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Ah, the tween years! The kids who comprise this age group have one foot firmly still planted in childhood while the other wants to leap towards the teen years. Ready to move on from elementary to middle school, this age group often feels stuck between the cute stuff from the kid years they’re longing to leave behind and the cool stuff that everyone thinks is too old for them.
The best gifts for tweens encourage them to be their best selves while fostering their growing interests. Their self-confidence, independence, and academic skills need to be nurtured. They may feel on top of the world as the oldest kids in elementary school but can feel knocked down a few pegs as middle schoolers, especially as those hormones start to set in.
Best Gifts for Tweens
Since tweens flip flop between wanting to be seen as kids but also wanting to be viewed as grown up, give them the autonomy they crave to explore things they love as they continue developing meaningful friendships. Gifts for tweens can be increasingly pricey but can also be a worthwhile investment for the future as they start to want to learn about specific topics and develop proficiency in their skills. Here are my picks for the tweens in your life this year!
Circuit Explorer Deluxe Base Station from Educational Insights ($59.99)
Tweens can learn the fundamentals of circuitry through imaginative play featuring astronaut and robot figures. Just line up the circuitry graphics on the oversized pieces and snap them together to build a fully powered, large-scale, space themed world. The set includes a base station with towers, rotating diner sign, planetarium with color changing dome, and a voice synthesizer with 10 space sounds. There’s even a communication station with a rotating radar dish and a fully powered space rover AND a free rolling rover, both with light up headlights. The pieces can be connected, disassembled, and put back together to create your own space station too for hours of unplugged play. Best for ages 7+
Half foosball and half air hockey, this tabletop game provides fast action as your opponent tries to score. Use the magnetic handle and striker to defend your half of the board while avoiding biscuits (magnets) and send the ball flying into your opponent’s goal to score. Just don’t land yoru striker in your own goal! Fully assembled upon arrival, beautifully designed Klask is ready to play on any flat surface and is great for tweens and parents alike. Best for ages 7+
Dog Crimes from ThinkFun ($14.99)
In this deductive reasoning game, players must identify the culprit of a canine crime using a series of clues. Six dog suspects feature distinctive characteristics and traits, and the gameboard supplies additional supporting evidence to help you solve the crimes. It’s the perfect game for dog lovers, and anyone who loves a good mystery! Not a dog lover? Younger cat lovers will enjoy Cat Crimes designed for ages 4+! Dog Crimes is best for ages 8+
Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo ($49.99)
If your tween hasn’t gotten into Animal Crossing yet, they’ll love this simulation/role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch. Players set out for a deserted island where they work to create a thriving community while enjoying the day-to-day activities the island has to offer. The residents of the island are helpful and friendly, often encouraging players to have fun and offering sincere gratitude for the players’ help. The game is easy to pick up and play, with no “winning” or “losing.” Players instead simply live life on their island as they see fit. Players have the option to play by themselves, on the same system with up to four players, or by local multiplayer or over the internet with up to eight players. For more information, read a full review on Common Sense Media. Rated E for Everyone by ESRB. Best for ages 7+
I’m Gaming Do Not Disturb Socks ($8.99)
Perfect as a stocking stuffer, as an accompaniment to a game, or just because, these I’m Gaming Do Not Disturb socks are the perfect holiday gift for any video game loving tween in your house. Since they’re sure to become favorites, maybe pick up more than one pair! Best for ages 7+
Every tween is missing IRL time with their friends so help them keep those they love close with these LED Photo Clip String Lights. Clips hold pictures and light up to provide a warm glow in any space, especially any walls that serve as Zoom backgrounds. Best for ages 8+
Chicken War by ThinkFun ($19.99)
All’s fair–or fowl–in Chicken War! This brand-new game from ThinkFun lets tweens use logic and problem solving skills and visual perception and reasoning as they compete against opponents to complete their Chicken Army. It’s a race, but important not to give away the identity of your Leader. If you think you know someone else’s, launch an Egg and eliminate the opposition! Best for ages 8+
Gabb Wireless Z2 Smartphone ($99.99 + $19.99/month)
Like many parents, your tween is at an age where all they want is a phone but you’re not quite sure. You’re trying to encourage unplugging in favor of digital wellbeing and have concerns about setting family rules, how to keep an eye on what they’re doing, and limiting their screen time. Meet Gabb. Gabb Phones look like smartphones but protect against screen addition, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators, and more. 14 essential apps give your tween the connectivity they want but don’t come with distractions like internet, games, social media, and app stores.
