Tween Gifts for Any Occasion

When it comes to tween gifts for kids 8 to 12, you can get a novelty gift, go retro, or geek out. Take a look at some items that are recommended by parents of tweens and, most importantly, approved by tweens.

These gift-giving ideas can be great for a birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other special event.

Novelty Gifts

Novelty gifts make great tween gifts and are often reasonably priced. Another good thing about giving a novelty gift is that the tween usually does not own the item already, and it's unlikely that anyone else will think of it as a gift option. One novelty gift that is likely to please is a Sea-Monkeys kit, which features a creature (brine shrimp) that comes to life by adding ordinary tap water. You could also get a funky Magic 8 Ball, which answers all the questions a tween could possibly ask, or along the same lines, 20Q, a gadget that can guess exactly what you're thinking by asking 20 "yes" or "no" questions.

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    Girly Girl Gifts

    tween girl opening gift with her mother
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    Girly girls are easy to buy for. There are stock "girly girl" gifts like custom-made makeup from Lush, fashion accessories, a magazine subscription (Girl's Life or Discovery Girls), and clothes. Tweens who enjoy feminine styles might opt for pastel colors like pink and purple, want to test out new perfumes, or have a certain preference toward southern, boho, or preppy looks.

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    Retro Rules

    Many gifts of yesteryear become popular again and again, such as Frisbees, Hacky Saks, Shrinky Dinks, and Yo-Yos. Consider putting together a gift basket with a few retro items and treats like Pop Rocks to complete a wonderful set.

    You can also get an activity kit like the Creepy Crawlers Workshop, which allows tweens to use goop, molds, and a workshop oven to make rubbery critters. It's a fun item for both girls and boys, proving that tween gifts do not have to be boring.

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    Give an Experience

    Instead of offering a physical gift that they'll lose interest in, like a Wii game or a DVD movie, you could give your tween an experience to remember. For example, you could buy concert tickets for two or dinner and movie for your tween and a friend. Or treat your tween to a day bowling or a trip to a local amusement park with mom and dad.

    Tween girls may especially appreciate a day at the spa or a manicure with one of her girlfriends. Other experiences could include a shopping trip, a fancy lunch, or a class at a local beading store. Don't forget for the active set; get gift passes for a local trampoline park, mini golf, a rock climbing gym, batting cage, or gaming arcade.

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    Gift Cards

    Many people think gift cards are impersonal and boring gifts, but tweens love the idea of having money of their own. Most are at an age where they cannot quite work yet but want to spend money as they please. A gift card offers tweens a little independence. Most tweens are thrilled to receive gift cards or prepaid credit cards as gifts, but a safe bet is a card to their favorite clothing outlet, Amazon, iTunes, or Target.

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    Art Crafts and Science

    Many tweens enjoy arts and crafts. Craft projects for tween boys and girls could include rock polishing kits, wood-burning kits, leather crafts, and even science kits. They may also enjoy beading crafts, sewing crafts, origami kits, and other hands-on activities. One interesting kit is The Science of Soda Pop, the winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. This kit allows children to make soda and learn about the science behind it.

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    Buy a Book

    There's plenty of wonderful tween literature on the bookshelves beyond the "Harry Potter" series. Other young adult book series worth looking into include "Lemony Snicket," "Artemis Fowl," and the "Eragon" series by Christopher Paolini. There are also self-help books, especially those that lean heavily toward tween girls, like Fab Girls Guides (published by Discovery Girls Magazine).

    Make sure to personalize a hardcover book gift by writing an inscription inside, making it even more special.