When my husband Dan and I write the annual tech gift guide, we look at lots of high tech gear -- starting in July. My kids love it. They get to try out all the new gear several months before Christmas. So they know exactly what they want to find under the tree  – sometimes before products are even announced. But we have to leave out lots of stuff we liked. Here are a handful  of things we looked at that made it to my teenager’s wish list -- even if they didn’t make it into the tech gift guide.

Marshall Major Headphones

My daughter (12) is a crazy about music. My son (15) would spend his entire life glued to YouTube if I let him. So we burn though a lot of headphones. I think if kids are wearing headphones they ought to be the over-the-ear kind whenever practical. Ear buds are more likely to cause hearing damage. My kids agree, saying they find buds uncomfortable for extended wear. When this set of  headphones came in, they disappeared into a t/ween bedroom before I had a chance to do more than glance at them. Getting them back so I could test them was a struggle. This is no dorky safety tool. The look of these – evoking rock concerts and those iconic huge Marshall amps – gives them a serious musician and rock-and-roll aura. In fact, the dispute over who gets to use these has caused quite a few very serious sibling altercations. They sound great. I can’t speak to the extended-wear comfort since if I ever get caught using them, they are quickly torn from my ears by an indignant teen. But I’m told they are, “super comfy.” They come in white or black. $140. marshallheadphones.com

H2O Audio Cases

Does your teen like to swim, ski, kayak – or anything else that will get her music player wet and destroy it? My music-addicted daughter is on the swim team so she spends lots of time in the water. She would enjoy that time more if she could bring tunes with her. These waterproof cases for music players make music in the water possible without costing a fortune. They are completely waterproof (add a pair of waterproof headphones, too) and let you see and control the player while it’s being protected. A waist band is a better option than the arm band for lap swimming. Starting at $40, depending on your player. H2OAudio.com. <


I’m getting to know my son’s school bus driver. Thankfully, she is kind enough to pick up my son’s phone and use it to call me when he leaves it on the bus. I like the bus driver. But dropping everything to meet her and pick up his phone is getting old. So I’m probably going to strap a Zomm wireless leash to his backpack this Christmas. The next time he picks up his pack and tries to get off the bus – leaving his phone in the seat – it will sound an alarm and reminding him to pick it up before he departs. He can also use it for hands-free calling or as a panic button (it dials 911 at the hit of button.) Come to think of it, I might put one on his father’s keychain as well. Problem is, the two of them already have trouble remembering to charge their phones. Will they remember to charge the Zomm? $79.99, Zomm.com