76 Awesome Gift Ideas for Teens

Top Gift Ideas for Teens featured by top life and style blog, Design Mom: image of wrapped holiday gifts

Your #1 most requested gift guide category? Teens! This gift guide includes 76 options — and 39 of those are $20 or under. Lots of great stocking stuffers too.

My own teens were a huge help figuring out what to put on this list. There’s something here for every type of teen you can think of. I’ve got all the Breakfast Club stereotypes covered, and a whole bunch more as well. Shopping for Tweens? There are quite a few items on this list that I know tweens would love as well.

Let’s get started. 

9 Secrets To Garnishing a Turkey Platter

We’ve already tackled the 6 Secrets to the Perfect Pie Crust and 7 Secrets to the Juiciest Thanksgiving Turkey. Now it’s time to talk about making that turkey pretty on the platter! You put in a lot of effort when preparing a Thanksgiving turkey — roasting it for hours and hours, lifting the heavy pan to rotate the turkey, making sure it doesn’t burn, checking the temperature, etc, etc. All that work and everyone devours it in a matter of minutes? I know. It’s just how things are. Everyone is hungry.

But before guests dig-in, you might want everyone to stop and take a good long gander (pardon the bird pun) and admire that beautiful turkey with its crisp, brown skin and tantalizing juiciness. A well-roasted, heavily browned turkey is a piece of art, no? Norman Rockwell seemed to think so, and I do too.

My advice: think like Martha. Dress up that platter! Gild that lily! Make that turkey pretty! Make those hungry mouths wait just a darn second and admire that 4-5 hour beauty you just (literally) threw your back into.

Here are some ideas to make the turkey platter look extra pretty, whether you’re a food blogger like me, an Insta-maniac, you simply like your food to be attractive, or as I said, you just want everyone to stand back and admire your work.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Goat Cheese

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Goat Cheese | Design Mom

This side-dish (or appetizer!) includes roasted sweet potatoes wrapped in bacon. An herbed goat cheese of rosemary and sage gets tucked under the bacon before baking, giving it time to get melty in the oven. The flavors and textures here are just so happy together: sweet, soft potatoes; salty, crispy bacon; and herby, tangy, creamy goat cheese.

4 Secrets To A Well Stocked Holiday Pantry

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away? Hannukah and Christmas are right around the corner too!  I’m getting excited. Maybe even a little too excited for hosting guests and holiday baking. Grocery stores run all sorts of specials on pantry items at this time of year, so this is when I love to stock up on essentials — and a few special items to make the Holidays extra festive and memorable.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Stuffing with Fennel and Dried Cherries

Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s officially time to nail down the menu and track down any specific recipes you want to use. If you’re looking for ideas, here’s a excellent recipe for one of those traditional Thanksgiving essentials: Stuffing.This particular recipe is sprinkled with extras like dried cherries and fennel. Which reminds me that stuffing, which on the surface seems like a not-stressful, pretty basic dish, can actually instigate some pretty big opinions.

From what I can tell, there are 3 separate debates that happen around stuffing. First is the Cornbread vs. Not-Cornbread argument — for some people only a specific kind of stuffing does the trick (you’ll read below that some families make both!). Second is the Simple Stuffing vs. Add-Ins argument. Meaning, do you prefer a simple boxed recipe? Or do you favor adding in extra ingredients and new flavors? And third, do you actually stuff your turkey with the stuffing? Or do you cook the stuffing separately?

I wonder if the strong opinions come because Thanksgiving is like a giant meal of comfort foods. But it’s not comforting, unless it’s the recipe and the flavors and textures that you grew up with. So you end up with a dozen people at the table, who hear the word stuffing, and all think of something a bit different.

Make It: Autumn Arrangement

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? Menu lined up? Linens decided? How about a centerpiece? If you’re looking for some inspiration, you’re in luck. The amazing Kiana Underwood, a talented Bay Area florist created a step-by-step tutorial for the gorgeous autumnal fruit-filled arrangement pictured above. And she is generously sharing it with us today.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Parmesan

Thanksgiving is such an easy holiday to love. Why? Well, first, it’s so self-contained — there are little to no accompanying activities or assignments or tasks, just the big feast! And second, the focus on gratitude and family is pretty darn terrific. We’ve discussed perfecting a roasted turkey and pie crust, but the sides are where a lot of the fun starts. This year, you can’t go wrong adding Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Parmesan to your table.

