According to the Pew Research center, Gen Z encompasses anyone born between 1997 and 2012, which technically means ages 9-24. While kids are pretty easy to shop for, it gets more difficult for anyone 16 or up ― or, in terms of Gen Z, the ages between “driver’s license” and a “my first apartment” tour on TikTok.
Between angst, school, friend drama and generally learning who you are and how you want to “contribute to society,” 16-24 is a tough age range to shop for. So if you’re a parent, grandparent, sibling, gender-inclusive aunt/uncle, mentor or otherwise any person expected to give a holiday present to Gen Zer this winter, you’re likely looking for some gifting guidance. I got you.
After close to two years in a global pandemic, Gen Z is navigating even blurrier lines separating their offline and online lives. Because of this “who am I?” tension between digital and real life, Sarah Jannetti, a 22-year-old Gen Z queen and co-host of the viral Clubhouse NYU Girls Roasting Tech Guys, said Gen Z wants gifts that really mean something. Instead of a place-holding sweater or an “I had to get you something” lotion kit, they want gifts from brands with values that align with their own. Things they can actually use. And, ultimately, presents that make them feel heard and seen.
“Gen Zers are much more intentional and thoughtful gifters and buyers in general,” Jannetti told HuffPost. “They generally care more about where a product comes from, where it’s made and how sustainable it is. The way they shop and discover new products is also different — primarily on Instagram and TikTok.”
While you may have lusted after luxury brands in fashion magazines as a teen, Jannetti said that Gen Z is all about shopping small. They don’t want something flashy and expensive just because it’s a status symbol; they want something meaningful to them personally. Think a cute desk lamp because they’ve mentioned reading in the dark, or a compost container because they’re always posting about climate change.
“The best Gen Z gifts are accompanied by some kind of connection or story that makes it obvious why the buyer would purchase it for the Gen Zer being gifted,” Jannetti said.
In addition to thoughtful, personalized gifts and useful tools for their apartment, Jamie Lee, the 21-year-old founder of Gen Z social app Flox, suggests giving “experiences” over literal wrapped gifts, like tickets to concerts or sporting events or money for a vacation. (If you’re not sure what type of events your Gen Zer likes, you can go for a StubHub or Airbnb gift card.)
“Coming out of the pandemic, most of us feel like we have so much time to make up for and memories to make!” Lee told HuffPost.
From bedroom decor to “zero-waste” starter kits, we asked Jannetti, Lee and HuffPost readers across Facebook and Instagram for their Gen Z wish lists and gifting success stories, to give you a totally Gen Z-approved gift guide. No cap (or whatever it is they say).
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
A set of tarot cards and a tarot guide
Tickets to live events or StubHub gift cards
Actual physical books
A getaway (or staycation)
Metal reusable water bottles
A knit beanie
The gift of green
A zero waste starting kit
Stock their kitchen
A record player and some vinyl
Handmade “comfort” items
Utilitarian, but make it thoughtful
Keep their coffee warm