20 Gift Ideas for the Discerning Teen

Twenty Gift Ideas for Teens



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I almost said Gift Ideas for the Difficult teen up there, but I decided that wasn’t really fair. It’s not Ari’s fault he has such good taste that he doesn’t like most things. Last year the only post like this I did was for older babies/young toddlers, but this year I decided to take on more of a challenge. I mean, babies and toddlers are EASY to buy for. Relatively speaking. Thirteen year old boys? Not so much.

I always feel a little weird doing things like this because, I mean, MY teen spends a lot of his spare time composing a humorous e-mail newsletter about hair and is a passionate defender of the Oxford comma. Maybe yours (or the one on your list) is not the same.  Maybe. But I’ve tried to keep things fairly general and universal, so that the basic idea can be customized to whatever particular set of quirky interests you’re working with.

I’ve grouped the ideas into seven categories, to make things a little more manageable, and because grouping things into categories is kind of fun. I also enjoy alphabetizing.

I also tried to stick with mostly low cost things. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are usually pretty quick to let me know what EXPENSIVE things they want for Christmas. It’s the smaller, fun surprises to open stuff that’s harder to come up with. So there are a few exceptions, but most of these things are under $25.

1. Reading Things:

I always get each kid at least one book for Christmas, and usually I go ahead and get them way more than that, because reading is good and because I like buying books and find picking them out relatively easy. It’s probably my favorite part of Christmas shopping, in fact, looking for ideas and picking out books for each kids. I check out places like Amazon’s Best Books of the Month and the YALSA’s lists to get suggestions, then figure out which book I think each kid would enjoy.

Up there in group 1, we have:

*The Best American Infographics 2014: I actually already bought this for Ari, but now I can’t remember where I put it. I hope it turns up before Christmas. Perhaps it contains some kind of infographic on where misplaced Christmas gifts are most likely to turn up, but, if it does, I won’t know until I don’t need it anymore.

*Egg and Spoon: by Gregory Maguire. This is probably more Milo’s kind of thing than Ari’s, but it looks interesting, and I’m keeping things general, remember, and also Milo will be a teen himself frighteningly soon.

*Moroccan Lamps Bookmarks: and then you maybe need a way to keep track of which infographic you were last looking at. It just so happens that my cousin, Erin, has an Etsy shop called ProtonPaperie, where she sells these gorgeous bookmarks and also other fancy paper things. ($10 for 3)

2. Room Things:

One nice thing about teens, hard to buy for though they can be, is that they maybe care more about what their rooms look like than they did when they were younger.

*Art from Etsy: Ari is a big fan of Parks and Rec and not a fan of chit chat, so this Parks and Rec Typography Print would no doubt please him ($12). And he already has this cat with headphones watercolor ($9). But, of course, the possibilities there are endless, and it’s really fun to browse around and discover new favorites (almost as much fun as book shopping!)

* Nose Eyeglass Holder ($13)

*Tiki Tissue Box Holder ($18)

*Fun throw pillows: Ari was all, “nope!”when I showed him, but I think these vintage camera pillows from Uncommon Goods are fabulous. They’re also pretty pricey, at $55-65 each. But there are lots of throw pillows out there in fun shapes. Ikea has some cool ones in the kids’ section right now. For example. Etsy would be a great place to look for [insert quirky interest here] pillows, too.

*Cubes! ($9) My blogging friend, Chris, sells handmade wooden toys in his Etsy shop, WhittleBits. Your teen probably doesn’t want a wooden choo choo train (although who knows?) but he also sells these wooden cubes.They’re supposed to be used to display documents (which is a cool idea), but I thought they might also be a good way to display toy zombies. Chris sent me a few of them, so I tried my idea out, and it turns out I was totally right: PERFECT zombie holders (or you know, just all purpose modern desk/shelf accessory):


3. T-shirts:

Ari really likes amusing t-shirts, but his wear out pretty quickly because he tends to keep the same 3 or 4 in very heavy rotation. I’m pretty sure he would like this Cats Riding on T-rexes shirt from Threadless, but he’s so picky about clothes that I can’t be certain, so he’s getting a gift card instead. Oh, gift cards, where would we be without you? We like Shirt Woot, Think Geek, and TeeTurtle for t-shirts, too. Ari says the Threadless ones hold up the best for him, historically.

