Eleven- to 14-year-olds can swing from pure delight to contemptuous eye roll at the drop of a hat, but don’t be intimidated by holiday shopping for this age group. Zero in on a particular interest – sports, beauty, the world’s most popular musical about a Founding Father, perhaps? If nothing comes to mind, you can’t go wrong with technology. Here a few we like:
A 3-D printer isn’t in most holiday gift budgets, but a 3-D pen is a great entry point into this exciting technology for this age group. The 3Doodler Create is versatile enough to use for fine art and more heavy-duty marker projects, extruding heated plastic that quickly cools into a solid structure. $99 at the3doodler.com.
Anything that inspires a kid’s interest in history is A-OK with us. So whether or not your “Hamilton”-obsessed teens have been lucky enough to land tickets to the smash musical, we think they’ll love these Ham T-shirts associated with the production. One evokes a memorable lyric they no doubt can relate to, the other is a Chicago-exclusive design with a nod to our city flag. $40 each at broadwaymerchandiseshop.com.
Nothing beats a winter chill better than a cozy blanket. Even better? Cute-as-can-be designs that allow you to make like a mermaid or shark while covering up practically from head to toe. Blankie Tails come in an array of fun colors and sizes for kids and adults to wrap themselves up in. $34.95-$42.95, blankietails.com.
iRig Karaoke Microphone
Kids can get the party started just about anywhere with the iRig Karaoke Microphone. Connect the lightweight device to a smartphone or computer, and download the free compatible app to channel Queen Bey, T Swift or anyone else they like to sing along with. They’re guaranteed hours of fun, and you’re guaranteed a break. $40 at urbanoutfitters.com.
Fly the W hat
Make sure your young cubbies Fly the W all winter with a cozy knit hat that celebrates the best Chicago Cubs season in 108 years. Available in several styles, including a baseball hat topped with a pompom, these winter warmers are all locally designed and manufactured by Gold Coast boutique Classic Remix Chicago. $32-$46 at Classic Remix Chicago, classicremixchicago.com.
ASPCA Party Dog pillows
Add some flair to the mini-rocker speaker chair with sequin-accented ASPCA Party Dog pillows, featuring super cute pups in silly poses that young animal lovers will adore. A portion of the sale from pillows in this collection benefits the ASPCA, so your kids can get cozy while you help animals in need. $39.50 per pillow cover, $18 per insert at pbteen.com.
Square Hue nail polish subscription
A Square Hue nail polish gift subscription is a holiday win-win for fashion – and socially conscious teens on your list. Each box arrives in the mail with two or three seasonally trendy shades of polish that are vegan and cruelty-free, and a portion of every purchase is donated to charity. (The current focus is on nonprofits that deal with human trafficking.) Cutesy color names such as Sorcerer’s Hat and Night Fever are an added bonus. From $18 a month for a three-month subscription at squarehue.com.
Record Runner Portable VW Bus Vinyl Record Player
Grandma got rid of her record player just as Junior got obsessed with vinyl? Get your young hipster the Record Runner Portable VW Bus Vinyl Record Player and he can play the new albums he gets from Santa wherever you happen to be for the holidays. The nifty little device is a perfect holiday novelty, and is a redesigned version of a product first available in the 1970s that runs on AAA batteries. $80 at urbanoutfitters.com.
Lumee lighted phone cases
These phone cases featuring front-facing LED lights were designed by a professional photographer frustrated by bad lighting whenever he Skyped his daughter studying abroad. The first prototype featured Christmas lights around laptops; now these selfie-flattering cases are available in multiple styles for Samsung Galaxy and iPhone, including new marbleized designs created with input by the queen of the selfie, Kim Kardashian. $49.95-$59.95 at lumee.com.
Swagboard NG-1 electric skateboard
The Swagboard NG-1 caters to their need for speed without breaking the bank. The lightweight design is more manageable for small frames than some pricier models, and the 11 mph maximum speed won’t turn you into a bundle of nerves every time your kid bolts down the street. $299.99 at swagtron.com.