Interactive Gift Ideas for Teenagers

I personally think buying gifts for teenagers is pretty hard, even in the best of circumstances. But when they certainly don’t need another video game or app for their phones, and you know they would benefit from some family connection, it’s even harder.  Sometimes it takes a little creativity to come up with interactive gift ideas for teenagers, but I’ve found some pretty good ones that I’ll share today.  Gifts that encourage family engagement and connection are fun now as well as meaningful in the future.

Experiences and Activities

As I mentioned last week when I talked about family-themed activities for kids, I know some people who like giving experiences as gifts instead of things.  This can be especially great for teenagers.  They need the connections and the time invested in them, but they’re sometimes too busy or *ahem* too cool to hang out with their parents or siblings without a special occasion.   Obviously not all of the suggestions I’m listing here would work for every teenager, but see what experiences might be good for your specific one.  Make sure the activity is something special, not something you would normally do.  

  • Record-Breaking Family Fun Kit (think “Minute to Win It”) by The Gifty Girl
  • a water park
  • fancy dinner out
  • an amusement park
  • a vacation
  • a staycation
  • a day out with Dad or Mom
  • horseback riding
  • a musical or theatrical production
  • skiing
  • hiking

Heather Lynne at Raising Memories has some great suggestions for teenagers, too.  You can see her whole list here, but it includes:

  • zip lining
  • spa day (mani/pedi, etc.)
  • helicopter ride
  • hot air balloon ride
  • pottery class (or paint your own pottery)

I always recommend making these moments last by taking photos of the activities.  Depending on the event, a little memory book of the special activity is the perfect additional gift!  Preserving the experience and the memories makes it the gift that keeps on giving.


Games you can play as a family are a fun way to interact and engage with each other.  Similar to the idea of having dinner together as a family, games provide opportunity to just BE together.  Here are a few ideas I really like for teenagers.

  • While I am not a video game fan in principle, family video games like Just Sing or Rock Band make lots of fun memories and connections.  We have the old Rock Band, and I can’t tell you how many fun hours we have had with it.  It was especially good when we had one teenager with younger “non-teenager” siblings–it was something everyone could play and enjoy.
  • This neat card game from The Connections Games is called “Did You Know?”  It’s an interactive get-to-know-you game with questions in five categories.  It can be played as a family but also with friends, roommates, or on group dates.
  • I mentioned Mrs. Lady Wordsmith’s list of 21 family games last week.  There are several teenage-type games there that the whole family can play.
  • We received this game as a gift, and I really like that it’s a team game!  Instead of trying to beat each other, like most games, everyone playing is a team trying to beat the timer!

From the Heart

Gifts from the heart are always so meaningful and cherished.  I think teenagers especially need a little extra support and love and encouragement.  My favorite one is this simple but powerful Only You book.  List talents and strengths your teenager has that he/she may not be able to see right now.  Write things you love about him/her.  You’ll never find a better $15 gift in the whole world.

Words are powerful.  The gift of words is something that lasts, something a teenager can pull out on a hard day today or a hard day in college.

Special Ideas

I hope you’ve found some special ideas for the teenager in your life.  Connections make great gifts!  Next week I’ll have some gift ideas for adults, too!

~Jennifer  #familyhistoryfriday


  1. Mrs. Lady Wordsmith. (2017). Retrieved from
  2. Rockband4. (2017). Retrieved from
  3. Raising Memories. (2013). Retrieved from
  4. the Connections games. (2017). Retrieved from
  5. the Connections games. (2017). Facebook. Retrieved from
  6. The Gifty Girl. (2016). Retrieved from












Jennifer Wise

consultant at Heritage Makers
I'm Jennifer, and I'm passionate about connections.I enjoy helping people discover the very real benefits of preserving stories, photos, and memories because of the impact they have on children, families, and individuals. I blog weekly at sharing tips, ideas, solutions, and inspiration, and I'm over at, too. Learn more about me at the "About" tab.

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4 thoughts on “Interactive Gift Ideas for Teenagers

  1. Some of my favorites when I was a teenager were interactive gifts. I remember my parents taking us on a plane ride at the small, local airport. That was pretty cool, as I’d never been in a plain before that (since I was too young to remember). I also really enjoyed going to watch a comedy play with the family. It wasn’t very “interactive” during the show, but it produced hours of laughs during and afterwards while at dinner.

    • Those are great examples, Josh. Those things are longer lasting than toys or gift cards, and they make a real difference. Thanks for reading and commenting, and for sharing your experiences!