Top 10 Best and Worst Gifts for Teens

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by: Laurie Mega
Stressed over finding the perfect gift for your picky teenager? We've got the answers you've been looking for!

There are certain groups of people that are just impossible to shop for. Number one on that list is teens. Their tastes run from the expensive (he just has to have the latest Apple i-Thing) to the bizarre-but-trendy. (Can some please explain what a squishy is?) If you’ve got a teen birthday coming up, chances are you’re casting about for the perfect -- read merely passable -- gift.

Fear not! FamilyEducation has you covered. Here are five great gift ideas for the fickle teen in your life. And as a bonus, we’ve thrown in five terrible gift ideas to keep you on the straight and narrow.

The Top 5 Teen Gifts

fidget spinners are a great idea for a teen gift5) Fidget Spinners Fidget Spinners are everywhere. I see them at the bodega in the subway for $1 and on Amazon for up to $200. Some of them flash pretty colors, while some of them glow in the dark. Heck, I’ve even seen spinners made out of Legos.
Just keep in mind that while these toys are all the rage, parents may not be too keen on them, particularly if there are small children in the house. Check out our article on the dangers of fidget spinners for more details.

4) Anything Apple There’s just something about those slick, silver laptops -- and don’t even get me started on the phones. Yes, they’re sexy and Apple’s genius lies in the cult following they’ve built around their products. But, they’re also expensive. So if you don’t feel like dropping some serious cash, consider…

3) Apple Accessories If your teen has an Apple anything, they’re going to need accessories to express their individuality while buying into the iCulture. Ear buds, iPhone and iPad cases and iWatch straps can all be customized, just hop online and find the right look. Get their favorite character, their favorite color, bejewel it. It’s all available.

Trendy gifts for teens are great, if you know the trends2) Unicorn/Bacon/Mermaid/Mustache Stuff I could already be way behind the times by suggesting novelty gifts that feature unicorns, bacon, mermaids, or mustaches. But my point is, if there’s a silly trend tearing through the teenage population, you’re pretty safe getting them anything that feature said trends. Just make sure you know what those trends are. Helpful hint: If you see something you think is trendy in the bargain section at Sears, the trend is over.

1) Gift Cards When in doubt, gift cards! This is especially helpful when you don’t know the teen that well. Maybe it’s a classmate of your teen, or the boss’s kid. You can get them cards to their favorite store, the Apple store (iLife!) or even for the movies. If you’re not even sure they’ll like any of those, pick up a Visa or Mastercard gift card. The best part is you can pick them up in any drug store, grocery store or 7-11 on your way to said birthday party.

Bonus: Movie Tickets Movies are always a safe bet, and book of tickets will give them freedom to choose their own movies. You may even want to throw is some money for snacks, which these days cost as much as the movie.

Okay, now let’s take care of the gifts you should absolutely stay away from.

Bottom 5 Teen Gifts

5) Clothes Unless you are very close to the teen in question and very in tune with their tastes, clothes are just not a good idea. Chances are very good you will get it very wrong. Wrong color, wrong size, wrong brand or wrong trend. If you do decide to venture into the tiny T-shirt section at Justice, just make sure you include a gift receipt.

Video games are a bad gift for teens4) Video Games There are so many games out there, and if you don’t know what they like you could be dropping some serious cash on something they’ll never play. This is also a tricky gift with parents. Violent video games are a definite no-no, for example, with most parents.

3) Fast Food Gift Cards Okay, there is one exception to the gift card rule, and that’s fast food gift cards. Nobody wants their teen chowing down on processed junk every day. If you know your teen has to eat on the run a lot, try something healthier like a Panera, or help them learn to make quick, healthy meals.

Perfume is another tough gift for teens

2) Perfume/Cologne This is an item you should stay away from unless you know your teen really, really well. Not only are scents very individual and personal, but each perfume wears differently on each person. Body chemistry can change a very pleasant, light scent into something heavier, for example. And don’t forget that some people are allergic to certain -- or all -- perfumes. Even if your teen isn’t, someone else in the house could be.

1) The Thing They Want Most in the World Whatever it is, there’s a good chance what they want most in the world is something their parents don’t want them to have. Oh sure! You’ll be a hero when you take them for a piercing or get them that long-board skateboard, but their parents might not be too pleased.

So there you have it -- the best and worst gifts to get teens. Don’t forget to check out our video and visit our teen section to learn more about this mysterious group of individuals!