Tweens are children between the ages of 10 and 12. Short for “between,” tweens are no longer kids but not yet teenagers. They vacillate between the two in their tastes and interests. That can make it tough to figure out what kinds of gifts to get them.
You have to be especially careful at this age to get them something age-appropriate — not too young or too old. Skew too young, like a doll or stuffed animal, and they’ll feel the gift is too babyish. Skew too old, like a graphic YA novel, and they might not have the maturity level to handle it. So it helps to understand a bit about tweens when looking for the right gift. Although every child is an individual, they have a few general developmental and social milestones in common.
Like teenagers, tweens gravitate toward what’s cool among their peer group. You’ll score big if you get them a gift in line with the latest trends. But tweens also have their own unique interests. During this age of transition, they try out lots of different hobbies and personas, so opt for a gift that speaks to their latest bout of self-expression. You get bonus points if it’s something they can share with their friends. Social connections take on primary importance during these years.
To take the guesswork out of buying for the tweens on your holiday list, everything in this gift guide is age-appropriate and tween-approved.
Best Tween Christmas Gift Ideas
If you’re looking to score points by proving to the tweens on your list you know what a cool gift is, look no further. We polled real tweens and scoured the Internet in search of the perfect tween gifts, so you’re sure to find something yours will be thrilled to unwrap.
Music & Literature Gift Ideas
There are undeniable benefits to encouraging kids to read. For example, a 2018 study published in the journal Social Science Research found that the more books kids are exposed to, the better they do academically.
Music is similarly beneficial. A 2006 study in the Journal of Research in Music Education found that students who participated in music programs scored significantly higher on English and math standardized tests than their peers. But when it comes to choosing great gifts for tweens, don’t tell them it’s educational. Instead, focus on the fun.
1. More Complex Books
The tween years are when many kids start to fall in love with reading books, even if their teacher didn’t assign them. They’re reading what they want, exploring novels with complex storylines, and getting hooked on their favorite characters. Middle-grade (MG) fiction is designed for kids 8 to 12 years old and is what tweens typically read.
Some of the best MG books feature diverse characters and help tweens navigate their life experiences. A few that fit that description include:
- “Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows a deaf girl who helps a whale whose species can’t hear his song.
- “Far Away” by Lisa Graff, which is about a girl who talks to her mother — who died shortly after she was born — with the help of her psychic-medium aunt.
- “Each Tiny Spark” by Pablo Cartaya, which tells the story of a father and daughter trying to rebuild their relationship after the father’s long military deployment.
- “Stand Up, Yumi Chung” by Jessica Kim in which the title character tells a white lie about her identity at a stand-up comedy camp. But hilariously, the lie keeps getting bigger and bigger.
- “Clean Getaway” by Nic Stone, which is about a boy who travels through the South in an RV with his grandmother while learning about his complicated family history.
- “Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky” by Kwame Mbalia in which a boy accidentally opens a hole in the sky that plunges him into the middle of a conflict between African-American folk heroes and African gods.
- “The Whispers” by Greg Howard, which tells the story of a boy who longs for his missing mom to come home and goes in search of the Whispers — magical woodland creatures that grant wishes.
If you’re not sure what to get, go with a subscription to Reading Bug Box. Every shipment includes a unique set of books curated just for them by kid literature experts. Also included are a personalized note and a few pieces of book swag that go with a theme, like arts and crafts supplies for a set of fine arts-themed books. All orders ship within 72 hours. Plus, you can opt to give a single gift box or a monthly subscription.
2. A Karaoke Machine
Karaoke is super-popular with many tweens. Karaoke mics make it easy for your tween to get in on the fun. They’re small and compact, making them easy to carry around. Instead of coming with speakers, they use Bluetooth to connect with external ones.
The Carpool Karaoke mic lets tweens pretend they’re in the car with late-night host James Corden on his famous segment-turned-Apple Music show “Carpool Karaoke.” The mic connects wirelessly to your car’s Bluetooth-enabled radio. When tweens sing along, the mic broadcasts their voice through the car’s speakers.
You can also go with the Bonaok wireless Bluetooth karaoke microphone, which comes in a range of colors and works with any Bluetooth-enabled device.
