Twenty Teen-Friendly Favorites Under Twenty Dollars

Every single week I get to hang out with a great group of teenage girls who make my heart smile. I love them to pieces. They keep me young and make me laugh and encourage me with their humility and transparency. They are, as the French would say, LE AWESOME.

Okay. So maybe the French wouldn’t say it exactly like that. But still.

A few days ago the girls and I were talking about Christmas and how I sometimes struggle with buying gifts for people in their age group. Granted, I don’t do a ton of shopping for teenagers, but our niece will be thirteen in a couple of months, and I dread the day when she’ll open up a gift from us and secretly wonder if we’re stuck in 1995. I know that it’s the thought that counts, but by the same token I think we all hope that people will enjoy the gifts that we give them.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want to be That Relative whose gifts are dictated by whatever’s in the biggest bin at Costco. Sometimes you have to face facts and realize that Jean Nate’ After-Bath Splash isn’t at the top of the kids’ wish list this year.

And hasn’t been since about 1983, for that matter.

And by the way, I’m not advocating that we all buy a bunch of stuff just to buy a bunch of stuff. I’m a fan of thoughtful giving, and after two years of struggling with how that might look in our family’s life, I’m trying to find my way back to a wee bit of balance. Because in 2008 and 2009, I pretty much wanted everybody to wake up on Christmas morning and sit around in a circle and talk about materialism. Good times.

So now that I’ve overshared, how about some gift ideas? These are mostly for girls, but some would definitely work for guys, too. Big thanks to Lucy, Abbey and Mary E. for their help with this!

Chunky Double Bead Necklace – I think the olive/green color combo is great-looking and super-versatile. Also: sweet mercy at the inexpensive. Take a gander around the F21 website, and I’ll bet you find some earrings that can keep this necklace company.

Square Jacquard Flower Scarf – It would look great with a t-shirt and jeans, and it would also be fab with a sweater tunic, leggings and boots.

Bugle Bead Elastic Headband – Adorable, feminine and fun.

Voluspa Japonica Candle Tin in Baltic Amber – Candle scents are mighty personal, I know, but this one is sort of universally divine. Love the colors of the candle tin, too.

Wide Leaf Bracelet – There’s so much to like about this bracelet – the cuff style, the little bitty leaves, the bright colors. It would go with just about anything.

Women’s Terrific Tights in Ruby – The whole colored tights trend was a little lost on me at first. But now? I think they’re ADORABLE. Such a fun way to add a little spark of personality to an outfit.

Natural Life Everyday Wristlet – I see girls carrying wristlets all the time, and it sort of boggles my mind because I personally prefer a purse that can hold a 12-pack of diet Coke if necessary. But this wristlet from Francesca’s is so cute, so practical – and it really can hold all the essentials.

iTunes Gift Card – You can never, ever go wrong with this one. The kids enjoy them some music. And some apps. And when I say “apps,” I’m not talking about buffalo wings from the TGIFridays. Amen.

Yankee Candle Clean Cotton Car Vent Sticks – These are so affordable that you can buy three in whatever scents you like and still be under the $20 ceiling. The teenagers enjoy taking care of their cars, you know.

Scout Lil Slim Laptop Sleeve in Petallica Green – This is the perfect way to protect a laptop (or as I like to call it: THE BABY) before slipping it into a tote bag or backpack. Laptop sleeves come in all sorts of sizes, though, so make sure you know what size you need before you order.

Women’s Printed Flannel Lounge Pants – Let’s see. These are affordable, comfy pajama pants in an assortment of fun patterns. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

and – Both of these colors are “new neutrals” – perfect for any time of year and current enough that they pack a little bit of a trendy punch. Delightful.

Bath & Body Works Body Lotion in Warm Vanilla Sugar – This lotion is a perennial favorite in all age groups. And right now you can buy 2 and get 1 free or buy 3 and get 2 free. I’d call that a deal, my friends.

Customized Starbucks Card – When I was a teenager, I pretty much just drank Coke. But kids these days – they order a grande PSL extra shot extra hot no whip like total pros. For that reason, a Starbucks card is sure to get lots of use, and a customized version adds an extra element of fun.

