick out the look of everything from the laces, to the tongue, midsole, swoosh and more. Shoes start at $110 and go up to $215.
If you're sending something from afar, consider purchasing a trio of succulents from Lula's Garden. You might think plants are boring, but they're actually popular among the teen crowd since they add a tasteful aesthetic to any room. This beautiful gift box comes with three preplanted succulents in a sleek white box that doubles as a planter. Luckily, succulents don't need much attention to thrive, so these are perfect even for plant newbies.
What's even better than a box of See's chocolate? A custom box of See's filled with all your teen's favorites. Skip the dreaded walnuts and nougat and go straight for the California brittle, milk Butterchews and more. Just hope they don't gobble them up all at once. These custom boxes start at $32 for a 1-pound box and go all the way up to $160 for a 5-pounder.