holiday gifts 2022

The Best Gifts for Teenage Boys, According to Teenage Boys

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

As opinionated as teenage boys are, they can be a bit hard to read. To get an insight into their tastes and find the coolest gifts for this particularly tough crowd, we asked over a dozen teenage boys about the things they’d love to receive. We’ve made something of a habit of polling teens, so we dug into those archives, too, highlighting the coolest loungewear and room décor. And for the clout-obsessed teen, we included Ben Simmons’s favorite hoodie and more things Gen-Z-approved celebrities can’t live without. You can use the links below to navigate to the category you think will best speak to your teenager. (And if you’ve got an adolescent girl in your life, be sure to check out our list of gifts for teenage girls too.)

In This Article

Gaming gifts for teenage boys

Madden NFL 23
$28
$28

Video games, of course, are a perennially popular gift among teen boys. As far as consoles go, many teen boys told us the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox One X still top their lists because lots haven’t yet gotten their hands on them. (The consoles are often sold out across the board, unless you buy refurbished ones or new models from resell sites like eBay or StockX. Retailers do restock, however, so you can get lucky if you keep checking.)

Far easier to buy are games, of which there are endless options to choose from. One sure bet, according to Jeremy, who was 14 years old at the time we spoke to him, is to go for the latest version “of a popular sports game”; a perennially good tip. Four of the teen boys we talked to say Madden (available for Xbox One, PS4, and PS5) is at the top of their list. Mateus, who was 12 years old when we talked to him, says, “As soon as they release the new game, they stop updating the old one.” If the teenage boy on your list isn’t into football, there’s always NBA 2K22 (available for Xbox One, PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch) as well as NHL 23 and FIFA 22 (available for Xbox One, PS4, and PS5).

Last year, two teens told us they were excited about the latest Call of Duty (which at the time was Black Ops Cold War). Modern Warfare II is the newest addition to the franchise’s lineup. It was released at the end of October, so we suggest snagging one for the teen gamer in your life if they haven’t already bought it for themselves. It’s available for Xbox One, PS4, and PS5.

This might not be the newest game, but judging by everything else trending among Gen Z, what’s old is newly cool again. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is still one of singer Bryson Tiller’s favorite games. Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, he said he didn’t get to see much, but “in GTA, I got to see cities like Los Angeles, Miami, and New York for the first time.”

The Nintendo Switch became the game console of the pandemic, but 18-year-old Simi tells us it’s still one of the “the hottest consoles this season.” (Plus, it’s a good alternative to the harder-to-get PS5 and Xbox Series X.) Simi says his favorite feature is that the Switch lets you play “nostalgic Mario and Zelda games, and new online multiplayer options” like Animal Crossing.

For something a touch more interactive — and high tech — 15-year-old Joey has his eyes set on this VR headset. “This VR tops my wish list,” he says, because it “has 50 percent more pixels than the original and it’s an all-in-one wireless system” — so you don’t have to deal with a separate console. The headset gives you access to the entire Quest content library, which includes games like Jurassic World Aftermath, Warhammer 40,000, The Walking Dead, and more.

Backbone One
$95

For something that’s a third of the price, the Backbone One was recommended as an excellent gift for the gamer in your life, since it’s made for gaming on the go. As long as he has an iPhone capable of running iOS 13, setup is simple. “The Backbone itself is powered by the phone’s battery, and it doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection to work, so you don’t have to worry about topping off your battery before heading out the door,” says Strategist writer Jordan McMahon, who’s a fan of the controller for its ease of use and portability. “The added portability, and the consolelike experience the Backbone provides when paired with a good game, have turned gaming on my iPhone into a first-class experience that can follow me nearly anywhere.”

$41

If they prefer gaming on a computer, consider gifting this mouse that comes recommended by Kyle F., a tech TikToker and gamer. He says it’s “pretty well known in the gaming community because of how light it is.” He prefers the wired mouse over the wireless option because “they aren’t nearly as good, and besides, a wireless mouse is always somewhat of a risk since it uses batteries, which can be heavy, and you risk them dying in the middle of a game.”

