48 cool and unique gifts that teens actually want to receive

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  • Teens can be a daunting demographic to buy for — they're often the first to forecast the next "Big Thing" but also don't have the expendable income to buy everything they'd like to have.
  • To help lessen the stress of shopping for them, I've rounded up 40+ solid gifts they'll love to receive.
  • After more ideas and inspiration? Check out all of Insider Reviews' holiday gift guides for 2020.

Teens are a daunting demographic to buy for. They're often the first people clued in to the newest products and cultural phenomena that you're probably not as aware of — but they also don't have the deep pockets to get everything they want for themselves. Thankfully, that leaves plenty of opportunities open for you.

Below, you'll find 49 gifts teens will be happy to receive. There's useful technology like mini projectors and shower speakers as well as of-the-moment must-haves like instant cameras and lightboxes that mimic cinema marquees. If you're still having trouble finding something great, and you can't just ask them what they want, it's a good idea to browse stores like Urban Outfitters to get a sense of what's popular.

The top 5 best gifts for teens:

  1. A Disney+ subscription
  2. A customized Xbox controller
  3. A new video game, like FIFA 20 Standard Edition
  4. Beats by Dre Wireless Solo3 Headphones
  5. A waterproof, portable Bluetooth speaker

Below are the 48 best gifts for teens to get you started: 

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of our gift guides in one place.

A totally unique customized Xbox controller
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Customized Xbox Controller, available at Xbox Design Lab, from $59.99

Design a personalized Xbox controller for them, and get as granular as deciding the style of the ABXY keys to make them something nobody else will have. There are 19 standard body color options, and each step comes with more opportunities for customization.

A personal sloth-shaped mug
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Sloth-Shaped Mug, available at Urban Outfitters, $16

Cute, a little funny, and distinctly theirs in the kitchen cabinet. 

An apple watch that combines their smartphone with a fitness tracker
gifts for teens

Apple Watch Series 5 GPS, 40mm, Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band, $399

If you have a little extra to spend on your teen, consider getting them a smartwatch. The Apple Watch 5 is like a smartphone, fitness tracker, and music player all in one. Just like on their phone they can customize the watch to show their favorite apps to pick, including social media.

A vinyl record membership
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Three-month Gift Membership, $179, available at Vinyl Me, Please

There's no greater joy than adding to a record collection or playing a new album for the first time. Your recipient gets to choose from three different types of tracks each month and will also receive extra goodies in each package. They'll also get one bonus record as part of the three-month gift membership. 

A smartphone-sized travel photo printer
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HP Sprocket 200 Photo Printer, available at Amazon, $119.99

This tiny, compact device prints photos with sticker backing on ZINK film with Zero Ink technology. It connects to devices via Bluetooth, and multiple devices can connect at once — personalized LED lights indicate who's currently printing. 

A Time-Turner clock that actually spins
time turner clock

Harry Potter Time-Turner Clock, available at Pottery Barn, $59

It may not be able to take them back in time or help them be in two places at once, but this Time-Turner clock will help them stay on top of their schedule. It even has a functional hourglass on the back so they can time their study breaks. 

A pair of trendy, easy-to-use AirPods
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Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case, available on Apple, $199

If you're after the title of their favorite relative of the year, here's a good place to start. AirPods are both easy to use and functional as well as trendy. The newer generation of AirPods can be purchased on Amazon for $199, but we still liked this cheaper version if you're on a budget. 

A Disney+ subscription for access to classic movies and more
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Disney+ Gift Subscription Service, available on Disney, $69.99/year

Disney Plus is the new Disney-centric streaming service. The platform includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. You can gift a whole year of access for $70, which is something their entire family can benefit from.

If you'd rather test Disney Plus out before buying, you can sign up for a free weeklong trial.

A creamy lip balm that goes on silky smooth
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Balm Dotcom Universal Skin Salve, available at Glossier, $12

Glossier is the maker of makeup that's not really makeup. It's dewy, fresh, and youthful — more of a complement to the skin than a cover for it. Check out the company's bestsellers, or grab a cult-favorite tinted Balm Dotcom for them to use as a multipurpose lip balm. 

An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, updates on the weather, recipes, and more
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Echo Dot, available at Best Buy, $29.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it's compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news) without any of the bulk. 

A fortune-telling cup and guide book
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The Cup Of Destiny Book + Teacup Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $24.95

This cup is a copy of an Edwardian fortune-telling cup and saucer, and it comes with Jane Lyle's expert book as a guide to reading over 200 of the signs and symbols they might find. 

