Shopping for goodies for teens and tweens? You could just opt for a gift card, but we promise there’s a way to make even the pickiest of teen girls and teen boys scroll their iPhones to look up and crack a smile—no wish list required. We’ve rounded up some of the best gifts for every music lover, self-care queen and Gen Z high-school student on your list. From beauty products and bestseller gadgets to the coolest gifts for gamers and wannabe influencers, we’ve got you covered.
As you shop, keep this advice in mind from independent analysts and toy historians Christopher Byrneaka the Toy Guy:
“One of the things that’s so important about teens — and has been for many years — is the social aspect of their lives,” says Byrne. Making, sharing, connecting and building community are important aspects to consider when choosing a thoughtful gift. Today’s adolescents still enjoy the old-school activity of playing board games as a way to bond with friends, for example. The new Dungeons, Dice & Danger game is a great one. Or consider the JBL Flip 6 portable speaker that just bags for a dance party.
“This is a time of life when they may be trying on different identities, discovering who they are separate from their parents and as individuals in a peer group,” Byrne says about the post-elementary-school age. “Technology has made this possible, so things that can be shared either in person or virtually are great.” The Kodak Step Slim Mobile Photo Printer, for example, lets teens take photos from their cellphones and print them out to share with friends. And the Rukus FX music mixer allows for music and video creation and sharing.
A few carefully selected gifts are better than a whole pile. “Don’t overload kids with presents,” cautions Byrne. You’ll risk giving kids so much that they can’t appreciate what they get. And to quote the kids: “That’s so ’90s.”
Not only does the Rukus FX mix music, it has an LED light show and over 80 sound effects. And of course there’s a built-in microphone for vocals. “After playing with it for a while, it is so much more than it might appear at first glance,” says Byrne. “There’s a lot you can do with it; plus you can record and share what you do, and it’s a natural [activity] for taking videos and sharing those.”
If the tween or teen in your life is into jewelry, consider a unique pair of earrings like these selfie-worthy, dainty gold studs. They’re also available in sterling silver, and you get one crescent moon and one lightning bolt. “I love these studs!” writes one reviewer. “They are darling and just the right amount of edge. I’ve been wearing them almost every day.” An impressive 93% of reviewers gave this pair five stars — those are good odds that the teen in your life will love them too!
Byrne recommends Vex building kits for kids who are into building and engineering. This particular kit contains over 160 pieces that can be turned into a working catapult to launch the three balls that are included. There’s also an alternate build, which means more bang for your buck. One Amazon reviewer wrote of her son: “He loves the science behind how the motors work and honestly they work quite well.”
Funko Pop makes big-headed products for just about every pop-culture franchise, including figurines from teen favorites like the animated series Avatars: The Last AirbenderMarvel movies, TV’s Stranger ThingsDisney films and so much more.
These are popular with teenagers for their collectability, something Byrne says is great to consider when buying gifts. “This is the age when kids start collecting,” he says. “The transition from playing to collecting is an important one at this time of life. It’s really a kind of rite of passage.”
Sure it has crystal-clear sound and deep bass, but the best thing about this speaker is its rugged portability. Plus it’s Bluetooth connected and comes in 11 colors. “I’ve had several portable speakers over the years, and this is by far the best for the money,” wrote one Amazon customer. “I would more than likely buy it again because it fits easily into my backpack when I travel.”
Help creative teens express themselves with a high-quality art set that includes six black markers and two sepia-tone ones. “As a beginning anime artist, I was in search of a way to darken the lines in my drawings and lessen the number of pencil smudges in them,” wrote an Amazon reviewer. “Every marker in the packet was well worth the money.”
Amazon’s No. 1 bestselling bubble tea kit, this contains everything needed to make 10 delicious servings of bubble tea. Inside the box are brown sugar boba pearls, milk tea, fruit tea and 10 fat straws. Teens will love customizing their own boba concoctions and sharing with friends.
This cool BD-1 measures over 12.5 inches tall when built. The exploration droid includes authentic details that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order love fans. “The build was great, thoroughly enjoyed it,” says one Lego fan. “The end model is brilliant with the various movements it has and the poses it can be set into.” The set includes more than 1,000 pieces, enough to keep them off their phone for a couple of hours.
Ramen — especially instant ramen — is a staple of youth. Celebrate your teen’s love for yummy, convenient Cup Noodles with this fun earbud protective case. They’re compatible with Apple Airpods, and we think this earbud case will get some laughs. But, more importantly, it’ll keep your ramen-obsessed teen’s earbuds safe and sound.
No remote control is needed here. Just toss this drone to launch it, guide it with hand movement and “teach” it tricks, then flip it upside down to power off. Rechargeable battery included. Some 81% of Target buyers give the Sky Viper Force Hover Sphere five stars.
