Teen Holiday Gift Guide

A look at some of the hottest presents for teens this year


By Corrie Pelc


Ah, the holidays – probably the most stressful time of year for everyone. Between the shopping, the visits from out-of-town family members, the shopping, the cooking for a crowd and the shopping, there’s little time left for anything else, including trying to get your angst-ridden teen-ager to cough up what they want for the holidays. You just roll your eyes at the belly button piercing on their list. And what the heck is an MP3 anyway?

But that’s where we come in – think of us as your personal holiday elves to not only help you decipher the items on your teen’s holiday list, but to give you some great ideas as well for that teen who just won’t give you any clue as to what he wants.



One of the hottest electronic gifts for teens this year is the MP3 player – a portable music device that holds the music in a compressed format, in some cases allowing the player to store tens of thousands of songs. And depending on how much capacity they have, the more expensive they can be. For example, at electronics retailer Circuit City, they offer MP3 players ranging from $90 all the way up to $400.

One of the hottest MP3 players on the market is the Apple iPod. The full-size iPod ($299 or $399) weighs only 5.6 ounces and allows users to carry 10,000 songs along with them, while the iPod mini weighs only 3.6 ounces, can hold up to 1,000 songs and comes in a variety of colors and retails for $249.  

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">         

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">And at mass retailer Target, they’re setting big numbers for the Virgin Pulse MP3 Medallion, which retails for $99.99. With 128MB of storage space and a rechargeable battery, this player can either be worn around the neck or even fits in your pocket.

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> 

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">DIGITAL CAMERAS

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Digital cameras are also promising to be a hot gift for teens this holiday season, as more retailers are beginning to design their products for that audience.

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">
“They’re actually starting to make some cameras that are made a little bit more for younger folks – they’re a little smaller and a little flashier looking,” explains Steve Mullen, spokesperson for Circuit City.

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> 

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">One such camera is the Casio Exilim 4, which features a 3x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom, 2-inch LCD display and takes pictures with a 4 megapixel resolution. Plus, at only 2.2 inches high and 3.4 inches wide, it can be taken virtually anywhere. Oh, and the fashionable the camera is available in either silver or gold.

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> 

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Another option for digital cameras for teens is the Kodak Easyshare line. These amazingly easy-to-use cameras range from 2 megapixels ($99.95) to 5 megapixels ($299.95) with either 2x or 3x optical zoom, full color displays for previewing and reviewing pictures and programmed scene modes.

style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"> 

Shopper’s Tip: Be in the Know

When shopping for something like a digital camera or an MP3 player, before you head out to the stores make sure you do a little homework as to what all the lingo means – is a 20GB or a 40GB MP3 better? And what the heck are pixels? Having some knowledge will help you feel more confident when shopping for bigger ticket items like electronics.



New movie releases always make a great present, especially when it’s a movie the whole family can watch and enjoy together. For instance, younger tweens are sure to love a copy of the extremely popular Shrek 2 (out Nov. 2, rated PG) or last year’s big screen holiday hit Elf (out Nov. 16, rated PG) starring Will Ferrell as a human raised by Christmas elves who returns to the human world to find his father.

Also bound to be popular with lovers of myth and magic are the releases of Harry Potter and the Prisoner Azkaban (out Nov. 23, rated PG) – the third chapter in the extremely popular Harry Potter series – and the Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Special Extended DVD Edition (out Dec. 14, rated PG-13), which features the extended versions of all three films all in one box.

And for teen girls obsessed with the latest pop princesses of the day, sure to be a hit for the holidays is The Lizzy McGuire Show Boxed Set Volume One (out Nov. 23, rated G), featuring four discs and 22 episodes from the popular Disney Channel show starring Hilary Duff, and The Princess Diaries 2 – Royal Engagement (out Dec. 14, rated G), the sequel to the tale of an American girl who finds out she’s a princess. And if your teen just can’t get enough of Nick and Jessica, then she’ll totally die if she finds under the tree Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica – The First Season (out Dec. 14, not rated), with two discs chock full of episodes from their hit MTV show.


Shopper’s Tip: Use the Web

Ditch the crowded malls and endless circling of parking lots for the comfort of your own home personal computer and do some holiday shopping online. You certainly won’t be the only one – according to a study done by JupiterResearch, 86 million U.S. residents are expected to make online holiday purchases this year and online retail holiday sales are expected to reach $21.6 billion, a 19 percent increase compared to last year.




Video games aren’t just for boys, you know – some of the hottest new and upcoming releases are sure to be hot with all teens. For example, PC has seen the release of the highly-anticipated Sims 2 (rated T for Teen), where players micromanage the lives of virtual people, and Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (rated E for Everyone) where players can create and customize their own amusement park.


And in the world of video consoles, everyone can get down to the beat with the dance game Dance Dance Revolution Extreme for PS2 (rated E for Everyone), get in the Super Bowl spirit with the football game Madden 2005 (rated E for Everyone) for the Game Cube, Xbox or PS2, or race the car of your dreams in Need for Speed: Underground 2 (rated E for Everyone) for Game Cube, PS2 and Xbox.

Additionally for the real gamer, Nintendo announced it would release a new hand-held video game system called Nintendo DS on Nov. 21 with a retail price of $149.99. The system features two LCD screens with touch screen input, a microphone port and rechargeable battery and even allows for wireless gaming with up to 16 friends. Ten to 12 games will be available for play on the system at first and Nintendo plans to increase that to 20-25 by the end of the first quarter of 2005.



