Ask the Readers: What Are the Best Gifts for Teens?

By Ashley Jacobs on 23 October 2012 (Updated 30 October 2012) 44 comments
Photo: LAI Ryanne

Congratulations to Dani, Pamela, and Kelli for winning this week's contest!

Editor's Note: For the next few weeks, we will be doing a gift giving series on Ask the Readers and will focus on the best gifts for certain demographics! Ask the Readers: What are the Best Gifts for Teens? is part four of our series!

When it comes to shopping for teens for their birthday or the holidays, there are many different gift options. Most teens are very techologically savvy and would love the latest gadget. However, gift cards to their favorite store or money to help them save up for college can also be more practical gifts for teens who will soon be leaving the nest and headed off to college.

What are the best gifts for teens? A new cell phone? A gift card to their favorite clothing store? A gas card? Money for college?

Tell us what you think the best gifts for teens are and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, October 29th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 29th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
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Guest's picture
Christie

I personally think that gift cards, gift cards, and gift cards are the way to go!! They are getting older, they know what they like (and I certainly don't!) and they love to have fun shopping by themselves or with their friends. Also helping them to shop within their "means" if they have a limited amount on their gift card.

Guest's picture
MrsGaffney

I always like gift cards or money. Teenagers are too picky nowadays. Most will accept a gift graciously and never exchange it which is then a big waste of your money. I say the safest is a gift card to one of their favorite stores or cash to spend any way they like. And if they have parents like me, they'll have to put some away in a savings account.

Guest's picture
KathC

You can't go wrong with gift cards. I prefer gifts of experiences, rather than just a basic mall gift card. Depending on your budget, you can give them all types of experiences. Movie theaters, fast food restaurants, and local attractions (roller rinks, ice skating, arcades, mini golf, local ski areas, local water parks, etc.) are always a winner. Last year, I took all of the teenagers I had to buy gifts for to a local glass blowing shop, where they each got to blow their own glass Christmas ornament. If you think outside the box, you can find a lot of things. I've also made things for them as gifts. I sew, so I have made quillows that they can keep in their cars, and a tee shirt quilt for a niece who was going away to college, and everyone loved them. At Christmas time, I often just fill a stocking with little trinkets I've purchased during the year as well as some candy, topped off with a gift card.

Guest's picture
Sarah

iTunes gift cards. Everyone uses em.

Guest's picture
Bianca

Gift cards are great, as long as you know the teen shops at that store. If you're not sure, a better option would be a prepaid Visa card which can be spent on anything...or cash!

Guest's picture
KF

Trying to figure out what a teenage wants is impossible. Cash is king.

Guest's picture
Betty

I like to give teens iTunes cards, or a gift card for a video game store. I can be surecthe cards will be used.

Guest's picture
Rusty

Definately gift cards or money. iTunes gift cards are great. But i think most kids just want the money...

Guest's picture
Nicholas

Cash was always my preference so I can go buy what I want.
Gift cards also worked but they are more restrictive to where you can shop.

Guest's picture
Monica McMahon

The best gifts for the teens that I know or are in my family would be: iTunes Gift Cards, Visa Gift Cards, for the females- gift cards to their favorite stores, for our driving teens - gas gift cards, gift cards to their favorite eat out places, and always Target gift cards since you can buy just about anything there these days.

Guest's picture

We did well with our niece when we bought her texting gloves. Everyone wanted to know where she got them. http://fairtradetrends.com/tag/texting-gloves/

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I agree with the gift cards. Teens like to make their own choices.

Guest's picture
steph

magazine subscriptions!

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkenr

I think gift cards make the best - that way they can get what they really want and need.

Guest's picture
Diane

I'm interested to see the other suggestions for this... for inexpensive gifts, I've gone with Bath & Body works large candles ($10 each on sale)~ both boys & girls seem to like these and my sons always ask for them. For girls, any new products from Bath & Body Works go over well. I've also done gift cards to favorite clothing stores~ Express, Forever 21, Victoria's Secret. Gift cards for Smoothie King & Starbucks have seemed popular. It helps if you know what they like & where they shop...

