Gift Guide for Teens Who are Global


Finding the ideal gift for teens is difficult for everyone because it requires some time. It doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they want (usually they do!), but they tend to change ideas quickly. What was absolutely in a week ago, is already out today.

Buying presents for teenagers is a difficult and sensible task to undertake. Clothes, bags, backpacks and all kind of personal gadgets need to have the right colour, size, shape, and be from the right brand. They like to be asked when it comes to presents, and this has nothing to do with lack of trust or them being ungrateful, it has mainly to do with the fact that teenagers who we want to become responsible and independent young adults, want (and need!) to be involved in decision making processes, especially when it concerns themselves. The ideal gifts are items that let them express themselves and clearly sign that they belong to a certain group.

Teenagers usually get pocket money or earn some money on their own. They purchase items they want and need throughout the year. Nevertheless, many families leave the bigger and more expensive presents for the festive period of the year, and decide to offer collective presents – like a new snowboard, a new pair of skies, ice-skates, computers, phones, tablets etc. – during this time of the year where they can easily involve other family members or friends to contribute.

In order to help your teens sort their wishes and needs, you can help them focus on the following 4 main categories, like the Money Saving Sisters suggest:

  • something they want,
  • something they need,
  • something to wear,
  • and something to eat.

The only way to find out what they really want and need, is by asking them. We know about their hobbies and their passions: is there anything they are longing for, or that they need right now? I usually start with making sure that they can’t get this item from a friend, or borrow it, before proceeding checking on the market. Especially when it concerns items they will outgrow quickly.


Teenagers around the world all have in common that they want to receive more “meaningful” presents. Something they really can relate with and that makes them special. There is no typical present for a teen in China, as there is no typical present for one in Italy, the US or Island right now. Therefore I decided to sum up some hints  about how to find out what present may work for your teen – and please feel free to complete this list in the comments below.

Gift Guide for Teens Who are Global

1. Many teens are passionate about a particular musician, actor, movie, sports team etc. Find out what your teen is really passionate about, and where you can purchase items that would also show that you pay attention to what matters to him right now. You may find a signed album cover at an online auction site or specialized stores, or manage to get a ticket to an event of his favourite band, team or actor.

2. If your teen is concerned about the environment, she would appreciate items that can be reused or upcycled. Reusable water bottles, shopping bags, lunch kits in trendy patterns are quite inexpensive gifts they could enjoy on a daily basis.

3. Teenagers usually spend a lot of time studying and staying indoors. Offering them any item that is related to their favourite sport, will make them focus on their health and self-care. A new hockey stick, shoes, shin-pads, new inline skates, wave boards or ice skates and snowboards (or skis) are always greatly appreciated, especially because they most probably outgrew the last years’ ones. If you decide to offer weights or any kind of cross-trainer, make sure your kid knows how to use it in a safe way.

4. For all teenagers, body image is fundamental. They focus more on their appearance and start using self-care products (deodorants, fancy shampoos and perfumes.). I still have mixed feelings when it comes to these products and I tend to direct my children towards healthy options, choosing for products that avoid ingredients like Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfates, Aluminum, Phthalates, Oxybenzone, Lead, Triclosan, PEG compounds, Mineral Oil and Hydroquinone. Also when it comes to nailpolish, I’d rather prefer a less toxic option. The same applies, of course, to products that teenage boys use on a regular basis!

5. Pampering gifts usually make teenage girls happy. You can offer a home-made hand care item (ex. hand cream, nail files, or cuticle oil), or a bottle of their favourite body wash or bubble bath – all kind of bath or shower goodies – like a sugar scrub scented with your teen’s favourite essential oil – will surely be appreciated: “you can mix together 8 parts white, granulated sugar to 1 part almond or coconut oil, and mix in a few drops of the essential oil; pour the micture into a simple glass or plastic jar, and that’s it“. – In the past 2 years I noticed that teenagers love onesies (and not only teenagers!): these jumpsuits for adults that are just the right thing to wear indoors when it’s chilly.

6. Teens consider their room as their castle. They like to personalize their living space with items that make it cozier. It can be a beanbag, a new lamp, a new chair: anything that makes them feel more comfortable in their room.

7. Books are always a great gift, but the older the children, the more difficult it is to find books they haven’t read already or they are “into” at the moment. My children borrow books from the local and their school library each week and literally devour them. I’ve lost track of all they read and it’s quite difficult for me to find out what they haven’t read already or what kind of author may be interesting for them. Usually I ask friends and search on sites like Commonsense Media to get inspired.

8. No-fail gifts for teenagers surely are: cash, gift cards or electronics. Everything electronic, from smartphone to phone accessories, computers, tablets, video game systems: this is what teens use and are passionate about. An interesting counterpoint to the latest technology is a vintage Polaroid instant camera. I noticed that some young adults I know re-discovered this kind of cameras and are really enjoying the “old fashioned” way to take pictures – maybe a reaction to the selfies.

9. I know that many adults are reluctant to offer gift cards, but when it is difficult to find out the exact taste of the teen, it’s a safer alternative. A gift card doesn’t need to be impersonal: you can always combine it with another small item (a soap, DVD, a new beanie, scarf etc.).

10. Teenagers usually enjoy eating and spending time with their peers. What about offering them a basket filled with gourmet treats to share with their friends? If your teenager likes cooking, a cookbook, items for the kitchen, ingredients for a meal, a cake, cupcakes etc. can be a lovely idea. Also a voucher of their favourite restaurant to spend an evening with friends can be a well appreciated gift.

11. Last but not least, if your teenager enjoys traveling, depending on your budget, you can offer either a (collective) prepaid trip, a new luggage, or all kind of information material about the place your teen would love to visit.

If you have any more suggestions on the kind of gifts teenagers would be passionate about this year, please share in the comments!

The best gift you could ever give to someone is your time because you're giving them something you'll never get back.

The following two tabs change content below.
Ute is a multilingual language consultant and intercultural communication trainer and guides families through the stages of international life at "Ute's International Lounge" ( – She lives in the Netherlands with her Swiss-german husband, three children (a son and two twin-daughters) and dog. As an "expat-since-birth", she has spent her whole life living out of her passport country. She raises her multilingual children abroad too and writes about being expat/international, international childhood, parenting multilingual and multicultural children and more... at

Latest posts by Ute Limacher-Riebold (see all)

1 thought on “Gift Guide for Teens Who are Global”

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top