Or get them the real deal with the Singing Machine karaoke system. It’s Bluetooth-enabled for wireless audio streaming. Plus, the top-loading CD-G player plays all their favorite CD-G karaoke CDs. Plug it into a TV with the included cable to see the scrolling lyrics. It comes with only one microphone, but if you buy a second microphone, it has an extra microphone jack with separate volume controls so your tween can duet with their friends. While they jam, 54 LED disco lights with dimmer controls help create a party ambiance.
3. A Musical Instrument
Before you invest in the electric guitar your tween is eyeing, let your budding rock star practice on the Zimo DIY ukulele kit. It includes an unfinished, preassembled body, guitar neck, and strings. Once they’ve put it together, your tween can customize it with paint or other decorations. And then you can see how committed they are before you invest the bigger bucks.
The Sphero Specdrums app-enabled musical rings with color-coded play pad combine STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) with music. Wear the rings and tap them on the included play pad or any surface to create sounds, loops, and beats that mimic drums, keyboards, and MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) pads.
STEM Gift Ideas
STEM education is all the rage, but science and technology kits aren’t all homework. For teens who enjoy solving mysteries and exploring the wonders of the world around them, these gifts let them program their own robot, build marvelous feats of engineering, and even investigate grisly murders.
4. A Science Kit
The Scientific Explorer Sci-Fi Slime science kit is not your average glue slime. It includes some sophisticated ingredients for kids to mix: tetraborate, zinc sulfide, magnetite, guar gum, thermochromic pigment, and polyvinyl alcohol solution. Tweens combine them to produce glow-in-the-dark magnetic alien ooze.
Or let tweens take on the role of mad scientist with their very own bioengineering lab. The Thames & Cosmos Sensors Alive kit uses sound, light, and temperature sensors along with an app to enable them to create, collect, and care for some weird and wonderful virtual creatures.
Alternatively, release their inner engineer with the Gravitrax marble run starter set. It comes with 122 pieces for them to build marble tracks and compete in 24 different challenges that have them experimenting with gravity, magnetism, and kinetics.
Or keep the fun going all year with a subscription gift. A subscription to Little Passports’ Science Expeditions delivers a monthly box of STEM projects designed for ages 9 to 12. Each box is built around a scientific mystery and contains hands-on projects that help kids solve it. The first month’s box comes with a forensic science kit, fingerprint analysis card, lab notebook, and activity booklet, all packaged in a signature tote bag.
5. A Robot
Robotics kits bring together all the letters in STEM, requiring science and engineering skills to build the robot and technology and math skills to program it.
The Unicornbot from the UBTech Mythical series is a fully functioning robot kids build themselves. They then use an app and the included sensor cards to program it to make specific movements and light effects.
Or go with the Star Wars droid kit. Kids assemble their own R2-D2 and then use simple, block-based coding to teach him new skills like drawing pictures, self-navigating, and responding to the Force. Plus, they can send him on over 22 missions to save the galaxy, like decoding secret messages or escaping the Rebel base, with the integrated app.
For the serious robotic engineer, go with a hydraulic robotic arm kit, which lets them assemble a working mechanical hand that slips over their own. Water-powered pistons control the fingers, which have articulated joints that allow them to pick up and grip objects.
6. A Building Set
Though some might consider a building set a kids toy, tweens are better at fine motor movements and manual dexterity than younger children. They’re able to master more complex builds with lots of small pieces. Plus, they have longer attention spans and can sit and concentrate on tasks requiring focus. All this means they’re capable of creating some masterful works of art and not just small things.
Stay on-trend with a Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian the Child building set, which lets them create a replica of The Child (colloquially known as “Baby Yoda”) complete with a posable head, movable ears, and an adjustable mouth for creating different expressions. Or go with a Lego Marvel Avengers: Avengers Tower Battle set, which lets them build a five-floor, seven-room Avengers tower with action-packed features like a blast-open jail, collapsible balcony, and rocket launcher. Or if they can’t wait for the release of “Wonder Woman ‘84” in theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas Day, get them a Lego DC Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah building set, which comes with a two-sided high-tech bunker with a revolving transmitter tower and three Minifigures — Cheetah, Max Lord, and Wonder Woman.
