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28 gifts your picky teen really wants this holiday

From a millennial pink Polaroid camera to a Spiderman drone, we've got something for every type of teen on your list.
by Julie Loffredi / / Source: TODAY

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We all know that holiday shopping for a middle or high schooler can be tricky.

This year, forget gift cards and video games and opt for one of these presents instead. We guarantee you'll find a winner in this list of not-so-boring stuff. It's all made just for them!

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Fujifilm X Instax Mini Instant Camera, $69, Urban Outfitters

Fujifilm polaroid camera

Any millennial obsessed with Instagram will be obsessed with this millennial pink camera that prints out Polaroid-style photos. If they want the real thing, Urban Outfitters also sells a Polaroid Instant Camera for $129.

Jasonwell Reindeer Snow Tube, $27, Amazon

Jasonwell Snow Tube

With this gift, your teen can hit the backyard slopes in style this winter. Flamingo and unicorn inflatables also available.

Marvel Spider-Man: Movie Edition Drone, $70, Amazon

Marvel Spider-Man Drone
Mirza Hasanefendic / MPRM

Just like the movie! This drone will keep your teen busy for hours. Cool features like voice feedback controller make flying fun (and easy) for any Spider-Man fanatic.

"The TB12 Method" book, $30, Amazon

TB12 Book

Your teen will be inspired to hit the gym after reading the first book by New England Patriots quarterback and Super Bowl champ Tom Brady. Not a football fan? Try Olympic gymnast Simone Biles' book ($25) — it's all about staying positive!

Pizza Box Sock Set, $35, Neiman Marcus

Sushi Box Socks
Sushi Box

Make it easy this holiday and just combine your teens favorite two things: pizza and silly socks!

UGG Women Slim Genuine Shearling Tech Gloves, $155, Nordstrom

UGG Tech Gloves
UGG Tech Gloves

No matter how cold it gets, your teen can always stay warm (and connected) with these touchscreen-compatible gloves (mom might like them too!). For the guys, try UGG Wool Blend Tech Men Gloves ($85). Need a cheaper option? Plus these Funky Junque Texting Gloves are only 19 bucks!

Emoji Drawstring Sackpack, $5, Amazon

Emoji Backpack

This washable bag folds up easily and is washable. It perfectly fits a laptop, iPad or those sweaty gym clothes your teen doesn't want to put in their school backpack.

PJ Salvage Print Flannel Pajamas, $62, Nordstrom

Print Flannel Pajamas by PJ SALVAGE

Your dog-lovin' teen will stay cozy in these playful pajamas from PJ Salvage. For the guys, opt for a cotton t-shirt and lounge pants set from Majestic International ($60). For something a little more grown-up, this silky pair is something they can wear for years and years.

Avocado Tree Starter Kit, $20, Uncommon Goods

Avocado Tree Starter Kit
Uncommon Goods

With this kit, your teen will be one step away from making some killer homemade guacamole. How it works: insert an avocado seed into the pod, float it in a water, and watch sprouts grow. There's also a Mushroom Mini Farm ($25).

Tipsy Elves Women's Christmas Lights Sweater, $40, Amazon

Tipsy Elves Sweater

Want your teen to dress up for the holidays? Try an ugly Christmas sweater. The Tipsy Elves clothing company also makes Hanukkah gear for teens too!

Crosley T100A-TU 2-Speed Bluetooth Turntable System with Stereo Speakers, $120, Amazon


This turntable does it all! Spin a record old-school style or let the kids stream their favorite jams wirelessly to the speakers. Available in black, white, red, or turquoise. (Looking to save? Just buy a turntable for around 70 bucks).

Blue Speed Racer Boomerang, $12, Amazon

Boomerang for teens

This easy-to-use boomerang is perfect for ages 10 to 70. It comes with a handy 24 page manual on how to throw a boomerang and the correct ways to handle and care for one. It's an Amazon best seller.

Beats by Dr. Dre Shock Yellow Powerbeats 3 Wireless Earphones, $200, Neiman Marcus

Beats by Dr. Dre
Beats by Dr. Dre

Teens will surely like to spot this under the tree! Wireless headphones with Bluetooth technology by Dr. Dre are always a winner. And if your teen likes to jam when running outside, be sure to throw in some Night Runner Shoe Lights ($60).

Pocket DJ Mixer, $100, Uncommon Goods

Mini Mixer
Uncommon Goods

With this gadget, your teen can feel like a real DJ with this portable sound mixer. Attach the sound mixer into the headphone jack of a laptop, phone or mp3 player and pump up those beats!

Polaroid POP Instant Print Digital Camera, $200, Amazon

Polaroid POP
Polaroid POP

Get your teen to take a break from Snapchat and take a fun printable photo instead! Snap a group shot with friends or a strike a selfie. Then, print it out on the spot. Several color options.

