Holiday Gift Guide for Teens

Shopping for a hard-to-please teen can quickly become a headache if you’re short on ideas and limited in your budget. Most of the teens we know are looking for every imaginable gadget, designer outfit, or high-tech toy they can think of, all the way up to and including a car of their own

But when they’re ready to come back down to earth with their wish list, we have a few ideas to get you started. The best news is you don’t need to be hip to all of the latest trends to get a gift that’s close to their hearts. All it takes is a few good ideas and a little imagination.

Computer gear: They’re spending so much of their time on the computer, what else could they possibly need? How about a computer lap desk with a fun fabric cover – or if you’re willing to spend more, how about a pumped-up lap desk that’s ready to plug in their MP3 players?

Travel gear: They’re itching to get out on their own, so give them the tools they need to have a great trip. Think about a luggage set that’ll help them stand out in the crowd, with stand-out colors or funky patterns. And it shouldn’t be your grandmother’s luggage set either: Pieces can include DVD or Wii travel cases or an over-the-shoulder messenger bag that is wired for sound.

Beauty Gear: For the teen girls on your list, look for a multi-pocketed makeup bag or cosmetics organizer. You can find some fun and sturdy boxes – all teen favorites – at www.caboodles.com. Stocking stuffer possibilities include hair clips, hair bands, or sampler sets of her favorite lip gloss or lotions.

Something “Green”: For the environmentally conscious teen on your list, look for super-soft organic cotton sheets and bamboo pillows or blankets. If you know their shoe size, give them a pair of environmentally sustainable shoes like the ones from Simple Shoes (they can support their favorite college with the “Collegiate Collection”). Or send them off to study with a hemp messenger bag or a bag made from a recycled billboard.

Something Practical: For boys or girls – especially the ones who are headed off to college – prepare them a tool kit complete with hammer, pliers, flashlight, measuring tape, screwdrivers, and all of the tools they’ll need to hang a picture or fix a loose board. For older teens who are behind the wheel, the Safety Girl emergency roadside kit includes practical items like a thermal emergency blanket and fun extras like deodorant and breath freshener.

Cool Clocks: Most teens are so busy they have somewhere they need to be every hour of the day. Give them a cool clock – like the pin clock or the suspended animation clock – to keep them on track. Have a deep sleeper or a teen who always hits the snooze button? Try the flying alarm clock , the runaway alarm clock, or the puzzle alarm clock.

Books: They don’t want you to lecture them; they’d rather figure it out for themselves. So give them some books that will help guide them in the direction of their interests. Ideas include “The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens,” “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cool Jobs for Teens,” “Changing Bodies, Changing Lives,” or “Vegetables Rock! A Complete Guide for Teenage Vegetarians.” Or inspire them to try new and adventurous things with “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and “The Daring Book for Girls.”

Give them your time: Let them know that you enjoy time with them more than anything. Draw up a gift certificate that promises them an afternoon at the movies, tickets to a concert, or even just a Saturday night burger-and-fries dinner. They’re certain to appreciate the effort, and most likely they’ll remember the gift better than anything else from the holidays.

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