Gadget gifts for teenage boys

We’ve heard a lot about these strip lights. In our 2021 teen poll, Claudio told us they’re “a fun alternative to conventional lighting and very laid-back for a night in with friends.” Or, if the teen in your life is an aspiring Twitch streamer, these were also recommended by FirebenderFreddy, a streamer and moderator for creators on the platform who rigged his to “turn on just using my voice through Google Assistant.” They can also change colors and go pretty much anywhere and would definitely up the vibe in any teen boy’s room.

In our latest teen poll, sunset lamps were a popular buy after respondents saw them all over TikTok. If your teen doesn’t own one already, consider this highly rated option that’s portable and can shine in 16 different colors.

$25

We’re big fans of Roku’s smart devices, which allow any television to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and more. According to Simi, teenage boys love them, too. “Any teenager who has a TV, be it for video games or whatnot, loves the Roku player.” He explains that it’s a particularly great device for teens because it gives them easy access to all their favorite streaming services for a TV while allowing them to do other things on their laptops and phones at the same time.

Photo: Retailer

Ben, who was 17 when we interviewed him, told us his friends have been pooling their money together to buy each other Cameos from their favorite celebrities as birthday gifts. And even though Ben told us this over a year ago, the gift is still as popular as ever, with new celebrities being added to cameo every day. (Since they’re not gadgets themselves, you will need a smartphone to play a Cameo video message.) For the uninitiated, Cameo is a service where users can choose from hundreds of notable figures, any of whom will record a 30-second custom video message of their choice, for a fee. “You can choose from athletes, actors, reality stars, musicians, and more,” Ben told us. “It’s as fun for the giver as it is for the recipient, as everyone has it on their phone forever.” We suggest touching base with your teen boy’s best friend to find out who he’d really want to get a message from.

School-from-home took a lot out of teens, Claudio says. “I liked it for like a month, then it got burdensome — my bedroom becoming the classroom broke all sense of boundaries and balance,” he explains. To restore some of that balance, Claudio began to take time each morning to meditate, which he says “helped me start my day with a clean slate.” He thinks any kid who is struggling with pandemic-related changes could benefit from the gift of Headspace, a meditation app that would offer “some form of mental relief” from their daily stresses.

From $13

Mesmerize comes recommended by Gen-Z-favorite musician Lauv, who says the app’s visualizers paired with ambient and guided meditations have become a “big staple” in his life. “I use it for both, sometimes to look at and have background music or I’ll actually do an ‘Overcoming Anxiety’ meditation,” he says. “It sounds weird, but after five or ten minutes of doing this, it’s almost like the [field] of my vision shrinks into focus. I feel a lot calmer.”

Gus and Sean both say they wouldn’t turn down 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 is necessary. We’ve written about this portable charger before — it comes from Anker, a brand that has been recommended to us by tech writers and celebrities alike. It’s slim enough to fit in any bag, and it even comes with its own cord, so you don’t have to worry about finding something to plug in.

Or, for a little more clout, this wireless charger comes recommended by Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp. “I take a lot of pictures with my cast members on set so I can post them to social media later in the year — that’s what uses up the battery most,” he says. This power bank ensures he can always have a charged phone wherever he is.

College-age Matt also told us he’d love to get a 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.

Music gifts for teenage boys

Bluetooth speakers are a great go-to gift for teen boys: As Simi reminds us, “What do teenage boys love more than blasting meaningless music at the highest possible volume?” Sean says that JBL is known to make some of the best, and a lot of his classmates have them. (Schnapp is a fan of the brand, too.) Sean fancies the smaller models in particular, because they are “small enough that you can bring it with you, but very loud.” It’s also waterproof.

While Sean is a musician, he says 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 explains, because you can also use it to experiment with different sound effects or make electronic music.

Believe it or not, teenagers (both boys and girls) are into vinyl. When we spoke with him, Joey said he was hoping to get this Audio-Technica turntable so he could start a vinyl collection of his own. Because it’s just a turntable, not a record player, you need to hook it up to speakers in order to actually hear the record play. If that’s above your budget, Sean recommends an all-in-one-style record player with built-in speakers, like this Crosley model. With Bluetooth built in, he says it 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.

Wireless headphones are 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.” To wit, Simi calls them the “best headphones of all time.” 18-year-old Ethan points out that the headphones are particularly useful for online classes, especially if multiple people are working in the same room together. The AirPods Pro are about $100 more expensive than the standard AirPods, but both have wireless charging cases. The main difference between them is that the Pros have a better battery life and active noise cancellation. 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 AirPods Pro are cool,” he says, but his priority is having something that’s easy to carry around.

