Best Tween Gift Ideas They ACTUALLY Want!

Over 32 gift ideas for tweens! Find the perfect gift idea for the preteen in your life with this helpful gift guide!

Tween excited for a gift

Tweens can be hard to shop for. They still like toys, but less than they used to. The tween age range is truly in between as they struggle between wanting to grow up and wanting to hang on to childhood.

I still remember being around 11 years old one Christmas and having everyone tell me how hard it was to shop for me now that I was older.

When we are talking about tweens (or preteens), these are kids who are 9-12 years old. If you have a very mature 8 year old, these ideas will be helpful for you, also.

Gift Ideas for Tweens

Many gift ideas for tweens work for most kids in this age range. Here are some classics.


My kids all loved LEGOs through the tween years. LEGO has sets that are harder, so the same toy that thrilled your 2 year old can and will thrill your 12 year old boy.

Through the preteen years, a child will grow through various sets. A classic set works for all ages. Once your child needs more of a challenge, LEGO Technic,  LEGO Architecture, and LEGO Creator Expert are great steps up.

LEGO Technic is the next level in building LEGO creations. They are a bit more challenging. They also are a step up–the final product is a bit more realistic than classic LEGOs are. Many can also add a motor to move. Brayden loved these. They have offered him some challenge and took him more time than 20 minutes to put together.

While at LEGOLAND, we were all impressed with the LEGO creations built that depict actual buildings. In the gift shop, I saw they have this whole LEGO Architecture series.

While it doesn’t look as exciting as some bulldozer or excavator, I thought it would offer Brayden a great challenge. It did! This series is rated for 12 and older, so it is intricate and it creates something impressive. They have a lot of buildings available. If you have a child needing some challenge or a child interested in engineering or architecture, this is a great set.


There are many electronics you can get for your preteen. A watch, a smart watch, a Kindle, iPad, Bluetooth speaker, SONOS speaker for their bedroom, laptop, tablet… pick the device that will suit your child best.

If your child loves to sing in the shower, maybe a water-proof shower speaker would be a fun gift.

Also in this category is video game consoles like a Nintendo Switch or Playstation. You can also get games to go with these things.


As your tween moves from childhood to teen years, the little toy camera won’t cut it anymore. If you are like me, your tween doesn’t have a phone so there isn’t a camera in the pocket at all times.

Some sort of camera could be fun. Polaroid cameras are popular for getting pictures printed right away. Fujifilm also makes a very popular instant print camera.

Puzzle Toys

The Perplexus or Rubix Cube are two toys that can capture a tween’s attention. They are complex and take some thought.

When Brayden got a Perplexus from my sister for Christmas one year, not only did it capture his attention, but my husband, my dad, and my grandpa were all hanging around for a chance to try it out.

The Rubix Cube is an old favorite toy that fits in a jacket pocket. It is a great thing for a child to bring along and do when having to sit around.

Another idea is a speed cube. A speed cube is a fun toy for the ten and older crowd. This is a good option for the tween you need to shop for but aren’t sure what to get.


My kids all like binoculars. A preteen is able to have such a thing and not destroy them. Brayden has loved having binoculars for all sorts of occasions. Brayden liked them so much he convinced the other children they all love binoculars, too, without even saying anything. Just by liking his a lot.

Mad Libs

When I was a preteen, Mad Libs was a favorite of mine. The resulting stories are hilarious. As an adult, I love that it teaches parts of speech.

For the preteen who loves a joke, this is a fantastic gift. Mad Libs has a lot of books with different focuses of interest. Science, sports, animals…so peruse to see what your child might like.


Book are a consistent gift at our house. Most preteens are into chapter books, so a great chapter book or even a series makes for a great gift.

Brayden has had many series he has enjoyed over the years. I couldn’t even list just a few key great books, but one series he has read many times is Eragon. This is a great one for the child who likes fantasy books.

Ella Enchanted is a fun series. My girls all loved Wings of Fire. Another great one is the Little House books.

Don’t forget about audiobooks and books on Kindle when thinking of books to get.

>>>Read: 44 Books for Tweens and Young Teens

Sports Equipment

If the preteen in your life is into sports, consider getting them something for their sport of choice.

Get a bag, practice gear, nicer ankle guards (these really are really good ones!), swim fins…whatever your child’s sport of choice, something to enhance that sport is a fantastic gift. One year, Katilyn really wanted a nice soccer ball for Christmas.

Did you ever play with a Hopper Ball in gym class growing up? I remember loving them! This has been a huge hit with all of our kids. I love anything that takes energy out of them!

Other things to think about in this category is new bicycle, a skateboard, rollerblades, scooters…

Don’t forget to think outside the box for sports equipment. When Brayden was 11, we got him his own kayak. He loved that! We like kayaks from Lifetime.

