(Inside: Looking for great stocking fillers for teenagers or your other big kids? Ones that won’t break the bank but that they’ll love? Read on…)
Gifts can be tricky for teens.
Sometimes, their emotions and actions just don’t always match the spirit of the Christmas season.
For example, one of our boys (a minimalist at heart) wouldn’t give us any ideas for Christmas one year. We kept asking…
“A new basketball? No.
“Tickets to a game?” Eh.
“A gift card?” Shrug, then headshake no.
But, then my son also kept talking about how excited he was to open gifts.
It finally took me a hot minute to realize that even though he really wasn’t wanting much, that tradition of Christmas and gift-giving was still really important to him. It was a comfort of stability during the roller coaster ride of his teen years. So even though my love language is not gift-giving, and I don’t always feel like shopping…I know it’s still important for me to put effort into paying attention to what he likes and have a few presents under the tree that remind him how loved he is.
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So I joined the other parents in shopping for Christmas gifts for teens.
(Teenagers are not cheap.)
After securing some items on black Friday off of Amazon, I felt like I’d just spent all-my-money plus an-arm-and-leg to…drumroll, please…put exactly three gifts under the tree. I then found myself then side-eying the empty stockings missing the days when our kids were happy with a $1 matchbox car from the grocery store.
More money to spend.
But, also, just like other parents, I know these days of kids under our roof are fleeting. No, none of us want to break the bank and our kids do not need everything, but we would like some nice, inexpensive gifts to fill the stockings.
So, I brainstormed. Then I gathered more ideas. I asked friends, my sons, their friends, and some of my high school students: what were some of the best stocking stuffers for teenagers they’ve ever received or still want to get?
Because moms raising big kids are some of the busiest human beings on the planet, I made a quick list of ideas for you. I’m always up for someone else gathering and sifting through information and sharing the final list with me. Time savers are the best. So, here are 20 inexpensive ideas that teenagers and parents of big kids recommend.
Fun stocking fillers for teens
My house was full of a bunch of 16 and 17-year-old boys who love video games and sports and band and all things teenager. My son had his cube out and it was hilarious how many people neglected the PS5 and sport court outside to try and figure out this puzzle. The lucky winner and first one to finish had bragging rights all night. This was a gift from grandma on his birthday and it’s been a bigger hit than the gift card my son got – teens are just unpredictable like that.
These beautiful and bright stickers can be used to personalize your teens’ water bottles, phone cases, Chromebooks, notebooks and so much more. They are waterproof. My friend told me her girls love them. She’s washed her teen’s water bottles dozens of times, and the stickers haven’t peeled off yet. Amusing and funky, multiple sticker themes exist on Amazon. It’s easy to find a pack that your teen will be sure to enjoy.
Part pen and part fidget, this interesting toy will entertain your teens. It also can be used as a touch screen pen for your device. My guess is you’ll want to have a turn creating with this magnetic fidget pen too. Help your teen de-stress and get creative with this fun pen.
I always have it in my head that teens are too big for Legos, but then my high school students will tell me they stayed up all night putting one of those giant Lego sets together. Teens just have one foot in adulthood and one in being a kid. I liked this Lego Succulent building set. Any gift that gets my teen’s creative juices flowing is a winner in my house. Plus when they’re done, it makes a cute adornment on a shelf.
Despite how fast teens are growing, they still cling a bit to childhood. I was talking to a group of 11th-grade students at the high school where I teach and asked what were good ideas for stocking stuffers for my teen nieces, and they said plushes. Enthusiastically. I think sometimes these things of their childhood give them comfort when they are being thrust to grow up faster than they want to – AP classes, trying out for teens, giving speeches in front of peers, college applications… This might be something your teen would enjoy.
When I was a child, my grandparents had a gumball machine hidden in their closet (not sure why it was hidden…maybe out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of thing?). Next to it was a small Tupperware full of pennies for the grand-kids to use to get the bubble gum. Because of this, I’m always a little warm and fuzzy about gumball machines. These mini-machines are adorable. Tuck one in your teen’s stocking and start a gumball tradition of your own.
A mini arcade Pac-Man game that is fabulous for gamers and non-gamers alike. As a child of the 80s, this staple video game was a favorite. After calibrating my joystick, I would move a green pac-man across a black screen in my quest for dots. I’m that old. Bring back your childhood and share memories with this classic game your teenager is sure to love too.
I’ve noticed how many of my high school students have key chains attached to their backpacks. From plushies to sports-related to vacation keepsakes, it seems to be a fun way to express themselves. A keychain that represents something your teen loves might be a good idea.
Crafts stocking fillers for teens
When I was talking to a group of my high school students about their favorite stocking stuffers, I was surprised at how many said crafts. This rainbow scratch art paper is not just for kids. Your teens can use this to leave fun notes for friends, make lists, and draw. There’s something relaxing about watching the black scratch off and reveal the colors underneath. A great way to unwind after a long day at school and practice or to just have a little fun. Sometimes it’s the little things that are a hit.
