Buying gifts for tweens can be really hard. They’re too old for most of the toys that crowd holiday flyers and they have very specific opinions about what they do and don’t like. They’re also pretty dang media savvy by this age and have been exposed to enough ads that they are beginning to develop expensive tastes.
This year I’m shopping for an 11-year-old and we are both having a hard time coming up with ideas for his Christmas list. When I asked him what he was hoping to see under the tree this year, he rattled off three or four items which started at $120 and topped out at $800! Erp! I don’t think so, my darling boy!
So I did what I always do when I’m baffled and I turned to Facebook for advice from my peeps, and they came through with flying colors! Their suggestions were so fantastic that I decided I should share them so everyone in the world can benefit from the wisdom of my crew.
Wait! Am I supposed to be saying “squad” now? I’m pretty sure I am…
I asked my squad for ideas in the $20 range, and though a few things were more expensive, there were a good range of reasonably priced items represented. Also, while I was taking requests for my son in particular, these would all work just as well for a tween girl. No gender stereo-typing going on here!
These cool emoji Pillows are making the birthday party rounds among my son’s friends at the moment. He got one for his birthday and liked it enough that he’s asking for a few more for Christmas. I’d be lying if I told you the poop emoji pillow wasn’t the most highly sought after one at my house.
Grown-up Coloring Book
It seems like everyone is jumping on the grown-up coloring book bandwagon and arty kids like coloring in front of the tv as much as the rest of us. The flowery books would probably wouldn’t make the cut, but the Harry Potter, Star Wars or animal themed books would go over particularly well with my boy.
Extreme Dot to Dot Books
Extreme Dot to Dot books fall along the same lines as the grown-up coloring books. My son got a few as hand-outs at school last year and found them to be fun and challenging. Some of the puzzles have over 1000 points in them!
Speaking of drawing and coloring — if you have a kid who loves to draw, a big set of high quality pens or colored pencils are always welcome. My kids borrow my Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens constantly and a big set of colored pencils (36 colors in this box!) is always welcome.
Maker kids will love the Tinker Crate monthly subscription box. For about $20 per month kids receive a crate with instructions and all the pieces they need to make a fun science or tech project.
Books Featuring Middle Schoolers
Wyatt loves to read and lately he’s been zipping through several book series focused on middle school kids. Some of his favorites:
He also just finished reading Wonder, which is fabulous should probably be read by all kids at some point.
My kids are constantly misplacing their headphones, so a new pair is always welcome. You can go with something humdrum, of course, but how about these shark ones?
Such a cool idea that came my way from my friend, Deb! She gives kids a tool box one year, then for every gift giving occasion afterwards they get a few tools to go in it. This would work well with other themes too: cooking, crafting, etc.
The Ozobot Bit has a higher price tag, but my friend Whitney said it’s been a big hit with her son. Program it with colors and symbols. Sweet!
Star Wars Lego sets
My son is fresh off a trip to Legoland and excited about the impending release of The Force Awakens (like everyone else in the world), so his love of Star Wars Lego sets is reinvigorated. There are lots to choose from in lots of price points in this category. If you’re looking to keep the costs down this speeder set comes in at around $20.
This is a great item to encourage adventure. Also comes in handy for reading all those books about middle schoolers in bed at night without waking up the kid in the lower bunk. This model comes highly rated.
This 3D maze game was the runaway favorite gift with both my boys last Christmas and it’s still being played with regularly.
Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge Comic Compendiums
My husband has a huge collection of old comics that he assembled when he was a kid and my son is particularly fond of the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge titles. Some of the comics are 50 or 60 years old now, so they don’t stand up to lots of handling anymore. Luckily, there is a fantastic series of books that collects the comics all in one place and Wyatt can read them over and over without having to be too careful. Each volume runs around $20 and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Light Up Soccer Ball
My friend Sarah says she buys this Tangle Sport Matrix Airless NightBall Soccer Ball for birthday party gifts all the time and it is always a big hit. The same company also sells footballs and softballs.
Loot Crate is another monthly subscription club but they deliver a boxes of geeky merchandise. Think Star Wars, superheroes, and video game stuff. Order a single box for about $20 or get a subscription.
Almost everything ThinkGeek sells
My friend Sam pointed me to ThinkGeek.com and boy was she on to something. It’s basically a tween boy paradise! Particular stand-outs when I was browsing: giant plush microbes, Hoverkraft Levitating Construction Challenge, and just about anything Minecraft.
What ideas do you have for tweens? Please share them down in the comments!
Though this post contains affiliate links, I have not been compensated for compiling it.
Big thanks to my peeps for all their ideas! Sam, Venia, Kale, Lise, Cori, Maj, Melissa, Deb, Whitney, Sandra, Deborah, Lisa, Lisa, Sarah, Stephanie, Cathy — I’m looking at you!