High-schoolers and the perfect holiday gift. It’s a riddle, a maze and myth all in one.
Last year you thought, too babyish. The year before that, you skewed too grown up. But not this year. This year, with a little help from our editors, of course, you will hit the bull’s eye when it comes to the teenager you have no idea what to buy for.
Done are the days of staring blankly around the shopping mall. Gone are the times of “nagging” and begging them to answer, “What do you want for Christmas?”
This gift cheat sheet will cost you some money, but it will save you oodles of time and patience when it comes to shopping for the high-schooler in your life. That in itself is worth its weight in gold.
Best tech gifts for 16-year-olds
Whether they’re starting their first internship or creating TikTok videos, a ring light can come in handy for any teen these days. This version is specifically designed to fit on their desk to provide just the right amount of lighting, and it can even hold their phone for Zoom calls or streaming.
A more affordable option for all the tools your teenager could possibly need in one set, this Shark FlexStyle styling tool includes a hair dryer and a styling wand to straighten or curl their hair. Safe to use with any and all hair types, reviewers love it because it’s “an incredible comparative bargain,” compared to the Dyson AirWrap.
Let your loved one relive their favorite memories in an instant. This smartphone printer can print your teen their favorite photos in real time. All they have to do is pull up the photo on their phone, line it up with the printer and wait.
Add a little personalization to your teen’s phone with this popular phone case that you can customize with their name. It comes in a variety of colors, including black, pink and yellow. Attached to the case is a stylish wristlet.
Got an aspiring DJ on your hands? With this great gift, they can turn their iPhone, computer, tablets and more into a sound mixing board so they can get the party started no matter where they are.
Star Wars lovers can learn how to code with this kit that provides step-by-step challenges to help you learn how to control what happens on your screen.
Teens love to decorate their room with twinkling lights. These LED strips come with their own remote for color customization, meaning your 16-year-old can deck out their room and make it their own.
For the gamer in your life, this gift will be a huge hit. This bestselling game features beloved characters from the ’90s for your teen to choose from in a battle of the best.
Say adios to the “My phone died” excuse. With this fast and reliable power bank, your teen will always have enough battery life to let you know when they are running late.
For the teenage music lover in your home! This isn’t just a record player, it’s a 7-in-1 musical experience. With this versatile player, your teen can rock out to Mom’s old vinyl collection, connect to the tunes of today via Bluetooth or just jam out old-school to FM radio. The coolest feature of this player? It can digitize vinyl records AND CDs. Mind blown.
An ideal gift for the outdoor enthusiast. According to the brand, this portable Bluetooth speaker produces some clear sounds and bumping bass. Plus, it’s designed to attach nicely to your teen’s bike or backpack.
My kid brother calls these his “studyphones.” They drown out the noise and harness the homework focus. These reliable headphones are wireless and feature a built-in microphone. Fair warning, some teens might confuse these Sony options for their gaming phones. Funny how that happens.
Ditch the #2 pencil this year and step up to the Apple Pencil this holiday season. The Apple Pencil connects to a variety of iPad generations and is great for taking notes, for doing homework, or for that in between classes doodling sesh.
Charge! That’s what your Apple devices will get with this 3-in-1 charging station. It’s sleek, compact and compatible with multiple devices.
Keep their laptop safe in a personalized leather case. Choose to customize it with their name or initials and pick one of the six colors it comes in for a truly personalized feel.
Best fashion and accessory gifts for 16-year-olds
Name a teen who doesn’t love loungewear — Lululemon, specifically. While you ponder that, we’ll also let you know that the brand’s popular InStill style is heavily discounted on its “We Made Too Much” section.
Trendy coats are a must-have for teenagers, so give your 16-year-old a jacket they’ll be excited to show off. This shaggy oversized jacket is not only rated a bestseller on Amazon, but is also made of a fleece to help keep your teen warm.
Warm, stylish, and available in a variety of vibrant colors, this puffer vest is sure to keep your teen feeling comfy and looking cute. You can also use the code CHECK at checkout to receive a special discount.
Teens are always going to need jeans. These were designed with a looser fit in mind and come in 37 different washes.
Who doesn’t love a hoodie? Provide your teen with one that’s both comfy and stylish. Designed with environmentally friendly materials, this sweatshirt could be their new go-to, so buy one or more in their favorite colors.
Give your loved one a reliable hat that’s both stylish and protective from the sun. Designed with absorbent material and a sweatband to help keep them dry, this hat aims to provide comfort even on the hottest days.
For the teen who appreciates a day filled with self-care, they are sure to love these slippers. Made with memory foam for extra comfort, these slippers will make a chic and stylish gift for all their self-care needs.
This retro-inspired sneaker can be worn with almost anything and comes with a cushioned midsole for extra arch support. It’s available in 21 styles and colors.