Or introduce them to the world of Snap Ships, which lets them build spaceships to fight alien invaders. The building pieces from all the sets are interchangeable, so they can create ships as elaborate or creative as they want. Plus, the sets have a companion augmented reality app for even more action-packed gameplay possibilities. The Gladius A-75 Drop Ship is the newest set for 2020.
Cooking & Baking Gift Ideas
Many tweens enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, and by the time they reach the age of 10 they’re capable of mastering most basic kitchen skills. According to Eating Well, these include knife skills, basic baking, stovetop cooking, and even meal-planning and grocery shopping.
7. A Cookbook
If they’re just starting to learn, a cookbook filled with kid-friendly recipes, eye-catching graphics, and tons of how-to lessons will teach them basic skills while they have fun in the kitchen. For example, “Cooking Class: 57 Recipes Kids Will Love to Cook (and Eat!)” includes a variety of accessible breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes with step-by-step graphics that make the recipes easy to follow.
More advanced kid cooks will truly appreciate a cookbook designed especially to appeal to kids. “The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs” by America’s Test Kitchen teaches them the basics of making store-bought staples from scratch — like ketchup, crackers, or sundae sprinkles — using simple recipes.
For budding bakers, go with America’s Test Kitchen’s Young Chef series baking companion, “The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs.” Your tween will learn how to make brownies, cupcakes, and cookies as well as a few savory recipes like pizza and empanadas — all with step-by-step recipes tested by over 5,000 kids and easy-to-follow instructions with tips and photo examples.
8. A Candy-Making Kit
If they like to eat their science experiments, go with the Candy Chemistry kit, which lets them experiment with making chocolates, gummy bears, rock candy, and wintergreen mints.
Or opt for The Rainbow Gummy Lab, a gummy making kit that lets them create colorful — and edible — rainbows and unicorns.
If they’re more into art than science, go with the Chocolate Pen. They’ll be able to use melted, colored chocolate to draw all kinds of artistic creations to adorn cakes and cupcakes. And the set includes chocolate molds inspired by the uber-popular Blume Dolls.
9. A Boba Tea Set
An ideal gift for tweens obsessed with trendy boba tea, the Buddha Bubbles Boba Tea Kit includes enough drink mix and black boba pearls to make over 60 boba creations and cups, straws, and a shaker.
Arts & Crafts Gift Ideas
Artistic tweens have graduated beyond simple line drawings and enjoy more complex fine art involving shading and nuance with charcoals and pastels. And tweens interested in crafting like to make things they can use, like water bottles and sneakers. They’re also interested in trying out new artistic outlets, like moviemaking or fashion design.
10. An Art Set
The Colour Block mixed media art set comes with multiple artistic mediums for tweens to explore, including watercolor and acrylic paint, chalk, watercolor pencils, pastels, and charcoals. Plus, it comes in an easily portable three-tier wooden case.
11. An Interest-Geared Drawing Book Set
Look for a drawing book that lets aspiring artists combine drawing with a personal interest like fashion or comic books. Make It Real’s fashion design mega set includes a sketchbook with a design guide. It also comes with everything else they need to get started designing their own fashions — a light table, colored pencils, stencils, and stickers.
If comic books are more their thing, go with Klutz’s “Draw DC Universe,” which comes with a 94-page instruction book with clear directions on drawing popular DC comic book characters. Kids can draw right inside the book or use the translucent overlays for tracing. And it comes with everything they need to get started: colored pencils, markers, erasers, and stencils.
12. A 3-D Art Pen
Introduce an artistic tween to a whole new way of making art with a 3-D pen. The pens take strands of hard plastic and melt them into a gooey string that oozes out of the hot tip and solidifies into whatever shapes they draw. For beginners, go with the 3Doodler Start. Although it has fewer features than other 3-D pens, the tip and extruded plastic stay cool, so there’s no risk of burns. More experienced creators will enjoy the 3Doodler Create+, which has two heat settings and additional tip sizes available for purchase.
13. A Moviemaker Kit
Budding storytellers get to make their own stop-motion animation movies with the Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit, which uses stop-motion animation to bring Minifigures to life. The kit also includes a set of mix-and-match faces, props, scenery, and fold-out backgrounds. The easy-to-follow 80-page instruction book shows tweens how to set up their scenes and film them to make a stop-motion movie in as little as an hour.
