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If you are looking for the perfect gift for a 12-year-old girl, it’s important to find something that speaks to her interests and unique personality.
We researched the best options on the market that are age-appropriate, educational, and that contain no mature content or potentially dangerous components. Our favorite pick is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, which gives her the chance to capture memories easily and quickly with a variety of colors and film options.
Here, the best gifts for 12-year-old girls.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9
These days most of our photos are digital, but a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera is a great way to create tangible pictures. A click of a button will create miniature sized Polaroid-type photos your child can hang or frame to create beautiful wall art. The camera comes in multiple colors, and is light enough to throw in a backpack for adventures.The camera also has a small selfie mirror and a constant-firing flash. The automatic exposure measurement helps create perfect photos every time.
Overall, owners love the old-fashioned feel of this camera, saying that although it doesn’t take DSLR-level photos, it’s a fun way to commemorate an event and create memories that will last a lifetime. Note that the film for this camera can be a little expensive, so that's something to keep in mind.
Luckily, there are multiple film options with colorful borders that will look amazing hung on the walls of her bedroom or tucked in her wallet. Consider purchasing some string lights and clothespins to hang on the wall or even a scrapbook to paste in all of her new photos. This is a great choice for birthday parties or special events that she will want to document and cherish forever.
Eve's Addiction Happy Birthday Hand Stamped Gold Mini Initial Birthstone Necklace
When it comes to jewelry, adding a touch of personalization makes the gift that much more thoughtful. This necklace is designed for birthdays and features your 12-year-old's initial and birthstone for a special touch. Choose from gold or silver and two different fonts based on your preteen's style. The simple design and small pendant ensures that this piece of jewelry will match any outfit your preteen wears and she is guaranteed to get tons of use out of it.
Patagonia Girls' Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover
Every girl’s wardrobe needs a comfortable, cozy pullover, and you can’t go wrong with the Patagonia Girls' Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover. This lightweight fleece comes in blue, pink, and gray, and is the perfect accessory for fall sports or walking the dog. The jacket is available in sizes ranging from XS-XXL and comes with Patagonia’s “Ironclad Guarantee” that backs all of their products with a lifetime warranty. It’s made from recycled polyester double-faced fleece and features a four-snap stand-up collar for chillier days. The binding at the sleeves and hem provide extra warmth when the seasons start to change.
Pottery Barn Teen Faux-Fur Speaker Lapdesk
Whether your 12-year-old is learning online, browsing the internet, doodling in a notebook, or painting her nails, a lapdesk is a handy necessity. This one from Pottery Barn Teen is super stylish with a comfy faux-fur base available in white or marble. The top opens to reveal plenty of storage space for school supplies, but the best part is the included Bluetooth speaker for jamming out while studying or journaling.
Pentalic Sketch Book
Whether your preteen is a budding artist or just likes to doodle, the Pentalic Sketch Book is a great way to encourage and cultivate her artistic side. This 11 x 8.5-inch notebook contains 110 blank bright white pages made from 70-pound paper. The hardbound book is great for sketching on the go, and the black textured embossed cover looks important and high-end. The lay-flat binding makes it easy to draw and doodle, and your child’s artwork won’t bleed through from one page to the next.
The high-quality thick pages are perfect for any type of pen or marker, and though you cannot rip the pages out it, it’s easy to quickly flip through the sketchbook. Overall, the Pentalic is a great gift for the artsy preteen in your life.
Uncommon Goods Period Essentials Wallet
For preteens, a gift that makes the woes of puberty easier is always a good idea. This wallet from Uncommon Goods is an organized and discreet way to carry all of your essential period products for everyday use. Twelve-year-olds can throw this wallet into their backpack or purse to always be prepared and have products on hand. These wallets come in two adorable prints and are handmade in Georgia, so you will be supporting a small female artisan with every purchase.
Carley Sheehy DIY Mochi Ice Cream Kit
This DIY Mochi Ice Cream Kit is the perfect surprise for your burgeoning foodie. A little unexpected and a lot of fun, this DIY kit comes with everything needed to create Japanese mochi balls at home. Each set comes with sweet rice flour, potato starch, matcha green tea and cocoa powder, a dough cutter, and a silicone mochi mold, so you can transform your favorite ice cream into a chewy rice cake. The kit will make up to 32 pieces of mochi, but your preteen can reuse the tray with additional ingredients to make even more. Not only is this mochi kit delicious, but it’s a great hands-on activity for the whole family.