Moshi IonSuit iPhone 7 Battery Case, $99, Amazon

Moshi IonSuit

With this case, your teen will no longer complain about that phone going dead — it doubles the battery life! For Android and Samsung Galaxy users, consider the Portable Battery Pack Charger by Akem ($37).

Faber-Castell Watercolor Pencils, $30, Amazon
Faber-Castell Watercolor Pencils
Over the holiday school break, your teen can get to work on his or her next art project with this set of 36 pencils. Add a 24-pack of Prismacolor Art Markers ($55) and a 6-pack of Strathmore Drawing Pads ($42) and your creative one's art supply collection will be complete!

Create Your Own Bath Bombs, $28, Uncommon Goods

Bath Bomb Kit
Uncommon Goods

Budding scientists will love creating their own little balls of fizz to toss in the tub. Added bonus? Your little chemist will learn all about acids, bases, and pH along the way!

If your teen doesn't really like to DIY, you could also just give them a 12-pack of the real thing!

My First Lab Whodunnit? Kit, $95, Amazon

My First Lab Kit

Can your middle schooler crack the case? This STEM kit will make your teen feel like a real CSI. Microscope and "evidence" included.

Pansonite VR Headset with Remote Controller, $38, Amazon

VR headset

This headset is the latest version of VR and is a best seller on Amazon. It's lightweight, comfortable and easy to use with a variety of smartphones. Use it to watch movies, Netflix or YouTube.

CHI Original Flat Hair Iron, $80, Amazon

CHI Flat Hair Iron

This hair iron will give your teen some awesome straight locks. Want curls instead? Check out the new interchangeable curling barrels available from T3.

The Wild One Eye-Conic Eyeshadow Palette by Marc Jacobs, $99, Neiman Marcus

Wild One Eyeshadow
Marc Jacobs Beauty

If mom gives the green light to wear makeup, this wild eyeshadow kit will be a hit for high schoolers this holiday! The oversized shiny, zebra-print palette has 20 fun shades inside.

If you are unsure of what makeup your teen would actually wear, subscription boxes are a must! We love the FabFitFun box (a favorite of Bachelor contestants) which for $45 delivers a variety of fitness and beauty inspired products. We also love Birchbox, which for $10 a month delivers five beauty samples tailored to your teen's hair, skin or face.

The 4 Elements of The Perfect Shave Starter Kit by The Art of Shaving, $30, Nordstrom

The Art of Shaving Kit

If he's ready for that first shave, this kit is for him! The set comes with pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after-shave balm, and a handy shaving brush. All he'll need is a good razor.

Nostalgia Hot Air Popcorn Maker, $30, Amazon

Nostalgia Popcorn Maker

This cool replica is just like the street-corner popcorn stand they used to use in the "old days"! Ideal for that next sleepover party. Your teen can pop up a batch of popcorn before settling in for a Netflix binge session with friends.

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Maker, $40, Amazon

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Does your high schooler crave a bacon, egg, and cheese in the morning? With this handy maker, delicious and hot breakfast sandwiches will be ready in less than five minutes!

For more food-related gifts, check our list of Oprah's Favorite Things.

S'ip by S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $25, Amazon

S'well Water Bottle

Keep a drink cold for 24 hours, hot for 12. Aside from keeping beverages fresh, it is also trendy! S'ip bottles can match any mood or outfit with all sorts of fun prints available — like donuts, crabs, and skulls.

Elwood the Unicorn Cereal Bowl, $38, Uncommon Goods

Unicorn Mug
Uncommon Goods

As if eating cereal wasn't magical enough. This handmade clay creation will add wonder and excitement to your teen's next breakfast. Elwood Unicorn Mug ($38) is also available.

Stan Smith Adidas Sneakers, $60 (Originally $75), Nordstrom

Stan Smith Sneakers

White sneakers couldn't be more in right now. Stan Smiths are the hottest kind and come in over fifteen different color combinations and styles for both men and women.

My Comic Book Kit, $30, Uncommon Goods
Comic Book Kit
Uncommon Goods

Zap! Pop! Once your artistic teen's whips up some cool comic drawings, slip it into the mail. The print-ready artwork will be made into a professionally-bound comic book. Now, that's superpower!

Spotify Gift Card, $30, Amazon

Spotify Gift Card

I know we said no gift cards, but if your teen will only settle for something they can pick out themselves Amazon's giftcard superstore is an easy way to cross a few different gifts off your list. From Whole Foods (for the broke college kid), to Sephora (for the beauty-obsessed), to Game Stop and even Uber, they've them all.

If you didn't find what you are looking for, test out our interactive gift guide! You simply choose who you are shopping for, what they are like and how much you want to spend, then we generate the gifts for you!

ultimate gift guide cover

Click here to try it out!

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