A cult-favorite hair towel that reduces damage and cuts drying time by 50%
Aquis, $21

Aquis Rapid Dry Hair Towel, available on Amazon and Sephora, from $20.99

Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels can cut the amount of time it takes your hair to dry in half — a claim we're happy to report holds up. The proprietary fabric also means there's less damage to wet hair while it dries. If they've ever complained about frizzy hair, this and a silk pillowcase are thoughtful gifts they'll actually use. Find more product suggestions here.

A trendy Champion sweatshirt
gfits for teens

Champion Reverse Weave Fleece Crew Neck Sweatshirt, available at Urban Outfitters, $54

Like Fila, Champion is a brand that's had a resurgence as of late. If you want to get them something they'll end up wearing more often than you'd probably one day like, this is a good candidate. 

A splashproof portable Bluetooth speaker for great sound and low maintenance
JBL Charge 3

JBL FLIP4, available on Amazon, $79.90

This under-$100 Bluetooth speaker with over 5,600 five-star reviews on Amazon is ideal for teens who want great sound and could use a speaker that won't protest to spills or less-than-gentle handling.

A new video game
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FIFA 20 Standard Edition, available at Best Buy, $29.99

If they're really into video games, all other gifts may pale in comparison to a really good new one. Check out Legend of Zelda Link's AwakeningBorderlands 3Luigi's Mansion 3, and FIFA 20 Standard Edition this year. 

The book that was made into Netflix's new teen classic
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To All the Boys I've Loved Before book collection, available on Target, $17.85

If you haven't heard about this Netflix movie more times than you can count, rest assured that it has become a full-blown teen phenomenon — and a sequel is imminent. They'll love getting to relive it in book form. This collection includes all three books in the series. 

Comfortable lounge pants that look put-together
meundies loungers

The Lounge Pant, Men, available at MeUndies, $68

The Lounge Pant, Women, available at MeUndies $68

MeUndies is a popular LA startup that makes some of the most comfortable underwear we've ever tried. Their lounge pants, however, are the real hidden gem — perfect for lounging around on weekend mornings or heading to the dining hall when they get to college (yep, they'll last that long), and they're sleek enough to avoid looking too unkempt for the comfort.

Fun and useful PopSockets for the back of their phone
PopSocket

PopGrips, available at PopSockets and Amazon, from $10

PopSockets have become their own cultural phenomenon in recent years, and they're surprisingly useful. Get your teen one for their own phone, kindle, or tablet, and depending on their age, you may find it's the gift they're most excited about. It doesn't hurt that there's free domestic shipping on orders over $20, or that you can actually design your own.

A toiletry bag for grooming tools and makeup
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Small Shave Bag, available at Leatherology, from $90

Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $35

Leatherology's shave bag is a great purchase if you want to gift your teen a leather bag that will age gracefully. But, if you're looking to get something a bit cooler, Dagne Dover makes a great neoprene toiletry bag that's built to accommodate makeup. If they have a lot of toiletries, you'll probably want to get the large size for $55 (shown above).

A set of velvet retro-inspired scrunchies
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Hair Scrunchie Variety Pack, available on Target, $6.99

Another trendy gift is as many scrunchies as you can carry. This pack comes with 12 options in enough colors to work with virtually any outfit or mood. 

Colorful reusable straws
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Reusable Silicone Drinking Straws, available on Walmart, $10.49

Trying to adopt more eco-friendly habits is one of the great characteristics of younger generations. These reusable straws are colorful, bendable, and fun to use. 

16 Korean sheet masks
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Dermal Korea Facial Mask Sheets, 16-Pack, available on Amazon, $9.99, and $19.99 at Walmart

For the ideal night(s) in, grab this inexpensive and cult-favorite 16-pack of Korean sheet masks — something any beauty- or skincare-obsessed teen will likely already know about.

Comfortable headphones with a long battery life and good sound
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Beats by Dre Wireless Solo3 Headphones, available on Walmart, from $157.99

They can use these at the gym, for studying, and for zoning out during family road trips. This pair has great sound, cushioned ear cups, and 40 hours of battery life so they have one less thing to think about. And if they let the battery run out, a five-minute charge is the equivalent to three hours of play time.

A trendy neon beanie
urban outfitters teen gifts

UO Neon Watchcap Beanie, available at Urban Outfitters, $15

Another clothing item that you'll see around frequently over the course of the fall and winter is a neon beanie. This one is a soft, basic staple that is a little cooler than your average black or grey.

