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Turning 18-years-old is a huge milestone for most kids. For one, it’s the age which most cultures recognize as the beginning of true adulthood. Perhaps more importantly, it’s the age at which teenagers (nay, young adults!) tend to see themselves as adults.
In the USA, turning 18-years-old means finally being of legal age to play the lottery, vote, give blood, buy a house, buy a car, own a pet, run for state office, and have sex. Whereas, in many countries outside the US, eighteen is the legal age to buy and consume alcohol.
It’s pretty clear, then, that turning 18-years-old is a real milestone birthday which deserves the perfect gift to commemorate it. Here at It’s Giftology, it’s our job to make your life easier by compiling lists of super unique, fun, affordable and exciting gifts for any occasion. Here you’ll find the 24 very best 18th birthday gifts for 18-year-old girls and 18-year-old boys (and all those who identify somewhere in the middle!)
Whether you’re shopping for your best friend, your child or grandchild, this is the 18th birthday gift guide you’ve been looking for. Let’s dive right into some great gifts and 18th birthday ideas!
By Cal Bannerman • Published Jun 17 2022
Your 18th birthday is a turning point between adolescence and maturity, between a kid’s bedroom and an adults. A perfect gift to help the 18-year-old in your life transform their living space into one which feels more adult is to give them the gift of a gorgeous, minimalist, trendy and ultra-modern art print like this personalized zodiac print from Etsy. Just head to the seller’s shop to choose the right star sign for your recipient, then choose a high-quality print and grab yourself a frame whilst you’re at it. A simple yet unique way to help them commemorate the special day.
Kids turning 18 in this day and age are more aware of the climate issues facing our world (and all of our futures) more keenly than any generation come before. Generally speaking, I think keeping sustainability and environmentalism in mind when thinking up perfect present ideas is a solid way to ensure you’re on track to find them something they’ll truly love. Like this floral-initialled tote bag from another artisanal Etsy seller. Handmade from canvas, not only does this tote look gorgeous and come personalized with the birthday girl or birthday boy’s initial, it also offers a sustainable alternative to supermarket carriers and plastic bags. A win-win for them and the planet.
When buying for a milestone birthday like this, it’s not always enough to opt for the sorts of things you’d consider perfect as mother’s day or father’s day gifts, or even Christmas gifts. Personally, I think that an 18th birthday should be made to stand out from the rest with something extra special. That way the birthday boy or girl won’t ever forget it. This 10K gold necklace is an understated masterpiece of fine jewelry, sustainably sourced and made by a female-owned, female-founded brand out of New York City. This ain’t rose gold, this is real gold. A statement piece that makes a great 18th birthday gift for girls and boys alike.
We might not hold any memories from the year we were born, but it still has a special place in our hearts. So much so, that owning something produced during your birth year can feel like a tangible doorway to your earliest past. This Etsy seller has done something really unique by making a keychain keepsake out of a 2004 one pence piece (UK). Whilst this might be particular to the British Isles, there are a host of Etsy sellers all around the world doing similar things with their country’s currency, so don’t fret, you’ll be able to find something like this wherever you are. A super affordable-yet-heartfelt gift to give someone so that they might always remember where they came from.
This is so cool I think I might just go and buy myself one once I’m done writing this list! As a newly-graduated adult, 18-year-olds are almost certainly itching to get out and explore the world around them. Whether it’s to the next state over, or a far flung country halfway around the globe, the travel bug is particularly infectious at that age. Here’s a (vegan - sustainability is key, remember) leather passport holder, with a twist... This one has a world map emblazoned on the side, which the young nomad can customize by cross-stitching all of the places they’ve been. It’s a sort of physical bucket list, if you will, one which they can cross off as they go. I truly love this gift idea for 18 year olds, it’s just one of those unique gifts you don’t come across every day! If the recipient you have in mind is a likely traveller, then this is the gift for them.
Let’s not forget that in most parts of the world, turning 18 means getting (legally) drunk for the first time! And what better way to celebrate this turning point in life than with an absolute rager of a party (or, you know, just a nice family affair). These rose gold birthday part decorations will make all of their birthday wishes come true. Shiny and classy enough to grace many a party goers social media feeds, the big ‘18’ balloon will be the center piece of many a selfie on the night! It’s all very well looking for the perfect present on this gift guide of ours, but I would recommend you don’t underestimate the importance your 18-year-old will place on their 18th birthday party. A few snazzy rose gold decorations can go a long way to making their dream party a reality.
