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Gen Z is probably the trickiest generation to shop for. Considering teens now have grown up since birth in a technologically savvy world that the rest of us had to figure out a bit later in life, Gen Z has a passion for unapologetically owning the best of the best in terms of tech, clothing and products overall. That said, shopping gifts for teens isn’t like shopping for the best gifts for dad or something. You’re going to have to go above and beyond to find them the best gift possible.
Influence for teens has come less from television and more from the Internet, specifically through social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat. Friends and popular influencers alike will boast whatever it is they’re loving now to their wide audiences to ensure others know what they have. It’s semi-sickening, but it’s the world these kids love living in. We can’t hate them cause we ain’t them.
If you need to snag the perfect gift for a teen, you shouldn’t feel completely at a loss — we’ve rounded up some top-notch buys any teen will love in so you don’t screw it up. You can thank us later.
1. Gooseneck Bed Phone Holder
It’s funny, but we’ve come to notice a lot of teens prefer watching their favorite shows and movies on their iPhones instead of the TV or laptop. Why? We … actually have no idea. The screen is so tiny, it doesn’t make any sense. Nonetheless, if they don’t want to hold up their mini TVs in bed, this gooseneck phone holder connects right to their bed for a hands-free watch before bed. Because they need to get some sleep for that big test tomorrow!
2. Ivy Vine String Lights
BEST FOR THEIR BEDROOM
Teens are obsessed with unusual lighting. Like, go into any teenager’s room and we can promise they’ll have colored LEDs, weird or character-shaped lamps or string lights of sorts. These string lights incorporate the modern teen’s love for plants and greenery with lighting to brighten the space up a bit. It’ll look excellent in the in-room forest they’ve created on their window sill.
3. Crocs Classic Marbled Tie Dye Clog
If your teen doesn’t have Crocs, they simply aren’t cool. We know. It’s so weird how times have changed. Crocs are acceptable in every style and color, but we can’t lie about how obsessed we are with these marbled tie-dye Crocs on Amazon. Like, come on, look at that weird world of yellow and green. Iconic. Don’t forget the jibbitz, either!
4. Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector
BEST NEW TREND
Yeah, we know, we’re kind of confused, too. But, we’re dead serious. One of the newest trends in Gen Z teen culture? Wired Apple EarPods. Yes, the pods we absolutely couldn’t stand for years and years are coming back for aesthetic purposes. It gives off a campy “I don’t really care” vibe that’s really popular in fashion right now. Like, “oh, this? I just threw this together, I didn’t even think!” but when really, they spent hours thinking about it. It’s weird, it’s confusing, but it’s happening. AirPods are on their way out and wired EarPods are on their way in.
Read More: The 75+ Best Stocking Stuffers of 2021
5. Casetify Phone Case
BEST FOR CLUMSY KIDS
Know a teen that’s always dropping their phone? Or, should we say, know a teen? If so, Casetify is the answer to their shattered phone screens. These cases will custom fit just about any model phone from both Apple (yes, even the brand-new iPhone 13) and Samsung with unique designs, patterns and customizable options to help your favorite Gen Z’er stick out from the crowd. The options from cases from Casetify are truly endless, meaning that there is in fact something from everyone. The best part is that if a phone in a Casetify case falls to the ground, there’s almost a 100% guarantee that no damage will be done to the phone underneath. This is pretty dope because typically speaking, most phone case options completely sacrifice style when it comes to protection, but with Casetify, style and protection are equally at the forefront.
6. StrawExpert Reusable Stainless Steel Straws
Gen Z is more eco-conscious than generations past. Most are super aware of their impact in this world and are constantly looking for various ways to diminish single-plastic use and their own carbon footprint. These aesthetically pleasing reusable steel straws are both hip and environmentally friendly for obvious reasons. They lower the amount of waste brought into the world and act as a trendy way to sip your Starbucks cold brew — and we all know teens love Starbs. If your giftee is the eco-forward kind, this is one of the best gifts for teens available.
7. Amazon Echo Dot With Smart Light
You already know about it, so we’ll save you the long description and solely explain why every teen needs one of these in their bedroom. Don’t be surprised when we say that waking a high school-aged individual up for school is, well, a nightmare. Just think about when you were a teenager, waking up for school is the worst. The Echo Dot (4th gen) is an inexpensive option that can set daily timers, reminders and alarms so your favorite Gen Z’er will never be late for class again. Additionally, they can stream their favorite tunes, listen to their go-to podcasts, voice control lights in their room and much, much more. That’s not all either, this deal comes with a Sengled LED lightbulb that they can control through their new Alexa device.
8. Selfie Ring Light Phone Clip
BEST FOR INFLUENCERS
It feels like every Gen Z’er is an influencer these days, so might as well support their selfie game with the affordable LED ring light that’ll hit their face just right. Whether they’re trying to get at least 100 likes on Instagram or practicing the Renegade on Tik Tok for the 800th time this month, this light brightens its subject and smooths skin in the process. It’s a compact smartphone clip-on alternative to the massive ring lights professionals use and best of all it won’t break the bank.
