Mel’s Holiday Gift Guide: Kids/Teens

Today’s gift guide is for the kids or teens in your life! Below I have included all of the things my kids are “into” right now. As a point of reference, I have four boys (15, 14, 12, 10) and one girl (7). 

The kids you are shopping for may be at different ages or have different interests, but hopefully these ideas will be a good starting place. 

In addition, the past gift guides I’ve linked below have a lot of suggestions for younger kids (back when I was buying gifts for toddlers and young’uns). I know I probably don’t have to give this disclaimer over and over, but here it is: none of the products below are sponsored. They are things we’ve bought or been gifted by family/friends, and they truly are the favorites (there are a lot of things that never make the cut for these gift guides!).

Here’s a quick link to all the gift guides I’ve posted over the years

And here are past KID gift guides:
Kids Gift Guide 2014
Kids Gift Guide 2015
Kids Gift Guide 2016
Kids Gift Guide 2017
Kids Gift Guide 2018

As always, I’d love to hear any recommendations YOU have, especially if your kids are at different ages, stages, and interests than mine. 

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Most of the links below are Amazon affiliate links (where I’ve purchased these games), but feel free to shop around for the best deal!

1. Kid Cookbooks: it wouldn’t be a gift guide without our latest favorite cookbooks for kids, and these two are great! My 12-year old got the Nerdy Nummies cookbook {aff. link} last year for Christmas and has made many creative cakes and treats out of it (and I’ve used it for some cool homemade birthday cakes, too!). The step-by-step photos are super helpful and the whole cookbook is just so fun. My 10-year old got the Complete Children’s Cookbook {aff. link} last year, as well, and has bookmarked almost every recipe. The recipes are very, very approachable, easy, but made mostly from scratch (so not a lot of processed ingredients). Highly recommend both of these cookbooks. 

2. Timex Mid-Size Watch{aff. link}: this watch has stood the test of time for an active 10-year old. It’s over a year old and still going strong!

3. Smart Watch/Fitness Tracker {aff. link}: two of my boys were gifted these from their grandma for their birthdays last year, and they wear them every day. Since they don’t have phones of their own, we set the app up on my phone (and disabled text messages from being sent to their watch). The watches fit great and the battery life has proven to be pretty darn long!

4. Hoverboards: my kids are serious about their hoverboards and between last year’s Christmas and a birthday here and there, three of them have hoverboards. Every single one has been ridden like crazy (mostly inside the house and at church gyms – shhh, don’t tell), and they are all still working great. We have this Swagtron brand {aff. link} and also a GoTrax brand that isn’t available anymore. A self balancing hoverboard is a must. 

5. Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon {aff. link}: possibly one of my favorite picture books ever, my mother-in-law gifts this book to all her granddaughters when they are about seven years old. The message is about the best thing any girl (or boy) could learn or hear, the story is clever and the artwork fantastic. We love this one and read it out loud all the time.

6. Royal Oak Tree Swing {aff. link}: welp, considering this swing has been hanging in our tree for months with no signs of coming down, I’d say it was a great investment. I often catch my kids lazily swinging on this enormous saucer reading a book or just taking a nap. It doesn’t come with straps; we have these ones {aff. link}. We also have this rectangular tree swing that my mom gave us (from Sam’s Club) – it’s fantastic, too (and a little cheaper than the round swing). 

7. Water Balloon Slingshot{aff. link}: I’m not sure I need to say much about this except: hours of fun. We use the handy Bunch o’ Balloons {aff. link} and between those two things, my kids were pretty much nonexistent inside the house this last summer.  

8. Hydration Backpack {aff. link}three of my boys (15, 14, 12) have one of these hydration backpacks (like a Camelback but way cheaper) and have used them on numerous scout campouts, family hikes, and conditioning runs for sports. They’ve held up great and so far, no mold or icky things in the drinking tubes (a valid concern with teenage boys cleaning them). 

9. Beginner Whittling Book {aff. link}: this last summer a couple of my boys really got into whittling. Mostly they made their own Harry Potter wands out of random sticks, but this book has been an awesome tool for them to learn more about whittling and start on some small projects (I’m hoping I get one of their hand crafted projects as a Christmas gift!). They also use these cutting gloves (although I’m pretty sure they take them off immediately when I leave the vicinity). 

10. Cat Stax {aff. link}: dude, this clever little shape game makes my brain hurt! In a good way. I think. It’s a great road trip game, and it’s my go-to pick for waiting with my son at his weekly speech therapy appointments. No surprise that my kids are way better at this than I am. It would make a great stocking stuffer!

