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10 Gift Ideas for Hard-to-Shop-For Teens

10 Gift Ideas for Hard-to-Shop-For Teens

Shopping for a pre-teen and teen is hard. Whether it's your picky middle schooler or hard-to-please teen, we've got some gift ideas that are sure to please. This year forget the gift cards and video games and opt for one of these awesome gifts instead. We're confident that you'll find something they love on our curated list below.  

1. Headphones 

Practical and Useful 

Whether they're Beats, AirPods, or other gadgets, headphones are an excellent gift for (all) teens. Headphones are multipurpose. From listening from podcasts to their favorite jams, teens can plugin (or try a WIFI pair) and rock out! With many schools going online in 2020, headphones are a lifesaver for teens and parents alike. We always recommend students bring headphones to our Summer Discovery experiences to cut down on any noise complaints or roommate issues. Our personal favorites are either the Apple AirPods Pro, the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones, or the Beats Studio3 Wireless Over-Ear Noise Canceling Headphones. Now if you really want to surprise your teen, you can splurg and get the new AirPods Max. This will definitely go over big with your teen since they are a brand new item that is just being released. 

2. Portable Phone Charger 

Practical and Useful 

Teens are tied to their phones. Between texting, scrolling through TikTok, and talking to friends, phones never seem to have quite enough battery. Why not give the gift of extended phone battery life? Portable chargers are a lifesaver. Now your teen won't be able to use the excuse "my phone died" when they don't answer your call or text. We like the Anker PowerCore 10400mAh 2-Port Power Bank, the AUKEY USB C Power Bank 10000mAh, PD Power Bank Slimline Portable Charger, or the Nimble Premium Fast Charge Upgrade Kit 3-Day. Portable phone chargers are also a great addition to a Summer Discovery packing list! 

3. BlueLight Glasses 

Practical and Useful 

Do you know how much time you spend staring at a screen daily? According to the Washington Post, the average teen spends approximately 7 hours and 22 minutes of screen time each day, not including virtual schooling and homework assignments. Staring at the screen for that long can have a negative impact on your teen's eyes and vision. We recommend gifting your teen with a good pair of blue light blocking glasses. Some of our staffs' favorite glasses are any of the Felix Gray glasses or these Cyrus Daily glasses! 

4. Instant Camera 

Creativity and Fun

With so many memories captured in a digital format, give your teen the throwback gift of a polaroid-type camera that prints photos instantly. They'll be able to make a real-life Instagram display or can make artistic Instagram posts. We like the Polaroid Now i‑Type Instant Camera ‑ The Mandalorian™, the KODAK Printomatic Digital Instant Print Camera, and the FujiFilm Instax Mini 11 Camera Bundle.  

5. Journal/Planner 

Creativity and Organization 

Giving the gift of a planner or journal can help your teen keep track of all their extracurricular and academic events, as well as give them a creative outlet to de-stress. This year has been an overly trying year for everyone, especially for young people. Give your teen the opportunity to get more organized or to journal their thoughts to provide some stress relief in their lives. Some of our favorite journals and planners are the Productivity Planner or the Moleskine Classic 12 Month 2020 Weekly Planner.

6.The All-Purpose Bag 

Practical and Useful 

Whether it's for an overnight trip to a friend's house, gym clothes, or their backpack – every teen could use a durable, all-purpose bag. These are great ways to pack all the essentials for long days on the go or for some fun Summer Discovery Program day trips! Some of our favorite all-purpose bags are the Nordace Siena – Smart Backpack, the TUMI Just In Case Tote, or the XD Design Bobby Original Anti-Theft Laptop Backpack with USB Port

7. Puzzles and Games 

Fun and Family 

Teens are spending a lot of time online. Show them how to unwind and challenge their brain through old-fashioned puzzles and games. With multiple choices to choose from, you can never run out of ideas. Plus, your teen will get to experience all the friendly and fun arguments that come with a good game of Monopoly. We suggest a Rubix CubeMonopolyApples to Apples, or the 5 Second Rule

8. Buddha Board  

Creativity and Calm 

This year has been stressful for us all, so give the gift of Zen and relaxation. This Buddha Board has the added advantage of letting your teen explore their creative and artistic side. Water painting not your teen's style? Try other relaxation-focused gifts like an Essential Oil Diffuser, a Self-Care Planner, or stress relieving coloring books

9. Laptop Cooling Pad 

Practical and Useful 

With our teens spending more time at home working on their laptops for class, homework assignments, or watching movies, their laptops are becoming hot and overheating. But with a laptop cooling pad, you will save your teen from a warm lap when they are watching a movie on their laptop or provide extra support for when they are working on their homework assignments. Some of our favorite cooling pads are the KLIM Ultimate + RGB Laptop Cooling PadTargus - Chill Mat+ Laptop Cooling System, or the LapGear® Designer Lap Desk

10. A Summer Discovery Experience 

An Experience to Last a Lifetime 

Give a gift that will last a lifetime. By giving the gift of a pre-college academic enrichment experience at one of the world's top universities, you'll be allowing your teen to travel, make lasting friendships, explore their academic potential, and feel better prepared for their college journey. We're here to recommend the perfect campus fit. Give us a call, and we'll help match your student to campus. We'll even provide a giftable certificate for presenting to your student. Call +1 516-621-3939 or email


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