Or let them be the star of their own movie with the GPX All-in-One Vlogging Kit. It comes with a tripod, LED lights, and a microphone, so they can film their own show using their smartphone.
For the truly dedicated tween, opt for the slightly more complex Movo smartphone video rig kit. It includes a grip rig, stereo microphone, LED light, and wireless remote — everything required for your budding TikTok star.
14. A Practical Craft Kit
Look for crafting kits and supplies that let tweens exercise their self-expression with stuff that’s practical. Give them a set of fabric markers paired with white canvas sneakers or a T-shirt to create wearable art. Or go with a tie-dye set that lets them make colorful T-shirts, bags, or shoes — whatever they want. Pair rolls of decorative washi tape with the book “Washi Tape Crafts,” and tweens can elevate all kinds of everyday objects. Or opt for a kit that comes with everything tweens need to make gear and accessories they can use, like the Color Your Own Water Bottle kit or the Puffy Charm Palooza kit.
Or get tweens who’d enjoy leveling up their friendship bracelet game the i-Loom. The loom holds and organizes the strings while tweens follow along with the app on a compatible tablet to learn various knotting and weaving techniques from simple to complex. The ever-growing library of bracelet patterns ensures there are always plenty of fun designs to try.
Beauty & Fashion Gift Ideas
At this age, tweens start getting interested in fashion and makeup trends. Though most tweens are too inexperienced for a full makeup kit, you can buy products that allow them to practice self-expression in a kid-friendly way.
15. A Salon Kit
Alex Spa makes various hair and nail kits that help tweens develop their own sense of style. The Hair Chalk Salon lets them add a rainbow of colors to their hair, and the chalk easily washes out. Or tweens can add bling to their hair with the Ultimate Hair Accessories Salon.
A faux-tattoo kit like the Fun Sparkle Tattoo Parlor or the Henna Deluxe Set lets them draw temporary artistic designs on themselves. And the Sketch It Nail Pens let them experiment on their nails with bright colors and fun designs. Or go with the Go Glam Nail Stamper, which lets them stamp fun designs onto their nails using the included nail paint and stamping device.
16. Styling Tools
Tweens can experiment with different looks with a set of hair-styling tools — preferably cordless tools that increase the safety factor. The Conair Unbound Cordless Auto-Curler helps tweens experiment with curly styles, and the Unbound Cordless Flat Iron lets them go straight.
17. A Grooming Organizer
If they need something to keep all their hair products, styling tools, or makeup organized, get them a Caboodle. You may recognize these plastic carry-alls from your own younger days, but the ‘90s are enjoying a resurgence — including everything from hair scrunchies to combat boots to fanny packs. Plus, there’s no denying the timeless functionality.
Jewelry is another gift that lets tweens try out different styles and personalities, as it can change the look of a whole outfit. A necklace featuring their name is a timeless classic. Depending on their tastes, go with a script-font name necklace or a block-letter name necklace.
For a trendier option, go with the Lucky Fortune collectible bracelets, which come in an entertaining package. Tweens crack open a fortune cookie to reveal a bit of wisdom and a collectible charm bracelet in one of 100 designs. Because these bracelets are trendy, others are likely to have them too, so they can match or swap them with their friends. Or go with the Lucky Fortune Magic Series bundle. It comes with one color-changing mood bracelet, 100 nail stickers, and a hair scrunchie. As with the bracelet collection, lucky tweens will find a rare or ultra-rare variety of one of these collectibles.
And if your tween is into the friendship bracelet look, go with a set of Story of the Earth bracelets from UncommonGoods. These have that signature woven look with an eco-chic design that’s also very trendy.
Or get them a jewelry gift that keeps on giving with a subscription to the Rowan Earring Club. Your tween will get a monthly box of nickel-free, hypoallergenic earrings in the metal of your choice — sterling silver or gold vermeil. They’ll also get a surprise accessory and a mindfulness card meant to inspire conversation. And you can opt to upgrade the box with an earring stand, travel pouch, journal, and pen. You can sign them up for one month, six months, or 12 months.