4. Music Things: Honestly, these are things I would buy/have bought for Milo, since he’s our guitar playing kid. But, you know….

*Guitar Pick Punch: ($23) The first time I saw this, I just thought it was kind of neat idea (you can make guitar picks out of any plastic you have lying around….expired credit cards, empty gift cards, etc), but now that we have one, I don’t know how we could ever make it without one. Milo can’t keep up with guitar picks for anything….but he doesn’t have to! Yay!

*Hand-shaped Guitar Grip ($40)

5. Games: last Christmas was kind of the year of the games around here. A couple of our favorites (especially MY favorites, since I like to give games I don’t mind playing) are Dixit ($23) and Apples to Apples ($30). Or maybe, for the teen who’s feeling anti-social, this Escher Brainteaser ($17) that one can do all alone (I gather it’s sort of like an artsier Perplexus).

6. Art Things:

*Solar Photography Kit $15

*Prismacolor Colored Pencils (the set shown is $45, but you can get a smaller set for as little as $11 on Amazon….or maybe cheaper with a coupon at Michaels): Ari guards his jealously

*DIY Screenprint Kit: at $64, this is the priciest thing on the list, but I think it’d be really fun for the right kid.

7. Assorted Things:

You can get soap and ice cube trays in pretty much any shape imaginable these days, and they make for fun, inexpensive gifts that will actually get some use (assuming you don’t have one of those teenagers who won’t take a shower). We have Companion Cube (from Portal 2) and Pi ice cube trays, but I think Ari would also like this Cat one ($10). You can also use them to make chocolates! There’s no shortage of Tardis and Dalek soap on Etsy; I picked these because the colors were pretty, and the shop has good reviews ($4).

So there’s my list! Past hits and things we’re hopeful about for this year. I’ve still got tons of shopping to knock out, so I’d love to hear your suggestions for what your teens have liked, too!

And I’ll be back tomorrow with my Christmas house tour for the A Very Merry Christmas House Tour, hosted by Carrie at Lovely, Etc. There are over 30 blogs participating throughout the week, and that link right there will take you to all of them.

a very merry christmas home tour 5


20 Gift Ideas for the Discerning Teen — 15 Comments

  1. what does it say about me that these are all great gifts for me, a 36 year old woman. 😉 i seriously was thinking of putting the nose glasses holder on my list, but then i lost my glasses a month ago….. so when i replace them i might need that nose.

    • 🙂 you definitely need the glasses holder! I generally want everything on the list when people post gift ideas for toddlers, so you’ve got me beat for maturity at least 😉

  2. I LOVE THE GLASSES HOLDER! My Milo needs that for sure. Also on the games topic, we love Munchkin and Ticket to Ride. Also Hanabi has been getting played with some regularity around these parts.

    • Isn’t it great? It was out of stock last year, so we didn’t get it, and this year Ari just said, “oh, I just put my glasses on my nightstand.” But you could put them on a wooden nose, Ari! We got Munchkin last year (kids like it, but I’m not a fan), and I bought Hanabi for this year….good to hear it’s a hit there 🙂

      • It took me about a month of watching/listening to Mac and the boys play Munchkin before I started to sort of get it. I am still not great at it but I enjoy it.

  3. These are great ideas. I love shopping for books, too. I’ve decided I’m totally cool with being the person who gives you a book. For everything. 🙂 That infographic book is awesome. I wanted to buy it for myself!

    • I was THIS CLOSE to putting a gummy bear lamp on there, too, but I figured it had already had enough time in the blog spotlight 🙂

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