As opinionated as teenage boys are, they can be a bit hard to read. It can be difficult to get them to speak in more than one-word sentences, much less get thorough insights into their tastes. To find out the best gifts to get these tough customers, we spoke to nine teenage boys about what types of things they’re currently coveting. Read on for their thoughts on the best gifts for young athletes (a heated foot massager), whether an Xbox is still a good idea (it is), and who makes the best fleece (Patagonia, of course). And if you’ve got adolescent girls in your life, be sure to check out our lists of the best gifts for teenage and tween girls, too.
Gaming gifts for teenage boys
Madden NFL 20
Video games, of course, are a perennially popular gift among teen boys. There are endless options to choose from, but a sure bet, according to 14-year-old Jeremy, is to go for “the 2020 version of popular sports games.” These games are updated every year with new players and features, and if someone has been playing the 2019 edition, it’s probably safe to assume they’ll want the latest.
Three of the teen boys we talked to say the just-released Madden NFL 20 (available for Xbox One and PS4) is at the top of their list, including 12-year-old Mateus, who has been playing the 2019 version with his brother this past year. “As soon as they release the new game, they stop updating the old one,” he says, adding that the new one also has some new features he’s excited about, like an option for creating your own custom player, or using players from the past. If the teenage boy on your list isn’t into football, there’s always the new FIFA 20 and NBA 2K20 (available for Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch), as well as NHL 20 (available for Xbox One and PS4) — all of which were also mentioned.
Call of Duty: Modern Warefare
“The new Call of Duty just came out, and a lot of my friends are really excited about that,” says 16-year-old Sean. Jeremy also thinks this game would make a great gift. He doesn’t personally play it, but told us “I know a lot of people like it.” It’s available for Xbox One and PS4.
If you’re really looking to impress the teen boy in your life, and he doesn’t have a video-game console, Jeremy says “Xbox One or PS4 would be a great gift.” From what the teenage boys we spoke with told us, these two systems are the most popular, with the best selection of popular games. The latest Xbox One is a “disc-free” console designed with cloud gaming in mind (generally, all the big new releases are available to purchase and download online). You can also still get an Xbox One that takes discs if you prefer, but one bonus of this disc-free console is that it comes with free download codes for Minecraft, Sea of Thieves, and Fortnite. The PS4 takes discs and can also double as a Blu-Ray player.
“Magic: The Gathering” Core Set 2020
If you’d prefer not to encourage more screen time via the video-game route, there are still some analog options. Gus, 13, plays Magic the Gathering, and says the Core Set is a great gift for anyone who plays or might like to pick up a new hobby.
Gadget gifts for teenage boys
Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager
Jack, 17, is a varsity tennis player, and told us this shiatsu foot massager is at the top of his wish list. “As an athlete, I love massages. I go get body and foot massages whenever I can, but I also enjoy those electric massagers, and if I had one, I would use it at home a lot.” (Bonus: It has a “heat” setting for the winter.)
RazorX DLX Electric Skateboard
Matt, an 18-year-old who just started his first year of college, says he’s hoping to get this Razor electric skateboard. “It would be so easy and fun to go around campus with,” he says. According to the company, the skateboard can reach speeds up to 12 miles per hour, and the battery is made to last through 40 minutes of continuous use. Riders control the speed with an included remote, and if it ever runs out of juice, it also works as a standard, old-fashioned skateboard.
NutriBullet 12-Piece High-Speed Blender/Mixer System
Matt also has his eye on this compact NutriBullet blender, which would be an especially great gift for anyone living in a dorm because it takes up little space and comes with everything one needs: Two different blades, one 24-ounce blender cup, two 18-ounce serving cups, and a selection of lids and storage accessories. Of the blender itself, Matt says, “It’s super portable and I love smoothies.”
Jackery Portable Charger
Gus and Sean both say they could use a good portable charger for their phones and other devices. “I feel like I’m always borrowing those from people,” says Sean, who wants something small enough “to put in my backpack and have it in school” for whenever necessary. He thinks this one would be great because it’s compact, and since he’s “always struggling to find a wire,” he likes that has two built-in charging cables — an Apple lightning cable and a micro-USB cable — so it should have every device covered.
Music gifts for teenage boys
JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth Portable Speaker
Bluetooth speakers are a great go-to gift for teen boys. Sean told us that JBL is known to make some of the best, and a lot of his classmates have them. He is hoping to get this one, which he says is “small enough that you can bring it with you, but very loud.” It’s also waterproof.
Yamaha PSR-EW300 76-Key Portable Keyboard
Sean is a musician, but he thinks this keyboard would be a great gift for anyone — whether they already play or not. He has a similar model in his room, and says his friends love playing around with it when they come over. “They want a keyboard so they can learn,” he explains. Something like this would be good to start out on, he says, adding that you can also use it to experiment with different sound effects or make electronic music.
Crosley Cruiser 3-Speed Bluetooth Suitcase Turntable
Believe it or not, teenagers (both boys and girls) are into vinyl. Sean says that an all-in-one style record player with built-in speakers could be a great gift for someone just getting into records. He thinks something like this, that also has built-in bluetooth, would be very practical: “I don’t have many records, so it would be nice to have something that can connect to my phone” or to a bluetooth speaker. (If you want to get something a little more serious, another option would be this bluetooth-enabled Audio-Technica turntable from our roundup of DJ-recommended record players.)