19. A Stylish New Bag
Even if they’re Zoom-schooling this year, tweens need a place to stash all their stuff. Show them you know what’s on-trend with a Fjallraven Kanken classic backpack. It features a timeless design with plenty of room for their stuff and ergonomic shoulder straps. Even better, these bags are made of Vinylon F, a dirt- and water-resistant material that wipes clean.
Or for the tween who appreciates adorable fashion trends, go with the Emily & Meritt black cat backpack. It has a design perfect for tweens — a kidlike cat shape that’s subtle enough to seem stylishly grown-up.
Sports & Outdoor Gift Ideas
Parents typically welcome anything that gets kids outdoors and active. And tweens appreciate anything that emphasizes play — especially if it involves friends. And while in-person socializing with those outside their household is risky during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, outdoor activities are safer than indoor ones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
20. Sports Equipment
Get sporty tweens the equipment to play a favorite sport with their friends. A folding street hockey goal set that includes balls and hockey sticks fits this bill. So does a set of pop-up soccer goals paired with a soccer ball — especially a ball that lights up for nighttime play.
21. An Outdoor Game
A game meant to be played outside at night, like Capture the Flag Redux, provides hours of fun for teens and their friends. It features light-up game pieces, so kids can play more safely in the dark. Kan Jam is another fun outdoor game that comes in a glow-in-the-dark version. It involves tossing flying discs into the included cans, similar to Ultimate Frisbee or Frisbee golf.
Or give them the Lazer Tag Phoenix LTX Tagger two-pack from Nerf, which lets them challenge at least one friend to an outdoor — or indoor — game of laser tag. All Phoenix LTX Taggers are compatible and interchangeable. So the game can grow as big as kids want with the purchase of extra blasters.
22. A Bike
Tweens have better-developed gross motor skills than younger kids, which means more control over the kinds of large muscles used in sports. A tween who enjoys congregating outside with their bike-riding pals is now capable of doing more than riding. They can also master a few neat tricks.
But while they’re busy learning, it’s always nice to know they’re doing it on a safe bike built for kids. Guardian’s bikes are built with youth in mind. The lightweight aluminum frame allows for easier control, and the bike includes smaller grips, shorter crank arms, and a lower center of gravity designed for kids’ bodies. Plus, the bikes come with SureStop Technology, controlling both wheels with one lever, allowing kids to stop faster and preventing them from flying over the handlebars. And understanding that kids can be rough on bikes, Guardian designed the wheels with double-walled rims that resist bends and dents. Lastly — and most fun for tweens — the bikes feature cool graphics in different color schemes.
23. A Skateboard
If your tween is just starting, Z-Flex’s Surf-a-gogo Surfskate longboard is ideal for beginners. Even the experts interviewed for New York magazine’s The Strategist’s Beginner’s Guide to Skateboarding recommend these prebuilt cruiser skateboards.
Or go with an electric mini-skateboard. The Swagskate NG3 electric skateboard’s smart sensors automatically detect weight and motion, allowing for a kick-to-cruise experience with no remote needed. And it automatically stops the board when kids dismount.
24. A Hoverboard
A hoverboard is probably the coolest way to get around, and thanks to innovations in technology, today’s hoverboards are safe. The Tomoloo hoverboard is safety-certified and self-balancing when turned on, and it reaches speeds of up to 7.4 mph. Plus, it comes in a wide range of colors and features LED lights and Bluetooth speakers. It’s sure to make your tween the envy of all their friends.
25. Roller Skates
Everything old is new again. And this year, that includes old-fashioned quad-roller skates. But for the tweens of 2020, the ideal pair must come in eye-catching colors like aquamarine, cherry red, or even floral print.
Indoor Games Gift Ideas
Indoor games for tweens are more complex than kids games, employing more strategy and reasoning and taking advantage of longer attention spans.
26. A Board or Card Game
Sometimes, it’s fun to play the villain. The Disney Villainous strategy board game lets tweens unleash their inner bad guy and compete to achieve their evil objective. Ditto for the Batman Talisman Super-Villains Edition board game. In this one, they take on the persona of a Batman villain and compete to escape Arkham Asylum and take over Gotham City.