For listening to music at home, more traditional over-ear headphones might make a better option. Gus really likes these ones from Sennheiser, a brand known for its audiophile-approved headphones. The velour-lined headband and ear cups, along with the “open back” design, should make for a very comfortable listening experience.

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.

These over-ear headphones come recommended to us by rapper Tyla Yaweh. He’s no longer a teen — but his parents gifted him Beats when he was one. As Yaweh says, “There’s nothing better.”

Clothing and accessory gifts for teenage boys

Champion Life Pullover Hoodie
From $45
From $45

“Comfortable clothing” was mentioned by nearly every 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.”

Sean and Mateus both named Nike as one of the best brands for casual, comfortable clothing — as did 27 percent of teens surveyed in our 2021 teen poll. 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 clothing in black and gray, this green is almost as neutral while being a little different. This one also has a vintage athletic look that a lot of the boys told us they like.

One reliable way to impress a teen: Gift them something their favorite athlete or celebrity loves and uses. This sweatshirt from a Todd Snyder and Champion collab is a favorite of NBA player Ben Simmons. “I love Todd Snyder’s style — everything is clean-looking and fresh,” he says. “I own a bunch of jackets and sweaters and sweatshirts from him. I wear this hoodie every week.” Because Todd Snyder is a rather pricey brand especially for a teen, he might appreciate a gift card to spend on whatever catches his eye.

Under Armour was also named as a popular clothing brand by Sean and Mateus, who told us that he really likes the look of 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 just as big 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 both good options.

From $40

For a sportier style of lounge pant, Gus likes these Adidas track pants with the classic three stripes down the leg.

Or you can save some money and go with something basic: In our 2021 teen poll, we learned that Fruit of the Loom is perfectly acceptable.

18-year-old Xander wants “actually cool” running gear this year. Instead of jumping straight to old reliables like Nike or Lululemon, which ups your chances of buying something everyone on the cross-country team probably owns too, try lesser-known brand Ten Thousand. Each of its items is tested by athletes for performance. And to save you from having to sift through endless options, the brand offers prechosen “kits” for activities such as running, fall training, outdoor adventures, or HIIT workouts, taking the guesswork out of what pieces would best suit your teen. You can even customize them: For the run kit, for example, you can pick a T-shirt or tank in six different colors and either five- or seven-inch shorts with or without a liner.

For a less-expensive (but still nice-looking) gift for the athletic teen, consider a pack of these Stance socks. They came up when we asked students about their most coveted back-to-school items, and they’ve been recommended to us by runners and athletes time and time again for their stretch and snug fit. Seventh-grader Jonah, who’s into sports, says they’re “soft like slipper socks.

Sneakers were also really popular among the teenage boys we spoke to. Jack, who “needs more casual stuff,” singled out these Vans Old Skool sneakers as a great option. And if his opinion isn’t convincing enough, you should know that Chris Black and model Anwar Hadid (the brother to Bella and Gigi) are also big fans of the brand.

Photo: Retailer

“Everyone has them,” Claudio says of Veja sneakers. They’re twice the price of Vans, but that’s why they’d make an even better gift: The reason Claudio wants them is because he hasn’t been able to invest in a pair yet.

An even splurgier pair of sneakers to gift would be these New Balances, Claudio says. He owns some and calls them “the most multiuse footwear I own” because they “pair as well with tennis attire as they do with a long coat.” Now that dad shoes “are in,” he adds that these would satisfy the trendiest of teen boys.

Nike Air Huarache
$107

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.” Available in three other colorways, another thing we like about the Huaraches is that they’re a slightly less ubiquitous alternative to another teen favorite, Nike Air Force 1s.

Allbirds Men’s Wool Runner Mizzles
From $107
From $107

Teen Patrick has his eye on a pair of Allbirds this year. “I like that they’re sustainable, and I can put them in the washing machine if they get dirty,” he says, adding, “One of my friends has them and they look cool.” This pair was designed specifically for colder, wet weather, so if it snows or rains on his way to school, he won’t be stuck with soggy shoes all day.