Wireless headphones were definitely another of the most wished-for items among the teen boys (and teen girls) we talked to. “Everyone wants AirPods,” says Sean, who told us they’re “extremely popular with kids my age.” He’s excited about the new AirPods Pro that just came out because he’s been using the first-generation AirPods — the ones without the wireless charging case — for a couple years now. The AirPods Pro are about $100 more expensive than the newer, standard AirPods, but both have wireless charging cases. The main difference between them is that the Pros also have active noise-cancelation. Another teen, 15-year-old Antonio, told us he’d actually prefer the slightly older AirPods because they’re smaller and the case is more compact. “The new ones are cool,” he says, but his priority is having something that’s easy to carry around.
Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones
Matt also told us he’s hoping for some wireless headphones, but specifically covets this pair from Powerbeats. “These would be awesome for listening to music while studying, going to the gym or watching movies,” he says. Unlike the AirPods, these are really designed with sports and activity in mind, so they might be a better choice for athletes who like to listen to music while running or working out.
Sennheiser HD 559 Open Back Headphone
For listening to music at home, more traditional full-size headphones might make a better option, and Gus really likes these ones from Sennheiser, known for their audiophile-approved headphones. The velour-lined headband and ear cups, along with the “open back” design, should make for a very comfortable listening experience.
Clothing and accessory gifts for teenage boys
Champion LIFE Pullover Hoodie
“Comfortable clothing” was mentioned by every single teenage boy we spoke with, hoodies in particular. “Hoodies are great, and I could always use some more,” says Sean. He’s a big fan of the classic Champion hoodie, and would want one in a simple color like blue, black, or gray. Antonio also told us he can’t get enough Champion hoodies: “I already have a gray one, so maybe black or red.”
Nike Sportswear Club Fleece Pullover Hoodie
Sean and Mateus both named Nike as one of the best brands for casual, comfortable clothing and, we think this hoodie would be another great all-purpose option for the teenage boy you’re shopping for. It’s made from a comfortable and breathable cotton-poly blend, and even though a lot of the boys want things in black and gray, we think this green is almost as neutral and a little different. This one also has a vintage athletic look that a lot of the boys told us they like.
Under Armour was also named as a popular clothing brand by Sean and Mateus, who told us that he really likes the look the brand’s short-sleeve hoodies.” You can show off your muscles,” he jokes, and the shorter sleeves mean it would also be comfortable “in the spring, or inside.” Mateus is also a fan of Under Armour sweatpants. “I’d probably wear them everywhere; at school or at home.” He couldn’t decide on a color, but says black or gray are good.
Adidas Tiro ‘19 Training Pants
For a sportier style of lounge pant, Gus likes these Adidas track pants, with the classic three-stripes down the leg.
Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover
“This fleece looks really comfy and fresh,” says Jack. “Also, Patagonia is known to have well-made and long-lasting clothes.” Given how much we’ve written about Patagonia, we couldn’t agree more. Its stuff holds up well, and the Snap-T fleece is definitely a classic style for any age.
Vans Old Skool Sneakers
Sneakers were also really popular with the teenage boys we spoke to. “I need more casual stuff,” says Jack. He singled out these Vans Old Skool sneakers as a great option. And if Jack’s opinion isn’t convincing enough, you can shop easy knowing that our Resident Cool Guy, Chris Black, is also a big fan of the brand.
adidas Running Ultraboost 19
Matt told us he would love some new running shoes. If you’re shopping for a budding track star (or just a teen boy who likes to jog now and then), he suggests these “because they are nice-looking, and you can just slip them on your feet and keep them tied or untied. They’re comfortable and good for running, too, because they’re shock-absorbing.” We featured a different pair of Ultraboosts in our roundup of the best monochromatic sneakers, according to stylish guys. While this pair isn’t monochrome, they also come in all-black and all-gray if you think that’s a safer bet for a gift.
Nike Air Huarache
Nike fan Mateus really likes these old-school Huaraches, in black. “They look good. I can’t say they feel good because I haven’t worn them, but they look comfortable.” They’re also available in a bolder all-red. Another thing we like about the Huaraches: they’re a nice (slightly less ubiquitous) alternative to another teen-favorite, Nike Air Force 1s.
Gift cards for teenage boys
If you’re truly stumped on what to buy, one thing we learned from our mini-focus group of teenage boys: they love gift cards. “Gift cards are amazing for anything and everything,” says Jeremy. When someone doesn’t know what to get him, he says a gift card from Target or Amazon is best: “They have everything.”
Apple App Store and iTunes Gift Card
Jack also recommends gifting an Apple Music subscription. “It’s amazing, and I use it every day. I think it would be an awesome gift.” Unfortunately, there is no option to gift an actual subscription, but if you buy an iTunes gift card, the balance can be applied toward an Apple Music subscription. A physical gift card is a nice touch, but you can also buy an electronic version on your way to the holiday party and have it sent via email.
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