Or get them a fun card game like Exploding Kittens, in which they race to win before a kitten explodes. The card game Marvel Fluxx is another one with a fun twist: The rules keep changing depending on which cards you play. Or go with The Mind card game, in which tweens must learn to work together to beat each level — without talking.
27. A New Video Game
Despite their bad reputation, video games teach kids some important skills. According to Understood, an organization aimed at helping those who think and learn differently, video games have several benefits, including improving reading skills, spatial skills, problem-solving, and creativity.
As of 2020, Minecraft is the single bestselling video game of all time, according to statistics reported by PCGamesN. And it’s an obsession of many in this age range. Minecraft immerses players in a stylistically blocky and pixelated 3-D world where they can discover and extract raw materials, craft tools, build structures, and fight enemies. The Minecraft starter collection includes the base game, 700 Minecoins, mashups, texture packs, skin packs, and content for tweens to explore.
Additionally, multiple highly anticipated 2020 video games are age-appropriate for tweens. These include Playstation’s update to its exclusive Marvel Spider-Man game, which replaces Peter Parker with new Spider-Man Miles Morales as the lead. And he gets to take on brand-new enemies.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a fun take on Mario Kart that uses the Nintendo Switch and toy race karts to turn your living room into an augmented-reality racetrack. Race your kart around a track you designed while watching other players (computer-generated or friends and family) try to beat you on the screen of your Switch console. What happens in the game affects your kart, and friends and family members can even join in as long as they have their own consoles.
And if you needed even more proof the ‘90s are back again, look no further than the fourth installment in the Crash Bandicoot series — Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Many gamers have a nostalgic fondness for the ledge-hopping marsupial, and if that’s you, now’s the perfect time to introduce him to the tween in your life.
28. An Active Indoor Game
If your goal is limiting kids’ screen time and keeping them active, go with Chrono Bomb! Night Vision, a secret agent maze game. Tweens use the included string and rubber-grip clamps to create a “laser” maze they must crawl, jump, and step through to defuse a bomb. If they bump the string, the sensor makes the “bomb” count down faster, adding excitement. Even more fun, they can play in the dark using the included UV light goggles, which make the string appear to glow.
Electronic Gift Ideas
As kids get older, they often want electronics — cool new tech that allows them to play while still feeling grown-up — instead of toys. And some electronics, like cameras and computers, let them try out new interests and hobbies, a critical developmental stage for tweens.
29. A Camera
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 instant camera is a hit with tweens interested in photography or commemorating moments with their pals. It’s cute, portable, and comes in a range of colors. Even better, they can instantly print 3.5-inch-by-2.3-inch pictures directly from the camera. The pics are the perfect size for displaying in a locker or on a mirror or bulletin board in their room.
The camera doesn’t come with film, so load them up with some Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film. In addition to plain styles, the film comes in patterned film sheets with colorful borders. Or go all-in with a Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 camera bundle, which comes with the camera plus tons of accessories, including a camera case, lenses, frames, stickers, and film.
30. A Drone
A drone is the next step up from remote control cars. The Potensic AW20 mini drone for kids is easy to control and even allows for programming a specific flight path. And the battery beeps when it’s low to remind them it’s time to recharge. Plus, unlike a car, it flies, enabling them to make movies with visually stunning aerial shots or snap photographs with its built-in camera.
31. A Smart Speaker
The Echo Dot Kids Edition lets tweens make calls to their approved list, get answers to kid-friendly questions, and listen to stories and music. Plus, it allows parents to set time limits and review activity. And with a subscription to Amazon Kids+, tweens get access to over 1,000 Amazon Audible books, thousands of songs, kid-friendly apps, and Alexa skills like setting alarms to help kids get out of bed and making phone calls from a parent-approved list. And the latest fourth-generation models come in cute tiger and panda designs.
Whether they’re watching a movie or taking part in remote learning, a pair of Skullcandy Venue headphones helps them do it in style. These over-the-ear headphones feature Bluetooth technology, so your tween can use them wirelessly with any of their Bluetooth-enabled devices. They also feature active noise-canceling technology. And a built-in Tile tracker means that even though they’re on the pricey side, you don’t have to worry about your tween losing them.
Or go with the Censi Creative Cat headphones. These headphones are also Bluetooth-enabled and noise-canceling. Plus, they double as a cute accessory. Plus, the cat ears are removable, so they’ll grow with your tween.
