And we’re off. It’s the first of my Christmas shopping posts – gifts ideas for teens and kidults – and forgive me for using that term but all of these ideas are for the young at heart who can be so very difficult to buy for. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I’ve had a whole committee working on this. Not just the boys but their friends too and they’ve been generously rewarded for their enthusiasm. It’s certainly taken my mind off this very tough week when I’ve felt as though I’ve had a scarf of toxic fog draped over my shoulders. It’s getting a little easier every day though, thank you for your thoughtful words both here and on Instagram.

So, let’s move on to the anticipation of that wonderful feeling when you surprise someone and know you’ve got it right, it’s always one of the happiest Christmas moments. I don’t think I’ll beat the moment when the youngest opened his present last year. He’s the least acquisitive child I know and he hardly puts anything on his list. He’s always happy with whatever we buy him but when he unwrapped a VR headset for his Playstation we had to remind him to breathe. It was one of those wonderful moments when you see that the small boy is still there inside the cool teen. However it doesn’t have to be an expensive gift to get that reaction, it’s just a case of surprising them by showing that you ‘get’ them – and so I’m hoping that’s what these ideas will achieve for you.

A lot of them are aimed at older teens / young adults but not all – and I apologise that there aren’t many specifically girly gift ideas but girls were part of the research team and some of the choices come from them. So let’s go… I’m going to take you inside the teenage mind and show you what an unusual place it can be!

Gift ideas for teens

TV backlights

Yes, my first question was ‘why?’ too but apparently this is the thing to have in your room, whether you’re a student or at home. It’s strip lighting that you cut to size and stick to the back of your TV. Apparently it’s good for your eyes because it reduces the contrast between your TV screen and the dark room plus, of course, it makes the place look groovy. You can control it by an App on your phone and there are over 16 million colour and brightness selections which should keep teens entertained for a while.

Gift ideas for teens

TV backlighting system, simple version here. Upgraded (Alexa and Google Home compatible) version here


Here’s a solution for every student who misses the family pet while they’re away – bespoke cushions with the pet’s face on them. Upload a high res photograph to the website before 17th December and your mushion will be delivered to you in time for Christmas.

Gift ideas for teens

Pet mushion

I suspect this suggestion came from the girls but the notes I have say they’re for anyone who might miss their mum and dad too – a sweet thought. In fact you could line the whole family up to sit on their student beds for them!

unusual Christmas gifts 2019

Family and friends mushions

Mini smartphone photo printer

Alternatively if they like to have photos of friends, family and good times around the place, this little printer creates a polaroid effect from pictures printed directly from a smartphone. This makes it far more cost effective than the revamped Polaroid cameras.

best Christmas gift ideas 2019

Mini photo printer

Room lights

While we’re on the subject of decorating their lairs, room lights are always a good idea and this one is bit different to the usual fairy lights.

Gift ideas for teens

Good vibes light

A board game

This is for bonding with family at Christmas and after our fraught game of Monopoly in Turkey it looks like a good idea. You see you all work together to save the world so hopefully there are no arguments, a game of family collaboration in an apocalyptic setting.

Gift ideas for teens


Sleep drops

Sleep seems to be an issue, especially in noisy halls and shared houses or when deadlines have been pushed with the assistance of Red Bull. These non-habit forming  drops are apparently a great solution for a deep, natural night’s sleep.

gift ideas for students 2019

Nue sleep drops

Beat the cold

The boy tried to tell me that this is for the hours spent waiting at bus stops to get to lectures when a friend betrayed the fact that it’s also really useful when you’re standing in night club queues in the early hours. Whichever you think is the most likely for your teen, they’re a solution, they function as a portable charger too.

I explained that we had something similar in the 80s containing a piece of charcoal that burned throughout the day… I’ll leave you to imagine the ensuing jokes about neolithic times. As it happens you can still buy the charcoal burning ones here.

Gift ideas for teens

Handwarmer / portable charger

Pool slides

Apparently these are a ‘solid’ present even though it isn’t summer. They can be used in shared showers at the gym / sports pavilions and they’re also handy in overheated student halls because… “you wouldn’t wear slippers, you just wouldn’t.” They’ll then come into their own in summer because… “you wouldn’t wear sandals, you just wouldn’t!”

