Easy Holiday Gift Programs for Tweens and Teens


I am one of the people who hate it when holidays creep in before they should, and I am really passionate about keeping the winter holidays *cough* and gift shopping *cough* strictly contained until after Halloween. That being said, I want to talk about some of my favorite programs that I have for tweens and teens every year and from job to job: Holiday Gift Programs.

No matter what type of library system I’ve worked or volunteered for, and no matter what type of community I’ve been in, these types of programs have been extremely popular with tweens and teens. It’s  always extremely hard for tweens and teens to figure out what to get special people in their lives for gifts during the holiday seasons- it can be a matter of time, or a matter of money, or just a matter of panic because they have no idea what to get them. And there’s always someone whom they’ve forgotten- a teacher, a friend, someone and they have to find something for that person or they’re going to be completely mortified.

With a little planning and some simple supplies, you can put together a really awesome gifting program to let your tweens and teens get creative with their gifts and make something unique and special for those in their lives.


  • Think about how many participants you can possibly handle with creation chaos:  take a normal craft program and add in holiday excitement and questions galore.  “What do you make for a mom? A Grandpa? A teacher? A girlfriend?”
  • Know how much staff you have on hand to handle set-up, take down, and the actual program, as that will make a difference. If it’s just running the program, make sure that the crafting options are ones that are easy enough that you can explain from group to group on the run. If you have additional staff, you can get more complicated.
  • Know how much your budget is, and what you can get donated. Ask the big box stores, the local grocery stores, dollar stores, and every other place for supplies and goodies- nothing is too small. Be sure to check restrictions on your funds as well- some funds, such as money from Friends of the Library, could be restricted by what type of supplies they can be spent on (i.e., no food type materials), which could get tricky depending on your city accounting procedures.
  • Make sure to have options for a variety of recipient ages, genders, and types. Even if your typical attendance is mostly girls, don’t plan for that automatically, or think that they’re going to want to make gifts for the women in their lives. That’s not to say that you can’t give a dad body scrubs; just suggest a more subtle fragrance depending on the type of father figure in their life.


Ask for donations from patrons and other staff members, and go through your craft supply as well.
The more the better!

  • Decoration supplies: Wrapping paper, ribbon, origami paper, twine, stickers, cupcake wrappers, and fabric scraps
  • Basic Supplies: markers, sharpies, crayons, paint, glitter, colored pencils, Glue sticks, hot glue guns, clear tape
  • Mixing Supplies: glass jars, forks, bowls, plastic containers, little baskets
  • Prepackaged Food: microwave popcorn, cocoa mix, tea bags, wrapped candy bars, coffee packets, or other individually packaged food
  • Pampering Supplies: nail polish samples, lotion samples, travel size bubble bath, etc.
  • Food Mix Supplies: gloves, M&Ms, Skittles, Chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, vanilla wafers, banana chips, white baking chips, Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, peanuts (use only if you don’t need to worry about allergies), dried berries, Chex Mix, pre-popped popcorn, Cheezits, animal crackers, pretzel sticks, peppermints, mini marshmallows, etc.
  • Scrub and soak supplies: sugar, baking soda, Epsom salt, coconut oil (liquid consistency or access to a microwave), variety of essential oils (such as peppermint, orange, lemon, lavender)


I fully admit, I gather tons of ideas throughout the year on a board on pinterest, and page through it for ideas. Interestingly enough, the most popular gifting options I’ve had over the years  have been the no-bake snack mixes and the scrub creation stations. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re a bit more fun, or they’re a bit more creative, or because my patrons seem to need more of these type of gifts. Who knows? I’ve had tweens and teens give them to Moms, Dads, teachers, pretty much anyone; what I’ve done is have them hand-write the recipe so that the recipient know what’s in it in case there’s any allergy concern. I’ve had some recipients come in and ask for more “recipes” for scrubs because they work so well, especially on sensitive and thin skin. YMMV. At any rate, I’ve pulled together some of the most popular, and the easiest scrubs recreate within a library setting, below:


There are tons of other things out there that you can create as well. I’ve done programs creating mixing jars such as cocoa mixes or brownie mixes (that one was for adults but could easily work for teens)- just check restrictions dealing with food, as everyone’s restrictions vary. Or, you could get adventurous and create these:


…but I’m not that talented or able to resist that much chocolate.

Or let your teens loose at a computer and Wordle (or your other favorite graphic creator) and make cup creations.

Have extra fabric and buttons? Have them create coffee cup sleeves!

There are tons of ideas out there that are easy, fun, and ready to let your teens get their holiday create spirits out. What will you create?


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