Personalized Nikes
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Customizable Nikes, available at Nike, from $65

Nike makes great stuff, and they're popular for that reason. But it's nice to get the benefits of the big budget, years of product development, and design team without forsaking what makes something unique. You can customize a pair of Nikes for them, or give them a gift card so they can get creative making something one-of-a-kind on their own.

A small and light instant camera
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Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera with film, available at Staples, $79.99

This cute instant camera is a must-gift for anyone who loves capturing memories and the novelty of instantaneous results. It features a small selfie mirror to ensure the proper framing, a macro lens attachment, and a variety of modes to account for different indoor and outdoor environments.

Comfortable, high-quality sheets that come in lots of colors and patterns
Brooklinen

Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, available on Brooklinen and Amazon, from $219

We think Brooklinen makes the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Reviews team uses Brooklinen on their own beds. It's perfect for lazy Saturday mornings or the rare occasion sleeping in is encouraged.

The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 15 colors and patterns that range from classic to fun, and you can mix and match them to suit their preferences. Grab a gift card (delivered digitally or in a gift box) if you want to give them more freedom.

A waterproof speaker so they can listen to music in the shower
SoundBot

SoundBot Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker, available at Walmart, $14.99

This speaker is waterproof, wireless, and has a suction cup to stick to the wall so they can listen to their favorite music easily in the shower.

A subscription to a famous book club that sends them great hardcovers each month
book of the month, $44.99, 3 months

3-Month Gift Subscription, available on Book of the Month, $49.99

If your teen is a bookworm, Book of the Month is an especially cool gift. It's a book club that has been around since 1926, and it's credited with discovering some of the most beloved books of all time (like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye" to name a couple).

If you gift them a subscription, they'll receive a hardcover book delivered once a month. Books are selected by a team of experts and celebrity guest judges.

If they're really more into audiobooks or e-reading now rather than hardcovers, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here).

String lights with clips for photos
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Photo Clip LED String Lights, available at Target, $10

Perfect for creating the archetypal teen room that's most often seen in Netflix movies and old Taylor Swift music videos, the photo clip string lights combine warm light and Polaroids or other memorabilia. 

A gentle facial cleansing device that removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup
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Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Men, available at Dermstore, $169

Luna 2 Facial Cleansing Device, Women, available at Sephora, $169

FOREO's cult-favorite Luna 2 cleansing device gently and effectively cleans with thin, antimicrobial silicone touch-points, and it removes 98.5% of dirt and makeup residue without irritating the skin. Plus, it's 100% waterproof and the battery life lasts for a few months per charge. Find a full review from a female reporter and a male reporter here.

A monthly subscription of grooming products to try
BirchBox subscription

Three Month Subscription, Men, available at Birchbox, $30

Three Month Subscription, Women, available at BirchBox, $45

Teens are usually among the most interested in the latest and greatest beauty or grooming products, but may lack the funds to try all the full-sized versions. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. It's also just fun to get an ongoing gift that's all about them.

A multicolor mini cinema light box
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Multicolor Mini Cinema Light Box, available at Uncommon Goods, $25

These trendy lightboxes are inspired by cinema marquees, and they come with 100 letters and symbols for personal messages. This one also has color-changing LED lights for further customization.

One of the best young adult books ever written
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The Outsiders, available on Target, $5.89

For the kind of gift that they'll still mention 10 years later, give them one of the best young adult books you ever read — or one of the 37 best young adult books Business Insider staff ever read. You may also want to check out Amazon's list of the 100 books you should read in a lifetime too. 

A comfortable and sustainable Patagonia pullover they'll wear all the time
patagonia sweater

Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Pullover, Men, available at Patagonia, $119

Patagonia Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece, available at Patagonia, $119

A Patagonia sweater is a particularly good gift for teens who are interested in sustainability. The company has been turning plastic bottles into polyester for its clothing since 1993, and continues to do so today.

Its Snap-T pullover is the unofficial uniform of the cozy adventurer. It and the Better Sweater are long-held favorites, and both are comfortable classics that they'll no doubt come to rely on heavily during colder weather.

A suitcase with an ejectable battery that can charge their devices on the go
Away $225

The Carry-On, available at Away, from $225

Travel startup Away makes a great carry-on thanks to an ejectable battery that can charge devices seamlessly on the go, 360-degree wheels, and a lightweight build that travels easily. In other words, it takes a lot of the angst out of travel, and may make family trips far more enjoyable and stress-free.

