Gear up for the challenge and fun of buying for teens

Array of teen gift items make searching for gifts both challenging and fun.
BY CARLA HINTON chinton@opubco.com Published: November 18, 2012
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Some say searching for gifts for teenagers can either be the most challenging search one will ever undertake or the most fun.

Those who choose to see it as both challenging and fun are in luck: There are numerous gift items with teens in mind this holiday season.

First, understand that teens can be finicky about gifts. Meet that challenge head-on by getting to know the teens on your holiday gift list — the more specific details you know about their everyday life and habits, the better you will be at finding the right gift for them.

Second, know that techno gadgets may be high on their list. Many teens are hoping someone gifts them with a new iPhone or perhaps another type of smartphone, if they don't have one already. Also ever-popular are tablets such as Apple's iPad2 at $399.99 or more, or Android tablets such as the Toshiba Excite 10 at $349.99 or the Galaxy Samsung Tab at $199.99.

Besides techno favorites, there are other items teens may appreciate this holiday. Here are a few:

Accessories for popular techno gadgets. Teens who already have the latest and greatest technology, i.e. an iPhone or iPad or other tablet, may be in need of accessories to go with them. The diversity of iPhone and iTouch cases continues to grow. Cases for the iPad and other tablets also vary according to a person's tastes and preferences. Some of these include the SO Neoprene Tablet Case for $17.99, the Innovative Technology iPad Case with Bluetooth Keyboard on sale for $54.99, and the Dana Buchman Shimmery Leopard Tablet Case for $34.99. This trio of items is sold at Kohls.

Video games. “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and “Halo 4” are two of the most popular video games this season. And among the growing number of games for the Xbox 360 Kinect is the latest in the “Just Dance” series — “Just Dance: Greatest Hits.” For the sports enthusiast, there is “NBA Baller Beats” for Kinect. This newly launched game is the first motion-based sports video game using a real basketball in an interactive beats-driven experience. It comes with an official NBA game ball replica from Spaulding. Among other things, the game challenges players to master ball-handling skills by dribbling and performing moves including crossovers, pump fakes and more.

Novelty T-shirts and assorted popular culture memorabilia. Here's where a little information about your favorite teen will go a long way. Novelty T-shirts are popular and most of them fairly inexpensive. These shirts have assorted recording artists, movies, comics turned movies (think “The Avengers”), video games and various slogans emblazoned on them. A sales associate in the Hot Topic store at Quail Springs Mall told me that favorite T-shirts this season are “The Hobbit”-themed shirts, likely because of the December premiere of Peter Jackson's feature length movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's book about Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit who started it all. The sales associate said Harry Potter T-shirts and memorabilia also continue to be popular along with T-shirts featuring slogans and things made popular by YouTube like “Cats With Tacos.” Yes, these are T-shirts with pictures of cats and tacos on them and yes, teens are purchasing them. Also, during a general walk-through of the store, there are a bevy of items related to the vampire saga “Twilight,” including “Breaking Dawn” pillowcases, jewelry and other items.