The best 18th birthday gifts that they'll actually use and appreciate

We've rounded up the best 18th birthday gifts that'll help your teen navigate adulthood, from practical finds to sentimental treasures

A composite image of three of the best18th birthday gifts to buy in 2022 including a Chanel lipstick, birthstone bracelet and Dacee laptop case
(Image credit: Future)

These are the best 18th birthday gifts for every type of soon-to-be adult, whether they're tech-obsessed, have a penchant for perfumes, or need something practical to store essentials in. 

Turning 18 is a major milestone—it's the first stage of adulthood where you can finally vote, get a tattoo, and even skydive. Inevitably, gift-givers are responsible for finding a present that's several notches above what their teen already has—so this might mean investing in one of the best perfumes or a much-coveted designer bag to upgrade their collection. 

That's why we've put together our pick of the best 18th birthday gifts, which can be purchased online and shipped straight to your front door. Our curation offers timeless and trendy finds for their pursuits—from starting university and attending frat parties to filming the latest TikTok dance. With our guidance, your beloved Gen-Zer won't deem you as cheugy (aka out with the times). 

Best 18th birthday gifts to make an impression

Give them something they'll remember with this edit of impressive 18th birthday gifts...

Where to find the best 18th birthday gifts in the UK

Our pick of the best 18th birthday gifts in the UK

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1. Ray-Ban Round Double Bridge Sunglasses

As an industry leader, Ray-Ban offers the best sunglasses (opens in new tab) on the market, reconciling durability with trendy aesthetics. Naturally, the Double Bridge sunnies are a universal staple across households, coming in 19 unique colorways. Chic factor aside, they're non-polarized (but there is a polarized option available) and they incorporate a UV-protection coating for your peepers.

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2. Polaroid Now i‑Type Instant Camera

Capture memories and have them printed instantly with a Polaroid camera. This present is a fun and trendy alternative to snapping photos on a phone and uploading them straight to social media. Though ideal for any teen, it's great for those with a creative eye, using each shot to create collages, scrapbooks, or picture displays as tokens.

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3. Nike Air Force 1 Low Sneaker

The Nike Air Force trainers are timeless, featuring durable stitched overlays, soft cushioning, and a clean, low-cut silhouette. This versatile pair of the best white trainers (opens in new tab) complements casual outfits and night-out ensembles, making onlookers develop some serious trainer envy. Available in two colors and men's U.S. sizes 6-18 and the U.K. sizes 10-20.

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4. Mulberry Medium Continental Purse

Debit card, credit card, driver's license, student ID, and more—keep all the important cards safe and in one place in this smart and stylish card wallet by luxury leather goods brand Mulberry. Pair it with minimalist wardrobe essentials (opens in new tab), and you're good to go. A classic 18th gift from an iconic British brand that will last for years to come.

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5. Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler

This top-rated tool is engineered to curl, wave, smooth, or volumize all hair types. One of the best hair dryers for fine hair (opens in new tab), it guarantees the perfect at-home blowout on hair that isn't too naturally thick or coarse—beating even the best curling irons in the time stakes. It's still a great buy for those with thicker hair, but if they're frizz-prone they might need to pair it with the best hair styling products (opens in new tab) for a sleek look or even finish it off with their best hair straighteners (opens in new tab). Ideal for the 18-year-old heading off to parties and events.

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6. Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush

Give the gift of an at-home salon blowout with the Revlon One-Step Volumizer, acclaimed as one of the best hair dryer brushes (opens in new tab) by experts, beginners, and top-tier media. This tool glides through thin and coarse hair textures with ease and finesse; while its oval shape helps to tame frizz and add body to every strand. It's also backed by variable heat and speed settings, a cool-down setting, tufted bristles for detangling, and a generous 4-year warranty. Available in six colors.

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7. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum

It's not every day that the average person can treat themselves to one of the best Chanel perfumes (opens in new tab), so gifting one to someone will always be special and well-received. There's a reason why Coco Mademoiselle is one of the best perfumes for women (opens in new tab) in the world, as it's one of the best flower fragrances (opens in new tab) for those who don't like anything too stuffy—and you can't really go wrong when picking this classic fragrance as a present.

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8. Aspinal of London Saffiano & Suede Passport Cover

Treat the intrepid jetsetter heading off abroad with a special passport cover, designed to keep their travel documents safe. Emboss the leather cover with their initials for the ultimate personalized gift and unique touch. Available in 16 colors.