What teen wouldn’t love a copy of the latest album by their favorite artist this holiday season? For the pop diva-in-training, there’s tons to chose from with new albums by Kelly Clarkson (Breakaway, out Nov. 30), Vanessa Carlton (Harmonium, out Nov. 3), Hilary Duff (Hilary Duff, out Sept. 28), Lindsay Lohan (TBA, out Dec. 7), Gwen Stefani of No Doubt (Love, Angel, Music, Baby, out Nov. 23) and even Britney Spears (Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, out Nov. 9).


For the hip-hop and R&B lovers out there, Destiny’s Child’s much-anticipated new album Destiny Fulfilled dropped Nov. 15, along with albums by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard (I Need An Angel, out Nov. 23), Eminem (Encore: Clean Version, out Nov. 16), Mase (Welcome Back, out Aug. 24) and Snoop Dogg (R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta – Edited Version, out Nov. 23).


Or if your teen is ready to rock, then grab him a copy of the latest albums from U2 (How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, out Nov. 23), Sum 41 (Chuck, out Oct. 12), Good Charlotte (The Chronicles of Life & Death, out Oct. 5), the Goo Goo Dolls (Live in Buffalo: July 4th, 2004, out No. 23), Evanescence (Anywhere But Home, out Nov. 23), Creed (Greatest Hits, out Nov. 23), Train (Alive At Last, out Nov. 2), and Linkin Park with Jay-Z (Collision Course: Clean Version, out Nov. 30).

And there’s even plenty of Christmas albums for teens, from the likes of American Idol star Clay Aiken (Merry Christmas with Love, out Nov. 16) and pop princess Jessica Simpson (Re-Joyce: The Christmas Album, out Nov. 23).

And for teens who would rather watch their favorite performers, there’s a number of big music videos coming out this season as well, such as Hilary Duff’s Learning to Fly (out Nov. 16), the Dave Matthews Band (The Central Park Concert, out Nov. 18), Janet Jackson (Collector’s Edition: Live in Hawaii/The Velvet Rope, out Nov. 16) and Jessica Simpson (Reality Tour Live, out Nov. 23).


Shopper’s Tip: Read the Ratings

Just like movies, music and video games also receive ratings and its important that parents pay attention to these ratings when making purchases as not all albums and games are for everyone. For music that may contain strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse, the Recording Industry Association of America ( places a parental advisory label on the CD. And for video games, the Entertainment Software Rating Board ( places ratings on games including E (for Everyone ages 6 and older), T (for Teen ages 13 and older), M (for Mature ages 17 and older) and AO (for Adults Only ages 18 and older).



While most teen-age boys would not be very happy to find clothes next to the Hannukah menorah, teen-age girls are quite the opposite. And the trend this fall and winter is a very feminine look that should make moms and dads happy to give as presents, says Shawn Lambertsen, fashion director for juniors at Macy’s.

“It’s not really sexy, it’s very feminine – it kind of reminds me of the 50’s looks (and) I bet a lot of mothers went through this trend,” she explains.


: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">One of the major stars of this trend is the shrunken cardigan sweater with a faux-fur collar and some type of rhinestone detail, either a broach or rhinestone buttons, as is the Chanel-inspired boucle jacket, where again the broach is very important. In addition to the broach, other accessories that are hot this year as gifts are charm bracelets and doubled up necklaces where they’re worn in multiples, either long or short. And in the outerwear area, both the peacoat and the puffer jacket with a faux-fur hood are the hot items to go with.

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana"> 

Shopper’s Tip: Know How to Return It

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">Afraid that sweater you’re picking up may not fit the person you’re giving it to? Then when purchasing, make sure you know the store’s return policy. Many stores do over-extended return periods for the holidays, but a receipt may still be required. And when purchasing holiday gifts, ask for a gift receipt – many stores now offer receipts that do not print the price of the item and can be enclosed with a gift so they can go and return it if they wish. 

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana"> 

What to Give When Nothing Else Fits?

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">So what happens if its Christmas Eve and you still don’t know what to get your teen for the holidays? While giving them some spending money to purchase whatever they want during those hectic after-holiday sales is a good idea, a gift card can sometimes be even better.

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana"> 

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">“Gift cards are wonderful and if you want to make sure that (your teen) uses it at least somewhat in the way it was intended to be used, that’s a good way to go,” says Steve Mullen, spokesperson for Circuit City.

: 10pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana"> 

In most stores, gift cards nowadays look like ATM cards and are used in much the same way – when a purchase is made, the cashier swipes the card in the register or ATM console and the amount for the purchase is deducted from the amount on the card. Some stores have cards you can purchase with specific amounts already place on them, while others allow you to put however much you want and even pick out the design of the card you want to give. Most times gift cards can be used either in the store or on the store’s Web site.


And you certainly wouldn’t be the only person giving a gift card – according to a recent survey Circuit City compiled on gift cards, 70 percent of respondents plan to give gift cards this holiday season and 82 percent said they hoped they’d be getting one as well.


However, one thing to remember – different stores have different policies regarding gift cards as some stores charge the holder of a gift card a small fee if they do not use it within a certain amount of time after it is issued, or some have an expiration date. Make sure to inquire when purchasing or read the back of the card for the store’s policies.