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42 genius gift ideas that middle schoolers will actually love

Even the pickiest teen will love these presents.
Willie B. Thomas / Getty Images

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If you ask the average 13-year-old how successful their parents are at gift-giving, they'll likely tell you it's a struggle. A six-pack of sensible new socks? Boo! A pair of reversible slacks? No, thank you! School shoes? Skip!

When you're an adult shopping for teens, the bridge between fun and functional can get tricky. Teens like practicality, but they don’t want it as a gift.

When it comes to shopping for teenagers, we suggest trying to base selections on how you react to prizes on "The Price Is Right." For example, a jet ski sounds awesome when you're 13, whereas new flooring would be the dud prize. (Though now, as an adult, you would be overjoyed by the thought of new flooring.)

While no one should rush to buy a jet ski for a 13-year-old, you get the gist. If you do your best to put yourself in your teen’s gum-stuck shoes, you should be just fine! If you need some help getting started thinking like a 13-year-old, here are some thought starters.

To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 42.

Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!

Bestselling gifts for 13-year-olds

"Finish This Book," By Keri Smith

Author Keri Smith wrote a book ... well, half of a book, and has tasked the readers to finish the story. Great for kids, this book will allow its reader to problem-solve, collaborate and finish the story.

One reviewer wrote, "If I had known what this would do for my 12-year-old son, I would have eagerly paid $100 for it. My son, who isn't in love with school work, first thought this book sounded like it was going to be boring. Now, we have spent the last three hours solving the codes in the "training" section of the book. He is HOOKED!"

The Original Buddha Board Art Set

Yet another shopper-adored product with thousands of five-star ratings, this Amazon bestseller is perfect for the aspiring artist in your life. Simply use water to paint away on the Buddha Board and watch it fade away so you can start again.

Vantop Snaptain S5C Pro 2K Drone

Easy to use and hard to destroy, this drone is great for the novice drone pilot. It features voice-activated commands, one-touch takeoffs and landings, and video transmission that can automatically be shared on social media.

LE LED Strip Lights

Everyone loves a good light show, and now they can have one in their own room!These LED Strip Lights are easy to install, features 20 different colors and eight various modes. Colors and settings change with a simple click of the included remote.

Xyron Create-a-Sticker

Some gifts just stick with you, and this one will be appealing at first sight. Stickers make the world go round, and with this sticker maker, your girl’s world will keep on spinning and sticking.

Best new gifts for 13-year-olds

The Comfy Original Jr.

Oversized and cozy, your teen will want to snuggle up in this wearable blanket all day long. Perfect for staying warm around the house, at sporting events or even while camping, this "Shark Tank" product makes a great gift for any occasion.

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wired Gaming Headset

If your kid is an avid gamer, this headset features a signature soundscape, emphasizing subtle sounds for an improved audio experience. The headset is also adjustable for a comfortable fit and lasting durability.

Catan Board Game

Own, control and expand your own civilization with this competitive board game. Whether your teen plays with family or friends, they will be sure to enjoy this social game that is all about strategy.

Wekapo Inflatable Lounger

Easily inflatable, this air lounger is designed to support your upper back and neck so your teen can feel relaxed and comfortable. Once set up, the lounger will remain inflated for five to six hours. It also comes with a carrying bag for convenient storage.

JBL Clip 4 Waterproof Speaker

If you have a kid who is ready to rock and go, this is the Bluetooth speaker for them. The JBL Clip 4 combines function, funk and fun into one compact and clippable speaker. The speaker features 10 hours of playtime, wireless Bluetooth streaming and a built-in carabiner. As an added bonus, this speaker is also durable enough to take a mild beating or a quick swim in whatever body of water your child accidentally drops it in.

L.L. Bean First Shot Archery Set

You'll get major props from your child for this gift. Complete with a take-down recurve bow, bowstring, a bowstringer, one protective bow sleeve, three fiberglass arrows, a hip quiver, an armguard, a no-glove shooting tab and a paper target, any child is going to love learning how to shoot arrows in the backyard.

Original Stationery Hair Chalks Set

If your teen is itching to dye their hair, give them artistic freedom with this wash-out hair chalk kit. It comes with purple, green, blue and red talc-free powders, a hair chalk brush and one miniature-sized art pallet.

H&M 2-Piece Sweatshirt Set

Athleisure is all the rage these days, and kids are making it trendier by the day. Gift the trend-setting 13-year-old in your life this matching sweatshirt and shorts set, all under $30.

Yuham Magnetic Dart Board

Supply all the fun of a dartboard for your kids without the sharp, dangerous darts. This magnetic board is sure to be a party pleaser, and over 1,300 Amazon shoppers agree, rating this dartboard set five stars.

STMT DIY Signature Spa

For the teen that takes rest and relaxation seriously, get them this do-it-yourself spa kit. It comes with several ingredients to make your own face masks, scrubs and lotions.

NASA Lunar Lander Construction Kit

Have a future engineer on your hands? Keep them captivated with this replica model of the Lunar Excursion Model kit. It has 400+ metal components and pieces that your teen will have to put together.

Retrospec Quip Skateboard

You can't go wrong getting the 13-year-old in your life this sick skateboard. Reviewers say it's easy to maneuver and its smooth wheels give it a smooth ride, making it really easy to learn on.

BaubleBar Colore 18K Gold Earrings

These rainbow earrings are sure to light up any jewelry-obsessed teen's face. We also love the unicorn earrings, too.

