Fun, thoughtful, gifts for teens that are actually cool.
We had thought that our gift guide for teens might be the hardest one to write. It turns out that we almost had a hard time keeping our list down to a reasonable number of items. We’ve got all kinds of neat stuff collected here, none of it, we hope, overly trendy. That is to say, we think we’ve pulled together things that teens will enjoy using or learn from for years — or be able to compost or pass on with ease!
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A Shirt that Gives Back
Since its founding, Parks Project has donated about $2.5 million of sales from cool, parks-themed clothing and home goods to the national parks system. Make this gift even better by choosing a tee or fleece that reps from your teen’s favorite park. Read our review.
A Phone Case They Can Compost
Changing phone cases based on mood, the season, or the occasion no longer needs to come with guilt. Pela cases are fully compostable, and come in tons of cool designs — there’s truly one for everyone. They’ll also recycle old plastic phone cases for you. Read our review.
A Weekend Necessity
Help them stay in touch with a portable wireless charger. Nimble makes all of its tech gear using an innovative array of recycled materials, and you can send them up to a pound of old tech gear back to recycle when you purchase any item. Read our review.
A Hat that Won’t Go Out of Style
Package Free Shop
You know what won’t go out of style? Loving the Earth. This laid-back “dad hat” will be sure to get a lot of use. And if you’re not quite sure why baseball caps are suddenly being called dad hats, well, don’t worry — you’ve got plenty of company.
A Hip Pair of Kicks
French brand Veja makes sneakers that the hippest kids we know wear. Their impressive C.W.L. (Organic Cotton Worked as Leather) is a great dupe for the real thing. Read our review.
A Very Tasty Gift
Young foodies and bakers will appreciate the wide variety of online classes from King Arthur. Your teen can impress everyone with samosas or cream puffs, or you could make an afternoon of it as a family and tackle a holiday project-bake, like a Bûche de Noël. Read our review.
A Next-Gen Bird House
The Bird Buddy Smart Bird Feeder, a feature-filled, wifi-connected birdhouse, recognizes and identifies over 1000 species, making it a very cool gift for digitally connected nature-lovers. An app with a built-in meme-maker adds to the fun.
A Relaxing Blanket
Weighted blankets can help stressed teens (and anyone, really) relax, calm down, and fall asleep more quickly. Nuzzie uses recycled material as filling, and uses up to 500 recycled water bottles to fill each chunky knit blanket.
A Glam Pair of Earrings
Mejuri uses over 90% recycled gold and silver for their jewelry and helps restore the areas surrounding old mining sites. These very cool earrings made from sterling silver and gold vermeil are a good deal at $98, and she’ll be able to enjoy them for years to come.
A New Scent
The 7 Virtues
The 7 Virtues, a favorite brand of our advice columnist Dear Dot, makes affordable, hypoallergenic perfumes from sustainably sourced oils. The scents are designed to inspire aromatherapeutic benefits and come in scents like Cherry Ambition, a new “mood boosting perfume that uses scent association as a way to obtain your dreams.”
A New Favorite
We can’t get enough of Tentree’s super-soft TreeFleece line, which is made of organic cotton, recycled fibers, and Tencel Lyocell (aka recycled wood pulp). Tentree plants trees for every item purchased, and each item comes with a QR code that allows you to track details, like where your trees are being planted and more about the communities the trees are a part of.
A Personalized Climate Offset
While you’re shopping for cozy sweats, you can easily add some climate offset packages to your order that your teen will probably get a kick out of. “Offset a hipster,” “long showers,” “surfing the net,” and “avocado obsession” are just a few of the thoughtful choices. Just remember: Offsets are useful in addition to good behavior, and not an excuse to consume resources recklessly.
An Item You’ll Probably Buy More Than Once
Champion surfer Kelly Slater’s company makes California-cool duds designed to last a lifetime. Their organic-cotton Blanket Shirt, a Bluedot favorite, manages to be unbelievably cozy without looking schlubby, and comes in dozens of colors and patterns. Your kid will probably take this one to college and ask for another each holiday season. Read our review.
A Clean Beauty Essential
Axiology, a vegan, plastic-free brand with amazing social values, makes useful, flattering crayons for lips, eyelids, and cheeks that feel great on the skin. They’ve recently added contouring sticks and luscious chapsticks, keeping their line to four very well-thought out items. Read our review.
A Cozy Hooded Blanket
Made entirely from Recycled Materials, Coalatree’s Puffy Kachula Adventure Blanket can go anywhere and do anything. It’s a blanket, a poncho with a hood, a pillow, and it’s got snaps so it can work as an ersatz sleeping bag.