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Ready to exert their newfound independence and with ever changing interests, tweens can be some of the hardest folks to shop for. Luckily, there are tons of options out there If you want to make sure that your gift hits the right balance of kid-friendly without being too young.
Great tween gifts consider the age appropriateness of the item, safety considerations, and the potential educational value. You should also think about what your tween is interested in, since they are beginning to develop their own identity and preferences.
Here, the best gifts for tweens.
ALEX Toys Spa Hair Chalk Salon
Let your tween express their creativity in the most colorful way! This hair chalk is sure to make their tresses as vivid as their imaginations. The set includes five washable hair chalk pens, 24 metallic beads, and 24 hair elastics for a full-range of fun that allows them to experiment with several colors on any hair type. The best part? The hues come out with a quick wash of the hair, so you won’t have to worry about anything being permanent, making it a perfect gift for a tween girl.
"The ALEX Spa Hair Chalk Salon earns points for precision. Unlike hair color sprays and chalk-embedded combs, these hair chalk pens allowed the kids to apply color just where they wanted it. They could even use more than one color on a single lock of hair."—Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones
For jamming out to their favorite pop bands, to playing the latest iPhone game, these wireless over-ear Bluetooth headphones cover all their needs. Complete with memory-foam ear cushions, high sound quality, 13 hour listening (15 for talk time) battery life, and a 33-foot range, they’ll have all the amenities they need to keep happy for hours on end. Plus, with an easy-fold design and portable carrying case, they’ll be able to tote your gift everywhere from the bus to their BFF’s house.
Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game Set
At an age where their energy is at an all-time high, this is one activity that’ll keep up with their pace. KanJam has all the elements of a good time and makes a great toy for a tween. The goal of this fast-paced two-on-two flying disc sport is to get the disc in your opponents can, hence the name KanJam. The set comes complete with everything for hours of fun — two portable goals, two labels, custom-designed discs, and instructions, making it the perfect entertaining idea for the backyard to the beach.
UncommonGoods Kid's Global Adventure Cooking Kit
If your child has a love of cooking, learning about other cultures, or all of the above, then this cooking kit is a must. Each box highlights a specific country and includes some ingredients for three meals. It’s easy to virtually journey to Lebanon, Ethiopia, or Greece from the comfort of your kitchen. Also, the kits feature fun facts and an activity sheet.
Pottery Barn Teen Gear-Up Aurora Recycled Backpack
A backpack should absolutely be functional, and this one is also fashionable and eco-friendly. The Gear-Up Aurora backpack is made from 100 percent recycled polyester and features an intergalactic design. Also, there's no shortage of exterior and interior pockets, including a secure laptop sleeve. For a few extra bucks, personalize the backpack by adding their name or initials.
Ravensburger The Earth 540 Piece 3D Jigsaw Puzzle
For the kid who’s probably done a million puzzles, this option is a little different and sure to keep them engaged. The puzzle has 540 pieces and when completed, it’s a 3D model of a globe. The pieces click securely together and there are numbers on the back if your kid needs a bit of help. Also, the rotating base is included, making this perfect to display.
3Doodler Start Make Your Own HEXBUG Creature 3D Pen Set
For kids who love bugs, they’ll adore this toy that allows them to create parts of a 3D insect. The doodle pen works just like a real pen, but kids can use it to draw wings and legs to add to the insect molds. After creating these personalized crawlers, the insects even move and buzz around thanks to the included motors.
Pottery Barn Teen Chenille Plain Weave Washed Light Gray Retro Rocker
For the responsible tween who's ready for a piece of quality, long-lasting furniture in their room, try Pottery Barn Teen's rocker. The soft chenille can be spot cleaned and the design of the seat gently tilts and rocks. This is sure to be the go-to resting spot while reading, doing homework, or playing video games. The classic style can easily last for years and fit their evolving taste.
4M Kitchen Science Kit
Give your little scientist a good reason to play around in the kitchen. This kit allows you to convert your cooking space into a lab where they can complete six unique experiments. Watch along as they create a working volcano, generate electricity with a lemon, launch a vinegar-powered rocket, and more. With easy-to-use instructions and tons of fun included, they’ll be ready to explore the full range of other 4M science kits.