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9. Apple Airpods Pro

AirPods might seem expensive for something so small, but these portable, wireless earbuds certainly make life easier and more flexible. They're especially great for the 18-year-old melomaniac whenever they're on the go or exercising in their best running shoes (opens in new tab)

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10. JBL CLIP 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker

The ultimate gadget for shower-time jam sessions, available in twelve styles and colors. This Bluetooth speaker is powered by a 10-hour lifespan on a single charge and clasps onto doorknobs and entryways with ease. Unsurprisingly, it's a resounding best-seller, with over 36,000 positive reviews on Amazon alone.

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11. Almost Adulting: All You Need to Know to Get it Together

Described as one "for fans of Grace Helbig and Alexa Chung" comes a fresh, hilarious guide to growing up your way from social media influencer and lifestyle vlogger Arden Rose. This light-hearted read caters to 'budding adults, failing adults, and eaters of microwave mug brownies' in need of advice on how to survive impending adulthood. It's easily one of the best non-fiction books (opens in new tab) for your 18-year-old.

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12. Pavé Diamond Round Bracelet

As the adage goes, diamonds are forever, and this keepsake certainly lives up to that reputation. Made of 14k gold, this classic will not oxidize or discolor over time, even with wild adventures. Needless to say, it's the perfect present for any 18-year-old trendsetter eager to make a statement and coming from one of the best jewelry brands (opens in new tab), you know this present will stand the test of time, too. 

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13. Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick

An iconic piece of Chanel makeup is a classic and timeless gift that will never go out of style. The Chanel Rouge Coco range is long-lasting and hydrating - making these lipsticks some of the best red lipsticks (opens in new tab) on the market. This line is inspired by the close friends of Mademoiselle Chanel, who called her simply Coco. 

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14. iPad 10.2

The newest iPad offering has even more special features and makes a really special gift for someone on the cusp of adulthood. The latest model boasts a number of intuitive features to make multitasking easy, with features like Split View and Slide Over easier to discover and easier to use. Great for studying, streaming and staying in touch with friends and family.

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15. Sterling Silver Birthstone Sliding Bracelet

Not on the Highstreet may not be the first place you think to look when buying jewelry online (opens in new tab), but the digital marketplace for independent businesses is one of the best places to go for personalised, customised, unique piece. 

You can customize this pretty bracelet with the initials of your loved one to ensure it's a personal and special gift. Choose between sterling silver and gold metals, as well as their own personal birthstone. You can also add matching earrings to the gift if you want to spend a little more.

Where to buy the best 18th birthday gifts in the US

Our pick of the best 18th birthday gifts in the US

We've scoured far and wide to compile the best destinations for 18th birthday gifts across categories, from fashion finds and travel essentials.

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1. Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Backpack

Herschel Supply Co. is renowned for making some of the best backpacks (opens in new tab) and their products come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning this is a gift that should last forever. Hailed for its versatility and large size, the bag is ideal for an 18-year-old embarking on international travel, preparing for university life, or urban commuting. It would even make for the one of the best weekend bags (opens in new tab) for those who love to travel.

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2. Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler

The latest in hair technology, the Dyson Airwrap styler has been making waves (pun intended) in the beauty industry for its engineering, specifically designed by Dyson to curl, wave, smooth, or volumize. The Airdrop styles and dries simultaneously, serving as one of the best hair dryers (opens in new tab) for blow drying. Simply put, it'll become a mainstay in your 18-year-old's hair routine.

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3. Bellroy Hide & Seek Wallet

With a modern profile and convenient perks, the Bellroy wallet is ideal for the 18-year-old who wants to level up their style without sacrificing practicality. The thin billfold design adds pocket space and fits cards, coins, and 12 cards with room to spare. It is available in eight colors, made from environmentally certified leather, and backed by a 3-year warranty.

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4. Gucci Bee-Embroidered Leather Trainers

Every teenager needs a pair of white trainers in their capsule wardrobe (opens in new tab), so why not go designer with these leather Gucci trainers: a crisp white pair with a whimsical bee embellishment and contrast metallic panel at the heel. And don't be fooled: They're as comfortable as they are trendy, featuring a soft interior that cushions your feet. Available in sizes U.S. 4-12/U.K. 34-42.

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5. Kate Spade Spencer Chain Wallet

Kate Spade offers some of the best designer bags at relatively affordable prices, so it's a good way to give a memorable gift without spending over the odds. Effortlessly chic and will last for years to come with proper care, this soft leather bag is spacious for the essentials and the delicate gold chain makes it an ideal accessory for day and night.

