We know that teens want money for their birthday gifts. And clothes. And money for clothes. Also Chipotle. But it can be hard finding a unique and cool birthday gift for teens these days, especially because they’re going to have very particular taste. And will probably want to pick out their clothes themselves. (no offense)
So, ask yourself, what do they really like? What movies do they talk about? What music do they listen to? What causes do they support? What do they do with their free time? What do they want to do when they grow up? By thinking about these questions, you’ll end up with a birthday gift that is way cooler than just money. Though they’ll probably want that too.
To get you started, we’ve put together this list of great birthday gift ideas for teens. (And check our list of the best birthday gifts for tweens, too.) They’re all approved by our team’s own teen sons and daughters, from all over the country.
Please note that we’ve included links to both big and small shops for convenience and price. But we always encourage you to shop your own local independent toy stores, book stores, and boutiques!
Be sure to see our full list of the coolest birthday gifts for kids by age.
The best gifts for kids by age 2023
The coolest first birthday gifts
The coolest birthday gifts for 2-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 3-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 4-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 5-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 6-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 7-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 8-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for tweens and big kids 9-12
The coolest birthday gifts for teens
The coolest gifts for teens
All gifts have been editorially determined by our staff, there is no compensation in exchange for picks.
CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate and we may earn a small commission on purchases at no expense to you. This helps us remain independent and support our team.
This post is new for 2023.
Personalized waterproof JBL Clip 4 speaker
($59.95 at JBL)
Small but mighty, this little take-anywhere Bluetooth speaker can be personalized with text, photos, and graphics for a one-of-a-kind gift. Personalization also available on other size speakers and headphones.
They get a text or email telling them to pick 2-12 treats of their choice–cookies, candy, snacks, popcorn —then they get a second gift when it arrives! One of our favorite gifts for teens.
They’re baaa-aaack! The original virtual pet of our own youth is here, and our teens are begging for them. Tons of colors and styles.
($49 on sale at Urban Outfitters)
In 11 colors and patterns, they’ll swaddle themselves in this soft cocoon of a blanket and then wear it everywhere.
($23, Caitlyn Minimalist)
Sweet, thoughtful, and very affordable
($549.99 at Amazon, helmet extra)
This powerful and easy-to-maneuver kart really gets cranking with speeds up to 14 mph. It should scratch their “driving itch” as they wait to get their license.
LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask (TikTok Approved)
($16.80-$24 at Amazon; also at Sephora)
They’ll kiss chapped lips goodbye with this SUPER popular, super-hydrating lip mask that goes on at bedtime. In a bunch of yummy scents like gummy bear, sweet candy and vanilla, it’s an affordable gift for kids of any gender.
($23.75, Standout Gear on Etsy)
We have an entire gift guide filled with gifts for your favorite Swiftie and this journal has been a big seller this year. No surprises!
A sports equipment upgrade,
like a custom baseball glove
(Custom Rawlings baseball and softball gloves; prices vary)
Whether they’re Into baseball (above), soccer, basketball, or cycling, a great new piece of sports equipment to get them through their high-school years (and beyond) will make them feel like they’ve reached the big league. Or consider tickets to a huge event, like the U.S. Open or World Cup, which will gift them with long-lasting memories.
Bluetooth stereo turntable and care kit
($149 at Amazon, plus $21.58 for care kit)
When it came time for our own editor, Liz, to buy a Bluetooth stereo turntable for her own teen, she got a slightly early version of the one above, after a ton of research. Highly recommend! Just don’t forget to include the vinyl record cleaner kit (and maybe a few reminders to use it).
($33/month for 3 mos. at Crate Joy)
If they already have a turntable, you could grab them the latest record release by their favorite artist, or sign them up for this unique vinyl “mixtape” subscription. Each month’s record features a selection of new artists’ music packaged in gorgeous original artwork. An amazingly creative gift for a teen-slash-audiophile.
Smoko boba tea light
($20.99 at Tilly’s)
They may be almost grown up, but there’s always room for cuteness like this.
(Various prices at Amazon)
Check out Time’s list of the best YA books of all time as well as Kate’s recommendations that got her own teens reading again for books that will excite your picky teen. Titles like Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, and Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi aren’t afraid to tackle the important issues of our time. (And if they’re Kindle users, grab them a gift card so they can load up on more books.)
Kodak 35MM camera
($19.79 and up, in eight colors, at Amazon)
Yeah, we can’t understand the fascination with film again either, but this point and shoot camera is so fun and colorful. But what’s next? Dial phones?
Pride temporary tattoos
($11 for two sheets at Tattly)
Our teens love these colorful and inclusive temporary tattoos, perfect for those years before they get the real thing. (No judgments either way.)
