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21 cool gifts that teens actually want in 2023

The trendy Christmas gifts that even the pickiest teens will like.

The best gifts for teens we could find.
The best gifts for teens we could find.

Teens and tweens might be the hardest bunch to please, but with a little work you can find a gift even the pickiest among them will like. And you don’t have to be up on all the latest trends to find something they’ll get excited about. In fact, we’ve done that work for you by rounding up some of the best gifts for every music lover, self-care queen and Gen Z high-school student on your list. From skincare products and bestselling gadgets to the coolest gifts for gamers and wannabe influencers and even TikTok's most viral products of 2023, we’ve got you covered with this stellar gift guide. And don't miss our roundup of the best last-minute gifts, too.

Quick overview
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As you shop, keep this advice in mind from independent analyst and toy historian Christopher Byrne, aka the Toy Guy: "One of the things that’s so important about teens — and has been for many years — is the social aspect of their lives," says Byrne. Making, sharing, connecting and building community are important aspects to consider when choosing a thoughtful gift.

"This is a time of life when they may be trying on different identities, discovering who they are separate from their parents and as individuals in a peer group," Byrne says about the post-elementary-school age. "Technology has made this possible, so things that can be shared either in person or virtually are great." The Kodak Step Slim Mobile Photo Printer, for instance, lets teens take photos from their cellphones and print them out to share with friends. And the Rukus FX music mixer allows for music and video creation and sharing.

A few carefully selected stocking stuffers are better than a whole pile, so don’t go nuts. Instead, focus on quality over quantity to get the most bang for your buck. "Don’t overload kids with presents," cautions Byrne. You'll risk giving kids so much that they can’t appreciate what they get. And to quote the kids: "That’s so ’90s."

With five days until Christmas, it's time to finish checking that list twice — read on for our picks for the best gifts for teens, and don't forget to check shipping times before clicking purchase.

Searches for this Lululemon favorite skyrocketed by 650% this year, which explains why you've seen it everywhere (hence the name). Wear it around your waist or across your body for easy access to on-the-go essentials.

$38 at Lululemon

Sheet masks are one of the 21st-century's greatest skin-care innovations and this beauty-editor-favorite set of four ultra-hydrating treatments will not disappoint. Each one targets a different skin concern (eye puffiness, dryness, fine lines) and is meant to rejuvenate, brighten and calm the visage.

$23 at Amazon

If you wore these plastic claw clips in the 90s, chance are your teen wishes you'd saved them. But fear not, you can grab an 8-pack in various colors and styles, at a price point that makes us think we're actually in the 90s again.

$8 at Amazon

A novel change from regular old cell phone selfies, older kids and teens will love taking and printing photos from this gadget. The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini comes with film included, so the kids in your life can start taking photos with you right after they open your gift. It’s also great for a tween or teen who has an upcoming event, like a cool class trip or a dance.

$59 at Amazon
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$60 at Walmart

If your teen is a Swiftie, they'll probably want to make their own friendship bracelets to swap with friends. This kit includes everything to get started: clay beads in 28 colors, letter and number beads (plus hearts, stars, flowers and more), clear elastic, even scissors.

$13 at Amazon

Twist, swipe and flick to create unique custom music tracks with this cool handheld device. Kids can upload their favorite music, add sound effects and even record their own voice.

Not only does the Rukus FX mix music, it has an LED light show and over 80 sound effects. "After playing with it for a while, it is so much more than it might appear at first glance," says Byrne. "There’s a lot you can do with it; plus you can record and share what you do, and it’s a natural [activity] for taking videos and sharing those."

$14 at Walmart
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$17 at Amazon

This portable speaker is a real powerhouse: It's waterproof, has 12 hours of play time and features JBL PartyBoost for multiple speaker pairing. Sure it has crystal-clear sound and deep bass, but the best thing about this speaker is its rugged portability. Plus it's Bluetooth connected and comes in 11 colors. "I've had several portable speakers over the years, and this is by far the best for the money," writes one Amazon customer. "I would more than likely buy it again because it fits easily into my backpack when I travel."

$130 at Amazon

Help creative teens express themself with a high-quality art set that includes six black markers and two sepia-tone ones. "As a beginning anime artist, I was in search of a way to darken the lines in my drawings and lessen the number of pencil smudges in them," writes an Amazon reviewer. "Every marker within the packet was well worth the money."

