Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening — is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year? — but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that golf dad, teacher, or expecting mom in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust — or at least a very helpful starting point.
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 things to get these tough customers for the holidays, we spoke to six teenage boys to uncover the best gifts for 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 for teenage-girl gifts, head here. Don’t miss all of the Strategist’s holiday gift coverage right here, too.
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, 13. If someone doesn’t know what to get him, he says a gift card from Target or Amazon is best: “They have everything.”
If they already have a console, or if you want to buy a smaller gift, consider giving a video game. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 are two of the hottest games around right now, and 12-year-old Gus is hoping for either one.
Or you could go for the classic board game, Catan (f.k.a. Settlers of Catan).
For an easy stocking stuffer for teen boys, you can’t lose with a Carhartt beanie.
Practical, comfortable athletic clothing came up a lot. Basically, anything that could work for sports or for lounging around the house, especially from Nike.
Seventeen-year-old Matt would love some new running shoes, too. “I like 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.”
Wool socks have become something of a no-brainer gift for the holidays, and for good reason. This set from Bombas has four pairs of merino-wool socks, each in a different color, packed in a gift box for easy presentation.
Jack is a varsity tennis player, and 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.)
When in doubt, buy a gift card. Jack 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.
Speaking of Apple … AirPods are a fool-proof gift for anyone with an iPhone. They’re great for sports and working out, too.
This Bluetooth speaker from Bose is waterproof and super portable.
These are expensive, but a Strategist favorite.
While none of the boys specifically asked for grooming products, we still think a skin-care gift set is a good idea (something in the “They Don’t Know They Want It Until They Have It” category). This set is perfect because it lets them test out a few things on their own and decide what they like best.
And finally, consider a drone. Strategist writer Maxine Builder highlighted this high-tech option in our list of “Gizmos to Buy Your Techie This Holiday (Before They Sell Out),” and they haven’t sold out yet.
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