Ideas for Inexpensive Gifts for Teens

By Rosenya Faith ; Updated September 26, 2017
Give your teen a pampering gift she can share with her friends.
Give your teen a pampering gift she can share with her friends.

If the latest techno-gadgets and gizmos are at the top your teen's wish list, finding a gift without breaking the bank can seem like a challenge. Fortunately, when you get your creative juices flowing and use your teen's personality and interests as a guide, it won't be long before you have the perfect gift for any teen, from a fashionista to a bookworm, without stepping foot in the electronics aisle.

Sentimental Photos

Transfer a special photo onto a slab of wood for a unique and inexpensive gift. Just print the photo onto photo paper and paint the wood with polyvinyl acetate. Place the photo paper face down on the wood and smooth out all the bubbles. Let the photo dry overnight, wet the photo paper with a cloth and rub the paper. As you rub, the paper will come off, leaving the photo on the wood. Paint the photo with more polyvinyl acetate and let it dry thoroughly. Instead of a single photo print, you can pick up a cheap wooden block and make a photo cube by transferring a different picture to each side. You can also have a picture of your teen and his best friend printed on a T-shirt or tote bag, have family photos printed onto playing cards, or make a collage of your favorite moments together and put the collage in an inexpensive photo frame.

Room Decor

Transform an old mirror into a brand-new chalkboard for your teen to keep track of important events. Just give the frame a fresh coat of paint and paint the mirror with chalkboard paint. You can look for a wall quote for your teen to put up or make the gift yourself from blank adhesive vinyl sheets and spray paint. Cut the letters from the vinyl, take them outdoors and spray-paint one side of each letter. Pick up a trendy wall-mounted coat rack or make one yourself from a piece of driftwood. Find some crazy-looking cabinet doorknobs and screw them along the length of the wood. If your teen is a bookworm, pick up a small, secondhand bookcase to store her favorite stories. Just sand down the bookcase and paint the most creative patterns you can imagine on each shelf.

Sporty Locker Gifts

Surprise your teen with a gift that will make his locker the envy of all his classmates. You can pick up an ordinary locker pocket to store his spare change, or customize the pocket by writing words such as, “Teens Rock,” or “My Stuff,” on the pocket with puffy paint to make raised writing and let it dry. Cover the entire pocket with spray paint to create a solid color over the raised paint. You can surprise him with sporty magnets to hold class notes and schedules, too. Just cut craft foam into football shapes, paint the football with his school colors and glue a magnet to the back. Pick up a pennant from your teen's favorite sports team and add a magnet to the back, or have a photo of a hockey rink or baseball stadium printed to the same size as the back of his locker or his locker door and attach magnets to the back for an instant locker transformation.

Pampering Gifts

Surprise your teen with a hand-painted glass jar filled with all she'll need for a little foot pampering, including a foot scrub, foot lotion, a pumice stone and a pair of warm, fluffy socks. You can use the same idea for other pampering themes, such as a jar filled with hand care items, like hand cream, cuticle oil, nail files and nail polish. You can make a cute, inexpensive gift from a pair of long, patterned socks and a bottle of her favorite body wash or bubble bath. Slide the bottle in one sock and tie the second sock like a ribbon bow around the bottle. You can make a few bath goodies for your teen at home, such as a sugar scrub scented with your teen's favorite essential oil. Just mix together 8 parts white, granulated sugar to 1 part almond or coconut oil, and mix in a few drops of the essential oil. Pour the mixture into a simple glass or plastic jar, and that's it.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.