Some of our very favorite memories from our teenage years are going to gigs, concerts and festivals with our friends (and, by virtue, without our parents!). For those of us buying the 18th birthday presents, however, it can be next-to-impossible to work out exactly which bands are trending, nor which concerts the youngster would most like to attend. That’s why I think the next best thing is to get them a Ticketmaster gift card, with which they can purchase tickets to any event they like, and maybe even take a best friend with them for a weekender they’ll never forget. Ticketmaster gift cards can be used for comedy shows, live music, festivals and more. They are available in a range of different currencies and amounts, to suit most any budget.
Smartwatches are all the rage these days, since on top of telling time they connect to one’s smartphone in order to serve a variety of cool additional functions. These include: Bluetooth making and receiving calls, access to your contacts list, sending and receiving messages, checking social media notifications, and looking after your health and fitness with a range of smartwatch-optimized in-built sports apps. Typically, however, smartwatches are super expensive, and out of reach of most people’s budgets. Thankfully, we’ve tracked down a range of smartwatches which look awesome, work brilliantly, and cost around just $50. A great gift for an 18th birthday since its hyper-modern and techy, but not purse-busting.
Check the New York Times’ Fiction Bestseller List from 2004 (the year 18-year-olds today were born) and you’ll see one title dominate: ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Dan Brown. This epic novel is a cross between detective fiction, mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, crime and adventure, and it certainly captured the world’s attention when it was published. This bestseller won multiple awards, and was even turned into an award-winning movie franchise starring Tom Hanks. Why not give your 18-year-old a glimpse of what the world of fiction looked like th year they were born by buying them a bestseller from the times?
The only way you’ll have missed this trend is if you’ve had your head in the sand for the past three or more years! Apples newest trending tech is a set of AirPods, or wireless earphones, which users connect to their phones for listening to music, taking calls, even cancelling noise for a bit of peace and quiet no matter where they are. So fashionable are AirPods amongs ‘Zoomer’s (or Gen-Z kids), that they’ve become a must-have accessory worn at almost all times, even when in conversation with their friends. If the 18-year-old in your life doesn’t already have a pair, then I think a set of AirPods (2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, or Pro, depending on your budget) would make a great gift from grandparents to grandchild, or parent to child.
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life which work best as birthday gifts, such as this ‘Happy Birthday Gift Box’ from a baker selling their wares on Etsy. These delicately handmade heart-shaped cookies come in a wide-variety of flavors and colors each designed to leave the birthday girl or boy (gift-wrapping can be customized to suit either gender) drooling at the mouth. A perfect 18th birthday present from one friend to another, or to a classmate, thanks to the super agreeable price tag.
Teenage skin can be an absolute nightmare to deal with, and can present a real blow to the confidence of young adults hoping to impress the other girls and boys around them, or just to look good in their upcoming TikToks. Turning 18 might make you feel like an adult, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immediately going to look like one. Chances are, zits, spots, acne, and general greasiness are going to follow you around for another few years to come. This ‘Teenager Skincare’ set has been put together specifically to help any teen feel and look their very best. As such, it’s a great 18th birthday gift idea.
It’s not often a teenager’s bedroom smells good, is it? But with this Sabine reed diffuser, you can trick them into making it so. After all, teenagers turning 18 like to think of themselves as adults. Typically, that means it’s out with the old boy-band posters, the childhood plush dolls, and the comic book wallpaper, and in with the classy neutral tones, the oh-so-sophisticated art prints and some nice scented candles. Give them the gift of classing up their newly-adult bedroom even more with a reed diffuser as gorgeous as this one, and enjoy not having to walk into a wall of stink the next time you go to pick their dirty laundry up off the floor (yep, sorry, you’re still going to have to do that for a while - at least until you ship them off to college!)
I absolutely adore these minimalist birthstone rings, designed to give the birthday girl or boy something to wear and feel an attachment to the month and year in which they were born. Similar to star signs, there are certain gemstones (with particular attributes) which belong to each of the twelve months of the year. Via Etsy, you simply pick their birth month, ring size (make sure to get this right!), and whether you want the ring in gold, rose gold, or sterling silver. A beautiful and affordable artisan stacking ring that would make anyone feel like royalty.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of birthday-themed t-shirts can be pretty cheap and nasty - either overly-garish or not original enough. This t-shirt, however, is about as original and chic as it gets. Available in a wide range of attractive dusty colors and sizes to suit all body types, it states simply “2004: Limited Edition”. A timeless addition to any newly-18-year-old’s wardrobe, this is the kind of t-shirt which agrees with almost anyone’s style and fashion sense, making it a fairly safe bet as a birthday present, too.
