Our staff reviewed a lot of products in 2015. These were are our favorites.
Practical or Fun and Sometimes Both . . .
World’s Softest Socks
What’s a holiday without a pair of socks, right? And we’re loving the socks we tried out from World’s Softest. They are really soft … and beyond comfortable. Plus, they come in colors and styles for every taste. ‘ Nuff said.
Phone Soap Polish
If your teenager is like ours, we’re guessing her phone has been places you really don’t want to think about. At all. That’s why we adore the new Phone Soap Polish. Just rub it on and kiss all that bacteria goodbye. Well, maybe don’t kiss it … oh, you know what we mean. What’s more, it will also make your phone sparkle. “This is perfect for a germ freak like me,” says Ahuva Sunshine. “Plus, it’s so small you can easily carry it around with you.”
Write on a chalk board. Write on windows. Write on mirrors, water bottles, anything. With chalk ink you can write on any non-porous surface and the ink stays on. Use a glass cleaner — like Windex — to wipe off. “I loved this to add spunk to everyday items,” says Your Teen intern Brooke Siegler.
Hand-Sewn Leather Bowl
If you think the words “leather” and “bowl” don’t belong in the same sentence, think again, says Your Teen’s Diana Simeon. “These bowls are funky and functional,” she says. “Right up my alley.” Made from American cowhide, the bowls are hand cut, dyed, and sewn. Great for organizing everything from jewelry to paper clips.
We love to play games during the holidays. And here’s a perfect one: Disruptus, new this year from the folks at Funnybone Toys. “It’s a blast,” says Madeline Taylor. “It forced my family to think outside of the box. It’s also a perfect game for a party.”
Pelican 1810 LED Keychain Flashlight
No more fumbling to get the keys in the lock in the dark. This flashlight is small enough to fit (unobtrusively) on a keychain, but powerful enough to be useful when you need it. “It emitted a lot of light,” says Your Teen’s Ahuva Sunshine. “It’s perfect for a college student, who’ll inevitably be walking back from the library at 2 a.m.”
Star Wars-Themed Headphones
Unless you’ve been living in outer space — and maybe even then — you’re probably aware that there’s a brand new Star Wars movie (Episode VII: The Force Awakens) coming out this December. These headphones are a must-have for your favorite Star Wars fan. Choose from R2-D2, Chewbacca, Tie Fighter or Darth Vader (shown here). “They brought out my inner Jedi warrior,” gushes Ahuva Sunshine. “And transported me to a galaxy far, far away.”
Tivoli Bluetooth Clock Radio
Enjoy your favorite music in style with the lovely — and functional — Bluetooth-enabled radio. “Tivoli radios are a favorite of designers because of their minimalist, compact designs that deliver a big sound,” says Your Teen art director, Meredith Pangrace. “The rechargeable battery has a long life so you can take it with you anywhere and play music all day wirelessly. It also works with its own app that streams some fun radio stations like “TikiBar Radio” and “24/7 Polka Heaven.”
Dyson Hot & Cool Air Multiplier
Do your teenagers run hot and cold? As in, one likes it warm and the other not so much. Then the Dyson AM09 Hot & Cool is worth checking out. A space heater in the winter; a high velocity fan in the summer. It’s also got that Dyson thing we all love — as in, sleek, well-made, and super functional. “It’s amazing,” says Jacob Borison. “My sister and I can never agree on the temperature, so now I can heat or cool my room to my exact preference.”
For the generation that is never without a phone, the Card Ninja is the perfect way to carry money, a driver’s license, credit cards, or many of the other items typically found in a wallet. Just stick to the back of a phone and, voila, your teenager is ready to go. Available in six colors. “I never had to do any searching. Everything I needed was right there attached to something I always have with me,” says teenager Morgan Tucker.
Tangled cords. Lost chargers. Sound like your house? Goldie CableKeeps comes to the rescue with a fun, colorful, and practical way to keep your cords and chargers organized (and together). “They work. They’re adorable. And there’s enough colors for everyone to have their own. Perfect!,” says Your Teen’s Stephanie Silverman.
Altec The Jacket H20 Water-Proof Bluetooth Speaker
Rub a dub, dub, you can put this speaker in the tub … er, shower. It’s cute, a mere 6 inches wide, provides awesome sound, and connects wirelessly to any Bluetooth-enabled device. What’s not to love? “Even when the speaker was on the shower floor in running water, the sound quality was really good,” says senior Charlie Parent. “It was like showering with headphones on.”
