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Shopping for a teenager? Here are 25 cool gifts they will actually like

JBL speaker, bubble-tea making kit, necklace, and mini gaming console.
From high-tech to DIY, we've gathered the best gifts for the tweens and teens in your life. (Photos: Amazon and Walmart)

Teens and tweens are notoriously hard to please, which can make gift-giving a little tricky. Luckily, we've rounded up all the season's hottest gifts for the over-11 set with some help 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 gift. Today's adolescents still enjoy the old-school activity of playing board games as a way to bond with friends, for instance. The new Dungeons, Dice & Danger game is a great one. Or consider the JBL Flip 6 portable speaker that just begs for a dance party.

"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 of 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 cell phones and print them out to share with friends. And the RUKUSfx music mixer allows for music and video creation and sharing.

A few carefully selected gifts are better than a whole pile. "Don’t overload kids with presents," cautions Byrne. You'll risk giving kids so much that they can’t appreciate what they get. And don't stress! "The holidays should be about more than scoring a specific toy," he says. And to quote the kids: "That’s so 90s."

A motion-controlled music mixer
Rukus

RUKUSfx Music Mixer

Twist, swipe, flick, and twist 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.
$50 at Walmart

Not only does the RUKUSfx mix music, it has an LED light show and over 80 sound effects. And of course, there's a built-in microphone for vocals. "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."

Cool mis-matching gold earrings
(Photo: Maison Miru)

Maison Miru pave moon and lightning earrings

These sparkly earrings are special, but the price is still right for a teen who may lose one in no time. The celestial theme is right on-trend, which is sure to be appreciated.
$50 at Maison Miru

If the tween or teen in your life is into jewelry, consider a unique pair of earrings like these dainty gold studs. Also available in sterling silver, you get one crescent moon and one lightning bolt. "I love these studs!" writes one reviewer. "They are darling and just the right amount of edge. I’ve been wearing them almost every day." 93% of reviewers gave this pair 5 stars — those are good odds that the teen in your life will love them, too!

A STEM kit with a fun purpose
HEXBUG

Hexbug Vex Robotics Catapult Kit

Future engineers can immerse themselves in this cool building kit, which produces a working catapult that launches over 20 feet.
$18 at Amazon

Byrne recommends Vex building kits for kids who are into building and engineering. This particular kit contains over 160 pieces that can be turned into a working catapult to launch the 3 included balls. There's also an alternate build, which means more bang for your buck. One Amazon reviewer writes of her son: "He loves the science behind how the motors work and honestly they work quite well."

Tiny pop culture icons
Funko

Funko POP! Marvel: She-Hulk Vinyl Figure

"Funko and Funko Pop have huge followings—and a great way to express affinity and express oneself," says Byrne. Teen Marvel fans will love this model, especially if they’re fans of the new She-Hulk TV series.
$39 at Amazon

Funko Pop makes big-headed products for just about every pop culture franchise, including figurines from teen favorites like the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Marvel movies, TV's Stranger Things, Disney films, and so much more.

These are popular with teenagers for their collectability, something Byrne says is great to consider when buying gifts. "This is the age when kids start collecting," he says. "The transition from play to collecting is an important one at this time of life. It really is a kind of rite of passage."

Take this speaker anywhere
JBL

JBL Flip 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

This portable speaker is a real powerhouse: it's waterproof, has 12 hours of playtime, and features JBL PartyBoost for multiple speaker pairing.
$100 at Amazon

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."

Perfect for the artistic teen
Prismacolor

Prismacolor Premier Manga Illustration Markers

This 8-pack of markers is specifically curated for drawing Manga (a popular style of animation) art. Fine, brush, and chisel tips are included.
$21 at Amazon

Help creative teens express themself with a high-quality art set that includes six black markers and 2 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."

Homemade boba drinks FTW
Flavor Purveyor

DIY bubble tea kit

Bubble tea, or boba, is trendy with everyone from tweens to 20s. Now they can save their cash and craft the sweet, chewy drinks at home.
$35 at Amazon

This kit contains everything needed to make 8 delicious services on bubble tea. Inside the box are Chewy Tapioca Pearls, instructions, Royal Milk loose leaf tea, and 2 reusable Fat Straws. Teens will love customizing their own boba concoctions and sharing with friends. Bonus: all the ingredients are vegan in case your teen has dietary restrictions.

Perfect for Star Wars fans
Target

Lego Star Wars BD-1 Building Set

"Marvel, Star Wars and other classics are big," says Byrne of the enduring hits. This hot new Star Wars set, designed for teens ages 14 and up, has moveable joints for custom display poses.
$100 at Target

This cool BD-1 measures over 12.5 inches tall when built. The exploration droid includes authentic details that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order fans love. "The build was great, thoroughly enjoyed it," says one Lego fan. "The end model is brilliant with the various movement it has and poses it can be set into." The set includes over 1,000 pieces, enough to keep them off of their phone for a couple of hours.

An earbud case for ramen fans
(Photo: Claire's)

Cup Noodles Snack Attack Earbud Case

This silicone earbud case is compatible with Apple AirPods, and makes a fun (and practical) gift! The handy carabiner allows teens to attach it to a purse, backpack, or anywhere else.
$20 at Claire's

Ramen —especially instant ramen — is a staple of youth. Celebrate your teen's love for yummy, convenient Cup Noodles with this fun earbud protective case. Compatible with Apple Airpods, we think this earbud case will get some laughs. But more importantly, it'll keep your ramen-obsessed teen's earbuds safe and sound.

A small trick drone
Target

Sky Viper Hover Sphere

Motion sensors mean that tweens can control this flying gadget with just their hands.
$23 at Target

No remote control is needed here. Just toss this drone to launch it, guide it with hand movement and "teach" tricks, then flip it upside down to power off. Rechargeable battery included. 81% of Target buyers give the Sky Viper Force Hover Sphere 5 stars.

Lip color from Rihanna
(Photo: Sephora)

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Glossy Posse Volume 5.0 lip gloss set

When a pop star puts out a popular makeup product you know it's going to be a hit with the teens. This limited-edition set includes the shades Fenty Glow, Cupcakin’, and Fuchsia Flex.
$38 at Sephora

Show jaded kids that you’re still cool, and gift this limited-edition Gloss Bomb set. Three full-size, universally flattering lip gloss shades are included. Each gloss can also be individually gifted, so generous teens can share with friends. “Yes!! This set is so worth it!” writes one Sephora reviewer.

Tech to see in the dark
EastPoint Sports

Nerf Laser Vision 4 Pack Laser Tag Game

We love that this set comes with 4 blasters so friends can enjoy a fierce game of laser tag together.
$100 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 4 hours of play.

For adolescents into astrology
Birthdate Co.

Birthdate Co. Birthdate Candles

A scented candle unique to the recipient's birthday, these unique gifts feature astrological info about their special day.
$50 at Amazon

For teens who look to the stars for guidance, this is a really fun gift. 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 60-80 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.”

A brand-new strategy game
Ravensburger

Ravensburger Dungeons, Dice & Danger game

Search dungeons for treasure in this humorous roll-and-write game that's fun for ages 12 and up.
$25 at Amazon

Up to four players (yes, you can even play solo!) explore four different levels of this board game, including Annoyed Animals, Defiant Dinosaurs, Puzzled Pyramid, and Clumsy Cultists. Get through by searching dungeons, battling monsters, and scoring treasure. “Easy to learn and pick up,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “It’s fun and I recommend to anyone who likes the genre or are looking to try a roll n write for the first time.

Photos they can hold IRL
KODAK

Kodak Step Slim Instant Mobile Photo Printer

Teens can wirelessly print 2x3-inch photos from their phones.
$80 at Amazon

Take Gen Xers 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 photos.

A trendy piece of jewelry
Miss Pink

Y2K beaded choker necklace

Everything from the year 2000 is in again, including smiley faces and beaded pearl necklaces. A colorful choker makes a cool gift for fashion-forward teens.
$13 at Amazon

This inexpensive jewelry option resembles one worn by rapper and style icon Bad Bunny. “This necklace is so cute and great quality,” writes one Amazon reviewer. “Perfect dupe for the popular expensive brand.” The gold-tone choker features beads and faux pearls on a 14.1-inch chain (it has a 2.7-inch extender for a flexible fit).