Fat Brain Toys Door Pong

This game was originally designed to heighten the coordination of a child with autism, and now it's a game beloved by kids everywhere. Described as "Ping Pong without the table," your teen is going to spend hours playing with this portable game.

BaubleBar Custom Multi Cutout Pisa Bracelet

Remember the name bracelets they made as kids? Elevate the look with these colorful bracelets from BaubleBar. They're customizable, and you can get 20% off your purchase when you use the code GIFT20 at checkout. Though, BaubleBar notes Dec. 23 delivery is no longer guaranteed.

Lacoste Kids' 12.12 Blue Silicone Strap Watch

If your little man is ready to be a real teen, get them a watch to seal the deal. This Lacoste kid's watch is water-resistant and has a two-year warranty — you know, just in case.

BeyondBookmarks Teen Guy's Gift Basket

Equipped with fun goodies like retro arcade games, playing cards and foam sports balls, any 13-year-old is going to have a field day with this gift box.

Best gifts for 13-year-old boys

Bitty Boomers Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Don't let the size of this adorable speaker fool you. The sound is crystal-clear and loud enough to fill a room.

Razor RipStik Ripster Caster Board

This unique design is perfect for riders with a narrower stance. Not only will they be able to practice tricks on the board, the slip-resistant deck will give them a safer, smoother ride, too.

Imperial International Video Rocker Game Chair

This chair is a slam dunk for any sports fan or video game fanatic. It’s comfy, it’s functional and, most importantly, it’s super cool. This chair includes two high-quality speakers and features built-in Bluetooth capability. As an added bonus, this chair doesn’t just rock, it folds to allow for easy storage.

Game Room LED Sign

All signs lead to awesome with this game room LED sign. Good for your child’s bedroom or playroom, this versatile piece of electric art can easily be hung almost anywhere.

Tony Hawk Popsicle Badge Skateboard

Skateboards are a hot-ticket item! But you don’t become a legendary skateboarder without knowing a thing or two about boards. Featuring a colorful and artsy board deck as well as Pro Trucks and skateboard wheels, the Tony Hawk Popsicle skateboard series has it all. It's an ideal starter board for the newbie at the skatepark and sophisticated enough for the veteran on the skate ramp.

Sudotack Mic Kit for Recording and Streaming

“Where we dropping, boys?” will never be heard more clearly than with this USB Mic. A perfect mic for the intense gamer who is ready to rally his troops and livestream their gameplay or podcast. It features four distinct sound pickup patterns, which should eliminate any chance for “Can you hear me now?”

Nike Men's Pullover Hoodie

This Nike pullover hoodie is so comfy and cool that your teen will try to live in it. You never want to interrupt or cramp your child’s style, but they will need to pry this hoodie off once in a while for a dance around the washing machine.

Under Armour Men's Tech V-Neck

Under Armour slays when it comes to fashionable active gear. What won’t kill, thanks to Under Armour’s anti-odor technology, is the oftentimes aromatic scent of teenage boy. Your entire family can thank us later.

Vans Low-Top Sneakers

Classic Vans are often a huge hit for teens. This low-top sneaker features the Vans signature side stripe and a boat load of street cred for you and your young man.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: 3-Month Membership

Consider this the gift that keeps on giving for three solid months. This Game Pass provides unlimited access to over 100 games, with new games being added all the time. It's perfect for the Xbox fanatic in your house.

Cephalofair Games Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion Board Game

Gaming is the thing for teens, and that includes board games. Strategy meets fantasy in this dungeon crawl adventure. Your teen will enjoy the video game-like storyline without the increase in screen time. It's great for a solo player or for group play.

Best gifts for 13-year-old girls

Faux Leather Backpack

Both stylish and functional, this faux leather backpack is perfect for your middle-schooler's days in class.

Nike Air Force Sage Low Trainers

No teenage girl wants to hear about foot breathability or arch support, so we will just say these trainers are super cute and comfortable.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Your daughter’s Frappuccino will be kept safe and cold for up to 24 hours in this water bottle, while warm drinks have a 12-hour warmth window. The Hydro Flask includes a Sport Cap, which should limit the number of spills and stains in your child’s future.

Kate Spade New York Pendant Necklace

Simple and sophisticated, your girl will feel fancy and frilly with this rose-gold-plated initial pendant necklace from Kate Spade. It's a great first accessory piece, plus it's good for everyday wear or for special occasions.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera

Printed pictures are a thing again! This camera will provide memories in the palm of your teen girl's hand, or hanging in her school locker or even in her wallet. Teens love these handy little cameras. Small and snazzy, this camera brings instant gratification to any slumber party, trip to Starbucks or surprise snap attack of Mom as she comes in the front door.

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)

Your kid will kick cords to the curb with her own set of Apple AirPods. This set includes a charging case, which allows for multiple charges for 24 hours' worth of battery life.

e.l.f. Pore Clearing Glitter Peel-Off Mask

Your girl will shimmer while she shines with this deep-cleansing charcoal peel-off mask. Cleans and softens skin in as much time as it takes to watch an episode of their fave Niteflix binge watch.

Fimlio Galaxy Projector

When I was 13, my starry nights were glow-in-the-dark stickers that barely clung to the popcorn ceilings in my childhood home. How times have changed! This projector not only shines the stars but calls in the tide as well with an ocean-wave projection. Connect your phone via Bluetooth and have a super-starry serenade.

Crosley Cruiser Deluxe Stereo Turntable

This cute turntable may be old-school to Mom and Dad, but it’s new to your teen. Portable and versatile, play your favorite LPs on the turntable and your favorite mp3 through the record player’s Bluetooth capabilities.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:

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