Top 10 gifts for teens in 2021

This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2021, our list of ideas, by topic, by recipient and by price, to help you discover the perfect gift.

Here’s something that will probably not be a surprise: Teenagers can be a challenge to shop for. A gift you think is perfect you may later find shoved into the back of a closet. And something they say they’d like this week, they may not want next week. It’s hard to keep up. But don’t give up — we can help. Our gift guide features popular products that will bring a little cheer to the adolescent on your list. 

Whether you’re shopping for the holiday season or a birthday bash, here are gifts for different interests and at a range of prices, so you’re sure to find a winner for your near-adult. There are much-desired ones like Beats Studio Buds and the Quest 2, as well as bedroom luxuries — a fuzzy weighted blanket and a pretty trio of plants. And we’ve included just-for-fun items: games, a turntable and even a boba tea kit. Read on to plan your perfect teen present. We bet your teenager will be appreciative… for once.


Kodak’s pocket-sized projector is a cool gift for teens who love movies, TV shows or video games (which is pretty much all teens). The Luma 150 can project up to 150 inches (12.5 feet) onto almost any surface to give your teen an impressive big-screen experience. Plus there’s a built-in speaker so no extra equipment is needed.


The weighted blanket craze doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. So what’s even better than a weighted blanket? A fuzzy weighted blanket. If your teen likes to sleep in on the weekends (who doesn’t?), this blanket will keep them cozy, relaxed and stylish. It comes in cream, gray, brown, navy, pink and rainbow.


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Beats’ first true-wireless headphones sound better than the more expensive AirPods Pro (in our opinion), and they work equally well with Android phones, too.

Read our Beats Studio Buds review.


Uncommon Goods

If your teen likes a daily dose of boba, this DIY kit comes with everything to make bubble tea at home: tapioca pearls, classic royal milk black tea and rooibos chai tea, plus two reusable stainless steel straws.

Andrew Gebhart/CNET

Teens love video games, but if you want them to have more IRL face time with their friends — and if they’re partial to Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy strategy games — Jaws of the Lion is a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. It works both as a standalone game and as an expansion pack to the original Gloomhaven game.

Urban Outfitters

It’s easy for teens to take pics with their phones, yet they may find it just as fun to capture their favorite moments with an instant cam. Pics can be printed out — and shared with friends or pinned up — instantly. 

Urban Outfitters

This huggable llama is more than a cute stuffy. Pop it in the microwave and it’ll warm up your bed or soothe sore muscles — or you can keep it in the freezer and use it as an ice pack. And what could be more adorable than a llama?

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sure, Spotify is great, but there’s nothing quite like the retro feel of real records and spinning vinyl. We think this turntable offers the best quality and sound for the money, which is why it received a CNET Editors’ Choice award.

Read our Fluance RT82 review.


Ansel & Ivy

Plants are big this year, even among the younger crowd. Give your teen the gift of greenery and detoxify their room or dorm with this aesthetic trio.

Scott Stein/CNET

Once your teen puts these on, they may never want to take them off. The Meta Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) delivers a fun and immersive virtual reality experience. It remains our top pick for the best VR headset you can buy, especially with this year’s storage increase to 128GB on the $299 model.

Read our Quest 2 review.


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