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6. Foreo Luna Mini 2

It's never too early to begin an anti-aging beauty routine, and this sphere-shaped gadget is one of the best skincare devices (opens in new tab) that tightens and brightens the complexion. Made of FDA-grade premium silicone, it's primarily designed to unclog pores of residue and boost circulation.

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7. Oral-B iO Series 9 Electric Toothbrush

Not only is the Oral-B iO Series 9 Electric Toothbrush among the best Oral-B toothbrushes (opens in new tab), it is also hailed by dentists as one of the best electric toothbrushes (opens in new tab) out of all brands thanks to its supreme cleaning and clever features. It has a display screen for customizable brushing, a round brush head with twisted bristles that reach every tooth, and a signal that turns red when you're brushing too hard. Available in three colors, it comes with a convenient charging travel case, so your 18-year-old can get the perfect clean whenever, wherever. If the price tag seems daunting, fear not as you could also scroll through the best electric toothbrush deals (opens in new tab) to save some money.

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8. Cooluli Mini Fridge

For your college-bound 18-year-old, the Cooluli Mini Fridge organizes beauty essentials of varying sizes and keeps them cool. As one of the best skincare fridges (opens in new tab), it maintains a crisp 35°F/1.67°C when powered on, thanks to the brand's unique EcoMax Technology. Additionally, it features a removable inner shelf and container basket to help streamline their space so they can keep all of their skincare routine (opens in new tab) essentials organized.

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9. BAGSMART Toiletry Bag Travel Bag

This cleverly designed bag is Amazon's #1 best-seller in toiletry bags and with sound reason. It's vast and deep, streamlining small and large items in one place. And with convenience in mind, it comes inner main pockets with elastic straps, double zipper compartments, a non-slip metal hook, and more. Plus, it features a waterproof exterior.

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10. Tile Pro Bluetooth Item Finder

The Tile Pro Tracker monitors important belongings, perfect for the 18-year-old who regularly says "Have you seen my *insert important item here*?" Simply attach the Pro to your keys, bag, phone, etc. When something goes missing, use the Tile app to uncover its location—the Pro tracker has a speaker that'll ring when it's within 400 feet. It's also water-resistant and Bluetooth-compatible. 

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11. Anker Power Bank

Though slender, this portable charger is hardwearing against scratches and abuse—ideal for your 18-year-old's social adventures. Compatible with Apple and Samsung Galaxy devices, it lasts for 10 hours on a single charge and offers overcharge protection, short circuit protection, and heat control.

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12. The How-To Cookbook for Teens

With this beginner-friendly cookbook, your college dorm dweller can craft culinary delights—right in their 180-square-feet space. As a stepping stone, it's equipped with 100 simple, foolproof recipes that help your teen prevent microwave catastrophes and 3 a.m. fire drills. Undoubtedly one of the best cookbooks (opens in new tab) for teens who just need some sustenance without too much hard work.

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13. He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

Authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are venerable sages with timeless relationship advice your 18-year-old will carry into the future. It's a tough, but necessary guide that'll prevent them from experiencing heartbreak, along with dead-end situationships and relationships.

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14. Tiffany & Co.1837 Ring

This classic ring is one of the best jewellery gifts (opens in new tab) for special birthdays, as it's a timeless accessory that will endure the fickle trend cycle. Made of premium sterling silver, this ring pairs nicely with a variety of outfits, from flattering jumpsuits (opens in new tab) to best shirt dresses (opens in new tab). And unlike cheap jewelry, it won't irritate the skin or diminish in quality with time. 

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15. Dacee Peony Patten Laptop Bag 

This pretty laptop bag will ensure they enter adulthood looking stylish - and with their most important bit of kit protected. The handy handle means it's easy to carry around their essentials - keeping their hands free for scrolling the latest apps. 

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16. UGG Women's Fluff Yeah Slide Slipper

RRP: from $46.55 | Delivery: Dependant on retailer| Refundable: Dependent on retailer

These fluffy UGGs are as cozy as they come - some of the best slippers (opens in new tab) for wearing all day, everywhere. The slider-style makes them easy to wear (and very on-trend!) and comes in a huge variety of different shades, including classic, rainbow and pastel colorways. 

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17. Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Sky Blue

RRP: $75 | Delivery: Dependant on retailer| Refundable: Dependent on retailer 

This retro-style camera is a perfect throwback. to the '90s - which no doubt your teen is obsessed with, even if they weren't even born yet. This stylish polaroid camera comes in a number of attractive pastel shades and you can add matching accessories and equipment to the gift. 

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is a digital shopping writer at woman&home—so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows what the best buys are at any moment. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. A year on the w&h news team gained her invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first—as well as an AOP awards nomination.