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In our final installment of holiday wishlist reviews we tackle the trickiest target of all – teens and just in the nick of time!  When we think about teens, we can’t think of them as a cohesive collective in the same way that we do younger groups of youth. By the teen years, youth are seeking out their own style, their own identity and their own stuff. The brands and products they choose not only say something about who they are, but also who they want to be. And as teens begin to find (ideally) the thing that they’re passionate about – be it music, sports, school, volunteering or something else, they become more and more interested in total immersion. This doesn’t mean that all teens are totally independent, or that peer pressure doesn’t matter; it means being your authentic self across multiple contexts becomes both a personal priority and a brand attribute they value. So the top gift for a teen you know is likely to be something so specific to their interests that it wouldn’t make our list…Teens’ needs are likely to be for something so niche that it wouldn’t make sense for another teen that goes to the same school or is on the same team. Over the past few years, we’ve talked to teens about everything from their love of Cricket to their passion for Chuck Palahniuk novels! But a few items appeal to the masses for the holidays and we discuss a few below…

  1. The first is no surprise – iPads. Teens aren’t the only youth who are asking for tablets this holiday season, but they’re more likely to get them! Check back in with YouthBeat to see how this item fares, or how the teens who request them do, in terms of getting this desired device. Most parents will be grappling with the dilemma of getting their older teens a laptop or a tablet, something that they might justify as a college application or attendance tool versus just a play thing. But still, we bet that a few lucky teens will count the iPad or another tablet as one of their newest treasures.
  2. Have the teen who has it all? Or maybe just enough? Consider empowering teens with one of the many cards available for donating to charity…Check out the options at While teens might be a bit disappointed if this giving gift is the only one under their tree, they might just appreciate the chance to be taken seriously, and to take their desire to help to the next level.
  3. Speaking of exchanging stuff for something else…Today’s teens, more than any generation before them, crave time with mom and dad. Consider gifting an experience over a thing – like tickets, a night out at a special restaurant, or here’s the twist – give the gift of your own time! It might be a day at the batting cages, or a morning at the spa, but either way, moms and dads can make the most of the holidays by promising some quality time with these older youth.  For the particularly sophisticated teen, we love High 5, which gives your student access to cultural events (that they might just learn to love).

Happy holidays from YouthBeat!