Owners say the DIY Mochi Kit may be messy, but it’s loads of fun. It’s easy to use (even for the novice chef in your life) and creates adorable, delicious mochi everyone will love.
LEGO Women of Nasa LEGO Set
A LEGO set is a beloved gift for all ages for building STEM-based skills as well as problem solving. However, some offer more learning elements, adding to the educational value, including this one. With 231 pieces, 12-year-olds will complete three builds based on four iconic women of NASA: a Hubble telescope, stack of books, and Space Shuttle Challenger. Learn all about the incredible women of science—Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison—through the supplemental material and inspire your preteen to reach for the stars.
Case-Mate Apple iPhone Twinkle Case
If your 12-year-old is anything like most middle schoolers, her cell phone is her most prized possession. The Case-Mate Twinkle Case is a great way to protect your investment and add a little extra sparkle to your preteen’s phone. This eye-catching case is made for Apple XRs (but Target also sells the same case for other phones as well) and is made with glitter foil suspended in clear resin. The case has metallic buttons and is compatible with wireless charging, so your kid won’t have to remove the case to use a charger. The case comes with a limited lifetime warranty against defects and is not only attractive but built to withstand falls and scratches.
Bokksu Classic Bokksu Seasons of Japan Box
When an international trip is not in the cards, experience foreign delicacies with the Bokksu Seasons of Japan Box. Four times a year, your preteen will receive a huge gift box full of 22 authentic Japanese snacks and teas. There is even a culture guide included with allergen information and cultural stories and facts about each product. The whole family will enjoy trying something new season and it may even inspire a future vacation.
Vans Old Skool
No matter what style your 12-year-old is exploring these days, the Vans Old Skool sneakers are a super on-trend choice that she's sure to love. These vintage-inspired sneakers have a canvas upper and rubber sole with additional padding for all-day comfort. They come in a multitude of colors, including solid tones and patterns such as floral and camouflage. Though the style is reminiscent of ’90s skate shoes, they’re tailored and streamlined for all occasions.
Vans Old Skool sneakers are comfortable and fit true-to-size. Plus, Zappos offers free shipping and returns within 365 days, so you will be protected if your 12-year-old needs to exchange sizes or styles. The canvas upper can be cleaned with a shoe cleaner or you can throw them in the wash (just don't put them in the dryer).
Ravensburger Disney Villainous Strategy Board Game
Disney and board game lovers alike will love Villainous from Ravensburger, which challenges players to take on the persona of iconic Disney villains to carry out their sinister objectives. Aimed at kids 10 and older, Villainous is perfect for the next family game night. Each player can attempt different strategies and play as a different villain each time, earning a high replay value. It may take a few rounds to get the hang of this game, but the storytelling and imagery will draw you back again and again.
Fiskars Gel Pen Set
Taking notes in math class is a lot more fun when those notes are bright and sparkly. The Fiskars Gel Pen Set comes with 48 assorted gel pens to make long schooldays a little more colorful. The pens contain acid-free ink and have various tip sizes ranging from 0.8 mm to 1.0 mm. Each set comes with glitter, pastel, metallic, neon, swirl, and standard pen colors for scrapbooking, journaling, and more. The easy-flowing ink makes writing and doodling a breeze—perfect for diaries or coloring books.
SEI Tumble Dye Classic Tie Dye Kit, Pack of 8
Tie dye is a universally beloved activity for all ages and 12-year-old girls are no different. This is a perfect way to get your daughter or niece outside during warmer months and expressing their creativity. This kit comes with eight vibrant colors to create intricate patterns on shirts, sweatpants, socks, sheets, or any other white fabric available. Once complete, your preteen will have a new outfit to show off to family and friends.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
If your preteen loves her Nintendo Switch, she will love testing out a new game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a relaxing, world-building game that allows players to build an island from scratch, interact with other players, collect materials, and carry out missions. She can even play with friends and visit their islands for an interactive experience. This would be a great first game if a new gaming console is also on her wish list this year.