The extremely popular Nintendo Switch
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Nintendo Switch, available at Target, $299.99

The Nintendo Switch is likely to be one of those big ticket gifts that'll get you an extremely excited reaction upon opening. They can play it at home, on the go, and with friends from a huge library of games.

A popular electric toothbrush from an up-and-coming startup
Quip, from $25

Electric Brush, available at Quip, $25

To inspire the best oral care you can, gift them a surprisingly cool electrical toothbrush from an up-and-coming startup they've probably heard about. Quip is a relatively inexpensive electric toothbrush, and the company sends fresh brush heads and battery refills every three months. When you gift Quip, you can prepay for the year. Otherwise, Quip users are charged $5 every three months for refills.

Cool backpacks from a popular startup with a charitable mission
state bags

Women's Lorimer, available at State, $90

Men's Bedford, available at State, $95

State bags are increasingly popular thanks to their versatile, laid-back aesthetic and characteristically bright nylon colorways. They're also known as #GiveBackPack(s), because for every State bag purchased, State hand-delivers a backpack — packed with essential tools for success — to a local child in need. The Lorimer and Bedford are two of the company's best sellers.

A cute iPhone case
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Coffee Reading iPhone Case, available on Society6, $26.99

In my teen years, you could have tethered me to my phone with a 10-inch string and I wouldn't have noticed. This makes phone-related gifts pretty easy scores. This fun iPhone case is funny and unique, and most of their friends probably won't have the exact same one. 

A color-changing alarm clock that also charges their phone
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iHome Bluetooth Color-Changing Dual Alarm Clock with Speakerphone, available on Target, $49.95

This color-changing alarm clock radio will charge their devices and play music for hours at the same time. They can also use the built-in speakerphone for hands-free calls. 

The newest version of the most popular Fitbit for fitness and sleep tracking
Fitbit Charge 3

Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness Tracker, available at Fitbit, $149.95

Fitbits help the wearer measure and track their health and fitness, including sleep patterns and activity trends. They can set goals and get real-time stat updates during workouts to see how they can improve. It's also water-resistant and has a battery life that lives up to seven days.

A cool weekender for sleepovers that not everyone will have yet
Dagne Dover 2

Unisex Landon Carryall, available on Dagne Dover, from $95

Dagne Dover is a cult-favorite handbag startup and their weekender bags make for a unique and useful unisex gift. It's made from neoprene (think: scuba gear), and has an impressive internal organization system (padded laptop sleeve, water bottle pocket, and stretch key leash for easy access). It's great for weekend trips, sleepovers, and as a carry-on, and comes in a ton of colors.

A soft $100 cashmere sweater they can wear with anything
Everlane $100 cashmere sweater review

Cashmere Crew, available on Everlane, $100

Everlane is a cult-favorite startup, and its $100 cashmere sweaters are one of its most popular products ever for a reason— they're soft, come in 18 colors, and the owner can pair this with pretty much anything during the cold season.

If they're especially environmentally conscious, check out Reformation's 70% recycled cashmere or Patagonia's recycled cashmere. If you're looking for something less expensive, cashmere startup Naadam has fantastic cashmere sweaters for $75, but they're prone to sell out.

A pack of smart plugs so they can control devices from a distance
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TP-Link KIT WiFi Smart Plug, 2-Pack, available at Best Buy, $15.99

Whether they're wondering if they turned off their hot iron or just don't want to get up to turn off the TV, a smart plug lets them control devices from a distance. You can connect to them using any smart device.

A great Alexa-enabled speaker they can control by voice
Sonos One

Sonos One Smart Speaker, available at Sonos, from $199

The new Sonos One smart speaker fills any room with clear, rich sound, and they can use Alexa to play and control their music without ever lifting a finger. Find a full review here.

A waterproof e-reader with a no-glare screen
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All-New Kindle Paperwhite, available on Best Buy, $129.99

Amazon's all-new Kindle Paperwhite is the thinnest, lightest one yet and it's waterproof for reading anywhere, including the beach or bath. It also has double the storage, a built-in light that adjusts to accommodate reading indoors or outdoors, day and night. Plus, a single battery charge lasts weeks rather than hours.

Gift cards for concert tickets, food, and clothes
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You can't go wrong with money for their favorite things, especially for teens who are often relying upon part-time jobs to fund their frequent Chipotle meals and concert trips with friends. Check out more gift card gifts here.

Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card

Coffee and food: Starbucks Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Entertainment and live events: Netflix Gift Card / Xbox Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / StubHub gift card

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Sheets: Brooklinen Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Clothes: Nordstrom Gift Card / Everlane Gift Card

Tech: Best Buy Gift Card

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