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Holiday Gift Guide for Teens, by Teens

Published on: November 13, 2013

What to buy teens for ChristmasAre Ugg Boots still cool? How’s the new Rick Riordan book? And what the heck is a Rainbow Loom?

It’s holiday shopping time! Maybe you need to buy something for a teen niece or nephew and want to be the “cool aunt” who always knows just what to get. Maybe you are shopping for your own family. Look no further than this guide written with advice from the middle and high schoolers themselves.


The Circle Dave Eggers Teen Gift Guide Books

The Circle by Dave Eggers: 

Mae Holland gets a job at a powerful internet company in the near future, similar to Google or Facebook, which combines every user’s entire internet life into one identity. A compelling look at what can happen when technology goes too far. (Age 15+.)

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chipp Kidd Teen Gift GuidesGo: A Kidd’s Guide To Graphic Design by Chip Kidd: 

A robust book introducing graphic design to middle schoolers and older kids.


I Am Malala teen gift guide bookI Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by M. Yousafzan

16-year-old Malala became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize through her work with her family on educating girls in Pakistan. Read about her absolutely stunning journey in this novel.


The House of Hades by Rick Riordan teen gift guide booksHouse of Hades by Rick Riordan

The continuation of the Heroes of Olympus Series. Modern Greek demi-Gods fight to stop the earth goddess from waking up and destroying civilization.


Allegiant by Veronica Roth teen gift guideAllegiant by Veronica Roth

The third book of the Divergent series, in which Tris, Four and friends journey beyond the wall.


Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter teen gift guide booksGallagher Girls by Ally Carter

This series follows the life of Cammie “The Chameleon” Morgan, who goes to an exclusive prep school for girls that is actually an under-cover spy training agency. Fast-paced and full of action, The Gallagher Girls series is a hit with middle-school girls.

Going Vegetarian Teen's Guide book gifts


If your teen is trying out being a vegan or vegetarian, or going gluten-free, there are all kinds of great cookbooks to help them take control of their eating (and maybe get you off kitchen duty once a week) Try The Glorious Gluten-Free Cookbook by Vanessa Maltin or A Teen’s Guide to Going Vegetarian by Judy Krizmanic.

The Guide: Managing Douchbags, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want by Rosalind WisemanThe Guide: Managing Douchebags, Recruiting Wingmen, and Attracting Who You Want  by Rosalind Wiseman

The author of Queen Bees and Wannabes is back with Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World a great book for boy parents and a guide for boys which is free to download until Dec. 10 from

Video games:

As always, there are many new video games this season, and even some new consoles. NBA2K14, FIFA 14, and Madden NFL 25 are the latest installations of the most popular sports games. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Assassin are pretty violent and rated M for Mature. You need to decide for yourself (and read reviews on Common Sense Media) to see if you want to go this route because the games include a lot of shooting and destruction. If you really want to know what video-game-loving teens want though, this is it:

NBA2K14 teen gift guide video games


Released on October 1st, the new NBA 2k with simpler dribbling and shooting for new players.

Teen gift guide video games FIFA 14FIFA 14

The latest FIFA soccer game uses the new Ignite game engine, which simulates player physics more accurately than ever before on a console.

Madden NFL 25 teen gift guide video gamesMadden NFL 25

The 25th Madden football game also will feature the new Ignite engine and some new game modes.

Battlefield 4Battlefield 4

This well-known first person shooter is back, now with 64-player maps, the re-instated “command mode” where a player acts as a general and can direct troops, and destroyable environment. (M for Mature.)

Call of Duty: Ghosts teen gift guide video gamesCall of Duty: Ghosts 

The tenth installment of CoD, with seven new game modes including an all-new “alien mode” where players attempt to destroy alien “hives” (M for Mature.)

Assassin's Creed Black Flag teen gift guide video gamesAssassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

The assassination game takes to the high seas in the latest installment. (M for Mature)


Xbox One Video game consoles gift guide for teensConsoles. Two new long-awaited video game consoles are also due out for the holidays: The PS4 ($399) and the Xbox One ($499). Both feature new hardware and games specific to each console, and will set the precedent for the next generation of living-room gaming.


More tech stuff:

Jawbone Jambox Mini Teen Gift GuideJawbone Jambox

These portable speakers bring awesome sound quality, Bluetooth capability and long battery life for long listening sessions. They retain sound quality at a high volume, and are fun to have in a dorm or just for listening in your room.

Beats in Black teen gift guideBeats

Beats are well-known as more of a fashion statement than headphones for music lovers. This is not to say that Beats have a bad sound quality, but there are better options for your money. The Audio-Techinca ATH-M50s have better sound quality and are $100 cheaper (they also look cool!) so they are definitely worth serious consideration.


Numark Live Controller DJ for iOSNumark iDJ Kive DJ software controller

If your kid likes music, this could be a fun gift for him/her: It’s a mini turn-table with basic effects that lets the user DJ right from his/her iPod, iPhone or iPad. It’s a great introduction to DJing and a fun toy to play around with., $22.05.

Indoor Smore Roaster Set


Indoor marshmallow roaster and s'mores setHammacher Schlemmer, $69.95.

Popcorn Maker


Popcorn maker, Crate and Barrel, $39.95.




Balderdash – the classic board game for a night in with the family. Players make up word definitions and try to get others to believe they are true., $16.46.



More good stuff:

UGGs. Judging by the hallways in my school, they are still popular and make slippers too. These can be spendy (boots can be $250 and slippers $120) and you can find lots of “Ugg-like” alternatives if your girl isn’t overly brand conscious.

Nail polish. Look for fun colors like midnight blue and stick-on decorations for the holidays. Make great stocking stuffers.

Gift cards for shopping. Not sure what their favorite store is or want to surprise them with someplace new? Ask their friends for the latest mall or online attraction. Many teens love music, so iTunes gift cards are popular.

Jewelry. Check out what the girls are wearing at school. Locket necklaces are popular right now.

Make up. One of those big sets with 30 eye shadow colors, even if she will never use half of them is a fun palette to be presented with. Lip gloss is always good, try brands like Eos and Burt's Bees, which are great for chapped lips.

Magazines. Seventeen, Teen Vogue, J-14, Sports Illustrated, MAD Magazine and Rolling Stone are all popular magazines for middle and high schoolers.

rainbow loomRainbow Loom – Kids can create customized rubber band bracelets, necklaces and rings that are popular among the middle-school (and younger) set.






Aidan Weed is a high school junior who lives in Seattle. He enjoys drumming, lacrosse and video games, and his favorite subject in school is Latin.

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