Angst-Free Gifts for Teens

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Buying presents for a teenager drives parents and relatives to exhaustion almost every holiday season.

"They are so picky and so different — what is good for one teenager may not work for another, and trends go in and out so quickly," said June Mauser of

But teenagers are predictable in certain ways: They perpetually teeter on the edge of trendy, they always want the latest and greatest and — most importantly — they want a present they can show off to their friends once school starts up again in the New Year.

Here are some gifts that are sure to impress:

Need We Mention the iPod?

You can’t go wrong with technology gifts. The iPod Nano is, of course, a huge “get” this year. If your teen doesn’t already have one, he or she likely wants one. The Nano comes in black and white.

Also from the iPod family: the iPod Video. Now your teen can be glued to the TV not only at home, but also on the go.

If the teen in your life already has an iPod, it’s a great idea to buy a gift card to Apple's music service, iTunes. If your teen has a different MP3 player, other services, like, and even also offer music downloading gift certificates.

Another techno-savvy gift that kids will love is a digital camera. is a veritable smorgasbord of digital cameras of all sizes, qualities, prices and brands.

If Amazon isn’t your speed, check out electronics stores like Best Buy or Circuit City or their Web sites for your preferred brand of camera. Obvious tip: if your teen is a photo novice, you probably don’t want to start out with a 6.1 mega-pixel $500 model, but there are plenty of options to choose from.

If your teen is a video game enthusiast, he or she will be excited about this year’s hottest system, the Xbox 360. A teen into video games will also salivate over the Sony PSP or Nintendo DS, if he or she doesn't have one already. These systems arrived about about a year-and-a-half ago, but are still hot items.

Melodrama for Sale

Teens love having their favorite TV shows at their beck and call. With a growing selection of TV shows available for DVD consumption, odds are high that your teen’s favorite shows are out there.

“The O.C.” and MTV’s “Laguna Beach,” both teen faves, are pretty popular, as are shows like “Smallville,” “Gilmore Girls,” “24,” "Scrubs" and “Seinfeld.”

The soundtracks to shows like “The O.C.” and “Laguna Beach” are also hot tickets. “The O.C.” just released its fifth mix of songs from the show, so your teen can kick back and wallow in musical melodrama just like Ryan and Marissa.

Of course, good old-fashioned movies are still on DVD. “Napoleon Dynamite” came out a little over a year ago, but it’s still causing a small pop cultural phenomenon. T-shirts, figures, fuzzy dice, even a "Napoleon Dynamite Learn to Dance" kit — you name it. Teens love the movie’s quirkiness and are using its catchphrases in common conversation. Check out to find a variety of "Napoleon Dynamite" merchandise.

Smell Like Britney

The true mark of a teenager’s presence is the fragrance that precedes his or her entrance into a room (and that's not always a good thing). There are several popular perfumes for girls this year, many of them hyped by the celebrity that “made” them.

Both Britney Spears fragrances, Curious and Fantasy, are huge with teenage girls right now. Girls also like the Paris Hilton scent, Paris Hilton (would it be named anything else?), Christian Dior Addict and Addict2, Calvin Klein Intuition and Ralph by Ralph Lauren.

The trendiest that boys get with their cologne is usually that Axe body spray being peddled around. But they also love Abercrombie Men’s Cologne, Curve by Liz Claiborne, Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren and Adidas Moves.

Let Them Do the Shopping

If you know your teen’s hobbies, a gift certificate to a hobby store — like an art store, electronics store or sporting goods store — lets him or her pick out exactly what he or she wants.

And it goes without saying that young guys and gals love to spend money on clothes. Put the power of the purse in your teen’s hands and minimize the returns you have to do after the holidays.

Not Feeling Inspired?

If none of these suggestions works for you, Bob Zakrewski of has some words of wisdom: “Be a detective. Keep track of their favorite stores, music and the comments they make about the cool things their friends have. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a few hints.”

Happy shopping.