Whether your 16-year-old is hiking or traveling, help them keep their belongings safe with a trusty bag. This sling-inspired bag is a nice versatile option, as it can be worn across their back, chest or as a shoulder bag. It even comes with multiple storage pockets to keep all their belongings safe.
Available in several different colors and patterns, including florals and Tiki-themes, upgrade your teen’s wallet with this aluminum money clip. It holds up to 12 cards and protects users from theft with RFID-blocking technology.
Best outdoor gifts for 16-year-olds
For teens counting down the days until spring and summer, get them in the warm-weather spirit with a super-cool blow-up lounger. According to the brand, this portable sofa is water-proof, leak-resistant and a great item to take along while camping, laying on the beach and more outdoor activities.
Rather than utilizing their car as a second closet, gift them with a duffle bag that will force them to wash their post-practice clothes. “Easy to clean” and “durable,” according to reviewers, this duffle bag has five pockets total.
If their location is always at the lake or local fisheries, gift them with this tackle box full of surprises, including new baits, fishing decals and tips and tricks to catch the biggest bass of them all.
Skateboarding has become popular among teens. This model is designed to be a smooth ride with rear grip tape for stability and traction. Your 16-year-old can enjoy hours of riding, whether it’s around the neighborhood or even to class.
For the teen who prefers two wheels to four, gift them this bike bag that can hold their phone, keys and a portable speaker if they want to listen to music while riding.
Best beauty and self-care gifts for 16-year-olds
Around this age, they’re probably starting to experiment with makeup. But as fun as it is to try on new looks, it’s just as important to learn how to properly take them off! Gift them these little makeup-removing cloths to wash away the day. They’re gentle on the skin but strong enough to take care of waterproof products, according to the brand.
Happy Holidaze Sugar Scrub Set
Make their morning routine with this sugar scrub from Tree Hut, that has earned over millions of views and likes on TikTok. With cotton candy, frosted cranberry and Moroccan rose scents, they can get into the holiday spirit for many weeks to come thanks to these 5.5-ounce scrubs. “This is a perfect gift set for a stocking stuffer,” said one reviewer.
Mini Tartelette Jewel Eye Shadow Palette
A little glitter never hurt, right? With this eye shadow palette from Tarte, they can add a subtle swipe of glitter to their eyelids whenever the occasion calls. Its travel size makes it perfect for carting to sleepovers, getting ready at a friend’s house before a big dance or when they need a little refresh after gym class.
Whether they’re facing the effects of pulling all-nighters to do homework or waking up early for practices, their under-eye skin doesn’t have to suffer as a result. These Pixi DetoxifEYE patches promise to hydrate and prevent puffiness. With caffeine and cucumber as two of the main ingredients, reviewers love them because they’re “refreshing” and “relaxing.” For added cooling effects, just pop them in the fridge for a bit beforehand.
Upgrade your 16-year-old’s beauty regime with a multipurpose soap. This all-in-one wash is designed to clean their face, hair and body without stripping skin and hair of essential moisture.
If your teen thought getting their braces off was the best thing to happen to their teeth, wait until they find this little gem in their stocking. The AquaSonic Black Series is ADA approved and features several modes that will keep your teen’s smile looking healthy and bright.
Sprinkle a little hydration and a lot of fun into your teen’s skin care regime. This wash-off mask features hydrating birthday cake “sprinkles” that are sure to leave their skin feeling soft and smelling sweet.
Is your 16-year-old interested in makeup? If so, this gift is perfect. The dimmable LED bulbs will give your beauty guru the best lighting for any makeup application.
Best book and game gifts for 16-year-olds
While they’re still learning which genres of books they prefer, this subscription gives them the opportunity to delve into all types of reading, hand-selected by reading experts!
Bring mystery and excitement to your teen’s game night. Inspired by the TV show “The Walking Dead,” this chilling game requires teamwork as your loved one and their friends solve clues to win the game.
Villains aren’t always born; they are sometimes made. If your teen enjoys getting lost in a story, this fresh take on a classic fairytale is sure to cast the right spell. Was the Wicked Stepmother always wicked? Only one way to find out.
Plum Paper Personalized Medium Journal
Pretty, patterned, and personalized this journal is great for capturing your teens’ quick thoughts, daily musings, or creative writings.
From their screen to the stove, the 16-year-old foodie in your life can now make their favorite viral recipes thanks to this cookbook — all from the creators at TikTok themselves.
Former NBA player Chris Bosh shares his journey to playing in the big leagues. Perfect for the athlete in your household who wants to read about and learn from a basketball legend.
Inspire and empower the 16-year-old female in your life who has plans to change the world — just like the many courageous women featured in this book.