Women’s Knit Mukluk Slippers – Hello, warm and cozy. It’s so nice to see you again. And at such a reasonable price!

Solid Color Knit Infinity Circle Scarf – I have an almost unnatural affinity for the circle scarf. This one comes in fantastic colors, and the price is oh-so-right.

Owl Key Covers – Do you remember how exciting it was to have your first set of keys? Well, imagine your first set of keys with these little owls attached. OVER THE MOON. You’d be OVER THE MOON.

Fleece Lined Leggings – Comfort, thy name is fleece lined leggings. What a treasure you are.

Table Top Jewelry Stand Earring Holder – I’m thinking of ordering one of these for myself, mainly because I have absolutely no system for keeping up with my earrings. Unless tossing my earrings on top of the dresser can be considered a system. In which case I’m golden.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle – Remember back in the day? When we’d all stand in line and drink after each other at the water fountain? That’s not really how things work these days. These water bottles are perfect for school or for a hike, and there’s a huge selection of colors, to boot.

Well, that’s it, I reckon. All that food in our refrigerator isn’t going to cook itself, so I’d better get busy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Don’t forget the new Laughing Cow giveaway – there’s a $150 Visa gift card up for grabs!

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  1. Every year my mom picks a child off the Angel Tree in her town and always picks the older kids because they seem to get “overlooked” and sometimes they don’t have much of anything written on their “wish list”. She’ll love this list!

  2. I snagged these on sale for $9.99 and got them for the sweet teen girls in my Sunday School class (my 22-year-old daughter assured me it was cool!)

    Great ideas! But how ’bout some for the impossible MEN on our lists (fathers, fathers-in-law, husbands, brothers!)

  3. Lovin’ these gift idea posts…thanks so much, Sophie!

  4. Love this! Now maybe I can be the “cool” aunt i(nstead of the clueless one) when I can give something other than cash because I’m so lost in the teenage maze of what is not lame for a gift. To a teenager.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Sophie!

    Thankful for your wit and wisdom and for your willingness to share it!

  6. Jean Nate’ – HA!! Didn’t realize that was still on the market.

  7. Are you hosting the 2010 Tour of Homes? Is someone else? I didn’t see it on The Nester’s site.

  8. Those fleece lined leggings are already gone!

    I have to tell you, I LOVE flannel lounge-around-the-house pants, especially in fun colors or with dogs on them (esp great if the pants with dogs on them actually have printed dogs on them to for the other dog to sniff at and try to bite…). Anyway – I loved to wear them to bed at night, until I became a graduate student and was living in the tropical paradises of Cleveland and Chicago, and South Bend, IN, and couldn’t really afford things like, you know, HEAT. So I’d keep the thermostat real low and I bulked up the bed with flannel sheets and flannel duvet on the down comforter, etc.

    That’s when the love affair with wearing flannel pants, to bed, wore off. Because becoming your own personal Chinese Finger Trap while you’re trying to sleep? Not so fun. I felt like I was communing with velcro. So I’d still wear them around the house but would change into ski pants (just kidding) something else for sleep.

    Now that I’m in northern VA perhaps I can go back…though I really kind of like the flannel-cocoon and not just the flannel pants…

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Oh my goodness…the owl stuff…I WANT all of it! My classroom’s theme this year is owls, so I kind of have a thing for them. And I’m WAY over the teenage mark, but I loved so many of those things. Great list!

  10. Julie in TX says:

    You are my hero! Thanks so much for this list – I TOTALLY needed it!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  11. What great ideas!

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  12. I just have to say that your descriptions are totally perfect. You make me laugh out loud!

  13. i cannot beLIEVE you brought back jean nate. WHAT. hilarious.


  14. Took me time to learn all of the comments, however I really enjoyed the article. Good job…

  15. Brickhouse says:

    Oh, Sophie, can you please send the girls on a mission to find out what 13 year old boys want? They don’t wear jewelry or care about decorating their rooms. UGH. They are too old for legos, but too young to date, so who needs restaurant/movie gift cards. I’m just soooo tired of buying Academy gift cards.