Things are changing in our house. Our old playroom, once filled with blocks and Magna-Tiles and dress-up costumes and Nerf guns…has been recently renovated so our two boys (a teen and a tween) now have their own bedrooms. Instead of swinging on bars and building towers, there’s a lot more moody listening of music going on.
17 Gifts Your Teen (or Tween) Will Actually Think Are Cool
So once again, I’m looking for a few cool, unique presents for tweens and teens. Like last year’s holiday gift guide (26 Cool Gifts for Tweens & Teens), I prefer gift ideas ideas that go beyond the usual requests (video games, phones,) but still have some sort of ‘wow’ factor.
I like gift ideas that still support (or inspire) bouts of creativity, independence or play. Because while those blocks and Magna-Tiles and Nerf guns may have gotten pushed to the side…they do still come out every once in a while.
One gift that I mentioned in last year’s gift guide (so didn’t include here,) is the Oculus Quest2 VR headset. We bought it for the boys last year, and it was easily the best, most exciting gift they’ve EVER received. VR headsets are amazingly fun — we’ll even do VR family nights that are a total blast. If you are just looking for one seriously amazing gift, I highly recommend that one.
Psst! All links below have been updated for 2022. Looking for more? We’ve got 29 new gift ideas for teens & tweens here, and if you’re seeking even more gifts for kids, head here.
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Gifts For Thinkers
1/ Literary Insults Chart
“You have delighted us long enough.” Ooooo….epic burn. There’s also a Shakespeare Insults chart, with gems such as, “You canker blossom.” I honestly can’t decide which one I like better.
2/ Personalized Pencils
While their name is an obvious choice for a personalized pencil, or maybe something inspirational…I’d be tempted to engrave these with “You canker blossom” and gift them with the insults chart, above. You can also pick several combinations of colors, too.
3/ Escape The Room Game
We’ve been trying all kinds of at-home Escape The Room-type of games, and we’ve found that this series is the best. While each pack can only be used one time, it’s the easiest to start, and the level is perfect for our crew: challenging, without ruining all fun by being too frustrating.
Gifts for Builders
4/ Friendship Bracelet Kit
Meditative and creative…this friendship bracelet set has almost 5,000 5-star reviews. It’s also only $25, so would be a fun to have a couple on hand for sleepovers.
5/ LED Strip Lights
Pax has been begging me for LED strip lights like these to decorate his room. This particular set has 1,600 5-star reviews and can be controlled — on/off, changing colors — with a phone.
6/ The Flour Shop’s Rainbow Explosion Cake Kit
William-Sonoma’s Flour Shop series has a ton of really fun baking gift sets. But I wouldn’t restrict these gifts just to kids who like to bake: baking, in general, is a very STEM-friendly activity, and these sets have enough construction challenges to appeal to kids who like to build or create, too. Also check out the Flour Shop’s Rainbow Cake Pop-Up Cake Kit.
Gifts for Music Lovers
7/ Record Player
For a kid who’s really into music…why not lean into those music snob tendencies and get them listening to “real” sound? FYI: If you, like me, were tempted to go the route of those cute, retro-looking suitcase record players…many reviewers have mentioned that they’ll scratch actual records. This particular one won’t harm records, but still has that vintage vibe I was looking for.
8/ Beats Studio Headphones
Still the coolest headphones for tweens and teens. Notice I didn’t say, “best sound” (don’t come for me, audiophiles). But these are the 1988 Guess jeans of headphones. Raines has a different set of headphones (that Mike keeps insisting are “much better sound!!”) but Raines still wants these.
9/ Pocket DJ Mixer
Ummm…this little gadget is BRILLIANT. Especially for all of those impromptu dance parties. I want a pocket DJ mixer, too. (NOTE: If you have an iPhone without a headphone jack, you’ll need a couple of these connectors, too.)
10/ Karaoke Microphone Speaker
This karaoke mic is easy to store, and fun — love the easy access to lyrics, too.
Gifts For Art Lovers
11/ Prismacolor Markers
Raines has tried a ton of different art markers, and these, he says, are the best. Why? The brush tip end AND the fact that the colors layer and blend nicely together.
12/ Marbling Paint Kit
My friend Jess (@bindingthings on IG) used to teach art classes, and marble painting was always a big hit. She got us completely obsessed. It’s super-fun (for all ages) and the results are really impressive.
13/ 3D Pen
It’s like that old 3d Doodler pen, but vastly improved. And this 3D pen has a whopping 7,000 5-star reviews on Amazon. It’s worth reading through the reviews; the uploaded photos are kiiiiind of amazing.
Gifts For Kids Who Need to Move
14/ Aerial Yoga Swing Set
This was a reader recommendation on last year’s tween and teen gift guide, and it’s a genius add. Not only can a yoga swing set be used to get out some serious energy, but it can also be a cozy hammock for reading, too.
15/ Color-Changing Basketball Hoop
“OH” Raines said, when he saw this led basketball hoop. “Mom, that IS cool.”
16/ Belt Bag
For the kid who wants to walk around by themselves, but has a tendency to lose their phone/wallet/credit card/keys…yet doesn’t always carry a backpack — this belt bag. Ahem. RAINES.
17/ Welly First Aid Kit
For Raines’ birthday last year, I threw in a tiny first-aid kit (we were low on gift ideas) and he…loved it. He does carry it around in his backpack (his friends all tease him about it), but it’s kinda become his ‘thing’. I fully support this. The exact kit we bought for Raines is Kikkerman’s Wilderness First Aid Kit, and while it’s a *little* silly (it contains some random things like safety pins and sunscreen) the vibe is a little more rugged.
Hope this helps!!
(Oh, hey! We know it’s early in the season, but if you need more gift ideas, we have a slew. Check out our gift ideas hub here, or go straight to Gifts For Kids, Gifts For Him and/or Gifts For Her. More gift guides to come)
This is totally awesome. Thank you so much. Although right now I’m not sure my kid is getting ANYTHING for Christmas. 😂
Rough day, Amy? (LOVE this comment so much – am DYING. Solidarity, sister.)
What do teenagers even like? This is a common question between my husband and me. My kids might be getting these LED lights, and at least one would love some Beats.
In solidarity with other teen parents, here are things my 15 year olds have enjoyed recently:
Fidget poppers (Dimpl, etc) – good for stockings or small gifts
Boba tea kits
Fun glasses from Zenni for additional looks
Squishmallows stuffed animals
Duplicates on favorite wardrobe items
Acoustic guitar — You can get models by reputable brands under $200 at Guitar Center. (Yamaha, Epiphone, Fender, Ibanez, etc. Don’t waste your money on anything with the word “starter” or “beginner” in the name.)
Good luck, everyone!
Am I… Am I a teen? Because these are awesome.
Question on Oculus from someone who does not like or play video games but has kids who do: do I need to buy 2 sets for it to really be fun?
You do NOT. There IS a way to play “together” but my kids play most of the time by themselves. I mean…we’re often watching them do Beat Saber or whatever (you can stream to a TV) and cheering, but you can definitely pass the headset around. That said…it’s really fun and REALLY hard to share. 🙂
Hi, thanks for the suggestions! Do you have a favorite karaoke app that would work with that microphone?