By Franziska Macur
If your kids are anything like mine, they’ve probably listed some very specific holiday gifts they want you to buy for your gift exchange. But what if you want to go off-list and surprise your teens with some unique gifts they never thought to ask for, something that calls out their name? What if you’re still searching for that perfect Christmas or Hanukkah gift for your 13-year-old’s best friend, or your 17-year-old niece?
To help you out, we recently gifted some teens with presents in exchange for their honest feedback about gift quality, style, and level of coolness. Add one or more of these presents from this ultimate holiday gift guide to your list and you’re bound to bring a smile to the face of that special teen in your life.
Thoughtful self-care gifts for teens.
If your teen longs for curly or wavy hair, but can’t seem to recreate them, maybe they don’t have the right tools. The Mermade Hair 1.25″ PRO Mermade Waver easily creates beachy, boho, and glam waves in hair with its large triple barrel. Our teenage tester gives this one two thumbs up. “The hair waver produced even, natural waves that stayed in for days. My hair was super pretty!”
Is your teen a face mask aficionado? Now they can mix up their own Golde superfood face mask to gently detoxify, exfoliate, and support healthy, glowing skin. Made with 100% pure superfoods like chlorella, mango juice, and papaya, these nutrient-dense powder-to-gel formulas are packed with chlorophyll and Vitamin C. Our tester says, “The mask was a great experience. It smells earthy and left my skin feeling very nice and fresh! I even think I had a slight glow after 😊. My one recommendation would be to specify how much water to add. Overall, I enjoyed it and would do it again.”
Looking for something to empower a teenage girl? Project Discover Me is a self-love game for girls ages 13 and up that sets out to inspire self-worth with powerful questions and conversations. Project Discover Me is a fun and meaningful way to create awareness of self-worth. First year high school student Hannah says, “The cards are ‘real’ and get to the heart of the matter. It’s a great way to challenge ourselves to think about how we feel about a given topic. It’s a journey of discovery and a way for friends to get to know themselves and each other better.”
This set makes it easy for parents to talk to their tweens about puberty, periods, and body confidence. It’s an eco-friendly option designed to spark conversation, perfect for tweens waiting to get their period, and those still getting used to it. It comes with a slip- and leak-resistant period panty, a meditation book, black pads, and lots of information. Our teen tester gives it a thumbs up. “Period panties are so great (and comfy) when you’re unsure about the whens of your cycle and you can go without worrying about stains. I also really loved reading all the info and period hacks.”
$119.99, currently running a BOGO special.
Dry air is a nuisance during the cold winter months. This humidifier gently diffuses water in a cool mist for up to 22 hours. As an added bonus, you can add your favorite essential oil to the mist to create your personalized aroma. Our tester likes it. “Easy to set up and use, this cool mist humidifier has quickly become a favorite. You can adjust the mist level to high or low, and set it to run constantly or for 2, 4, or 8 hours. You can even add essential oils to the water for gentle aromatherapy. A soft band of light provides a perfect nightlight, but you can turn that off, too, if you prefer darkness.”
Essential oils have become mainstream and many teens love their calming, energizing, or focus-driving properties. So why not give a set this year? TheTop 12 Essential Oils Set conveniently bundles single note and blends in a Wooden Keepsake Box. Guru Nanda’s essential oils are always 100% pure, natural, and sustainably harvested from the best farms the world over. Our reviewer says, “These oils smell divine! I tried two scents: eucalyptus and breath easy. Their scent is fresh and natural (more like tea than Vicks). A few drops added to my Guru Nanda diffuser adds a gentle fragrance to my home. I can also dilute a couple of drops with a carrier oil (Guru Nanda sells one) then apply it to my hair and skin for a special treat.”
Unique décor gifts for the aspiring home decorator.
Looking for something crafty, cute, and stylish to add to your teen’s room decor? The DIY Miniature Kit Book-Nook might be the way to go. The shelf insert adds an enchanting scene to a bookshelf, and it’s even illuminated. A mirrored backing adds the illusion of an endless scene, while LED lamps add warmth and life. Our teenage tester is thrilled. “I had to rearrange my bookshelf right away to make this the new centerpiece. It’s really fun to put it all together and I know all my friends will ask about it.” Putting it together is a great hands-on activity after all the other gifts are unwrapped.
