10 Gifts Your Teens Will Love Even Though These Aren’t on Their Wish List

Now that you have teens on your hands, holiday gifts get more expensive—and it’s more difficult to surprise your teens with things they’ll actually like. We’re right there with you, so we searched high and low for gifts that aren’t on your teenagers wish list, but they’re gifts your teens will actually like. 

It isn’t easy shopping for a kid who’s long since grown out of believing in Santa.

No, actually, I lie. It’s too easy. And that’s kind of the problem. The wish lists of teens are so painfully specific that holiday shopping for them is about as creative and fulfilling a venture as a supermarket run. Maybe less so, as even Hot Pockets leaves some leeway. As the phones of we moms of teens ping this season with a succession of texted links, we wonder: Where’s the surprise? What fun is this on Christmas morning, when they know exactly what they’re opening, down to the color, and we know they know?

Nobody’s suggesting ignoring the links. Who wants to spend Dec. 26 making returns, or watch stuff we paid good money for languish? And besides, no matter how tall they grow, they’re our babies still, and we want to see them happy on Christmas just as much as we did when they were 4.

The happy compromise? Tossing in a gift they didn’t ask for. It can be a daunting prospect, I know, so we’ve created a short list of can’t-fail ideas. Here’s to forever keeping the holiday spirit of surprise alive.

Get crafty with gifting.

laurdiy craft kits

LaurDIY Craft Kits ($14.99-$19.99) are the brainchild of YouTuber Lauren Riihimaki (I’d never heard of her, truth be told, but my teen most certainly had). The five kits contain fabulous room-decor projects similar to designs Riihimaki has created on her videos. They strike the right balance between little girl and all grown-up. The Letter Board, which can be personalized, is probably a sure thing.

Be one smooth Santa.

the perfect shave kit the art of shaving

Is the peach fuzz getting out of hand on your young guy’s cheeks? When it’s time to start shaving, you may as well start him off with quality tools. The 4 Elements of The Perfect Shave ($30) is a great starter set because the pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after-shave balm, and badger shave brush are designed to prevent razor burn. Pick it up in Unscented since he’s not used to the whole manly fragrance thing yet. 

Deck out her dorm.

pinhole press small wall decals

Grab the best photos of the people and pets your teen loves most from her Instagram account and gift her a custom set of 12 photo wall decals ($12.99). (It’s a good way to get a smile out of a usually indifferent kid.) These don’t need hammers, nails, or spackle…they stick to almost any wall and peel off whenever, so they’re perfect to take to college.

Back him up.

roll top backpack wp standard

He’ll use this in high school now, and on all his adventures in the years to come. Unlike every other backpack he’s ever had, this Roll Top one of 100-percent vegetable tanned full-grain leather ($245) will look better the more he carries it. 

Bring out her shine.

zaxie initial necklace

Remember your first initial necklace when you were her age? This cubic zirconia number will be her go-to as well, but probably has a good deal more sparkle than yours did. The “Not Your Boyfriend’s Initial Necklace” ($68) is definitely not any ordinary bauble. 

Snap up a surprise gift.

kiipix portable instant printer

KiiPix is a portable instant picture printer ($39.99). It churns out retro-esque photos from any smartphone; Your kid can print snaps from his camera roll or Instagram, no Wi-Fi needed. So fun! 

Delight her day by day.

the body shop advent calendar

Advent calendars: sweet and festive, building up excitement for the big day. But at this age, the foil-wrapped chocolates night after night don’t carry the thrill they used to. Here’s a serious upgrade: the Enchanted Beauty Advent Calendar ($110). Behind each door is a cruelty-free beauty treat. Think shower gel, body butter, matte lip liquids, hand creme, and just about everything else that would delight a teen girl. Oh, and with this many products, odds are good you’ll snag a few things for yourself. I call that a win-win.

Warm up her tootsies.

dylans candy bar christmas socks

As you well know, your daughter can be naughty or nice, sometimes within the same hour, so these Christmas Socks ($10) are perfect. Soft, cozy, and sassy, adorned with whirly pops and peppermints, no less!  

Freshen him up.

denim refresher spray man ready

What’s that? You’ve also got a kid who forgets to do his laundry, and is forced to pluck jeans out of the hamper on school mornings? Then here is The. Perfect. Stocking. Stuffer. A spritz (okay, or three) of Houston purveyor Man Ready Mercantile’s Denim Refresher ($16) to the rescue! 

Make her season a smash.

smashbox makeup brushes

Smashbox came out with the Holidaze limited edition collection for this holiday season, set apart with vibrant colors and cool graphic drip art designs. The funky gift sets include eyeliners, lip glosses, and a few palettes, but our fave is this collection of makeup brushes ($39).