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How to Choose Gifts that Teens and Gamers Will Actually Love

*Updated: Looking for gift ideas for more than just teens or gamers? Check out my post about the Cyber Monday Holiday Gift Guide Round up.

This post deviates a bit from my normal crafty post. I still feel it’s relevant because so many of you are moms and have experienced the same problem. At one point or another, we all struggle with ideas for the perfect gift. I found it especially true when my son became a teenager. It was as though the concept of him growing up meant that the types of gifts he received had to reflect a more mature attitude. In just a few short months, I went from knowing exactly what to get for him to bewilderment. I know I am not the only one to feel this way. So many of my friends start asking for ideas right around the time their child turned 13. Add to that, the fact that their child loves video games but the parent just can’t quite understand the fascination with them. They buy something just to buy it and the gift isn’t received as well as they had hoped. I discovered that it really isn’t that hard to figure out which are the best gifts. The clues are there, you just have to ask the right questions to find the answers you need.

My son is a gamer( hence the name of the title for this article). I am writing my tips for choosing gifts for teens and gamers based on that. However, I want to emphasize a couple of points. First, gamers include girls. Second, gamers happen to come in all age ranges. Typically, it seems the label gets happily applied at some point around the teenage years. I happen to be a gamer mom ( current games I am playing include Gears of War 4, Heroes of the Storm, and OverWatch). Third, you need to let go of the idea that some items on your gamer’s list are not mature enough. I am suggesting gift ideas and tips for choosing them based on both my experiences as a mom and a gamer. I actually want some of the gift suggestions I am sharing. The difference between my gift guide and others being that we have actually bought items similar to what I am sharing with you( whenever possible, I chose to share items we own).

I decided to write this gift guide with a few tips because I noticed that the gift guides available for teens and gamers fall short of the mark. I think this is because the person writing the guide is a bit out of touch with what the receiver really would like. They look around on the web and choose things they think would make great gifts for gamers. They might tick a few things off the list but mostly it seems they throw in something random in. Perhaps it’s to appease parents who are concerned about screen time or maybe it just fills an extra slot for their affiliate links. Many of the suggestions just come off as plain lame. There are ways to satisfy your kids love of video games while getting away from the screen. I’ll be sharing those ideas. Before we do that though, there are a few main questions to ask yourself and the gift recipient.

Ask yourself a few simple questions to learn the best gifts for your teen or gamer. Click to see the gift guide

To Choose Gifts that Teens and Gamers Will Actually Love, Ask the Following Questions:

  1. Where and What Platform Does He/She Game at the Most? This is a very important question, especially if you are going to choose a gaming system as the gift. I always check to see where my son is playing at with his friends. Do they have an Xbox One. PS4 or use a PC gaming rig? You don’t want to buy an Xbox One only to find out that your gamer’s friends are all playing on a PS4. Contrary to what a lot of people realize, gaming is very social. Many games are co-op based. We all play certain games together as a family. My son also schedules time to meet with friends for online matches. Knowing which platform to get for the gamer in your life will ensure they can stay social. If they already have a gaming platform, you can then readily choose the right games, accessories and gift cards to go with it.
  2. What Games is He/She Expressing Interest in? It’s not unusual for a gamer to have a certain type of genre they prefer to play. My son for example, loves Real Time Strategy Games and First Person Shooters. If you don’t know what those are, that’s ok. Peek at the titles in their game library or listen to the games they are talking about. Search for the game title online or in a store like Steam or Amazon. The store will list what type of game it is. Often times, both Steam and Amazon will suggest similar titles based on what you selected. You can read reviews and choose a new game that hopefully your gamer will love. Sites like GameSpot offer additional reviews to help you make a selection. Pay attention to the latest articles for the hottest new titles.

Essentially, you just need to look and listen to see what your teen or gamer is interested in when it comes to choosing a gift they will love. Once you have answered those questions, you can easily direct your gift search. The items fall into a few basic categories. What you choose from each one will vary only slightly depending on the game or game genre. I am going to share some of my suggestions for gifts with you. Please keep in mind that some of these are affiliate links. While I may earn a small commission should you purchase through the links, it costs nothing for you to use them. The bonus for you is that, in many cases,you will have the opportunity to read product reviews which will help you make a decision.

Gift Cards

I know what you are thinking. You would prefer a physical gift to just giving a gift card. They can be hard to wrap or it may feel like you aren’t giving a whole lot. To both teens and gamers, these are awesome gifts. They help pay for subscription renewals. Most games are digital now, which means they can buy a new game, buy an expansion pack for a game they already own, or buy in game characters, costumes and special items. In many cases, games comes with “skins” which are essentially costumes for customizing the character. Most gamers want them but hate paying the real world cash for them.Skins can cost as little as 99 cents or as much as $20.00. A gift card means you suddenly have the money to treat yourself to something frivolous like a new “skin” for your favorite game character.Trust me when I say that gamers love gift cards.

What is important is knowing which card to get. Each company has their own online store. Going back to question one above, knowing the platform and where a gamer plays means you are getting them the right card. The three main stores are Steam( for PC gaming), Xbox LIve and the Playstation Store. You can get them as a physical card( which is great for stocking stuffers) or get an ecard.

