How to buy for Generation Z this holiday season

Anthony Marcusa

Don’t stress over buying for the young people on your list this year; we talked to a college student to find out the fail-proof presents youths will love.

It's natural to view younger generations as slightly inscrutable. But that doesn't lessen the fact that it's difficult to know what to buy for people from Generation Z when the holidays roll around.

After interviewing several people, we found they're less focused on having and collecting stuff and more about finding the most effective products to make their lives simpler and more enjoyable. They also prioritize taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally -- as a part of the self-care revolution.

If you're unsure of how to approach gift-giving to the younger generation, fear not: We asked our collection of college-student experts what kids have on their wish lists this year, so you can get them exactly what they want.


Smart kids want smart homes: Young people really love convenience in technology, which is why the Echo Dot virtual assistant from Amazon is so popular. As teens head off to school and start to create their own space, they want their own smart home (or smart dorm). The 3rd gen Echo Dot comes at a good price point and is offered in a few different colors. 

Trendy tech to stay connected: One of the newest innovations in wearable tech is also one of the most popular among Gen Z'ers and millennials. Apple's AirPods are basically the high fashion of tech, and they're a coveted accessory among young people who want them but don't necessarily want to spend the money on them. 

Games for adult kids: Millennials and Gen Z'ers are often more inclined to stay in and socialize instead of going out. That's why board games and card games are especially sought after. Simple and social games - especially those that may have some adult content like Cards Against Humanity - are terrific gifts that are both timeless and engaging.

The gifts that keep on giving: Give kids access to infinite media with a subscription to Audible or Netflix. Many young people don't care as much for physical copies of most things, which is why streaming services, whether for film and TV or for audiobooks, is ideal. 

For the caffeine fiend: It's usually by the beginning of college that people really get into drinking coffee - it comes in handy on those early mornings and late nights. Gift them a Nespresso Machine so they can save on all those coffees they're likely buying from Starbucks. For the person who drinks coffee daily, the machine will quickly pay for itself.

A wellness wristwatch: It's important to keep track of what's going on without being always attached to a phone, which is why the FitBit Versa is so useful, especially for the wellness-oriented. Monitoring steps, sleep, heart rate, while also passing along any notifications is useful for a generation that tries to effectively manage their time while also staying healthy and focused.

A de-stress essential: Younger generations embrace being cozy and comfortable at home. An essential oil diffuser provides at-home aromatherapy to enhance any situation, whether that's sleeping, taking a hot bath, or waking up in the mornings. They're inexpensive, often aesthetically pleasing means to soothe and freshen the air as well as your mind.

Waste-free hydration anywhere: Young people are more inclined to purchase reusable items and forgo things that create unnecessary waste. This is especially true when it comes to refilling and drinking beverages on the go. Hydro Flask or YETI are two of the most popular options due to both their effectiveness at keeping drinks fresh and their trendy look.

Flair for their phone: While kids don't necessarily like buying phone cases for themselves, they're critical for preventing damage and are an opportunity to personalize. Because of that, they make terrific gifts. Casetify makes popular cases that are also durable, protecting from shock and sudden impacts. One of the Gen Z'ers we talked to prefers the black and white marble design as well as this leafy green Monstera option.

A warm and stylish puffer coat: Kids like to be cozy, but they also prioritize being stylish. The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, available in a design for men and for women, is a trendy outer layer option: it's highly warming without being too cumbersome or awkward, with just the right amount of puff. It also comes in a variety of colors, some bold and some understated, so you can buy for your recipient's aesthetic.

For the sports fanatic: Because of how easy it is to watch any sport from wherever you are in the world, teens may be inclined to support teams that aren't from their hometowns. Younger generations like to show off their team pride with an NFL Jersey that displays their loyalties. 

The coziest slippers we've found: It's undeniable how warm and comfy UGG footwear is, which is why they are so ubiquitous. When lounging at home, a pair of UGG slippers keeps feet cozy all year round - and especially during the holiday season. Grab a feminine or masculine design for the person in your life who likes to maximize their downtime.

The gift of self-reflection: For all the complaints that younger people are constantly on their phones or staring at screens, millennials and Gen Z'ers actively seek to stay in balance. A guided journal is a popular way for young people to put their thoughts on paper. 

For the theatrical presence: Any young person interested in "video blogging," whether it's about gaming or travel or cooking or something else, needs a high-quality high-quality vlogging camera in order to capture their adventures. It's a worthwhile investment for the person who looks to stay connected and engaged and has things to share.

To carry school supplies in style: Perhaps one of the most popular items seen on campus now are Carhartt backpacks. They're simple, stylish, and useful for a modern student that may be carrying around more electronics than books. They come in all sizes and some distinct colors. Carhartt also has a lengthy collection of jackets, shirts, hats, and more.

The perfected selfie: Youths know that when it comes to taking a selfie, lighting is everything. A selfie light that attaches easily to a smartphone is a small and inexpensive gift that will excite the kid in your life who's always snapping pictures of themselves.

A gaming system for everyone: Gaming culture has exploded over the last few years, appealing to both men and women of a younger generation who have shed the stereotypes of video games and embrace them for all the fun and camaraderie they bring. Grab a Nintendo Switch for the young gamer in your life, and throw in Luigi's Mansion, a crowd-pleasing favorite.

Skincare is self-care: The younger generation is skincare obsessed. People of all genders seek not only to look and feel their best. This MALIN+GOETZ Essential Skincare Kit offers a range of high-quality must-haves, from moisturizer to body wash, cleanser to conditioner.

Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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