Snapfish are the world’s most popular and dependable on-demand photo printer, but they also offer a wide range of really wonderful customizable gifts, too. Whether you’re the birthday person’s best friend or a relation, you’re bound to have plenty of amazing memories from over the time you’ve known them. Simply upload your favorite photographs which capture the relationship you have with the recipient and put your custom photobook together. It can be pocket-sized for them to take to college, or coffee table-sized to stay at home awaiting their return. A truly thoughtful gift that no-one could ever replicate.
Who doesn’t love the Simpsons? As one of the longest running TV shows of all time, it’s captured the minds, hearts, and imaginations of generations of kids. This Etsy seller takes your favorite photographs and transforms them into these incredible Simpsons-style works of art, framed and delivered for you to surprise your best friend with. Why not have a photograph of you two Simpsonized? Or a photo of your high school crew? Maybe you want to have the birthday girl or birthday boy illustrated alongside their childhood pet? Whatever you choose, there’s no chance they’ll be expecting a present as awesome as this.
Region depending, this cool scratch-off cocktails bucket list poster from Amazon may just be exactly what a newly-18-year-old has been looking for. It’s fun, interactive, yet pretty grown-up at the same time. What’s more, maybe it’ll encourage them to try drinking something with a bit of sophistication and class - an old fashioned perhaps, maybe an Aperol spritz or a gin martini - rather than the alcopops they no doubt have favored (secretly) over the past few years. A cheap and cheerful gift to wish someone happy birthday, and set them on their way to many a fun night out in the not-so-distant future.
No birthday is complete without great tunes and tons of dancing, which is why I had to include this top of the range portable Bluetooth speaker from JBL on my gift guide to the best gifts for 18 year olds. JBL have been leading the market for Bluetooth speakers for a long time now, and for good reason: their products are extremely high quality and supremely long lasting (my ‘Charge 2’, for example, is still going strong after the best part of a decade). Waterproof and good to go for up to 20 hours on just one single charge, the Charge 5 can be taken anywhere that some ear-splittingly loud dance tunes are required (which, when you’re 18, is everywhere).
Hip flasks aren’t quite as en-vogue as once they were, but the joy of owning one hasn’t diminished. Often reserved for gifts at weddings or on Father’s Day, hip flasks make great gifts for those freshly able to drink legally (sorry Americans!). This particular gift set is a nice gender-neutral black, presented with style on a bed of rich red silk in a classy black gift box. You can leave it as is, or have it personalized with a message of your choosing.
In the US (and likewise in many other countries around the world), eighteen is the age at which you’re allowed to apply for a credit card for the first time. It’s the age at which many people start detaching themselves financially from their parents and carers, and begin to make their own way in the world of jobs, careers, bills, rent and disposable income. A farsighted gift idea for an 18-year-old would be one of these decorative card wallets inspired by the Japanese style. It might not be the coolest present in the world, but it is one of the cutest, and shows the recipient that you acknowledge and respect their new maturity!
Jack Kerouac’s timeless tale of wanderlust, adventure, and a hopeless bent toward the melodramatic Peter Pan syndrome of young adulthood has stood the test of time as one of the greatest ever ‘road novels’ written. Whilst some parts of it haven’t aged as kindly as they might have, the novel remains a true classic of fiction, and continues to inspire generations of teenagers and young twenty-somethings alike to pack their bags, grab a friend, and hit the open road. The perfect kind of novel for 18-year-olds setting off for college, or for anyone with itchy feet.
A good birthday card is a work of art. With so many tacky alternatives on the market, you always really appreciate when someone goes out of their way to buy you one that genuinely makes you laugh. This simple, minimalist, witty birthday card from Scribbler says all it needs to: “I regret to inform you but your childhood has expired”. It’s dry, humorous, and not too gaudy either, making it the perfect companion to an 18-year-old’s birthday. The cards on Scribbler are reasonably priced, and if you’re not sold on this one, just check out their 18th birthday category - there are loads of great ones to choose from!
If some of the jewelry on this list wasn’t quite to your taste, or perhaps you felt it was a little too feminine for the person you have in mind, then check out this stunning stainless steel handmade ring from Etsy. More masculine than other rings featured in our 18th birthday gift guide, you can customize this ring with Roman numerals of your choice (I’d recommend numerals for the year of their birth: 2004 or 2005, for example). The seller ships fast and the product is high quality for a pretty awesome price tag, too. Gothic style, shiny steel and hand-stamped detailing make this a timeless, gender-neutral winner in my eyes.