There’s just something fun about getting a card in the mail. Even my teens still get excited to see their name on an envelope in the mail. These stationary cards are lovely. Let’s get this next generation excited about snail mail again. Encourage them to spread the love with a handwritten note. And if all else fails, pop one in a frame for some cute artwork.
My friend’s daughter has a set of watercolor brush pens that she enjoys. More than a typical marker, a watercolor pen looks like you’re painting. These pens are easy to blend and graceful to use. She says a favorite part is experimenting with writing different fonts. A sure win for the budding teen artist in your life.
Stress-reliever stocking fillers for teens
This is such a satisfying stress ball. The Nee-Doh can be tossed from teen to teen as a toy or be used to help focus. My friend has one teen that often does homework with it in one hand while the other hand is busy writing. It helps her son focus. Part toy/part stress reliever, it is an amusing gift for your teen’s stocking.
These sleep masks have the ability to be practical and HILARIOUS. Yes, they can help your teenager get better sleep by blocking light, letting them nap on a bus, or getting an afternoon snooze, but they can also be customized with words or pictures. I’m thinking a custom mask with large eyes would garner some teen laughs.
One of my students told me how relaxing scented candles are for her. After a long day at school, she lights a candle, gets a snack, and works on her homework. Mood is everything, and she creates a space for herself that she loves. Besides charming packing, these scents are sure to brighten up any room.
Teenagers love art for so many reasons. A way to explore their creative side, relax, and focus their thoughts are some of the motives to enjoy drawing. After tests, I put out adult coloring pages, and I’m continually surprised by how many students relax into the comforting rhythm of shading between the lines. This adult coloring book is a good one. Maybe add a pack of colored pencils to the stocking to round this sweet gift out?
A scientific way to improve your level of happiness and lower your anxiety is through gratitude. A gratitude journal is a simple way to encourage our kids to notice that despite everything that might go “wrong” in their day, how much goes “right.” I like the idea of giving a stocking stuffer that will have positive ramifications beyond the holidays.
Electronic stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate
Besides a drawer in my kitchen full of random chargers, we have either an assortment of chargers plugged into outlets, or we can’t find a single phone charger. Feast or famine. I thought this cable protector would be great for two purposes: keeping track of which charger belongs to whom and preventing the cord from fraying near the plug-in part. Cute and reasonably priced.
No more missing chargers. No more finding a cable compatible with different smartphones. This 3-1 wireless charger is easy and fast to use. Plug it in on a desk or counter. Your teen will be excited to charge multiple things at once. You’ll be excited your charger won’t disappear to your teen’s room anymore.
This mini bluetooth speaker is. so. cute. Never thought I’d say those words. Waterproof and tiny-sized, this speaker is perfect for your on-the-go teen. Comes with a carrying case and metal hook so it can be easily taken on bike rides, walks, road trips, or hooked on a beach bag. A great addition to a stocking this year.
Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Teens and cell phones. Chances are if you have a teenager in your life, they have a phone. Update your teen’s phone with a new phone case. This one comes in a variety of beautiful colors. Or go for a popular clear case. (Teens sometimes put their school ID or lunch ID in the back of the clear case, and then easily scan that for school lunches.) Either way, phone cases are a fun and practical gift for a teen.
A portable phone charger can be a lifesaver for your on-the-go teenager. This one comes in a two-pack, so you can slip one in your bag too. No more excuses for not texting back. You know that they have an easy way to charge their cell phone and stay connected with you wherever they might be.
Anybody’s teen lost his air pod case? Just mine? I didn’t think so. Air pod case as a key chain? Brilliant. Hook that baby up to something to help it from disappearing. This air pod case key chain with a wristlet or others like it without a wristlet are a handy way to keep your air pods from getting lost. A student proudly showed me her new iPod case key chain, and my first thought was that’s a perfect gift.
Practical stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate
Those essential items that the kids use every single day…they do appreciate getting new and upgraded daily use gifts.
We can’t pull it together with socks in our home. Honestly. I don’t know why. I put an even number of socks in the wash and an odd number comes out. And, we’re all so bad at taking the time to match socks. The hunt is always on for matching socks in our home, and with three boys, they’re always fighting over this basic item. So, for Christmas, they always get socks – they love it and look forward to this gift. What is your family bad at keeping up with? Could it be a stocking stuffer?
I often use stockings to refill a few necessities but will make the gift a small upgrade from my usual purchase. It is amazing to see how excited my teens can be over a new razor. This electric razor is not only practical but makes shaving fun. Win-win.
My friend was telling me how she has loved Burt’s Bee’s products for a long time and is a regular user of their lip balm. But so do her big kids. So, she finds them sneaking into her bathroom to seek out her stash for themselves. Then you know what happens next. Her lip balms go missing. She said she did herself a favor this year and dropped this variety pack in each stocking.