11. Shopping Cart {aff. link}: we learned the hard way that you get what you pay for in a toy/kid shopping cart. We’ve had this sturdy cart for years and years and it is still one of the things my 7-year old plays with most…loaded up with dolls, stuffed animals, legos, etc. I try to insist no humans should ride in it, but I can’t say for sure if that rule is exactly obeyed. Ahem. 

12. Hey Clay Aliens {aff. link}: if I had to pick a favorite from this gift guide, these clay sets might be it. My kids (mostly 10- and 7-year olds) are obsessed. We have only tried the aliens set, but they also come in a dinosaur set, bird set, and a couple others, I think. You do have to hook up to an app that you download – but that’s what makes it so fun. The app leads you through building these clever clay creatures, and there is a lot of clay leftover for other projects. Plus the clay is super unique and lightweight (and doesn’t make a huge mess). 

13. One Man Tent {aff. link}if you have a camping/outdoor loving teen, they may request a one man tent for all their camping fun (like mine have done), and this rather cute (I must say) one man tent is big enough for them to sleep in (it’s adult size) + there is a small section for gear, too. 

14. Doinkit Darts {aff. link}: we’ve had this magnetic dart board for a while and we’ve gifted it several times to friends and nephews. It’s clever, fun, and won’t poke holes in the wall (or in an eye). 

15. Crazy Forts {aff. link}: I know, I know, what has the world come to that kids need an actual kit to build a fort, right? But let me tell you, this fort building solution is so fun and creative and EASY. My kids have spent hours and hours building and playing in their self-created forts (that magically don’t collapse on them like the ones built out of blankets, couches and dumbbells to hold everything down). 

16. Sequin Bag {aff. link}: talk about the cutest knapsack for a sequin loving girl, this is a simple gift, but judging by my daughter’s reaction (and a friend she gave one to), you’d think there was a trip to Disneyland inside! Nope. Just a super adorable, shiny bag that is usually stuffed with art supplies and a doll or three. 

17. Doll Camping Set {aff. link}: my 7-year old loves her American Girl dolls, but I think she loves the accessories even more. This camping set is one of her Christmas gifts this year – she’s had it on her wish list since last Christmas, and I think she’s going to be pretty excited to help her dolls camp in style. It fits any 18-inch doll, American Girl or not. 

18. Remote Control Truck {aff. link}: this remote control truck is tip top on my 10-year old’s list this year, and it comes highly recommended by a friend who has had it for over a year and it’s still truckin’ along (sorry, it’s late and I couldn’t help myself). 

19. Karaoke Microphones: hands down, there has never been a toy in our house that has been played with as much as these karaoke microphones…by my kids, but mostly by kids that come over to our house. They make a beeline for these things (and I go dig some earplugs out of the drawer). It’s equal parts hilarious, entertaining, and yes, a bit shrill. Often they aren’t hooking the microphone up to music (although it is easy to do with the bluetooth settings) – they’re just goofing around. We have this BONAOK brand (we’ve given a few of these as gifts, too) and this LittleFun brand (this one isn’t quite as high of quality but it has some funny sound effects). 

20. Paint by Sticker Books {aff. link}: these clever books have given my two youngest kids hours of fun (and they are one of my go-to gifts for friends, especially for families welcoming new babies that might need a distraction for older siblings). There are tons and tons of different themes and options, but the zoo animals one {aff. link} is a great starting place. 

21. Funny Swim Trunks {aff. link}: if you have a 15-year old boy who is a little hard to shop for, these ramen swim trunks might do the trick (like they have for us). There is a whole story behind this that I’ll tell you later after a few months have passed. 🙂

22. Musical Jewelry Box {aff. link}: Cam (7) got this for her birthday last year, and her reaction was about the cutest thing ever. Apparently she had been wanting a twirling ballerina jewelry box forever (who knew?) and she still keeps a stash of her plastic clip on earrings in here – I hear the music tinkling upstairs almost every day.

23. Stuffed Animals: I know, as a parent you either love stuffed animals or you hate them. My kids love them. I’ll keep my opinions to myself. I will say that we have several of these Aurora stuffed animals {aff. link} and they are pretty awesome. They stay soft (don’t get as crusty and worn as others), and there are so many animal options from this company. Cam sleeps with her golden retriever every night. 

24. Science Experiment Books {aff. link}: these two books (Science Experiments and Steam Lab – aff. links) kept my kids busy all summer. Most of the projects use every day household items or things that can be picked up pretty easily at the dollar store. I can see these books being used for many more years. I love seeing my kids get creative and learn some cool things (without really knowing it – they’re just in it for the fun!).