Thrifty gift guide for teens – treats they’ll love (that aren’t smartphones)

Whether it's a post-exams treat, a birthday present or a celebratory GCSE-passing gift, you'll probably need to think outside the box the next time you're buying a gift for a teen. The usual toys and games just aren't going to cut it anymore, are they? Here are some ideas that you might not have already thought of:

Some items in this blog post have been gifted

If you’ve got teenagers in your household, they can be tricky to buy for. I mean, how do you know what they really want at their age? That’s why I’m sharing a gift guide to suit all ages and phases of teenage-dom and I hope it gives you some inspiration for treating the teen in your life…

Whether it’s a post-exams treat, a birthday present or a celebratory GCSE-passing gift, you’ll probably need to think outside the box the next time you’re buying a gift for a teen. The usual toys and games just aren’t going to cut it anymore, are they? Here are some ideas that you might not have already thought of:


Ahhh everything is about 3D these days, and drawing is no exception. That’s where the Polaroid Play 3D Pen comes in. Can you believe that it is now possible to actually draw in 3D? After all the hype of 3D printers (and the massive expense that comes with them) the idea of 3D modelling has trickled down into the world of at-home crafting.

This cool kit is a much more purse-friendly prince than those spendy 3D printers, and the £29.99 bundle at Menkind contains everything you need to get started on creating 3D drawings including extra plastic filament packs. It’s suitable for ages 14+ and even includes a downloadable app that allows you to trace designs from the Polaroid Play database, making it even easier to begin 3D modelling.


I’m such a fan of gift vouchers for any kind of special occasion. In fact, I can’t think of a celebration when an experience voucher wouldn’t be suitable, and shopping for a gift for your teenager is no exception. If you can’t be sure what kind of they would enjoy, buying a family day out experience voucher covers all eventualities.

For just £29, this experience voucher offers 170 different days out that your teen can choose from, such as city tours, crazy golf, paintballing and crafting days. Plus, the voucher is for 2 adults and 2 children, so the whole family can enjoy spending some quality time together.

I think there’s nothing better than having an event to look forward to in the future, which is why I personally love to receive experiences vouchers. Plus, gift vouchers take up almost no space at all in their over-crammed teenage bedroom – even more so if you send it as an e-voucher!


This is more of a ‘good luck in your exams’ or ‘congratulations on passing your GCSEs’ gift. It’s a great one for teenagers as these stationery products can grow with them throughout their school, college, uni and work years. The vibrant Filofax notebook from Pen Heaven is one of my personal favourites (you may have spotted that I included a Filofax in my eco-friendly gift guide at Christmas) as it can be used for all of the above occasions and can be expanded indefinitely with A5 refills. Plus it comes with dividers to help teens keep their class notes or projects in separate sections.

Combine this notebook and Filofax refill with a gift set of Parker pens and you’ve got a gorgeous ‘off to college’ gift for your teenager. The Parker Jotter Trio set contains a blue ballpoint, red gel pen and mechanical pencil, which pretty-much covers all eventualities when your teenager heads to 6th Form. The ballpoint pen is another refillable product, which fits in with my ethos of ‘buy well and buy once’.

Both the notebook and the pen set can be personalised to commemorate a special occasion or achievement. You can emboss your teen’s initials onto the cover of the Filofax and can add a 25-character message or name to the Parker pens. I think these heritage products are a great way to equip your teenager for the world of further education or work.


When your teen becomes interested in decorating their own space, they’ll love to receive a cool neon light to illuminate their room. A freestanding lamp could brighten up their studying desk or simply stand on top of a dresser to bring a splash of colour to a dark corner. There are SO many designs to choose from these days to suit your teen’s personality – let them choose from this selection from Red Candy:

I remember when neon lights first hit the decor scene and they were SO expensive. We’re talking hundreds of pounds! But now, you can get neon lights and wall-mounted neon signs delivered for less than £50! I couldn’t believe it when I saw such a variety of designs and colours available at bargain prices – I’ve actually got a neon sign in my home office, so I’m sure that your teen will think it’s a cool gift to personalise their living space.


Show your teenager what fun you had as a youngster with a retro game. I personally think this desktop arcade machine is really cute and it’s a fun way to get teens off their phones and encourage them to play a game ‘in real life’ – well, sort of!

Remember playing Pacman or Tetris for hours? Well, this pint-sized console actually contains 240 different retro games! That’ll keep your teenager entertained for a while, right? And you can enjoy watching them get to grips with using a joystick for the first time, haha!

Let me know what you think of these gift ideas for teenagers and please share your own tips for buying presents for teens in the comments below – I’d love to hear what gifts went down well with your youngster this year 🙂

Some items in this blog post have been gifted to me and the pink links indicate a gifted product, affiliate link or information source. All thoughts and opinions in this post are based on my own experience and I am not responsible for your experience 🙂

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Cassie Fairy
Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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