If you live in a cold weather state like me, you know that gloves are a staple in any home. We’ve gone through our fair share of cheap cotton dollar store gloves, but the gloves that stand the test of time (and weather) have to be of better quality. These gloves are an upgrade with an anti-slip grip and touch screen fingertips. Now your teens have no excuse not to text you back even in the coldest weather.
Shake up your teen’s normal hygiene routine with a new body spray. Try a new scent or brand. Make smelling good fun again. This body spray size is perfect for tossing in a backpack or sports bag.
This is another gift that is an upgrade from our normal toothbrush situation. I have one teen who doesn’t like brushing his pearly whites, and it’s amazing how an electric toothbrush can make this mundane task more enjoyable. One step closer to no more reminding my teen to clean his teeth.
Keepsake stocking fillers for teens
It’s truly special the way a family pet stakes a place in our hearts. Show Fido a little extra love with his profile on a charm you can wear. These personalized pet necklaces are a fun and whimsical addition to your teen’s stocking. Lots of dog faces and fonts to choose from to make it one of a kind.
Give a gift that will make a sweet keepsake. These minature music boxes play charming songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “You are my Sunshine.” My sentimental mama mind pictures my teen thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts when hearing it play and know they are loved.
Food and drink and treats stocking fillers for teens
Create a tradition using candy. When the kids were little, my husband started stuffing their stockings with holiday candy. They don’t get it any other time of the year, so it’s a treat they look forward to every Christmas.
A cozy atmosphere and a warm drink in my hand can make those Minnesota winter nights more enjoyable. (Especially the 20 degrees below ones.) Fill your teen’s stockings with some yummy, gourmet hot chocolate mixes. Then, pop in a family movie and sip on your mug of hot chocolate together.
Have some stocking fun with some delicious gourmet popcorn. This variety pack will make game-night extra special. Drop these yummy fun-sized treats into your teen’s stocking, then cross your fingers they will share.
Holidays are the perfect time to try new flavors and embrace the variety pack. These vintage soda flavors can be divided up and placed in each stocking. Then, create a taste test night and vote on your favorite. Another way to make memories with your teens.
These peppermint Ice Cube gum packs are some of our family’s favorites. What teen doesn’t like getting gum? It’s a staple.
T-shirt stocking fillers for teens
Funny t-shirts are great gifts for teens. If you buy them “a miss,” they’ll still wear the t-shirt to sleep in or lounge around the house. You just can’t lose. This silly t-shirt is sure to give your teen a chuckle. Or at least an eye roll.
Graphic tees are also a great gift. Teens just like t-shirts. My sons’ closets are a testimony to this. Funny and comfy. Two of my favorite adjectives. This humorous dino t-shirt is just that.
Some teens are really into watching anime, and ALL teens are into t-shirts. A fun anime t-shirt could be a hit in your house.
Fun and comfy socks fillers for teens
Cute and comfy socks are an easy present to fill your Christmas stockings. These silly socks are soft and fluffy and just perfect for lounging around the house during the cold weather months.
I was surprised at how excited some of my students get over funny socks. When they are feeling a little EXTRA, they will wear them pulled high with crocks or slides. These silly socks are sure to get a smile when pulled from their stocking.
Fancy fillers for teens
I tell you what. The marketing people were able to think outside the (juice)box for this bottle of spray. (See what I did there?) This trending perfume comes in a clever, whimsical “juice” box that will have your teen smelling delicious and “awwww-ing” over the container.
Lip gloss is a sure win for teens who love make-up. Butter gloss some in so many fantastic shades. You’re sure to find a color your teen will love.
This travel pack of solid cologne is genius. Chapstick-sized cologne that can go anywhere with your teen. Easy to slip in a pocket or backpack. This is perfect.
Money and gift cards for teens
My fail safe present for teens (especially when I’m in a time-crunch or don’t know them super well) is to purchase a gift card. An Amazon gift card is handy because a teen can get almost anything they want at Amazon.com. Another fun idea to do get several $5 or $10 gift cards to fast food restaurants, or if they are a teen driver, a gas card can be a big hit.
If you’re concerned about being “boring” but just want to give cash, this is a creative solution. Present them with a maze puzzle money box. Teens have to solve the puzzle by moving a silver ball through the maze to unlock the opening and receive their prize. This gift is great.
Games for teens
Our family loves 5 Crowns. Small games are an inexpensive gift to throw in stockings. Plus, a lazy Christmas day is the perfect opportunity to connect over a family game.
What did we miss? What are some stocking stuffers that your family has loved? Let us know in the comments.
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Want more gift ideas for your family?
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Best Booklist for Middle School Tweens
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Gift Ideas for Moms of Tweens and Teens
Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys
Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls
45+ Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers for Tweens and Teens
Easter Baskets Stuffer Ideas for Big Kids
And so many more great lists of must-haves built just for families of big kids on Empowered Moms and Kid’s specialized Amazon Affiliate Storefront…
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.