These new Nerf Blasters take laser tag up a notch with the ability to play in the dark — the Laser Vision option illuminates enemy targets. The blasters have a range of up to 300 feet and a battery life that will provide up to four hours of play.
For teens who look to the stars for guidance, this is a really fun gift. The pictured June 4 candle features an orchid, sandalwood and lemon scent, but each date features a unique “custom scent to match your energy.” The all-natural soy and coconut wax jar candle has a burn time of 60 to 80 hours. “It’s crazy that they were able to nail it and capture a scent truly made for me,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “I’m obsessed with it, and so are all of my friends, so I will definitely be gifting it to everyone I know.”
Up to four players (yes, you can even play solo!) explore four different levels of this board game, including Annoyed Animals, Defiant Dinosaurs, Puzzled Pyramid and Clumsy Cultists. Get through by searching dungeons, battling monsters and scoring treasures. “Easy to learn and pick up,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “It’s fun and I recommend it to anyone who likes the genre or is looking to try a roll-and-write for the first time.
Hey, Gen Xers, take your young adult back to your own teen years with actual paper photos. The sticky-backed photos printed from this wireless compact printer are smudge-proof, waterproof and tear-resistant — perfect for decorating bedrooms, lockers, mirrors and more. Simply connect to the printer via Bluetooth and use the Kodak Step Prints app to print vibrant photos.
This inexpensive jewelry option resembles one worn by rapper and style icon Bad Bunny. “This necklace is so cute and of great quality,” wrote one Amazon reviewer. “Perfect dupe for the popular expensive brand.” The gold-tone choker features beads and faux pearls on a 14.1-inch chain (it has a 2.7-inch extender for a flexible fit).
This bold pullover is made from 24% recycled materials, which is a bonus for green-minded teens. The soft fleece fabric will keep your kiddo cozy this winter, as well as sporting the current style.
“Don’t forget video games,” says Byrne of the ultimate teenage gift idea. The Xbox Series S is a great price for a powerful system, and teens will enjoy playing their favorite video games. “This is the MOST AWESOME THING I’VE EVER BOUGHT,” says one Walmart reviewer. Convincing words!
The magical Sorting Hat chooses your Hogwarts house with the touch of a button and awards jelly beans accordingly. Will you get Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw? A 1-ounce bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans (in four flavors) is included with this set. The House Points dispenser makes a unique gift for middle school Potterheads.
“I love the Aerobie football,” says Byrne. “It’s easy to throw and create social interaction.” The fins are adjustable for right- and left-handed throwers, and you can calibrate the spin rate. There’s even a hashtag to follow — #sonicfinchallenge — to participate in social media challenges. A great gift for the sporty teen.
“Representation is very important for teens,” says Byrne of these Fresh Fierce Collection dolls from World of EPI. There are three posable 11.5-inch dolls inspired by Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie. Black Panther fans will want to collect Nakia, Okoye and Shuri (pictured).
A built-in LED activator charges the included glow-in-the-dark Gellets for a light-up nighttime experience. Don’t worry, parents: The impact is just enough to register a hit but not enough to injure. And the Gellets dissolve on impact, providing mess-free play. The set includes the StarFire blaster and accessories, plus a USB C charging cable, barrel removal tool and safety glasses.
We all know that tweens and teens lose a lot of things. That’s why the manageable price of these earbuds makes them a practical — and fun — gift for teens who love Spotify. JLab’s new Go Air Sport earbuds have 32-plus-hour Bluetooth playtime, multiple sound settings, convenient touch controls and of course a charging case. You’ll get the charging case with an integrated charging cable, three sets of gel tips for a perfect fit and a two-year warranty. Available in six colors including on-sale black, neon yellow and teal as well as sky blue, green and sand. “These are the best earbuds I’ve owned,” wrote one of more than 2,000 Amazon reviewers. “My favorite feature is that they stay securely no matter what. They’re comfortable to wear too.”
Middle-school-age kids who are into DIY jewelry trends will love all the ways to craft with this perfect gift set. Materials are included for Heishi Craze, Just Bead It, It’s Elastic!, Friends Forever and Link Em’ Up bracelets. The rotating tower keeps everything organized, and the trays can be removed to bring anywhere.
Musicians in the making enjoy practicing the drums on this cool gift, and it won’t bust your eardrums. (It includes a headphone jack!) It’s a space-saver too! A five-star fan wrote: “This is great for beginners or taking on the go. You can work on the drumming skills anywhere. I got this for my son who wants a full drum set, but I was worried about commitment, so he can start with this set, which is small and compact, and if he sticks with it, we can invest in something bigger.”
Even if they don’t have a smart speaker in their room, they can control the lights via an app or the remote control that’s included.
Boxes start at $23 for two treats and go up to $78 for 12, and the price includes shipping. Plus, code delivery is instant.
Say hello to voluminous, bouncy curls — and they require nearly zero effort.
It even has a remote that your teen can use to make it switch colors.
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.