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Gen Z is widely considered to be an enigma—and I say this as a zoomer myself. I was born in '98 (anyone born between 1997 and 2012 is considered part of the club), and even still, I find myself confuddled by my generation. In the face of tumult (and boy, there's been a lot of it in our seminal years), we cope with post-ironic humor. We have a penchant for self-deprecation, yet are proud, oustanding members of the self-love moment. And despite having not-so-sunny dispositions about the future, studies show that Gen Z is perhaps the most socially and politically conscious of any generation yet—and we're energized to create the world we want.
We're also a generation that grew up with constant connectivity through social media and the internet, which means we've grown accustomed to having everything at our fingertips. As such, when it comes to getting a gift for Gen Z, where are you to start? For the generation that has access to it all, what exactly do they want? In pursuit of finding out what exactly is on their wishlists, I crowdsourced amongst several in-the-know Gen Z-ers on what they're hoping to receive this holiday season. From Apple's AirPod Maxes to quirky-kitschy charm necklaces to high-tech jewelry, discover the best gifts for Gen Z ahead, straight from the zoomer's mouth.
Best Gift for the Child at Heart
"Naturally, if Doja Cat wears Ian Charms, I have to wear Ian Charms," offers Ana Escalante, Editorial Assistant at Glamour. "I love the kitschy, fun, child-like aesthetic that's in every Ian Charms piece, but I've yet to bite the bullet and actually buy one myself. While anyone can buy glass beads and string them together to make a playful necklace, the Ian Charms consumer is a girl I'm striving to be."
For The Charli XCX-Obsessed
For those who haven't seen the Gen Z-pointed satire directed by Halina Reijn, Bodies Bodies Bodies has everything: Zoomer-approved buzzwords like "gaslighting" sprinkled throughout like the script; references to that viral TikTok dance you have no interest in trying; and Pete Davidson! This thriller also has a killer (Hah! Pun very much intended) soundtrack featuring the Gen Z-beloved Charli XCX and an Amandla Stenberg original track, making it a perfect gift for the Gen Z film buff in your life.
Best Gift for Aspiring Nail Artists
"As a Gen-Zer living in New York City, I do just about everything I can to save extra money—and that includes skipping out on professional manicures," says Brooke Knappenberger, Editorial Fellow at Marie Claire. "After buying this kit out of pandemic boredom, I can now say I'm a pro at doing manicures at home. This kit includes everything you need to do your own gel manicure at home including a UV lamp and pretty neutral colors. With just a little bit of practice, your gel manicure will last you chip-free for up to two weeks."
Best Gift for the Budding TikTok Star
For the Gen Z-er in your life who's always vlogging and selfie-ing, this ring light from Multitasky will take their social media game to the next level. It extends to full standing height of 5’6” (think of the full-body OOTDs!), and the phone holder rotates 360-degrees, meaning they'll be able to get all of the angles. This ring light also comes with three different light modes, warm, cool, and neutral, all of which have adjustable brightness. Notice, too, that this piece of equipment features three phone holders, so one can hold a portable charger, one can boast the song lyrics for lip syncing, and the last can record the entire show.
Best Gift For Matilda Djerf Followers
Matilda Djerf is the Gen Z style icon to end all style icons (Don't believe me? Search #MatildaDjerf on TikTok, and take in the hoards of content dedicated to the Swedish, curtain bang-ed influencer). And if you have a fashion-oriented Gen Z-er in your life, this oversized blazer is sure to please, as it adopts the uber-trendy baggy look that Gen Z is especially fond of. Plus, the jacket is made of 74 percent recycled polyester so a sustainably-minded Gen Z-er will appreciate its eco-conscious fabrications.
For the Balletcore Fiend
"I really want the Sandy Liang Mary Jane flats in pink," gushes India Roby, Fashion & Beauty Writer at Fashionista. "I know there are so many trends at the moment but this is the one micro-trend I'm here for! Plus, I want to invest in a nice pair of ballet flats, especially ones that resemble pointe shoes. And as a Sandy Liang fan, these are absolutely a must-have! I hate that they're always sold out, unfortunately, but when they're in stock next time, best believe I'm gonna get them! (Also I want to note: I want these shoes since I'm too broke for Miu Miu's Ballet Flats)."
For the Person Always Tuned In
More than a high-tech pair of headphones, Apple's AirPods Max have become somewhat of a tech accessory (a techcessory, if you will) amongst Gen Z. Offered in five different colorways, the device features a lightweight mesh headband, stainless steel frame, and anodized aluminum ear cups to create an ultra-sleek look that's much more fashion-driven than other over-the-ear headphones. It charges for up to 20 hours of use and offers total noise cancellation, meaning your gift recipient can enjoy an optimal listening experience.