Is their bedroom or dorm room too small to fit a nightstand? Meet the BedShelfie — the first Bedside Shelf that simply attaches to the bed frame with no assembly or tools required. The Shelfie holds up to 20 pounds of your most important bedside items (phone, iPad, Kindle, remote, water, books) within arm’s reach while you relax. Our reviewer says, “I love this. It holds everything I need next to my bed. I have my tablet, cell phone, and whatever else I need right close by.”
This 12” by 18” pillow makes a great gift for boarding school and college students, overnight campers, teens staying home while you travel, and those who find separation difficult. Because the pillow is soft and you can personalize what you want to print on it, gifting this pillow is like giving your kid a soft hug and a reminder that they’re missed. Our mom tester says, “This is a Christmas gift for our first-year college student son. I wished we’d known about it when he first left for school. It’s good quality and very cuddly. Even my husband, who doesn’t understand decorative pillows, thinks it’s nice. This pillow is suitable for any décor.”
Looking for luxury candles with a twist? Introducing the world’s first candle set designed to use the powerful mysteries of the tarot to reveal deep insight into your past, present, and future. Inside three beautiful candles, you’ll find gold plated charms and discover the secret tarot reading divined just for you. Our reviewer is in awe. “This is the coolest thing ever. The candles look like pure lux and they smell heavenly. The set comes with a tweezer to fish out your charms. I loved the ‘past’ candle, and I will burn the ‘present’ for the holidays and the ‘future’ one for New Year’s.”
Holiday gifts to warm up your teen in winter.
You want your teen’s hands to be warm in winter. The problem is, they won’t wear their gloves or mittens when they’re texting on their phone. The Cozy Grip Flip Mitt offers a great solution. The Merino wool and polyester blend offers softness, warmth, and durability. Plus, touchscreen-compatible thumbs and the flip mitt allow your teens to use their fingers when they need more dexterity. Here’s our tester’s take: “These mittens are great! It makes it so much easier to use a cellphone while outside. I’ve had other gloves where the touch screen finger barely worked, but I had no issues with this pair.”
Teens love trendy clothes, but they also love classic basics. If you’ve ever found your cashmere sweater in your teen’s closet, consider getting your kids their own staple pieces this year. Quince offers great cashmere pieces at affordable prices. Our tester says, “Their $50 cashmere sweater is super soft and very comfortable! I love the style, casual but classy; you can easily dress it up or down. It fits true to size and while the material looks thin, it does not appear so when you wear it. I think it’s a fabulous sweater for the price and would definitely buy more in different colors!”
Teens on the go need hydration. In our house, we’re always searching for the right vessel to bring along. The Swig Travel mug is an easy choice. For teens who love a classic mug but need a larger size, the 22oz Travel Mug is a must-have. Its cup holder friendly profile makes it the right pick to get your teen through their morning (or afternoon) commute. Our tester says, “I love the design on this one, and I’m happy I finally got a mug that holds more chai tea. So far, it has kept my drinks nice and hot.”
Longing for some tea time with your teen? The Boba Tea Deluxe kit will bring the joy and fun of bubble tea into your home. This whimsical, fun, and unique drink will add magic to your memories. Get your boba on and get smiling! Our reviewer raves, “I loved this! It was very easy to make, even the tapioca pearls, which I was worried about. I do wish they had single serving versions, so I didn’t have to make all the pearls at once, but hopefully they’ll taste fine after being frozen. So far, my favorite tea flavor is the Thai Tea.”
Hats are a winter staple, for warmth and for fashion. Turtle Fur’s mission is to inspire an outdoor lifestyle by promoting socially and environmentally conscious living while creating comfortable products for every adventurer. Your teen can look great, feel warm, and know they’re choosing the right product for our world. Our reviewer loves her new product. “Warm and so cute — the best winter hat ever. My mom loves it too and wants one for Christmas!”
TrueEnergy socks are spaced out cool! They’re infused with NASA-inspired infrared technology that combines with your body’s natural heat to create infrared energy that improves circulation and tissue regeneration, which can help recovery and performance. Here’s what our tester says. “When I first took these no-show socks out of the package, I thought I would hate them because they looked small and tight and I was sure they’d roll down on my feet. Boy, was I wrong! These socks are SO comfortable. They’re soft and stretchy and stay right where they’re supposed to. Bonus, my feet didn’t sweat at all and they passed the sniff test at the end of the day!”