Guest's picture

You just can't go wrong with a gift card. Just make sure it's somewhere they like to shop. If you get your seen a gift card, there's no possibility of buying something they don't like. Gift cards are very thoughtful if you know where the person likes to shop.

Guest's picture
Elena

Cash or gift cards to their favorite store

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

iTunes cards are a great solution for teens. You can frequently get great deals before the holiday season starts, too!

Guest's picture
Emily

Gifts cards, magazine subscriptions, and fun lessons (music, surfing, dance, rock climbing, etc.).

Guest's picture

Best gift for a teenager would be a gift card to Amazon. They'll have plenty of things to choose from!

Guest's picture
Andrea

When I was a teen my favorite gifts were the ones that showed the adults in my life actually listened to me. Receiving a CD from a band I had been talking about meant a lot more to me than a gift card to a record store.

Even if the gift missed the mark (wasn't my style), if the person tried it was still really nice. If we all just give each other gift cards or cash doesn't gift giving just turn into the continual transferring of funds back and forth?

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Money creatively wrapped in something unusual--like stuffed in the bottom of a pair of socks!

Guest's picture
Guest

Condoms for guys, birth control pills for girls.

Guest's picture
Therese

I think gift cards or money are the best gifts so they can decide what they want.

Guest's picture
Guest

Ipod touch. I gave two to teens and they said it was the best gift ever and use it daily.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

Gift Cards work best, I think.

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Cash is king.

Guest's picture
Alissa A

Gift cards or money. I would prefer to be generic and give them something they like.

Guest's picture
HB

Money. Duh!

Guest's picture
Karen Medlin

I like to give them cash, I think it would frustrate them when they might go over the limit of the card or only have a few cents on it and will just store it away.. with cash they will think twice on what they want to purchase.

Guest's picture
Dani

Gift Cards are the best gift, they can get what they want.

Guest's picture
Bethany

The girl teens are way into scarves right now!

Guest's picture
NJJ

Most teens I know love gift cards or cash since they like to shop til they drop and most I know think money grows on trees

Guest's picture
Brooke

I would go with a gift card without a doubt! Teens change their mind hourly about what they want and like lol.

Guest's picture
Jason

I disagree with all the commenters. Cash and gift cards are lazy and horribly unimaginative. Plus, while that teaches kids to be lazy by not putting thought into what they want instead of just blindly spending at a store (which is the opposite of what a finance website should be advocating).

If you are buying a gift for someone, spend some time to get an idea of what they might like and then use that to pick something out for them. They can always return it and get credit (which is essentially a gift card), if they don't like it. Plus, there is a chance they love it and it will be memorable (nobody will ever remember a gift card they recieved 2 years from now). Plus, it reduces the chance of wasted money from a gift card not being used. I still have gift cards from 5 years ago that I find randomly.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Depositing money into their college savings account! They will REALLY appreciate it when the time comes. Besides that, cash, gift cards to their favorite stores, video games (if you know what they like and don't already have), and gadgets are always good for today's youth. :)

Guest's picture
Kim

Kids around here seem to like clothing with their high school colors or mascots--sweatshirts, gloves, hats, etc. There are tons of choices available in local stores and through the schools.

Guest's picture
Lynda

gift cards and anything to do with music should be a winner

Guest's picture
cris i.

Most teens I know appreciate itunes cards these days.

Guest's picture
Holly S

I use to give gift cards as gifts for my teens or their friends but lately I've just been giving cash. The kids love to go to the movies and then out to eat afterwards so they prefer the cash since that doesn't limit them to a specific store or restaurant.

Guest's picture
Chuck B

Gift cards to Game Stop are always my go to for boys and iTunes gift cards work for both boys and girls.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

Speaking as a mom that has had 4 teens I'd say gift cards were the way to go unless you know the specific teen in question. Teens all seem to have their own style and what you may think is awesome they may not agree. Fandango, Itunes, or the Gap seem to work for both genders.

Guest's picture
Debra K

When I was a teenager, I kept telling my mom that all I wanted was gift cards. That way, I could pick out things I wanted. To cover very different tastes, gift cards to places like Amazon.com and Target would be big hits. Also gift cards to movie theaters would be nice.

Guest's picture
Carmen

Cash. That way they can buy exactly what they want instead of returning what you purchased.