All phones feature fingerprint ID sign in, GPS to find lost phones, Bluetooth, front and rear cameras, a 5.5” display screen, and a headphone jack. The contract free Gabb Plan offers unlimited talk and text and GPS for $19.99/month and the Gabb Plus Plan ($14.99/month) includes all the Gabb features plus MMS (group & image texts).
The phone is built safe so there’s no need for parental controls! I personally love that Gabb’s mission is to protect kids and encourage life outside the screen. They know more screen time means it can be less difficult to get good grades and with kids not being great multitaskers, they encourage life outside the screen in favor of mental health. HOORAY! Gabb is providing readers $10 off the Gabb Phone when using the code TSM10 at checkout or purchasing it through this link. Best for kids 8+
Back to the Future Back in Time by Funko Games ($29.99)
There’s no better way to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Back to the Future than by joining Marty McFly, Doc Brown and a time traveling DeLorean-fueled adventure of a lifetime. Cooperative gameplay pits Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Jennifer Parker, or Einstein against Biff and his gang. It’s a race against the clock as they make sure Marty’s parents fall in love before the DeLorean has to catch the lightning striking the clock tower at exactly 10:04 pm. Game play is designed for 2-4 players and takes approximately 50 minutes. Best for ages 10+
Cinema Light Box ($21.99)
Let your tween express themselves with this LED light box that includes letters, symbols, and colorful emojis. Favorite phrases, quotes, and even happy birthday wishes to friends via Zoom provide inspiration for endless decorating.
Moon Spinner by ThinkFun ($12.99)
Moon Spinner is a stunning lunar-themed brainteaser that’s highly addictive in the best way! Six multi-colored circles are ingeniously connected to form crescent moon-shaped patterns. Each circle can be rotated to reposition different sections of the puzzle. Like many classic brainteasers, your goal is to scramble the various colored sections, and then figure out how to rotate them back to their starting positions. Moon Spinner is truly revolutionary in how the circles interact with each other. This unique, addictive challenge will leave puzzle enthusiasts over the moon!
3 Must-Have Books for Your Tween’s Library
In Jeff Kinney’s 15th Wimpy Kid book, Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip, ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Things take an unexpected turn when they find themselves stranded at an RV park that’s not exactly a summertime paradise. When the skies open up and the water starts to rise, the Heffleys wonder if they can save their vacation—or if they’re already in too deep. Best for ages 8+
This timely collection of mini biographies highlights 25 champions for justice, includes colorful portraitures of each, and presents actual photos of the individuals. Champions of Change introduces young readers not only to Anthony and Wells, but also to a diverse group of firsts and freedom-fighters in America’s fight for equality, such as these amazing women and more:
- Zitkala-Sa, co-founder of the National Council of American Indians
- Martha Hughes Cannon, America’s first female state senator
- Hannah Kaaepa, an advocate for Hawaiian women’s rights
- Barbara Toomer, who was jailed 35 times for protests that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- and the women of the Kanab Town Council, one of the first all-female city councils in the country
This book is sure to inspire tweens thanks to stories of incredible women who championed justice in politics, medicine, art, music, religion, tribal leadership, and more! Best for ages 8+
Star Stable Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling and The Legend Awakens ($8.99 each)
For kids who love getting lost in books that aren’t required reading, the first book in the new Star Stable book series can help transport them to the fantasy world of Jorvik. Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling brings the magical world to life for young readers around the world.
Through the book, readers follow the Soul Riders as each of them forge a special bond with their horses. Each of the Soul Riders discoverers their own unique powers and how it’s their destiny to save the world. The book’s positive message shows that each girl is a hero in her own right. It also doesn’t discount the individuality of characters who are complex and relatable, yet each has struggles and triumphs that will resonate with young readers. The Legend Awakens is the second installment in the epic, fantasy trilogy, Soul Riders, about magic, friendship, and horses bound to thrill all young equestrian fans. Another great gift for horse lovers is Star Stable Online which has inspired kids ages 9-14 to discover adventure, ignite creativity and build friendships for the past 10 years. Best for ages 8+
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 9-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Gifts for Unplugged Fun
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Outdoor Adventures
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
NEED MORE IDEAS? VISIT MY PAST GIFT GUIDES FOR TWEENS:
- 2019 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Tweens
- 2018 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Tweens
- 2017 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Tweens
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of the companies featured.