Teens are notoriously choosy when it comes to gifts. Sure, cold hard cash is always a solid choice, and tech equipment will often get you smiles, but what about when you want some gift ideas for teens that are a little bit more interesting than the same old go-tos?
We've located some of the best gifts for teens ages 13-17 based on our own experience raising a teen as well as what is popular right now. Although there is a lot to be said for simply asking teens what they want, with this list you're sure to find the perfect gift that will actually surprise them!
If you've been following the blog long enough you know that I don't find gender categories very helpful, so this list of gifts for teens is designed to be gender neutral. They are gifts for teen boys, teen girls, and every teen in between.
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Teens tend to abuse their backpacks so much that it's likely they will be grateful for an upgraded way to lug around their gear. For teens who carry a laptop to and from school, the right size backpack is essential. These options from the Swedish company, Fjällräven, are fantastic. Stick with a traditional backpack, or get the convertible "toteback" that switches between tote and a backpack style.
365 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR
We get these page-a-day calendars for our kids every year and the novelty hasn't worn off, even into the teen years. One of my sons loves getting a sports or science fact-a-day version, and the other can't get enough of 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said! There are tons of themes to choose from like cats, history, cartoons, even The Smartest Things Ever Said, so you're sure to find just the right calendar.
This was a spur-of-the-moment gift one year and it was a real winner! Our teen loves using the foot roller under his desk while he works on his homework. Not only does it feel luxurious, but it helps teens stay focused, especially those who have a tendency to fidget!
Find it: Foot roller
ART SUBSCRIPTION BOX
For teens with an artistic side, a surprise box full of new art supplies will be a joy. I subscribed to ArtSnacks for six months and it was a lot of fun to try out new art materials. ArtSnacks has two subscription options, the small box with 4-5 full size premium art products, or the Plus box, which includes 5-6 full-size, premium art supplies and 1 full-size surface (like a drawing pad or canvas).
BOX OF MATTER
This is one of the coolest subscription boxes out there and is perfect for kids interested in science. They send you unique, actual artifacts each month, like prehistoric fossils (Yes, really! Real ones!), scientific tools, historical artifacts as well as information and research behind the items. This is one of those boxes the entire family will adore, and your teen will be building their collection of curiosities in no time.
Find it: Box of Matter
The KiwiCo. family of crates has two exceptional subscriptions for teens (you can also purchase individual boxes), the Maker Crate and the Eureka Crate.
Maker Crate is a craft box that introduces teens to new design and art techniques. Past projects have included paper marbling, metal sculpture and terrazzo clay organizers.
Eureka Crate is a STEM themed box that teaches young innovators to apply principles of science and math to make every day items like an articulated desk lamp or a wooden ukulele.
Each crate provides instructions and materials. Teens will use critical thinking and problem-solving skills and take pride in making something that is useful and beautiful.
We subscribed for years to KiwiCo's crates and loved each and every one.
Last year we set up a dart board and it has been a fantastic boredom buster. It was actually my teen who requested it. After all, when you are forced by your parents to indulge in screen-free time, it's good to have an outlet for your annoyance. (ha ha ha). Go with magnet darts or, if you don't mind the occasional hole in the wall, traditional steel-tipped darts.
Apple's Air Buds are very popular, but they aren't the best choice for active teens. These wireless earphones sit securely around the ear and the addition of a connecting wire also aids in preventing them from getting lost!
Find it: Amazon
NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Our teen was soooooo happy when we got him a pair of noise cancelling headphones because it meant he could limit the amount of time he had to spend listening to his younger sibling. They can be a splurge, but they are so, so worth it!
Find it: Amazon (similar to the ones we bought)
You might be thinking, "Aren't alarm clocks a touch old fashioned? Everyone uses their phone as an alarm, now!" Well, for those families who have a no phones in the bedroom while-you-are-supposed-to-be-sleeping, an alarm clock is essential. Our son has this exact giant clock and he loves it. It's battery operated, can hang on the wall, or sit on a desk, gives the date and day of the week, the temperature, and humidity. AND, it sets the time automatically (amazing). It is great for kids who may struggle a bit with keeping to a schedule!
Find it: Amazon
A water bottle? You seriously want me to give my teen a water bottle as a gift? Let me explain. Our teen requested a Hydro Flask water bottle and now it's the only one he likes to use. Yes, it's pricey for a water bottle, but it will last forever, and hey, it's a gift! Hydro Flasks come in a million colors, wide or narrow mouths, different lid styles and insulated or not. Our teen also loves his Hydro Flask tumbler, which I love because it means he only uses one glass a day, instead of filling up the sink with a different glass every time he is thirsty. So, yeah, I think you should consider a water bottle.
Find it: Amazon
Strip lights are a novelty gift item. They're sole purpose is to make your teenager's room look super cool and groovy, and that's okay! Sometimes you just need to hang out and enjoy the view.
Find it: Amazon
We get the Universal Yums subscription box for our whole family, but it's a unique gift for teens, too. Each month features treats from a different country as well as an informational booklet that imparts interesting trivia about the featured country.
Find it: Universal Yums