9. Thin Bins Collapsible Containers
BEST FOR COOKING
Let’s be frank for a minute: Emily Mariko has singlehandedly taken over Tik Tok. We all want to be her. And that salmon dish? With the ice in the rice? Don’t even get us started. For teens obsessed with the recent Tik Tok microwave trends going around the social media app, snag ’em a couple of microwaveable containers to easily heat up their favorites. For those getting closer to college-age, these will also make for a great bowl option to have inside of their dorm when the time comes.
10. Nintendo Switch Lite
BEST FOR GAMING
Although everyone’s raving about the brand-new Nintendo Switch OLED right now, finding one is similar to striking gold. And when you do find it, it’ll likely be price-gouged out the wazoo. But, lucky for you, you can still find the Nintendo Switch Lite online at places like Target. Teens right now are eating the Switch up due to games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Pokemon Shield. It’s also a solid cure to boredom. Best of all, if you played any classic Nintendo games when you were a kid, this thing can give you guys tons to talk about when comparing and contrasting the console and game interfaces. Be careful though, after watching any teen play on their Switch for hours on end, you’re probably going to want to buy one yourself.
11. New Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)
Gen Z has been hyping the hell out of Apple’s AirPods ever since they were first launched. By now you already know the whole gist, you might even have a pair yourself, so we’ll keep this short and sweet. AirPods are a stellar gift for teens because of their wireless Bluetooth connection and fire sound quality. The sleek design makes these babies both modern-looking and visually attractive. They’re simple, easy to use and multifaceted with the ability to use Siri and tap to switch a song. And, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard that Apple just released their 3rd generation of AirPods that have an even better fit, 30 hours of listening time, sweat/water-resistance and all-around stellar sound quality.
12. The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
BEST FOR BEAUTY GURUS
If your favorite Gen Z’er is on TikTok, which they are, there’s no possible way they could’ve gone without seeing at least one short clip of The Ordinary’s AHA 0% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution in action. This vegan, cruelty-free peeling mask is taking the app by storm because it’s fun to watch peeling vids, but also due to the fact that it can really change skin for the better. It’s designed to target and fix bumpy skin, unclog congested pores, clear that uneven skin tone and reduce any sign of aging. It’s blood-red in color, so while it might be a tad frightening to some, the impressive effects will have anyone coming back for more and more.
13. Function of Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner
BEST FOR HAIR CARE
There’s a good chance your teen’s already heard of this from their favorite YouTuber’s promo ads but never thought to get it themselves. Function of Beauty is a 100% customizable shampoo and conditioner set that is formulated to fit the needs and goals of your favorite teen’s hair. All products from Function of Beauty are completely vegan and can also be made silicone-free, dye-free and fragrance-free depending on your teen’s preferences. You can even choose the color and scent based on favorite colors and smells.
14. LGBTQ+ Flag
BEST FOR LGBTQ+ TEENS
It’s said that one in every six Gen Z adults are LGBTQ+, and that number is likely to grow. It’s with no shock that teens nowadays are much more comfortable with being open as to who they are than generations prior, which is absolutely amazing. If you have a kid that’s LGBTQ+ and you want to show that you care for them always, consider a flag to recognize the support you have for them — no matter where they fall on the rainbow.
15. Crosley Wood Cruiser Bluetooth Record Player
BEST FOR MUSIC LOVERS
Although teens now will never understand the impact vinyl had on earlier generations, realistically speaking, most modern collectors now can’t understand it either. Crosley’s Bluetooth Record Player makes a great gift for any teen looking to start their vinyl collection. Whether they’re more into old school tunes or just want to hear what Halsey would sound like on wax, this wooden player is the gift for them. With fully operational Bluetooth capability, teens can even connect this baby up to their AirPods for easy listening.
16. Vinyl Record
If you’re gifting a record player without a record, you’re essentially gifting a completely unusable gift. Lucky for you, Urban Outfitters has a slew of vinyl records that make for some of the best gifts for teens this year. Some are super old, some are brand-new and some are even Urban Outfitters exclusives you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Just skim over their Spotify playlists and make a good guess.
17. Tsrarey Sunset Projection Lamp
BEST FOR NIGHT
We can probably all agree that sunset is one of the most gorgeous times of the day, so we’re more than happy this striking sunset projection lamp exists to create that 6 PM dream at any hour of the night. This was a trend a while back on Tik Tok but has stayed prevalent due to the fact, that, well, as we mentioned, teens are obsessed with odd lighting. And this is a light we can absolutely get behind.
18. The Sill Fiddle Leaf Fig
BEST FOR PLANT PARENTS
Oh, so your favorite teen’s got a green thumb? Support their passion by adding to their in-house plant collection with something from our favorite online plant retailer, The Sill. While The Sill’s got a massive variety of real plants, fauxs and planters, we absolutely suggest a live plant like this fiddle leaf fig that requires a medium amount of attention. Meaning, they’re not going to kill it so easily, but they’re going to have to put a little bit of work in for it to stay alive. The fiddle leaf fig requires a stable environment with maximum sunlight. She becomes a little bit needy when temperatures begin to fluctuate, so keeping her in a temp-controlled environment would suit her best. The best part of all is that she only requires a watering every 1-2 weeks, so if your giftee forgets after a couple of days, they’ll likely be alright.
19. Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker
BEST FOR CAFFEINE ADDICTS
Teens and cold brew go hand-in-hand and while some need to drink a little less coffee, a cup every once in a while will never hurt. Like come on, you do it yourself three times a day more or less, who are you to judge? We love this cold brew maker so much, we dished out an entire story listing reasons as to why. Because a majority of American teens right now aren’t headed into their physical high school this school year, this cold brew coffee maker will fix their daily need for a morning cup of joe to help them get through the day. Have them simply add their go-to ground coffee brand, some water and let it sit for 36 hours until it readily brews around four full cups of their favorite. Maybe even throw their favorite coffee creamer as a gift into the mix, it’s up to you!
20. AmazonBasics 10-Foot Charging Cable
We’re personally unsure how teens are constantly breaking their chargers all the time. Like, what exactly are they doing with them? Smacking them against the wall? Combat their destructive behavior with an extremely durable charging cable that’s 10 whole feet long. This thing is practically indestructible — it’s made with copper wiring with added Kevlar to ensure it won’t break under most circumstances. And with such a long cord, your teen can sit on the exact opposite side of their outlet and still have room to move around. Not the most exciting gift for teens, but it’s one they’ll use daily. And, not to mention, but this is a two-pack!
21. Hydro Flask Water Bottle
BEST FOR THE OUTDOORS
If your favorite teen likes to spend time in parks or on hikes, Hydro Flask is the bottle to snag for staying hydrated no matter what the day brings. This bottle is known for keeping liquids as cold or hot as your teen likes, even if the temperature outside immensely contrasts with their drink’s contents. Coming in various colors and sizes with a consistently sleek exterior, Hydro Flask is the reusable water bottle built with outdoorsy teens in mind.
22. ZonLi Soft Weighted Blanket
BEST COZY OPTION
We know you’ve been looking for a reason to finally pull the trigger on that weighted blanket in your Amazon shopping cart for weeks now — you might just want to add one more, though. The ZonLi Soft Weighted Blanket is an exceptional blanket for adults and teens alike that ensures a better night’s sleep and all-season comfortability. Whether the teen you’re gifting uses this for their nightly snooze or wrapped around their bodies for nightly six-hour-long YouTube conspiracy video binges, they’ll surely get the comfort they’re craving.
23. Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre
BEST FOR SKIN
We all know some teens can suffer from awkward pimple patches and uncomfortable skin problems. Combat those issues with the vitamin and antioxidant-enriched French facial moisturizer that will help transform their skin for the better. Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre is ideal for dry and combination skin that uses aloe vera and shea butter as its key ingredients. Teens can use this stuff right after their regular face washing routine to bring back the moisture that normal face washes typically take away. Any teen that throws on some makeup from time to time, however, can go the extra mile with this moisturizer and use it as a pre-makeup primer as well.
24. Disney+ Subscription
BEST FOR TV LOVERS
Your teen’s lacking a Disney+ subscription? What the hell are you waiting for? Jam-packed with all the currents and classics the whole family will enjoy, Disney+ is the streaming service that’s hitting the ball out of the park. Plus, we know you’ve personally been wanting to see that live-action performance of Hamilton for weeks now, so make sure you get that username and password before you gift.
25. Billie Eilish Limited Edition Echo Studio
BEST LIMITED EDITION
Alright, we know we already placed one Echo device in this gift guide, so don’t hate on us for suggesting a second. There’s a solid chance that your favorite teen is a Billie stan, so maybe gift them an Echo with a little extra … pizazz. This limited-edition Echo is covered in Billie Eilish’s second studio album cover, Happier Than Ever. It’s a one-of-a-kind collaboration nobody saw coming with a mega-immersive sound your giftee is going to love. Not only that, but it comes with a 6-month free subscription for Amazon Music.
Combat teen pregnancy the same way your parents did with you when you were younger with the ever-so-classic Tamagotchi. This ’90s kid cult favorite gave us our first taste of parenthood — and it was awful. Don’t get us wrong, we had tons of fun taking care of these little guys, but the amount of attention they need and the sheer number of crap piles on the floor still haunt us to this day. The Tamagotchi is a pretty nostalgic game any teen will love to hate and hate to love.
27. New Phone Who Dis?
BEST CARD GAME
Who doesn’t love card games? New Phone Who Dis? is a gagworthy new card game that gives us serious Cards Against Humanity energy. This game is hilariously accurate to any modern teen’s basic needs for humor. How do you play? Well, each player takes turns judging by using a “sent” card to start off. Everyone has a plethora of their own “reply” cards. Whoever has the funniest “reply” card thrown down for that round gets a point. It’s a total knee-slapper kind of a game that works well in groups from three to 20. If you’re also trying to pull your giftee away from their devices, this makes one of the best gifts for teens.