Lulu Jr. IlluStory Book Making Kit
This award-winning book makes it easy for kids to write, illustrate, and publish their own 20-page book. The set includes templates, instructions, and a set of markers. Also included is a postage-paid envelope so after the artist has crafted their masterpiece, it can be professionally printed and mailed back to them within a few weeks.
Klutz LEGO Make Your Own Movie Activity Kit
This might be the coolest gift for a movie-loving tween. With this kit, they can make and film their own live-action Lego movie! The 80-page book has instructions for how to set up stop action scenes for both beginners and advanced moviemakers that can all be done in under an hour.
Lohanu Ukulele Concert Size Bundle
Start an interest in a new hobby—learning the ukulele! This bundle will give them everything they need to learn a master a fun, interesting instrument. They’ll receive a beautifully designed ukulele, more than 15 videos perfect for beginners, and a quality leather pick. There’s even a hanger so the instrument can be securely displayed on the wall when not in use.
L.L.Bean Sonic Snow Tube
Encourage them to play outside with this awesome snow tube that will keep them entertained on a winter day. This tube is built for heavy use so it should hold up over the years. Handles give them something to hold on to while tubing and the attached tow strap makes it easy to carry uphill. This makes a perfect toy for tweens that even mom and dad might enjoy.
Bewbow Bamboo Utensils Cutlery Set
A cutlery set might not seem like the most obvious gift for a tween, but if they're on a journey to become more eco-friendly, then it makes total sense. Bewbow's set is made from 100 percent recyclable bamboo and features a fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw, and more. Everything conveniently wraps up in the canvas pouch. This is great for everyday use or those fun camping trips.
Gemmy 70.8-in L x 147.6-in W x 137.7-in Inflatable Internal Fan Movie Screen
Though this is a gift for a tween, it's seriously an item everyone in the family can enjoy. Gemmy's movie screen inflates in a matter of seconds and measures 11.5 x 12 feet. Family movie nights are sure to get an upgrade thanks to this screen that would look great in the backyard while displaying your favorite flick.
Boogie Board Blackboard Writing Tablet - Note Size
For the tween who's not exactly ready for an expensive device or who needs help getting organized, opt for a writing tablet from Boogie Board. It's absolutely perfect for jotting down notes, a to-do list, or simply doodling. Everything can be erased with a swipe of the magnetic stylus or scan and save any important notes to the app.
What to Look For in Gifts for Preteens
Tweens are a tricky age to shop for. They are becoming more independent, but still benefit from the guidance and supervision of caring adults. Age appropriate tween gifts encourage independence and socialization, such as group games, while still maintaining their safety. This is especially important when considering items that include internet access. You should also be on the lookout for games that include more mature content that they might not be ready to process without some help.
“With older kids now, it’s important to talk to them,” says teacher and literacy coach Alicia Drozd. “Kids today can find access to anything. You need to talk to them and set up rules.”
STEM toys are great for tweens, since they encourage exploring new things and imagining—two things that tweens tend to be great at. Just make sure that any gifts that include intricate pieces to build with specialized tools, chemical solutions, or advanced skills are still safe for this age group. It helps to set some limits with your tween, such as they need to ask an adult before performing certain tasks like chopping food in their culinary kit, so that you both feel comfortable.
Games and toys can be both educational and fun. Tweens are a great group to take advantage of toys that teach or develop a new skill, such as cooking, coding, or movie-making. Physical games that encourage socialization with friends and family are also great for this age group.
One of the most important things to think about when choosing a gift for a tween is what they love to do and explore. Whether they are into sports, art, or anything else, they are probably very enthusiastic about their hobbies. Choosing a gift that is geared toward their interests shows that you value their opinions and listen to them when they share.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Patrice J. Williams. She has contributed gift guides to The Spruce since 2020. In addition to her work for The Spruce, she writes commerce articles, including product suggestions and reviews, for other outlets as well as appearing on air for The Today Show, WEtv, and she was the Savvy Shopper reporter for WPIX in New York City.