Unique gifts for 16-year-olds
BaubleBar All Smiles Alpha Blanket
Let’s be honest, you’ve been begging them to get rid of that worn-out baby blanket they still cling to. Replace it with this smile-patterned blanket from BaubleBar that can be customized with their initials.
Rather than spend their hard earned money on overpriced bubble tea, they can make their own at home. With two flavors of tea and tapioca pearl boba, they can make hot or iced tea in the microwave or simply by adding a couple of ice cubes. One reviewer said, “Hard to find ‘cool’ gifts for older kids. This was different and perfect.
Pottery Barn “Harry Potter” Snow Globe
For the wizard-obsessed muggle in your life, gift them with a snowy scene of a patronus, the Snitch, or a bird’s eye view of the Hogwarts Express. Wind up the dial and a song relating to the scene from the “Harry Potter” soundtrack will play.
Keep your teen hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle fit just for them. This customizable stainless steel water bottle can be personalized with their name and one of the 12 icons, including a baseball, basketball or fish.
A seriously empowering and inspiring 100-piece puzzle that is educational, beautiful and filled with girl power.
Mojo Solo Cube
Take your teen’s homework desk or gaming center to the next level with the Mojo Solo Cube. Your child can go from sit to stand with a click of a button. As someone who has a standing date with her chiropractor, it’s never too early to start good sit-to-stand practices.
Pottery Barn Teen Rainbow Sky Organic Duvet Cover & Sham
Your teen’s head will literally be in the clouds with this rainbow and sky bedding set. Made with 100 percent organic cotton and machine-washable fabric, this sleepy set guarantees sweet dreams and easy cleaning.
This is a direct quote from my 17-year-old cousin Anna: “It looks so stupid until you try it on.” If your teen is into comfy, this piece has their name and the word “comfy” written all over it.
Hydroflask 24 oz Wide Mouth w/ Straw Lid
Hydrate, hydrate, Hydroflask! A great gift option for your student athlete, or for the teen who really enjoys a beverage to be cold 24 hours later.
Talia Di Napoli
Take your teen’s pizza consuming experience to the next level with real Italian pizza. Made by master pizzaiolos with local, all-natural ingredients, Talia Di Napoli arrives frozen and ready to bake. Perfect for parties or a family movie night; you won’t be able to look at frozen pizza the same way again.
Teens seem to always be taking photos, so help them take the perfect selfie with this light ring. Your friend or family member can have perfect lighting no matter where they are.
Game in style and comfort with this 7-Position Video Lounger. Available in different patterns of blue, red, and brown, this chair is great for gamers, readers, or Netflix watchers. As an added bonus, thanks to easy foldability, this chair can disappear as easily as it appears.
1Thrive The Rachel
When I was a teen “The Rachel” was an awesome haircut. Nowadays, it’s an awesome organizer for your tidy teen. The Rachel features two magnetic scheduling boards, a corkboard, magnetic mail storage, and includes two liquid chalk markers. This sleek home organizer is sure to bring style and order to at least one spot in your teen’s room.
Keep the beat going, and going this holiday season with a gift card from Spotify Premium. No interruptions, just tunes, tunes and more tunes.
Best gifts for the new driver
For times when they’re stuck in a pinch, put this kit in their trunk so that they’re always ready for anything. One reviewer noted that this is something that every “young driver needs,” making it a perfect gift for the new driver.
Scratches and dents are inevitable, especially for newer drivers in high school parking lots. Make the scratch something to look back on and laugh at with these bandage stickers.
For the driver who’s always using their rearview mirror to double as a makeup mirror or for the one who needs this subtle reminder, this sticker won’t block their vision. “The quality of the sticker was amazing and came with directions on how to apply and everything,” said one reviewer, with another one adding that they “loved everything about this decal.”
Available in both pink and blue, these car coasters will help prevent residue and liquids from getting trapped in their cupholders. Instead, they’ll have a stylish coaster to place their water bottle on. “These are some cute coasters to add a little flair to my car,” said one reviewer.
A humorous addition to their new ride, this swinging duck decoration is “the cutest thing ever,” according to one reviewer. The duck comes adorned with shades and a beach hat, ready to ride wherever you go.
Take their car decor to the next level with this quirky sneaker keychain, modeled after your new driver’s favorite shoe.
With so many new documents to keep track of, ensure that they have a space to store them all. This glovebox organizer holds car insurance forms, registration papers and other documents they’ll need access to at all times.
A different way to make sure their new ride smells fresh, simply add essential oils to these beads and they’re set! Drape them over the rearview mirror or near the air flow to ensure their car has a fresh and calming aroma.
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s other gift guides to find the perfect present for every teenager on your list including 11-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds, 17-year-olds, 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds.