Inside: Your teens may not put these on their wish lists, and they aren’t sexy, but these ten practical gifts for teens are exactly what they need in their chaotic lives.
Truth be told, I’m not the best gift giver.
I’m not a fan of buying stuff just to buy it hoping that someone will like it. I always feel guilty when I see it lying around gathering dust, or I hate trying to manipulate my kids into using a toy or gadget.
It doesn’t necessarily make me the “fun” mom, and sometimes that makes me feel bad about my gift-giving abilities, which are supposed to come from the heart and for the people you love.
That being said, I have acquired a list of items that I gift on the regular, for graduation, holidays, Easter, or just because, to the teenagers in my life. They don’t always get a lot of ooohs and ahhhs when opened, but they do get used and appreciated.
Teenagers and young adults often feel invincible, and they’re not that interested in planning for emergencies. They can’t imagine the worst-case scenarios because they haven’t been out in the real world yet.
They don’t know what they need.
In fact, when I gifted my niece a portable battery for her car, she almost returned it to get a pair of shoes she wanted, but now she said it has saved her five times when she or her friends were stuck.
And that does warm my heart.
Practical Gifts for Teens
This She Birdie alarm is an awesome graduation gift to the teen headed off to college, but I bought them as stocking stuff for my teen daughters. They all work or need to come home late at night, and this personal safety alarm makes them (and me) feel more confident. The alarm is activated by simply pulling a pin (and it’s about as loud as a jet engine), and a bright strobe light goes off. The She’s Birdie+ is an upgraded model that is Bluetooth-enabled and can be used through an app. Pushing a button can also send a fake “excuse-to-leave” call if your daughter is in an uncomfortable situation or share her location with emergency contacts. Use our code PTT15 to get 15% off your order here.
We get it. This car battery jump starter may not seem like something that will make your teen’s eyes light up, but it is seriously the best gift. The first time my daughter took her car to travel to see a friend a few hours away, she left her radio playing while they talked in the Taco Bell parking lot. Thankfully, she had this jump starter which is so easy to use even a middle-aged mom can do it! We gave this as a thank-you present to our neighbors who let us stay at their lake house once as well, and they even used it to jump-start their boat. This is a must-have for anyone with a car or needs to charge something in an emergency. It’s truly a life-saver!
Sure, the Internet is a great place for information, but it can sometimes be hard to trust what you find on a message board or article. And sometimes mom and dad just aren’t available (or a teen may not want to ask and feel stupid.) This book is one of the best and most useful practical gifts for teens because it has a little bit of everything in it, from when to know when chicken is cooked to how to use appliances to grocery shopping. It’s everything you want your teen to know but yet they don’t want to hear about from you, the parents. Pick up your copy of Life Skills for Teens here.
When our kids turned 12, we knew it was time to start teaching some financial responsibility. They suddenly were riding their bikes to meet up with their friends for lunch or travelling with their school teams and needed money for snacks or wanted to go to the mall with friends. We didn’t want to be constantly handing them money, but we didn’t want to hand over just any debit card either. That’s where Greenlight comes in. Parents set flexible controls and get real-time notifications of their kids’ money activity. Every swipe earns 1% Cash Back to Savings. You can connect your debit card to an app (basic plan is $4.99/month) We were able to customize chores with a payment amount, pay allowance and stick it on autopilot. When our teens got their first summer jobs, they were able to set up direct deposit so their paycheck goes right to their Greenlight account.
This is a great kit to have on hand, especially if your teen is driving themselves to sporting events, concerts, and other activities. Our teens have been thankful that they had emergency kits with bandaids and gauze for blisters and small cuts, a backup flashlight for finding keys dropped in the dark, and gloves when dealing with some gross animal issues (don’t ask!) It is also a fantastic gift for a teen going to college or getting their first apartment. We like this kit by Monoki, but you can make one of your own simply by using a plastic container and filling it with essentials. We suggest taking stock at least every six months (use the time changes as your reminders!)
Last year I was like Oprah with these charging stations! You get a charging station and you get a charging station and YOU get a charging station! I even bought an extra for the kitchen. The sheer joy of not hearing people fight over charge cords every second of every day made this small little piece of equipment worth it. They are in various sizes and colors you can check them out here.
Our teens have been obsessed with Ramen the last few years with no end in sight, so this is one of the most practical gifts for teens I’ve ever purchased. They use this microwaveable container at least twice a week and they told me they are taking it with them to college next year. You can check the one we use here.
I can’t totally take credit for this one. My husband bought this for our nephews when they visited our house with all their electronics stuff stuffed in a plastic bag. They were traveling across the country on a road trip, and they were a hot mess! This organizer helped them stop losing their important chargers and back up batteries and it could be easily stored in their car when they traveled (or packed in their suitcase.) Available in various colors and sizes, but this is the one we like the best here.
When our teenagers started their first jobs, they were shocked to find out how fast they blew their paychecks with coffee drinks! This single-serve coffee maker allowed them to make their favorite drinks for a fraction of the cost, and they both asked for one to take to college with them as well. This Mr. Coffee worked great in our house, and you can find it here.
Okay, you got me. Even though I love practical gifts for teens, this Hug Pillow is one of my favorites for teens and tweens, especially when they travel away from home or I know they are under a lot of stress or anxiety. I’ve sent this to my nieces and my nephews when they went away to college (my nephew even dressed him up in his college t-shirt!) and I was touched when a friend sent me one when I went through a tough surgery last year. The stress-relieving weight and softly knitted yarn of this heart-warming throw pillow offers the comforting feeling of a real hug, and a sweet sentiment to let someone know you are always thinking of them.
And isn’t that what a gift is all about?
Bonus: Make sure you have these legal documents in place for when your child turns 18
When sending their teenage kids off to college, most parents don’t think about the fact that they are now legally adults with all the legal privacy protections that entails. So, if they get into an accident or encounter other serious medical situations, as parents, you may get shut out and find yourself unable to help. Don’t let this happen to you, all it takes is putting some simple legal documents in place now to save yourself worry and headaches in an emergency.
It only takes ten minutes to create the three documents a child needs when turning 18. Get yours now.
P.S. Don’t forget to use promo code PTTCOLLEGE20 to get 20% off!
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
*This post contains affiliate links where we may earn commissions for items purchased from links on our site.