Squishmallow 12-Inch Burrito
While your preteen may be growing out of her love for stuffed animals, Squishmallows have been a viral sensation appealing to everyone from toddlers to adults. This adorable burrito named Edita is the perfect size for cuddling or even using as a pillow in the car or on plan rides. And she will look adorable on your bed when not in use, doubling as bedroom decor. Pretty soon, she will want to collect them all!
Moxi Beach Bunny Roller Skates
A pair of adorable roller skates is guaranteed to get her outside and burning off energy, all while learning a new skill. These Beach Bunny skates come in five bright colors sure to make a statement. They also include additional ankle padding for maximum comfort and control, which is perfect for beginner skaters. Buy a pair for yourself too for a perfect bonding activity in the spring and summer.
Aktudy Cow Print Backpack
Make a statement in middle school with a trendy backpack, like this cow print one. With a front pocket and large opening, your preteen can carry all of her school or travel essentials in this smaller book bag that won't look too big or bulky on her back. This is a great affordable bag option that can double as her school bag or as an everyday purse for carrying her wallet, chapstick, hand sanitizer, and more on the go.
MEL Science Science Kit Subscription
If your preteen can't get enough of science class and wants to try mind-blowing hands-on experiments every month, a science kit subscription is the perfect solution. MEL Science offers three different courses—physics, chemistry, and STEM—all targeted at different ages and interests. Every month, your 12-year-old will receive two to three experiments to explore the world around them. And the learning continues with an accompanying app for engaging lessons right at home.
New York Puzzle Company Harry Potter Sirius Takes Flight Puzzle
Test your preteen's skills with a fun, yet challenging, jigsaw puzzle. If puzzles aren't usually her thing, spark her interest by aligning the subject matter of the puzzle with one of her favorite things. For lovers of the wizarding world, turn to this Harry Potter puzzle featuring Sirius from New York Puzzle Company. Get the whole family involved for the perfect bonding activity or time your tween to see how long it takes for her to complete the image.
What to Look For in Gifts For 12-Year-Old Girls
You have to walk a fine line to get the perfect gift that isn’t too babyish or too mature. A good way to start is to check out the age recommendations on gifts, especially toys. Consider her interests and skill level, then decide on a gift that will help her advance in that area.
This is a great opportunity to talk to the 12-year-old girl in your life about taking care of her gifts appropriately. While none of the gifts on our list have obvious safety concerns, they can be broken or made unusable if not handled with care. Take the time to set expectations about how she should handle her new gift, especially those that are fragile.
Learning doesn’t have to only happen inside the classroom and finding a gift that will spark her interests is a great way to incorporate education and skill building into her fun. Think about the things that she loves to do (or wants to learn), then choose a gift that will allow her to practice. You can also look for a local class or club that will help her perfect that skill.
Twelve-year-old girls love to create, whether it’s in a science lab or at an art easel. Consider art supplies, new tech, or a kit that will help her make and enjoy her very own creations. These can be tailored to a hobby that she already has or a way to explore something new. This is also a great way for girls to build self-confidence. “Letting them publish their work—with monitoring—is great,” says teacher and literacy coach Alicia Drozd. “Allow them the chance to create and put themselves out there.”
What do you do for a 12-year-old girl’s birthday?
A 12th birthday celebration is an important milestone in a girl’s life, the last year before she leaves her tween years behind and enters adolescence. An extroverted 12-year-old who enjoys the spotlight might want a big party, whereas a more introverted 12-year-old might prefer to celebrate her birthday at a favorite restaurant with just the close family, and no singing birthday waiters involved. Ask her what she would prefer.
What do you get a 12-year-old girl for Christmas?
A 12-year-old is technically a tween, but her tastes and preferences will depend on her individual personality and stage of development. As always, look for a gift that celebrates her hobbies and interests. If you want to buy her something to wear, keep in mind that she will probably have a rapidly evolving sense of style that can make picking the right styles challenging. Play it safe by sticking with accessories such as a personalized nameplate necklace or a charm bracelet that she can add to over the years.
Is 12 a teenager?
A child who is the age of 12 is considered a tween in modern parlance. This refers to a kid who is no longer a young child but who is not yet an adolescent. Age 13 is considered the official start of teenage years.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Julia Fields a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.