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.
Beats by Dre and other headphones. Beats by Dre will be on many teens' (and even preteens') lists. These headphones come in all different sizes and colors and provide “a premium sound experience,” according to the company's website. These generally start at $199. Skullcandy, another popular brand, also offers headphones, with many at lower prices.
Beanies and stocking caps. Teens are promoting the things they love with the new beanies and stocking cap trend. These can be found at a variety of stores and may include caps featuring cartoon characters like Looney Tunes' Marvin the Martian to the ever popular Sock Monkey.
Ankle boots. These are trending for girls and women so if you have a fashionable teen girl's shoe size, go for it. These boots are apparently very popular on college campuses and, of course, high school age girls are watching their older counterparts for fashion clues. CollegeFashion.net said: “Boots always reign supreme in fall and winter, but this season, it's all about chunky ankle boots. With their extra thick and sturdy heels, these boots offer a comfortable boost of height, which makes them perfect for everyday wear. Plus, the fact that they're ankle booties means that they'll pair well with everything from dresses to skinny jeans.” There are a variety to choose from including Wet Seal's Western Ankle Boot and Rocket Dog's Brown Lace Ups.
Purses and accessories. Looking for fun, novelty items with a practical purpose? Try the Lulu Guinness collection at J.C. Penney. The collection from the British designer includes an assortment of purses and bags, including the Lulu Mega Tote featuring Lulu's signature red lip logo and other whimsical prints. Other items include a contact lens holder, coin purse, cosmetic bags and clutch bags.
Some gifts for
$15 or less
Silicone Horn Speaker, $10, at Pottery Barn Teen (www.pbteen.com): Turn up the sound without batteries or a traditional speaker. This silicone sleeve fits over iPhones to amplify speaker sound by 30 percent. No batteries are required.
St. Jude Fur Bean Bag Cell Phone Holder, $15, at Pottery Barn Teen: Provide a cushy spot for a cellphone. With every purchase of a Mini Beanbag Cell Phone Holder, PBteen has pledged to donate $7.50 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
SO Faux-Fur Earmuff Headphones, $13.99, at Kohls: Stay warm and stylish at the same time. These earmuffs feature faux-fur for warmth plus they include headphones that can be plugged into an MP3 player, smartphone or hand-held electronic device. They come in various colors, too.