Gift ideas for teens


Gift ideas for teens – a portable speaker

You can never have too many portable speakers and this one has great 360° sound, its own App, bluetooth connectivity and being both shockproof and waterproof it can be used in the shower. Lots of colours available.

Portable speaker

Top Trumps

It’s always good to have a pack of cards in your bag and these enable you to go retro with their Top Trumps associations.

stocking filler ideas for teens

Top Trumps Pub Quiz


I’ve been surprised to see Carhartt re-emerging as a cool brand after so many years in the cold but everything 90s is all the rage and a beanie is, apparently, another ‘solid’ choice.

Gift ideas for teens

Carhartt beanie

Hair towels

I felt really pleased when I saw this one suggested by the girls because I’ve been devoted to Aquis towels for a long time now, purely because they’re kind to my hair. It hadn’t occurred to me how good they would be for students (boy or girl) because they’re so light and they dry quickly. The hockey girls told me that the turbans are great for going from a shower after a match back to the coach, your halls (or even the bar) so that your head doesn’t freeze.

Gift ideas for teens

Aquis towels and turbans

Almighty 8 Ball

There are a few different versions of these drinking games around, perfect for ‘pre-drinks’ apparently, getting the evening off to a good start.

gifts for students

Almighty 8 Ball Game

Wallet Ninja

“Ah, a tool,” I thought, “how sensible.” On closer inspection its primary functions seem to be as bottle / beer can opener, box cutter (for online deliveries) and mobile phone stand however there are also screwdrivers, ratchets and measuring scales on there too.

stocking filler ideas for teens 2019

Wallet Ninja

Gift ideas for teens – Slick Gorilla

Reportedly better than wax or gel for a natural, non-sticky finish to hair.

great hair products for men

Slick Gorilla hairstyling powder

Quick Airfix Kits

Christmas Day just isn’t right without a toy to build. I know Mr MC is relieved that the years of intricate Lego constructions are over but there’s always time for a quick plane or a racing car.

Airfix stocking fillers

Quick Airfix kits

Tie-Dye socks

Yes to me these looked like your worst washing machine run nightmare too but if your offspring are into streetwear, these socks are the thing to finish off an outfit with cool sneakers. They’re created by small artisan sellers so you can find lots of unusual finishes.

Gift ideas for teens

Tango ice blast socks, many more options here

The KitKat Experience

A KitKat with a difference, thanks to John Lewis you can now create your own personalised box of KitKats. You have a choice of dozens of different flavours and narrow them down to your eight favourite, there’s one to suit just about everyone you know – much more fun than a selection box.

KitKat Experience


If in doubt, these are always going to be a welcome gift. Bluetooth air pods with a charging case, just take them out of the box and they start to play with no buttons to press. They pause automatically when you remove them from your ears and of course they have a huge cool factor.

best Christmas gifts 2019

AirPods with charging case; AirPods with wireless charging case

Alfred Button Gin Liqueur

Remember our days of snakebites and swampwater? It seems they are no longer the student drinks of choice. I’m told that this lemon sherbet gin liqueur is delicious and it shimmers in the glass too. In fact I wonder if it may not actually make it as far as your older teen’s present pile…

unusual gin gifts

Lemon sherbet gin liqueur

The ‘can’t go wrong’ present – Gift ideas for teens

Along with the AirPods, these are apparently a present that every teen / young adult would appreciate. The triple white classic is an iconic shoe that stands the test of trend and time.

Gift ideas for teens

Triple white classic sneaker

A PayPal gift

And if none of these gift ideas for teens work for you, I’ve been told that a PayPal gift is always far more useful than a gift voucher – and more secure in this era of struggling retailers. You can find out how to send one with a note here.


I’ll just end by saying that I’m finding that the teens I know are far less focused on gifts this year. I think there’s a backlash against ‘stuff’ across all generations this year. It’s a case of finding a balance between the pleasure of giving and giving something that’s ‘worth it.’ I hope this post has helped. Thank you to the team of sons and their friends who put so much thought into these suggestions – it’s been fun.

Our Christmas events are kicking off now with an invitation to the launch of an outdoor ice rink tonight and a Winter Ball tomorrow. Next week we seem to have a lot of Christmas business events so I’m girding my loins. Have a good weekend everyone, there will be two more posts with lots of gift ideas next week and I’m listing the Black Friday offers that have already started below. Happy planning.

Disclosure: ‘Gift ideas for teens’ is not a sponsored post

Black Friday offers now live

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