Pro tip: Opt for a free engraving—an initial, number, inside joke, even an emoji!— to make this tech gift feel a bit more personalized.
For the On-The-Go, Zooming Zoomer
Gen Z sure does love a shoe with a hefty sole. See: the Zoomer-fueled trends of chunky loafers, dadcore sneakers, and, of course, lug-sole boots. Valerie Stepanova, Fashion News Writer for TZR, is hoping for a pair of the latter and one that's practical yet offers an equal fashion payoff. "As someone who travels on foot 99 percent of the time, I always need to have at least one pair of chunky platform boots on hand. This pair from Gia Borghini checks all of my boxes and will be a welcome addition to my closet."
For the Statement Dresser
This electric pink squiggle-shaped ear cuff from Missoma is a pick of my own. I'm a huge fan of jewelry that offers a subtle peek into my personality, and this piece says, "She's fun! She's quirky! She likes jewelry that provides the perfect amount of everyday whimsy!" It's made of an 18-carat recycled gold-plated vermeil, so it emulates a polished look yet without the budget-breaking price of fine jewelry. And if there's someone out there really wants to treat me, this pink ear cuff would look excellent stacked against the matching style in bright white.
For the One Who Loves Classic Jewelry
"I never really wore jewelry as a kid, but the Tiffany & Co. Heart Signet Ring was always something I loved," says Vienna Skye, model, TikToker, and general Gen Z fashion icon. "And now that rings are an essential piece to my everyday look, I'm hoping to add this one to my stack"—wink-wink, nudge-nudge at all of Skye's loved ones. And if this heart-shaped piece has the TikTok star's stamp of approval, you can safely assume the Gen Z-er in your life will be pleased with this cute classic, too
For the Nascent Photographer
"Ever since getting this camera as a gift years back, it's my new favorite way to commemorate a special day," Knappenberger, Marie Claire's Editorial Fellow, details. "The Polaroid-esque pictures taken on this camera come out so cute and surprisingly high quality. As a tradition, my sister and I take a photo in front of our Christmas tree and it's been such a treat to look back at those memories. This set includes everything you need to start your own special collection."
For the Self-Care Aficionado
If you yourself are not familiar with skincare brand Topicals, I all but guarantee that any beauty-loving Gen Z-er you know is already well acquainted with the label— in fact, its Faded Serum for Dark Spots & Discoloration, a product that recently went viral on TikTok, is likely already in their self-care rotation. But considering not everyone has dark spots that need targeting, Topicals's Like Butter Mask is more of a universal crowd-pleaser. Well regarded as one of 2022's best face masks, the formula is incredibly hydrating and calming, making it an ideal product to combat harsh winter weather.
Best Gift for Practical Purposes
Yes, giving a sweater as a holiday gift is perhaps not the most inventive idea but, admittedly, a new cozy knit for the colder seasons is something everyone can benefit from. And this cherry red pullover from Frank & Oak style is a trendy style that no Gen Z-er will be able to roll their eyes at. Made of recycled nylon and cruelty-free wool, this button-up sweater boasts a relaxed fit and a statement collar similar to those offered by It Scandi brand, GANNI.
Best Tech Gift
"My deepest, darkest little secret is that I'm obsessed with goop," Escalante confides. "No, seriously. I love a seemingly life-changing, luxurious wellness device that isn't at all a necessity, but rather, an impulse purchase coming from an inherent feminine need for shiny things. Long gone are the days of Apple Watches and FitBits— the Oura ring is the SoHo fashion influencer of wellness accessories. It tracks your sleep cycle, when you ovulate based on your body temperature, and your step count all while fitting right into your jewelry box."
The Best Pimple Patches for the Acne Prone
Here's another item on my personal wishlist! As adorable as they are effective, Starface's Hydro-Stars are an acne spot treatment that uses hydrocolloids to reduce inflammation and absorb the fluid of a pimple, therefore making it shrink and diminish over time. They also protect the pimple from outside bacteria and picking (we're all guilty of the occasional anger-induced extraction), which helps the blemish heal faster over time. One reviewer expressed their satisfaction in saying that the Hydro-Stars have become a "game-changer" in their pimple-fighting arsenal, while another said the patches "helped with my earth-sized pimple without irritation to my skin."
For the Royal Fan
As confusing as the young generation tends to be, there's one clear tenet they religiously follow: Whatever Bella Hadid does, Gen Z follows suit. For instance, when the supermodel wore an Anne Boleyn-inspired necklace with a golden pendant in the shape of a "B" last year, initial necklaces saw an enormous boost in popularity. And Hadid isn't alone in her penchant for self-referential jewelry: Princess Diana, Meghan Markle, and Kate Middleton are known for their love of the style, too. Jewelry brand Tse-Wall offers a piece similar to Hadid and Boleyn's iconic style with a pearl-drop pendant.
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Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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