Do These 3 Things Early in November

I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year. Any tips to make it less stressful? — Rebecca

Great question! There are a few simply things you can do in early November to make Thanksgiving prep easy.

1) Get your kitchen knives sharpened. Your guests will likely be helping you in the kitchen. You won’t want them using crummy tools.

2) Take inventory of your dinnerware/china and utensils. Do you have enough place settings for all your guests? Have you lost a few random spoons over the last year? (Spoons are notorious for getting thrown out with yogurt cups or lost in the sandbox.) If you have any gaps to fill in, this is the time to place your orders. We’ll be adding more silverware this year — our preferred pattern is Old Denmark by Yamazaki.

3) Ask guests if there are any particular foods or recipes that will make or break Thanksgiving for them and add those recipes to your menu. At our house, there’s a particular veggie dip that we are totally homesick for if we don’t get a bite at Thanksgiving. While asking your guests this question, it’s also a great time to check in on any allergies or other dietary requirements they might be navigating.

What about you? What are your best tips for preparing for Thanksgiving?

Ideas For Dealing With All That Candy

Between school and church activities, parties and trick-or-treating, we always get way too much candy in October. I’m sure it’s no different at your house. The question is: what on earth do you do with all that candy?!

Don’t you worry, I’ve searched out the cleverest ideas to help you deal with the sugar overload.

10 Great Halloween Books

Great Halloween Books

Not-so-scary scary books are the best way to ease into Halloween, which can sometimes be a little overwhelming for even the bravest kids on the block. From charming to lightly creepy, this list should lighten up the darkest October nights. Enjoy! (Hmm. Perhaps Beware! is more in the spirit of this list!)

Easy 30-Minute Fajita Bowls

These easy 30-minute fajita bowls are one of the easiest and most flavorful meals to make. They come together in about thirty minutes, which is perfect at the end of a long day of work, or for when kids are melting down. This meal is popular with groups and families because it’s so easy for people to customize — someone can skip the cheese, another can skip the limes, cilantro-tastes-like-soap-people can skip the cilantro.

If you can, mix up the marinade in the morning; it takes about five minutes. The chicken gets so much flavor from the marinade, and remains really juicy after cooking. If the weather is good, we love to grill this chicken for that smoky flavor, but this chicken bakes well too. While the chicken and rice cook, you can chop up all the veggies and garnishes. Everything is ready at the same time, and dinner is served.

Living With Kids: Juliana Rotmeyer

I am utterly fascinated by high-rise family living. I think of all the little things, like getting groceries up 30 floors – which is an entirely different dilemma if the elevators aren’t running! Or, do dwellers in the sky ever miss having a backyard just outside the door? They probably have far less mud in their foyers. And how do you create that sense of indoor-outdoor childhood freedom when getting outside from the super-elevated inside involves a bit of planning? Today’s high up home shows us that it can be done.

Juliana‘s place in Hong Kong, with its endless views and unique space considerations, reminds me of a nest. I love the thought she put into creating a warm and workable family home in what was once a plain white box of an apartment. Friends, I know you’re going to enjoy this very different, very citified Living With Kids tour. Welcome, Juliana!

Easy Entertaining: 3 Fabulous No-Prep Menus

When life gets busy, it’s hard to make time to prep a meal for guests. So I thought it would be fun to come up with a few menus that are entirely store bought, requiring no prep, plus totally gorgeous and majorly delicious.

The idea is that you can swing by the grocery store on the way home from work, or after school (or you could even use a grocery delivery service), and pick up an instant meal that tastes amazing, is fun to eat and serve, and requires no apology.

Does a no-prep, grocery store menu sound right up your alley? Then you’re in luck! I’ve got 3 for you today. One French-themed, one Scandinavian themed, and one filled with All-American flavors. A stop at the store, a few minutes opening bottles and packages, and boom, you’re hosting a stress-free dinner party.