Collectibles and Apparel

Just about every game out there has collectible items and apparel. Pretty much every gamer ( and teen) I know wants to collect it. If you listen to your gamer or peek at their game library, you will have a good idea of their favorite games( and even movies). No matter what age a gamer is, they adore the collectibles and wearables available. I like to use Amazon to look for items for my son. It’s not unusual to find items listed that were only available at game conventions or that were limited edition productions. I love surprising my son with something he didn’t expect to get because we couldn’t fly out to a convention half way around the world.

Collectibles range from realistic art( statues, art prints from the game’s design phase) to very cutesy. Keep your budget in mind when you shop. You can find everything from small key chains all the way up through life size statues. Just pop the name of the game into the search on Amazon and go. That being said, it seems like every teen I know likes to collect Funko Pop. These are cute little plastic dolls based on your gamer’s favorite characters. I vicariously collect Funko Pop through my son. These are sold as individual pieces or in sets. Check the price on both, as sometimes there is a discount to buying a set.

Funko Pop’s Mystery Mini’s make great stocking stuffers. I also like them for Easter Baskets.

If Funko Pop are too cutesy for you, try looking in the toys section for action figures. Many gamers collect them and they don’t mind getting  a “toy” for Christmas if it is from one of their favorite games.

If you are unsure about which specific wearables or collectibles to get, consider Loot Crate. Each month, a new mystery box arrives with a range of various items. We got my son a subscription for his birthday a few years ago and have regularly renewed it for birthday and Christmas gifts. While he does know that he is getting a subscription renewal, he loves that each box is a surprise and that he gets something in the mail. Items we have received include themed socks,t-shirts, pajama pants, collectible figures, books, comics, game codes, and themed snacks.

LootCrate has several options for purchase. You can buy just one box or subscribe at a discount for a set time frame of a few months up to one year. They have several subscription options and add ons which include additional apparel and even items for your pet. From time to time, they create huge limited edition boxes. So if you know exactly what your gamer likes, you can choose one of those. I have been known to steal items from my son’s crates for myself and have even considered subscribing to  the add on for Gamer girls.

Getting Your Gamer Away from the Screen is Easy with the Right Gift!

I know a lot of moms are concerned about screen time. If you listen to what your child loves, there are many ways to satisfy their love of video games but get them away from the screen.

Look for model sets for them to build and/or paint. My son loves building and painting models from the Warhammer 40K universe. There are various building sets based on video games like Halo and Gears of War. Eventually, all of these sets will become collector’s items.

Funko Pop also provides an opportunity to get your gamer away from the screen. They have a blank plastic model which can be painted or altered in any way imaginable. There are lots of you tube videos and tutorials for creating your own custom figures.

Don't forget to save the toy packaging to use in your project life and pocket page spreads. Pocket page by Christy Strickler for My Scrapbook Evolution. Photos are in a series to document how the model was built.

Scrapbooking Tip: When my son was younger, we would spend part of the holiday or birthday working on the models together. Now that he is older, he works on them on his own, though his dad still occasionally joins in. If you do get a model or building set, don’t forget to take photos at intervals to show the progress of the model. Photocopy or use packaging to create custom scrapbook embellishments.

There are board games to accompany many of the popular video games. Some of them come with models which your gamer can customize by painting. Many of the board games are considered collectibles in their own right. My son has several editions of the Risk Boardgame for Star Wars and Halo with several other editions on his wishlist.

Invite your gamer to immerse themselves into the world of their favorite game through reading. Many popular games also have accompanying books, comics and graphic novels. My son enjoys a half an hour every morning before school with a book or comic of his choice. He says he wants something fun to read just for him and not something related to school or work. He also enjoys collecting books featuring information about the making of his favorite games and concept art used in those games.

Many of the games are now also movies. Consider renting one( or adding it to your Gamer’s movie library) and making it a family movie night. You’ll get to spend family time together and perhaps learn a little bit more about something your gamer loves.

Video Game Accessories

If you have a gamer, chances are they might appreciate collectible accessories to play their games with. There are themed mouse pads, keyboards, headsets and controllers. All you need to know is what your Gamer’s favorite game and platform of choice is.

The BIG Splurge!

This next gift is not necessary. It’s just one of those things that are cool and that most gamers would like to have. I feel pretty lucky because we were able to get one for my son this year. I can’t wait until he opens it on Christmas day!

The Nivida shield is a specialty gaming tablet. It does everything any other android tablet will do BUT is also allows for cloud gaming. It’s a pretty cool device, the first of it’s kind. I am hoping it lives up to expectations. Make sure if you get the tablet that you get the controller and universal charger to go with it!

You can Choose Gifts that Teens and Gamers Will Actually Love!

The main thing to remember, regardless of age, is to listen to what they want. Pay attention to games they mention and it will be easy to figure out which items to get for them. There are tons of choices available to you from apparel to collectibles to books and gaming accessories. It really doesn’t take much to keep a gamer happy. What makes them doubly happy is that you took the time to find something they truly like.

Friends in the UK can visit Amazon UK for deals on Video Games, Consoles, collectibles and apparel.

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