Shave Tech USB Rechargeable Travel Shaver for Men
Your Teen’s Susan Borison’s husband, Dan, is a big fan. “The ShaveTech USB rechargeable shaver gave me a remarkably close, smooth, and (honestly) excellent shave. At about the size of a deck of playing cards, it can easily be thrown into a travel bag, and the USB charger eliminates the need for annoying converters when going abroad.
NewerTech Kitchen Kit
If you’re a fan of using your iPad in the kitchen, then the NewerTech Kitchen Kit is for you. Simply mount your device on the Kitchen Kit’s NuStand and use the NuScribe stylus to navigate to your favorite online recipes—even if your hands are covered in batter or spaghetti sauce or whatever you’re whipping up! A heavy base with rubberized feet keeps the NuStand in place. Simply wipe with a damp cloth to clean. “It’s solid, easy to assemble, and allows me to view recipes with ease,” says Your Teen friend Jane Joseph. “A great product.”
Sweet Treats and More…
Marlo’s Bakeshop Biscotti
The holidays aren’t complete without a batch or two — or five — of biscotti. Our friend Celine Weiss makes the best Biscotti, so we asked her to give Marlo’s Bakeshop Biscotti a try. Success! “What can I say, but these were delicious,” says Weiss. “My daughter and I especially loved the pumpkin flavor.”
Add some “delish “to your holiday brunch with our — and soon to be your — favorite yogurt. It’s from the Colorado-based Noosa and it’s creamy, wonderful, mouth watering, healthy…excuse us while we head to the grocery store. We’re especially loving new flavors, pumpkin and (for a limited time) cranberry apple. noosayoghurt.com
Available at Whole Foods, Target and other retailers.
This is the simplest, purest, and most delicious chocolate, without any of the additives or ingredients that might trigger allergic reactions. They offer a variety of chocolate bars and chips that can be incorporated into all those family favorite creations and indulged in without worry. “It’s delicious,” says Susan Borison’s vegan friend, Karen Weiss.
Pistachio Chewy Bites Snacks
An all-natural, individually wrapped snack that is both delicious and provides the nutritional fuel for someone on the go. Nutrient-rich pistachios combined with moist antioxidant cranberries supply the energy and nutrients you need in one bite-sized snack. As a bonus they are vegan, Kosher, gluten & GMO free. “These are SO good!” says Jessica Semel. “I would absolutely recommend them!”
On the lookout for wholesome snacks for your teenager? Your Teen ’s Shari Silk recommends Wonderfully Raw’s Coco-Roons. “They’re delicious and come in a bunch of flavors.” Plus, they’re organic, dairy and gluten free, and flavored with maple syrup (not refined sugar). Healthy and delicious. Sweet.
The Best of All the Rest…
Perfect for your favorite Skater Girl or Boy. Won’t break the bank (it’s available at Walmart and Target for under $50), plus it comes in all kinds of patterns and colors. “It’s a great board,” says one 9th grade boy Your Teen asked to try it. “Just remember to loosen the bolt on the trucks so you can turn and steer.” Gotcha.
Vegan Faux-leather Quinn Handbag
Looking for a stylish, non-leather bag? You’ll have room for everything you need in this boxy tote made from vegan faux leather, with lots of compartments, even a removeable change purse with room for credit cards. Your Teen’s Mindy Gallagher says ,“This purse would be great for traveling and for throwing in an extra scarf, mittens, or a small jacket for my son’s football games.”
Just Live Yoga Pants
These yoga pants don’t just look (and feel) great—thanks to the company’s proprietary YOLON material—they also give back, literally. That’s because Just Live donates 10 percent of its profits to charity. “They fit perfectly,” says Your Teen’s Brooke Siegler. “And there is a color or pattern for everyone.”
New Balance Fresh Foam
Fun and functional, New Balance’s new Fresh Foam Collection will keep you going at the gym, on the pavement, or on the trail. “Really comfortable,” says Your Teen’s Diana Simeon, who recently hit the road for a run in a pair. “And so many fun colors to pick from. I like a neutral running shoe and so these were perfect.”
This has got dorm room written all over it. For the space-challenged, toaster-oven loving teenager in your life, say hello to the Toastower. At less than 10 inches wide, it can fit into small spaces…but it still packs a wallop with its 12-liter capacity. Fit four pieces of toast or two big pizza slices. It broils, bakes, and toasts.
T-Fal ActiFry Low-Fat Healthy Multi-Cooker
With this 2.2 pound capacity electric low-fat multi-cooker, you can cook a variety of full meals easily and quickly using little to no oil for meats, seafood, risotto, vegetables, and many other dishes. “I am obsessed with the T-Fal Actifry,” says Susan Borison. “Very little oil and every vegetable tasted almost fried but completely delicious. At the end, I had mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes—and only one dishwasher-safe pan.”