$16 at Amazon

Bubble tea, or boba, is trendy with everyone from tweens to 20-somethings. Now they can save their cash and craft the sweet, chewy drinks at home. Amazon's No. 1 bestselling bubble tea kit contains everything needed to make 10 delicious servings of bubble tea. Inside the box are brown sugar boba pearls, milk tea, fruit tea and 10 fat straws. Teens will love customizing their own boba concoctions and sharing with friends.

$26 at Amazon

These new Nerf Blasters take laser tag up a notch with the ability to play in the dark — the Laser Vision option illuminates enemy targets. The blasters have a range of up to 300 feet and battery life that will provide up to four hours of play. We love that this set comes with four blasters so friends can enjoy a fierce game of laser tag together.

$65 at Amazon

A scented candle unique to the recipient's birthday, this unique gift features astrological info about their special day, perfect for teens who look to the stars for guidance. The pictured June 4 candle features an orchid, sandalwood and lemon scent, but each date features a unique “custom scent to match your energy.” The all-natural soy and coconut wax jar candle has a burn time of 60 to 80 hours. “It’s crazy that they were able to nail it and capture a scent truly made for me,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “I’m obsessed with it, and so are all of my friends, so I will definitely be gifting it to everyone I know.”

$49 at Amazon

Hey, Gen Xers, take your young adult back to your own teen years with actual paper photos. The sticky-backed photos printed from this wireless compact printer are smudge-proof, waterproof and tear-resistant — perfect to decorate bedrooms, lockers, mirrors and more. Simply connect to the printer via Bluetooth and use the Kodak Step Prints app to print vibrant 2 x 3 in. photos wirelessly from your teen's phone.

$80 at Amazon
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$80 at Macy's$76 at Shop Premium Outlets

“Don’t forget video games,” says Byrne of the ultimate teenage gift idea. Adolescents and video games go together like peanut butter and jelly. Naturally, the Xbox console will be a hot gift! The Xbox Series S is a great price for a powerful system, and teens will enjoy it to play their favorite video game. “This is the MOST AWESOME THING I'VE EVER BOUGHT,” says one Walmart reviewer. Convincing words!

$278 at Amazon
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$298 at Walmart$350 at Macy's

Perfect for the Harry Potter fan, this jelly bean dispenser releases beans according to each Hogwart's house. Will you get Green Apple, Lemon, Very Cherry or Blueberry? The magical Sorting Hat chooses your Hogwarts house with the touch of a button and awards jelly beans accordingly. 

$31 at Jelly Belly

Tweens can blast one another with glowing water-based gel beads with this cool new Gellet system — 5,000 pellets are included. A built-in LED activator charges the glow-in-the-dark Gellets for a light-up nighttime experience. Don’t worry, parents: The impact is just enough to register a hit but not enough to injure. And the Gellets dissolve on impact, providing mess-free play.

$32 at Walmart

We all know that tweens and teens lose things a lot. That's why the manageable price of these earbuds makes them a practical — and fun — gift for teens who love Spotify or streaming Netflix on their phones. JLab’s new Go Air Sport earbuds have 32-plus-hour Bluetooth playtime, multiple sound settings, convenient touch controls and of course a charging case. We also just love the fun color options.

$29 at Amazon
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$30 at Walmart$30 at Verizon

This No. 1 bestselling roll-up drum kit is a convenient way to create music. The seven pads, variety of timbers and rhythms, and volume control make this a great gift. Plus, it's portable and plays for 10 hours without a charge! Musicians in the making enjoy practicing the drums on this cool gift, and it won't bust your eardrums. (It includes a headphone jack!)

$76 at Amazon

LED lights have been big on TikTok all year, and these — which pair with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant — are an excellent way for teens to personalize their space with fun colors, and they're so easy to install (and eventually remove). Even if they don't have a smart speaker in their room, they can control the lights via an app or the remote control that's included.

$29 at Amazon

#heatlesscurls has over 7 billion views on TikTok, and these easy-to-use headbands can give anyone the look overnight. Plus, they won't have to worry about forgetting to turn the curling iron off before heading out for the day. Thanks to this beauty product, voluminous, bouncy curls require nearly zero effort. Wear them while lounging or in bed at a sleepover and wake up with perfect curls to throw up in a scrunchie or wear loose.

$16 at Amazon
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$16 at Ulta Beauty$19 at Lulus

Amazon's No. 1 bestselling table lamp not only looks way pricier than it is, but it makes for an excellent night light — and you'll kind of want one for your own bedroom too. It even has a remote that your teen can use to make it switch colors.

$8 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.