Yeti Travel Mug or Tumbler
($30 and up, Amazon)
Perfect for car rides to school or their subway commute, you can’t go wrong with a Yeti vacuum-insulated Rambler, mug, or even a reusable straw cup in tons of cool colors. It’s a practical but very cool teen gift, helping teach them to save money by making coffee at home, instead of spending it all…you know where. (Also great for hikers and bikers!)
And of course, Hydroflasks are still a super popular gift for teens too.
Pivot Pod Lite auto motion smartphone mount
($79.99 at Amazon)
Portable, lightweight, and super easy to use, this smartphone mount follows their action as they dance, skateboard, or practice cool tricks…all for the ‘gram.
D&D Starter Set
($19.99 at Target)
If your Stranger Things fan has a new interest in D&D, this starter set, Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, provides a great introduction into the game. If they’re already players, the new D&D Campaign Case is pretty sweet.
Xbox Series X console
($349 on sale, Amazon; a 3-month game pass, $39.99.)
Featured in our post 18 of the best tech gifts for teens — according to actual teens, this one is still super hard to get your hands on, but oh, will you make their birthday extra special if you succeed!
($369 for the Lolly suede skates shown above, with entry-level styles starting at $109)
With styles for brand-new beginners to seasoned skate-park stars, these wheels are a great way to get them on their feet and out the door.
Pastel markers and art paper
($29.99 for makers and $9.99 for paper at Amazon)
Art supplies are a great gift for teens, and we found a terrific price on over 70 different markers packaged in this neat little carrying case. Grab a pack of the bleedproof paper too.
Billie Eilish concert © Christina Refford for Cool Mom Picks
Tickets to a favorite concert
Whether you get to go with them, or they take a friend, they’ll flip out if you can hook them up with one of their favorites. Check the tours planned for 2024 — name a genre, and you’ll find tickets. And don’t forget those smaller, up-and-coming artists on their Spotify playlists; tickets to more-intimate, all-ages shows may be cheaper and easier to snag, and then they can brag that they saw them way back when. Just like we did.
(prices vary at Ulta)
Do they love to show off their creativity and self-expression with makeup? You’ll score lots of hipness points with Morphe, a brand that goes out of its way to support LGBTQ+ and BIPOC causes and knows that makeup isn’t for girls only. We love their bold and bright colors like those found In the Morphe Tease the Season Artistry Palette, as well as the more muted glimmer and glam of Morphe’s 18W Natural Wonder Artistry Palette.
Trio of ear cuffs
($115 on sale at Maison Miru)
If you know a teen asking for more piercings than you’re comfortable with right now, these versatile hook-on ear cuffs from long-time CMP favorite Maison Miru only look like the real thing. You can also find lots of single cuffs in sterling silver and gold. Or if you want to spend a little less, Bauble Bar is a great choice. (And psst — teen boys love them too.)
($39.95 on sale at Amazon)
Compatible with Chromebook, which many of our teens use for school, this drawing tablet is a very cool gift for teens who are starting to explore drawing, painting or photo editing. It was a top pick in our post 18 of the best tech gifts for teens according to actual teens.
Chuck Taylor All-Star lugged platform sneakers
($59 on sale at Converse)
Rebel Deck affirmation cards: Teen Edition
($22.50 at Amazon)
Sometimes they need to be reminded of how awesome they truly are but don’t want to hear it from Mom again. Now that the cult favorite Rebel Oracle Deck has a more PG-13 rated edition, this makes a terrific gift for at teen.
($479 on sale, Best Buy)
While we have a list of our favorite affordable headphones for teens, if you want to splurge, you can’t go wrong with the AirPods Max.
(Also, less likely to be lost than traditional AirPods!)
“Read banned books” socks
($12 at Out of Print on Amazon)
Young, book-loving hell raisers are some of our favorite teens! Surely they’ll find a way to show off these socks wherever they go — maybe in gym class?
Sweet Spot ice cream maker
($54.99 at Amazon)
They’ll scream for this ice cream that they can make themselves in minutes. Perfect when late-night munchies strike — and maybe they’ll bring it to college.
Official NHL baseball cap
($19.99 and up on sale at NHL Shop)
If you’re looking for a gift for a teen who has a favorite team, whatever the sport, grab the official baseball cap like these from the NHL.
Venmo cash gift
(any amount, really!)
You already know they really, really want money. Venmo makes it so easy with their new “gift wrapping,” making it a smart option for sending a special gift to a teen niece or nephew. It should earn you automatic Cool Aunt/Uncle/Parent/Friend status.
PS — it’s always a good idea to donate that cash to a 529 fund instead, especially as they get closer to graduation. Eek!