Both Schnapp and Lauv told us they can’t live without these specific Nikes. (They’ve also consistently shown up on our teen polls for the past couple of years.) “I feel like everyone, at least all teenagers these days, wears Air Force 1’s or Converse. But I would much rather have Air Force 1’s over Converse for sure,” says Schnapp, adding that these are “cooler and more comfortable.”

This backpack came up a lot in our 2019 teen poll. It’s functional, nice-looking, and has lots of space to hold notebooks and pencils and new necessities like extra masks and hand sanitizer.

Ben Sherman Leather Trifold Wallet
From $16
From $16

“A new wallet would be dope,” says 17-year-old Johnny. We asked Strategist associate editor (and menswear expert) Louis Cheslaw what wallet he would suggest for a teen boy — one that’s nice enough to gift but also actually practical because, as Cheslaw notes, “they’re so likely to lose them, so you don’t want to splurge too much.” (And as it turns out, Johnny wants a new one because he lost his original.) Cheslaw pointed us to this Ben Sherman wallet that would work for a college-age boy just looking for somewhere to safely store his school ID, driver’s license, and maybe a credit card or two. “Until he’s ready for his office-appropriate Paul Smith wallet,” Cheslaw thinks this one is well-made and nice-looking but relatively cheap. It has “lots of slot options, including a clear center one,” so it’s sure to hold everything he needs.

Any teen boy who spends time on TikTok, like high-school senior John, might recognize these sunglasses advertised by celebrities, including NFL player Rob Gronkowski. Gronk’s endorsement was enough for John to buy a pair — and he thinks it’ll be enough to please any teen you give them to. When asked why he purchased them, John simply told us, “They’re cool.”

Sports gifts for teenage boys

Zack, a high-school sophomore, told us that any loyal sports fan needs to own a baseball hat to support their favorite team. While it’s up to you to find out which team your teen boy loves — it shouldn’t be too hard — Zack says to get them a ’47 hat. “They’re really good quality,” he promises. Zack is a baseball fan, but the brand makes hats for NBA, NHL, NFL, and college teams too. You can find some of the brand’s hats at bigger retailers like Urban Outfitters, but for the full range, you’ll want to browse its website.

You could also go the decoration route, as 15-year-old Pat suggests, if your teen has enough wearable merch but his room could use a little more team spirit. A poster or pennant would work, but as we’ve learned, teenage boys love technology, so he might appreciate these moving prints from Infinite Objects even more. Made in collaboration with NBA Labs, these video prints feature seven different team logos so far and play one video on loop (kind of like an IRL GIF). Infinite Objects also collaborated with NBA Top Shot, which makes collectible NFTs for the NBA and WNBA, so you can purchase a video print of a memorable play from his favorite team. He’ll be able to display it proudly, and it’ll last much longer than a paper poster.

If they’re the kind of sports fan that tends to go to games, like 17-year-old Samuel, a Yeti cooler will come in handy for tailgating. (To be clear: tailgating is the umbrella term for hanging out in the parking lot before a game starts and does not require alcohol.) “My dad has one, but I want my own so I can take it to games with just my friends and to college next year,” Samuel says. It is a splurge, but as we’ve said before, there’s really nothing more heavy-duty and durable than a Yeti cooler. There are lots of sizes to choose from, but if the cooler will be kept in the trunk and need to satisfy an entire carload of teen boys, we suggest the Tundra 35 hard cooler. It’s compact enough to transport but big enough to carry drinks and food for five or more teens.

From $32

Fifteen-year-old Caleb wants anything “having to do with basketball.” When asked if he already had an actual basketball, he responded, “Yeah, but, like, a bad one.” In other words, teen boys appreciate an actually good basketball. The classic brand Spalding makes an indoor-outdoor basketball (meaning it is suitable for any ground, whether it be concrete or a gym floor), so your kid can use it pretty much anywhere. And if he already owns a good ball, you could always spring for an outdoor hoop or an over-the-door hoop, depending on whether you have driveway space.

If the teenage boy you’re shopping for has a yard at home or lives close to a park, Simi says he and his friends think SpikeBall is “the best game to play outside (or even indoors with enough space).” The fast-paced activity follows a simple set of rules: there are two teams, and every player on each team must touch the ball before it returns to the net, never letting it touch the ground. If they don’t, the other team takes a point. First to 21 wins!