Christmas Gift Ideas for the Picky Teen in Your Life

Father giving teen son a Christmas gift

Few holiday shopping issues are as daunting as coming up with Christmas gift ideas for teenagers.

A Few Christmas Gift Ideas for Teenagers

Although many families like to give a lot of presents to children and teens, more doesn't always equal better. That old chestnut rings true: it's the thought that counts. You won't have to spend a lot on Christmas gifts for teenagers if you focus on what they like best.

Activity Passes

Every teen loves to get out and play! Give them passes to some of their favorite sports or recreational activities. Bowling, miniature golf, local arcades, sport centers, museums, and other hotspots offer packages and gift certificates to make shopping easy.


Teenagers love free clothes, even boys. If you're knowledgeable about teen fashion, you'll score big with clothing gifts. Avoid the kitten sweaters and argyle socks, though. Simply flip through fashion magazines and look at mannequins in store displays to see what's popular now.


Support your teen's interest in writing, music, arts and crafts, modeling, cooking, sports, and other extracurricular activities by gifting them supplies.

Personal Care Items

There comes a point in a teen's life where he or she might feel a bit embarrassed to discuss personal care needs. They become more aware of changes to their body, may have to deal with acne, or simply want to look their best without making a big deal about it.

Every holiday season, retail outlets have endcaps stacked with items such as manicure sets for girls and guys, bath and body cosmetic gift boxes, miniature cologne and perfume sets, and other helpful personal care products. These always make great stocking stuffers.

The Trusty Gift Card

Some people might consider gift cards impersonal: most teenagers view them as a way to go shopping on their own and buy whatever they please. Gift cards are a great present to give a favorite niece or nephew you don't see very often, a babysitter, or even your child if you know he or she is trying to save for something important.

Here are a few options:

  • iTunes gift cards. These are available online and in select retail outlets for $15, $25, and $50. The teen doesn't have to have an iPod to use an iTunes card as long as his or her portable music player accepts iTunes downloads. However, if you'd like to learn about other music downloading sites and see what offers are available, start your review here.
  • Amazon gift credit. Not just for books or DVDs anymore, Amazon provides your teen with a slew of cost-effective shopping options. Apparel, computers, electronics, music, and even necessities for a dorm room are available through the site now. If you need a gift at the last minute, print a gift certificate at home and put it with a nice card. You can also e-mail the recipient a gift cert.
  • Local comics store. Millions of teenagers are into comic books, manga, anime, and graphic novels. If you've seen a few of these laying around your teen's room, or heard him or her talk of characters involved in long-running plot scenarios you've never heard of before, seek out a comic bookstore in your area. Tell them you loved Robert Downy Jr., in "Iron Man", and they'll be nice to you. Avoid discussions regarding Superman or Batman if you don't know what you're talking about - these aficionados are serious about those guys!
  • Coffee shop or other hangout. Think of this as another activities pass. Many teenagers enjoy gathering with friends, and coffee shops, even in smaller communities, top the list. A gift card for coffee or beverages at another hangout helps stretch a teen's expendable income.
  • Gamefly online credit. Gift your special gamer with a membership to He or she can try hundreds of video games and have them mailed home. You can give them a trial membership with a one-game out membership or a two-game out membership.

There are literally hundreds of other gift card choices. Select broad shopping options such as a mall gift certificate, or find boutiques and specialty shops in your community.

Charitable Giving

Know a teen who is socially conscious? He or she will appreciate your interest if you support the cause or make a contribution in the teen's name. Many teenagers would like to donate money to what they care about, but often don't have the extra income to do so.

Perhaps you know a vegan teen involved in PETA, someone active in a church youth group, a Boy Scout completing his Eagle project, or a young woman volunteering at a teen homeless shelter. Take some time before the holidays to talk with teenagers about their concerns. It might really surprise you to hear what they consider important and how you might be able to support their involvement.

Cash or No Cash?

There are two ways to consider a gift of money as a good Christmas gift idea for teenagers. Cash given to a teen will either be saved for something big or immediately spent on frivolous stuff. It depends on the teen's age and maturity level.

If you're really at a loss as to what to give a teenager for the holidays and think cash is the best option, do so knowing you may not have the lasting gift impact of other possibilities.

Visit LoveToKnow Teens for more insight into gifts, thoughts, and activities.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for the Picky Teen in Your Life