A cool, cozy sweater
Gap

Gap Arctic Fleece Mockneck Pullover

Gift something your teen will actually want to wear. Plus, it's part of an eco-friendly collection.
$31 at Gap

This bold pullover is made from 24% recycled materials, which is a bonus for green-minded teens. The soft fleece fabric will keep your kiddo cozy this winter, and they’ll love the current style.

A sought-after game system
Microsoft

Xbox Series S

Adolescents and video games go together like peanut butter and jelly. Naturally, the Xbox console will be a hot gift!
$272 at Walmart

“Don’t forget video games,” says Byrne of the ultimate teenage gift. The Xbox Series S is a great price for a powerful system, and gaming teens will love it. “This is the MOST AWESOME THING I'VE EVER BOUGHT,” says one Walmart reviewer. Convincing words!

A magical jelly bean experience
(Photo: Jelly Belly)

Jelly Belly Harry Potter House Points candy dispenser

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?
$31 at Jelly Belly

The magical Sorting Hat chooses your Hogwart’s house with the touch of a button and awards jelly beans accordingly. Will you get Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, or Ravenclaw? A 1-ounce bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans (in 4 flavors) is included with this set. The House Points dispenser makes a great gift for middle school Potterheads.

Something fun to toss around
Aerobie

Aerobie Sonic Fin Football

This aerodynamic football is a bit more advanced than your typical foam toy. Its hollow gyroscopic design allows everyone to throw far -- up to 100 yards! And it's endorsed by pro-football quarterback Russell Wilson.
$17 at Amazon

“I love the Aerobie football,” says Byrne. “It’s easy to throw and creates social interaction.” The fins are adjustable for right and left-handed throwers, and you can calibrate the spin rate. There’s even a hashtag to follow — #sonicfinchallenge – to participate in social media challenges. A great gift for the sporty teen.

Collectible Black Panther dolls
Target

Marvel Black Panther Wakanda Forever Shuri doll

These Wakanda Forever dolls aren't just child's play -- they're cool collector items for Marvel fans.
$50 at Target

“Representation is very important for teens,” says Byrne of these Fresh Fierce Collection dolls from World of EPI. There are 3 poseable 11.5-inch dolls inspired by Marvel StudiosBlack Panther: Wakanda Forever movie. Black Panther fans will want to collect Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri (pictured).

A unique blaster system
Gel Blaster

Glow-in-the-Dark StarFire Gel Blaster

Tweens can blast each other with glowing water-based gel beads with this cool new Gellet system — 5,000 pellets are included.
$68 at Walmart

A built-in LED activator charges the included 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. The set includes the StarFire blaster and accessories, plus a USB C charging cable, barrel removal tool, and safety glasses.

Colorful music accessories
JLab

JLab Go Air Sport wireless earbuds

We love these earbuds because of their price point and fun colors, but they also feature great sound and long battery life.
$20 at Amazon

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. JLab’s new Go Air Sport earbuds have 32+ hour Bluetooth playtime, multiple sound settings, convenient touch controls, and of course a charging case. You’ll get the charging case with an integrated charging cable, 3 sets of gel tips for a perfect fit, and a 2-year warranty. Available in 6 colors including sky blue (pictured), black, green, neon yellow, sand, and teal. “These are the best earbuds I've owned,” writes one of over 2,000 Amazon reviewers. “My favorite feature is that they stay in securely no matter what. They're comfortable to wear, too.”

A cool DIY bracelet set
Target

Make It Real 5-in-1 Activity Tower

Crafty tweens will love this 1600-piece activity tower -- the storage sections are smart and the kit contains materials to make over 40 pieces of jewelry
$25 at Target

Middle-school-aged kids who are into DIY jewelry trends will love all the ways to craft with this set. Materials are included for Heishi Craze, Just Bead It, It’s Elastic!, Friends Forever and Link Em’ Up bracelets. The rotating tower keeps everything organized and the trays can be removed to bring anywhere.

Flexible, portable beats
Target

First Act Roll Up Drum Pad

This new drum pad is a convenient way to create music. The sound effects, six different rhythms, and volume control make this a great gift.
$45 at Target

Musicians in the making will love practicing the drums on this cool gift: the Roll Up Drum Pad features 10 different drum sounds, foot pedals, drum sticks, record and playback options, and more. Plus it rolls right up for easy transport. Get the party started!

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