Dessert For Two: Sautéed Caramel Apples

Dessert For Two: Sautéed Caramel Apples and Vanilla Ice Cream | DesignMom.com

Caramel and apples are one of the greatest combos ever. Not sure if it even matters how they are combined, there’s just something wonderful about that buttery, sweet and sticky caramel paired with tart, juicy apples. These Sautéed Caramel Apples are no different. If you’ve got a craving for something sweet, this will most definitely satisfy it. Can you imagine digging into a bowl of ice cream topped with warm, tender caramel-y apples? Yeah, it’s like pie without the crust. But in a good way.

Here’s what I love about this recipe, besides how delicious it is: it tastes fancy (but isn’t), it’s easy to make, and you can make it even easier with a little shortcut (see the notes!). Oh, and because you’ll probably be wanting to make this on a daily basis (no judgement) you can also make a larger batch and store it in the fridge for up to a week. Woot!

The ingredients are very simple. You probably have everything on hand already — apples, sugar, butter, lemon juice, cream, and vanilla. It really spruces up a bowl of vanilla ice cream, but you know what would take it up another notch? Sea salt caramel ice cream. It’s almost too much to think about!

Living With Kids: Jen Hansard

Bargain hunting is a true skill, but doing it with style is another kind of trick altogether. So when Jen Hansard told me that 99% of her home furnishings were bought second-hand from Craigslist, The Salvation Army, and garage sales, I wanted to see more. Naturally, I wanted to show you, too! I hope you enjoy the tour of the Hansard’s brand new home as much as I did. Her reasons why she loves her photo wall absolutely melted my heart. This is a good one, Friends.

3 Simple, Beautiful Polymer Clay Earrings — Even Kids Can Make These!

Beautiful Polymer Clay Earrings featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

I’m perpetually on the hunt for sweet, pretty, usable, handcrafted projects. Ideas that are perfect for a rainy afternoon, or for a Ladies Crafting Night, or for a birthday party activity, or to make as a gift. And this project definitely fits the bill! Homemade earrings that don’t look homemade at all! And so easy that your kids can get involved too. Yes, please!

Let’s get to making.

Chile Verde Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder

Chile Verde Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder | DesignMom.com

The beauty of this recipe is two-fold. First and foremost, it’s easy to make in a slow cooker, on the stove-top, in the oven, and I assume in an Instant Pot. The sauce is comprised of Mexican-style salsa verde (made with tomatillos and green chiles), onion, ground cumin, garlic, a little brown sugar, and vinegar (the secret ingredient). The other secret ingredient is nothing more than time.

Second, it’s one of the most versatile big-batch recipes you can make. That means cook it once and enjoy it several times during the week or freeze in portions to use later.

If you need some ideas on how to use slow cooked pork shoulder, here is a short list: nachos, enchiladas, soup or stew, tacos, burritos or wraps, over polenta or rice, taco salad, a base for tamale pie, etc..

Traditional Chile Verde is a Mexican stew that uses most of the same ingredients in this recipe, but is definitely more stew-like. This slow cooker pork shoulder doesn’t have as much sauce or liquid, which makes it more versatile in that array of dishes mentioned above. But you could add an extra bottle of sauce, plus some chicken broth, and turn it into stew, if desired.

Living With Kids: Kimberly Senn

I get so many notes from readers wishing they could find the courage to send photos of their homes, but then months pass without even a peek! When I check back in with them, they sometimes tell me it’s not yet camera ready or they just need one more perfect piece to make their living room livable or “WE ALL HAD THE FLU AND NOW I WANT TO MOVE!” The goal of perfection really does get in the way of life, don’t you think?

I get it. And so does Kimberly Senn. But somewhere along the way, after missing out on opening up her home to old and new friends because of a fear that it wasn’t stylish enough or clean enough, she consciously stopped pausing her life and holding her breath and waiting for everything to be perfect. Instead of sitting alone pondering the layer of grimy fingerprints on the lower three feet of her walls, she and her family now open up their home as often as possible — today, to us! (As she put it so eloquently, “Our friends don’t like us because we have a perfect house. They like us because we keep our fridge stocked with good beer.” Ha!)

And guess what? No one notices the grit. All I can see is the joy. Come see it, too! Welcome, Kimberly!

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