Klutz Books

Klutz books have things that appeal to all types. Paper airplanes, chain reactions, Star Wars, contraptions…you can easily find something your child would be interested in.

Face Painting, Friendship Bracelets, Nail Art, Cat’s Cradle, Stencil Art…It just goes on. Kaitlyn loved her friendship bracelet one. Preteen girls love their friends and love showing their friends love. The friendship bracelet is a timeless way girls show love.

When I was a little girl, I remember loving Cat’s Cradle. My friends and I played for hours at a time. I don’t remember much, so I got this Klutz Cat’s Cradle Book Kit for Kaitlyn one Christmas. In the meantime, she had a friend start teaching it to her, and she became as obsessed with it as I was as a kid.

One day she asked me if I had heard of it, I told her I loved it as a kid, and she asked my why I hadn’t ever taught it to her then! Little did she know. She was so thrilled to get this for Christmas.


kendama is a unique but fun toy for a boy who likes a physical challenge. It is very portable for the child being able to entertain himself in various places. My older three kids each had one of these and they all enjoyed playing with them. Another toy similar to this is a yo-yo.


There are a lot of crafts a tween can do that are a level up from crafts they did as a little kid.

Even kids who aren’t terribly into art projects enjoy Perler Beads. They satisfy the creativity in all of us. You can be very creative or follow the instructions given. There are a lot of buckets out there for the tastes of all types. Sports, animals, princesses…you can find one that will suit the likes of your girl.

Orig3ami is a fascination for preteens. They have the dexterity and intelligence to easily follow Origami instructions. A kit is a great gift for any preteen.

Kaitlyn is very into art, so she always enjoyed something artistic as a gift. One thing she really enjoyed was ceramic painting sets. Beyer has a variety of fun sets of animal painting sets. Kaitlyn loves horses, so we got her a horse one.

When you are a tween, having an endless supply of tape and paper that you can use at your own will is exciting. You can also get endless supplies of stickers. The dollar store can be a good place to get those.

Another craft that can be fun your tween is yarn and crochet hooks to learn to crochet. Along a similar line, your tween might like to learn to do cross stitch. There are many kits for beginners out there!

Rip the Page!

Rip the Page! is a great gift for the child interested in writing. It has invaluable information on storytelling and exercises to do to practice the skills learned.

I love this book for my little storyteller, and she has loved it. I am a writer, but let’s just say I was not my creative writing professor’s favorite student (that was my friend Kelli, who has gone on to be published). I am a technical writer. So this book is a fantastic tool in our house for my creative girl.

Delux Magic Set

Brayden started doing his own magic tricks a lot as a young tween, so I thought we would try out how he liked a magic set. This was a lot of fun and it is great quality. I like that it shows the child the fun of magic, but also that magic isn’t “magic.”

Instruments or Music Books

If your child plays an instrument or wants to play an instrument, this is a great category to think about. A ukelele is an easy instrument to learn to play. Both Kaitlyn and McKenna have this.

If your child plays the piano, a Fake Book is a fun idea. These are books that have chords and the melody for songs. So you can play a song easily with some basic knowledge. Brayden has loved it and I will get him another one this Christmas. There is an insane amount of these fake books. Disney, Christmas, Eighties, Beatles, Classical…it never ends.


Journals are helpful for tweens to have a private place to record thoughts and feelings. You can get a journal that matches up to your child’s interest. A young tween might like something like this fuzzy cat journal (Brinley got one one year).

Your child might like a journal that reflects a high interest. Kaitlyn always loves a Harry Potter Journal.

Brayden has always liked things to be simple and sleek and prefers something like this basic journal.

If your child is really into journaling, they might also enjoy a nice pen.

Blank Books

Brinley loves to write stories, and she has loved these blank books for doing so. She has gotten them a few times and in different sizes.

Remote Control Drones, Helicopters, and Cars

Kids this age like anything remote-controlled. This helicopter is something Brayden actually saved up for and bought himself. He really enjoyed it and the quality has been good. You can also do a truck or car.

Favorite Team Swag

If your tween is loving a certain team or sport, some swag for that team can be a fun gift! A sweatshirt, blanket, mug, water bottle…there are endless options out there!


Another fun gift idea is a subscription to something. For music lovers, Spotify might be just the ticket. Maybe you haven’t wanted to sign up for Netflix or Disney+ but your tween has been asking. A subscription to that will be well received!

Brinley loves to play Animal Jam, so a gift she gets every Christmas for the last couple of years has been an Animal Jam subscription.