Practical and fun gifts for tech, music, and book lovers.
Vinyl is back! That’s right, the current wave of retro has our teens spinning tunes on old school record players. Remember all the dust that used to collect on our records? Well, that’s back too. But a cleaning and maintenance kit from Groove Washer can take care of that dust and keep your teen’s vinyl collection clean. According to our reviewer, “Groove Washer’s Record and Stylus Care System is a great birthday or holiday gift. It cleans the vinyls very well and comes with a large amount of product so you won’t run out any time soon.”
Not sure which screws to buy? Need to fix a running toilet? We have just the book for you and the handy-girls in your life. With “Girls Garage” you and your teen will learn how to tackle these problems with your own hands, or you can get creative and build something totally new. Girls Garage will be a trusted household resource and a wellspring of inspiration. Our teen in residence was reluctant at first, then read the whole book. “Girls Garage is a fantastic book. It is easy to understand and provides lots of cool projects and interesting stories. The safety section is easy to notice and easy to follow. My favorite sections are the parts where female builders talk about how they got into building and whatnot.”
You know where teens take many of their gorgeous IG pictures? In, around, and under water. And while I have no statistics to cite the number of cell phones that endure water damage, I’m feeling pretty confident in claiming that waterproofing would be beneficial. That’s where the 100% Waterproof Floating Phone Case by AquaVault comes in. To protect your phone from water damage or turn your device into an underwater camera while you retain full functionality, just pop it in the case. The phone case even floats if you accidentally drop it in the water. According to our expert mom, “My teenagers spend their summers in or near the water. They are lifeguards but also spend a lot of their free time in or near the water. This is ideal not only as a way to keep their phones safe but to have fun with them in the water!”
Does your teen or tween often have a fidget on hand when they’re tackling lessons or homework on the computer? The Hoglet puts one right into the computer mouse. It’s designed to provide a rewarding multi-sensory experience that, literally, kids and adults can’t keep their hands off. The name is inspired by a baby hedgehog. Soft, cuddly, and friendly, the Hoglet has a calming, centering effect. Our tester adores it. “It’s so cute! It is really handy and easy to set up! I did not need any other fidgets while working, it kept me entertained.”
This mighty Bluetooth speaker with built-in sleep sounds is portable and small enough for any space. You’ll want to take it with you everywhere you go. Here’s our reviewer’s take: “I love using this speaker for listening to music and audiobooks, and the white noise feature is very helpful for light sleepers. It has really good audio quality and volume for such a small device. The compact, sleek design is super convenient, and I like how the top of the speaker can rotate in a smooth, futuristic way.”
Does your teen love technical gadgets? This one might win you a prize. U Bot is a camera bot with smart facial recognition that rotates 360˚ to capture your every movement. Simply mount your smartphone device onto the platform and turn U Bot on. No app is needed. Our tester says: “This is a great product! It gives a whole new meaning to hands-free recording. I love the face-tracking feature.”
When your teen is at the beach or around pools, where do they put their valuables when they go for a swim? FlexSafe is a personal anti-theft safe bag that locks onto fixed objects (like a lounge chair, closet rod, or boat railing, for example) to secure valuables from would-be thieves. Your teens will appreciate a secure place to store their money and tech items next time they’re playing sharks and minnows in the pool — a game still popular even among twenty-something’s ;-). “Perfect for my son who lives in California and spends many weekends on the beach playing beach volleyball and swimming!” our reviewer says.
Gifts for parents of teens … because we deserve nice things, too.
In the midst of holiday craziness, do you wish for more calm, peace, and hydration? Mayu Water might just bring it all to you. Inspired by Nature. Backed by Science. The whirlpool brings water and air into close contact, dissolving fresh oxygen and accelerating the evaporation of volatile compounds. Our reviewer loves it. “I love watching the water swirl. So pretty. Better yet, the water tastes great!”
The holidays are the perfect time to enjoy a crackling fire. The Colson Fire Pit is eco-friendly, easy to use, safe, and stylish. It’s a great indoor alternative to dirtying your fireplace or freezing outside while you stand around a winter bonfire. Our tester says: “The Colsen Fire Pit is AWESOME! Our family loves making smores during the summer, and now we can do it all year, indoors! I love how it looks and even the teens can get it going (way easier than the outdoor fire pit, they exclaimed)! They also loved the heat this small pit gives off. Even the dog got in on the action.”