They say that Christmas is a time for children, but what about poor old teenagers? ‘They’ don’t seem to give the adolescent population a look-in. Maybe that’s down to good old-fashioned cynicism – after all, it’s easy to picture a teen reluctantly slumping down the stairs at 11am this December 25th, grumbling about having their lie-in disturbed.
Don’t despair, parents; while you’re wondering what happened to that bright-eyed and eager little tyke that formerly bounced on your bed at 5am and demanding to know if Santa Claus has been and gone, the chances are your teenage kids have been laying awake since that very same hour, waiting for the appropriate moment to leave their bedrooms without betraying the cooler-than-ice exterior that they have carefully cultivated.
Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that it can be tricky to choose the perfect gift for teenaged children. Life moves pretty fast, and trends that hold the attention of young people tend to come and go at an even faster rate. Don’t cave into the temptation of shoving a handful of £20 notes into a card this year, though. We have your back with a guide to suggested gifts that teenagers will love this Christmas.
We’re not going to patronise you by discussing the latest and greatest smartphone and tablet technology. The chances are you already know the score, and you’ll know full well whether your kids are Android or Apple disciples, and whether they need an upgrade on their tech.
One thing that may delight teenagers, however, are the very same things that you may recall opening to much excitement during your own childhood – retro is back in a big way.
Firstly, lets take a moment to talk about turntables. Most teens live for music, and while the revolution has been digitised thanks to streaming technology (hand your teen a CD and they’ll probably wonder why you’ve given them such a small and shiny Frisbee – though you could wrap up a Sony MiniDisc if you really want to mess with the poor souls), but vinyl is once again one of the most popular methods for consuming tunes.
Turntables are available from just about anywhere now, and records are sold in supermarkets alongside the more traditional entertainment outlets. Your teen will be delighted at the chance to be introduced to this cutting-edge new technology that has all their friends talking – just don’t let your in-laws ruin the moment by nipping home for their collection of Billy Fury originals. Throw in a pair of top-quality headphones, preferably wireless, and you’ll be a hero to everyone in your family.
Alternatively, for the younger video gamers in the family (and – secretly – for those keen to relive their own youth under the mischievous guide of gift-giving), you can try to source Nintendo’s SNES Classic for a bout of nostalgic gaming heaven. A miniature version of the console that defined the 90s before Microsoft and Sony ruled the roost that’s packed with built-in games, this is the must-have gift of the season. We’ll be upfront with you, though – that also makes it one of the hardest to find.
The Japanese tech giants have not learned from last Christmas when the similar NES Classic sold out in 24 hours, and have under-supplied to meet demand once again. Keep an eye open for new stocks as you’ll have to act quickly if they become available, or check the usual suspects such as Amazon and eBay for a new model as there will be plenty to be found from enterprising souls that bought to sell. If that’s the road you go down, however, expect to pay more than the RRP of £70.
If your teen is a keen reader, there are all kinds of ways that you can encourage their love of the written word. Firstly, look into a service such as The Willoughby Book Club, who provide a tailored book delivery service especially designed for young adults. You can get a series of novels delivered to your door tailored to the tastes of your teen for a gift that lasts all year around, and they get ahead of the game by claiming that the book was better than that movie when the next Harry Potter-style mega-franchise arrives.
Alternatively, there are no shortage of classic books that are available in deluxe hardcover editions all over the web or high street. Run a search for terms such as Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics or Knickerbocker Classics for lovely collectors edition books that will make any shelf look beautiful – and remember to personalise and sign in the inside cover for a gift that will last forever.
If you’re looking for something a little more thoughtful, there are a plethora of opportunities to gift your teenager with something personalised.
Sites such as Bygone News, for example, can pull together a gift pack centred around the day that your child was born, which may be fascinating – the world has changed a lot in the last ten or fifteen years, and they may be astonished to find that there was a world before reality TV stars could become the most powerful man in the free world, funny cat videos and smartphones. Sports fans, meanwhile, may enjoy a personalised history of their football team’s fortunes.
Of course, a teenager’s bedroom is also their personal fortress of solitude, so there are plenty of chances to help make this a dwelling that they love to spend time within. If your kid is an aspiring performer they will love the chance to dazzle their friends with their own Walk of Fame star, which can thankfully be awarded without any interaction from Harvey Weinstein, or you can help them relive cherished childhood memories with a personalised book of fairy tales. They’ll tell you they’re too old for such capers, but we’re willing to wager that that you’ll find them under the covers with a torch reliving the magic of their youth long past lights out.
You could also transcribe song lyrics onto a necklace for something that your teens will love. Just imagining picking up a pendant complete with a favourite track, or a song that you’ve sung together. Christmas Number One’s could also provide some inspiration, but maybe steer clear of that year Rage Against The Machine topped the charts – that could send some mixed messages.
If picking the ideal ‘main gift’ for teenagers can be hugely tricky, the upside is that it’s easy as pie to find smaller stocking fillers. Glittery bath bombs, for example, will delight tweens, and can be accompanied by a selection of low-cost make-up and soaps. Maybe stick with established and reputable brands, though – these kinds of gifts will crop up all over the place in December, and whilst we all love a little extra value for money, nobody wants a free skin rash with their cosmetics.
Music lovers will enjoy an iMusic pillow, which will allow them to doze off to whatever passes for soothing sounds these days without keeping you awake – or sleepPhones are even quieter for you, without the risk of hearing damage caused by forcing headphones in while sleeping. There are also an absolute plethora of smartphone-based gadgets available, such as projectors that turn their handset into a miniature cinema, lenses to bolster amateur photography, or even a mini karaoke microphone. Regardless of whether your teenager is an aspiring Spielberg or Rihanna, you’ll be able to put a mile-wide smile on their faces with a range of small and inexpensive trinkets.
Puzzles and games are also fun, even if only for Christmas morning itself – no young person (or their parents, if we’re bing blunt) will be able resist flashing lights and beeps from a new gadget. Mini Arcade Machines will scratch that retro gaming itch, as will something like a memory maze game. These little gizmos will keep the brain sharp once its been numbed by turkey – there’s a reason why the Rubik’s Cube was the first ever Christmas toy to cause a purchasing feeding frenzy.
This guide should have provided a handful of ideas of gifts that you can pick up for the teenagers in your life – and maybe even inspired some further investigation that will keep the bells in your house jingling throughout the yuletide days. No matter what they tell you, teenagers still love Christmas – and you’ll be able to make this year one to remember.