Experience Gifts

I love the idea of giving experience gifts. This can be a vacation, a season pass, concert tickets, or even just a one day out for fun. These can be great for older kids who understand that an experience gift is valuable and who just don’t really need more things.

When McKenna was a young tween, she loved to go rock climbing. One year we got her a punch pass to our local rock climbing gym.

>>>Read: 65 Experience Gifts for the Whole Family

Individualized Gifts for Hobbies and Interests

Even though preteens are outgrowing toys and dolls, they are very much growing into themselves. What does the preteen in your life love? Building things? Sports? Animals? Reading? Writing? Skateboards? What is it he loves?

Maybe she loves horses and you can’t afford a pony. Maybe a hot chocolate mug with a horse on it is just the ticket.

Chances are high that he loves a variety of things. Get something for him to help him out with his passion. If you know the passion but not what he needs from it, get creative.

Bedroom Furniture

Your tween might be wanting an upgrade to the furniture or decor in the bedroom. A tween often will really like a desk in the bedroom.

Gift Card

A great gift to give at birthday parties for this age group is a gift card. If your child’s friend is a reader, you can find out a book they would love and get that, or you can get a gift card to the book store. You can add some candy to the gift and they child will be thrilled!

Gift cards to the app store can also be well-received.

Gift Ideas for Tween Girls

Preteen girls start to leave the world of toys and get a little more mature tastes. That can leave gift-givers feeling baffled and not sure what to get.

You might find your tween boy is interested in these ideas also.

Clothes or Shoes

I am not one who likes to give clothes as a present. I view clothing my children as my responsibility. However, I have a budget, and my job isn’t fulfilling every wish in the store.

Once Kaitlyn became a preteen, she started having more interest in clothes. She started to want certain clothes that are cute indeed, but out of the list of “needed.” That’s when gifts come in.

For her ninth birthday, she really wanted a jean jacket. I wasn’t sure she would really wear it. It made a great gift idea!

If your girl has a clothing item or pair of shoes she really wants, Christmas or Birthdays might be the perfect time to get those items. If you don’t know the girl well (like a friend birthday present), fun accessories are always enjoyed.

Room Decorations

Along the same line of thinking, room decorations or furnishings that are beyond what you feel is a given can be a great gift. A new comforter or bed set for the preteen tastes, a decorative pillow, a fun lamp, a comfortable reading chair…there are a lot of directions to go here.

I have noticed tweens really like to gift each other fuzzy blankets, so a fuzzy blanket is a popular item with this age group.

Nail Accessories

My girls like getting their nails painted at any age. As a preteen, Kaitlyn loved to do her own nails. These Sketch it Nail Pens were really fun and easy for her to do artistic designs on her fingernails. You paint with one side and do art with the other side. This nail polish actually lasts a really long time on Kaitlyn, also.

You can also do a nail polish color your tween will love.

Lotions, Chapstick, Hair Brushes, etc.

Sometimes you need a gift for a girl you just don’t know well. Many of the above can work for most girls. Other great go-tos are nice lotion/bath sets, hair brush sets, and chapstick


Your tween might be into jewelry now. Necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets…these are all great ideas for preteen gifts.

Hair Accessories and Tools

As your tween gets closer to being a teenager, your tween will have more of an opinion in hair accessories. Find out what interests your teen. Hair accessories can make perfect gifts. I have done packs of scrunchies, clips, barretts, and even just hair elastics. Hair beads are really popular right now, too.

As my older tweens roll into teen years, they start to use my hair tools more and more. I often give Christmas gifts or birthday gifts that are a nice hair dryer, a straightener, etc. It is a gift for me as much as the tween! I get hair tools from L’ANGE (affiliate link).


Your tween girl might love to get a cute purse, backpack, or bag.

Hair Mannequin

Kaitlyn loves doing hair, so when Kaitlyn was 10 one Christmas I got her a hair mannequin training head. This is great as soon as your child loves doing hair.

Gift Ideas for Tween Boys

Preteen boys start to leave the world of toys and get a little more mature tastes. That can leave gift-givers feeling baffled and not sure what to get the child who isn’t quite a child anymore. I have you covered!

Naturally, girls can enjoy these toys, also.

Nerf Guns

Among Brayden and his friends in the older tween years, probably the favorite game was Nerf Gun wars. They love to get together and shoot each other as much as possible.

Building Toys

There are more than just LEGOS out there.

Engino Discovering STEMZoobSnap Circuits…these are all toys the boy who loves to build will still like as a preteen. These are, of course, in addition to the LEGOs. These are a nice variety to LEGOs and are very educational toys.


I hope this tween gift guide will help you this holiday season or when birthday shopping. This in-between age seems hard to shop for at first, but as you can see, once the ideas flow, there are a lot of options!

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