For more ideas, check out our list of the best noise-canceling headphones.
33. A Game System
A game system is one of those big-ticket gifts that get very excited reactions, and once kids hit the tween years, they’re more capable of using them. Their hand-eye coordination and capacity to understand complex gameplay are more developed than with younger children.
If you opt to get your tween a game system, the Nintendo Switch is a top choice. It’s beloved by all ages for its capacity to transform from a console used with the TV to a handheld portable gaming pad. Plus, tweens can remove the controllers from the handheld for two-player mode, which makes it an excellent pick for family game night, playing with friends, or curling up on the couch alone.
For kids who just need something to do solo on a long road trip or family vacation or in their bedroom, the Nintendo Switch Lite is another top choice, new for 2020. It’s the handheld version only, so it remains small, sleek, and easily portable. So your tween can play wherever they go.
Also at the top of many tweens’ lists is a virtual reality (VR) gaming set like the Oculus Quest All-in-One VR gaming headset. VR lets tweens step right into the game, where they can dodge magic spells, duel with lightsabers, or slash through enemy hordes. And “all-in-one” means it requires no PC or wires. Tweens can play it anywhere with just the headset and controllers.
For a more budget- and beginner-friendly introduction to VR, go with the Oculus Go. Although designed with fewer gaming features, tweens can still watch a movie, hang out with friends, or play select games, all in virtual reality.
Furniture & Decor Gift Ideas
Tweens’ rooms are a place they go for alone time and to hang with friends. It’s crucial you let them exercise their self-expression through their choice in decor because it helps them grow into individuals.
34. A Beanbag Chair
Beanbag chairs give tweens a place to lounge while reading a book or to prop themselves while gaming. And a good one can long outlast the tween years, even making it to college. The GamerSac kids beanbag chair from Lovesac, makers of sectional furniture, is a high-quality beanbag that comes with washable, replaceable covers and durable filling. And reviewers report it’s like lounging on a cloud.
It’s a bit pricey, though. So if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, go with the Ultimate Sack 5000. This bag is filled with comfy foam that provides an easily moldable seat. And the cover is removable and machine-washable.
35. Fairy Lights
Fairy lights — string lights with tiny bulbs similar to Christmas tree lights — are an ongoing trend with tweens, teens, and even college students. A 2019 survey of teens by New York mag found that string lights are among the most universally beloved decorations with the age group. Lines of string lights hung around their rooms add a cozy glow, as does a fairy light curtain draped from a window. Perhaps the most often-requested lights, though, are photo clip string lights.
36. A Neon Wall Sign
A bright, colorful LED neon wall sign like the ones from Isaac Jacobs is a cheerful way for teens to personalize their bedrooms. The collection includes a pineapple, rainbow, unicorn, cactus, ice pop, and rose in addition to words like “Hello,” “Love,” and “Dream,” so you’re sure to find something that suits your tween’s interests. Note that the signs are USB-powered, so to plug one into an outlet, you need a USB wall charger.
37. Marquee Letters or a Cinema Light Box
Marquee letters are another trendy way to light up a tween’s room. Go with one or more letters to spell out their initials. Or try a meaningful word, like “Hope” or “Joy.” Or to add a similar cinematic feel to your tween’s room, opt for a cinema light box instead. These are also highly popular with tweens, and they let them switch up words and phrases as often as the mood strikes them.
Choosing the right gift for a tween is unquestionably tricky. And unfortunately, this isn’t one of those categories on your list — like moms, dads, or grandparents — where it’s the thought that counts. On the bright side, just like younger kids, they’ll likely tell you exactly what they want for the holidays.
And even though kids’ tastes get more expensive as they get older and start leaning toward things like electronics and fashion, there’s no need to break the bank this holiday season. To save money on holiday gifts for tweens, keep an eye on sales and take advantage of rebates, both of which you can do with browser extensions like Capital One Shopping. And don’t forget to check deal sites like Groupon, where you can find lots of material items on sale in addition to experiences.
Regardless of where or how you shop, there are plenty of gifts for tweens at every price point. If you’ve found them something they’ll use — and not return to the store — you’ve done well.