Those lovely tween years! The ones between about 9 and 12 years old when one is transitioning from being a kiddo into a more capable teen. Getting a gift for a tween is a real puzzle.
I think of myself as a bit of an expert at all thing tweeny, considering that, until my oldest’s birthday about 6 months ago, I lived with 2 of them. So this list comes directly from their sweet, little mouths.
You’ll find several tween gifts for girls list ideas on-line but I’ve committed to be a little more realistic here. These items are things that my tweens girls and their friends actually would love to receive or already own and love. And we’re trying to stay on budget here too. We know you have other financial commitments so of the 45 ideas on this list only a couple wander into genuinely pricey territory.
I hope this list will help you select that best birthday or Christmas present for YOUR tween girl…
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The cool beauty products
Hair Chalk or colored extensions are the perfect solution when your tween girl decides she’d love pink hair but Mom and Dad aren’t quite so sure. While a cool nail polish set will get those creative juices going my girls went gaga when they saw the hair extension that lights up! My husband rolled his eyes when he saw them but my 11-year-old just had to have me add the pearl cat ear headbands. She’s seen them at school and now she “neeeeeds” some for herself. And bath bombs are always a winner. Heck, I haven’t been a tween for longer than I wish to admit and I want some!
Anything emoji, unicorn, mermaid, or flip sequins
The 4 biggest trends right now in the tween and early teen world are emojis, unicorns, mermaids, and flip sequins. Almost any item that includes them is a winner but if you can find an item that combines 2 of them like this flip sequins emoji pillow you’ve won big time! Think room decor, hats, backpacks. They’ll squeal in delight!
Best Games for tween girls to play with each other
Just Dance is now how our girls do their extra P.E. most days. Every year they come up with new songs and I especially love it when they include some “oldies” in the mix. It’s a fun way to introduce them to the songs that I loved as a tween and it gets them up and moving.
My 11 year old REALLY wants the sleepover party game (and she just might get it). Mad Libs are a fantastic sleepover activity too. And while I just don’t get the appeal of putting a big mouth piece in and trying to talk, most kids find it hilarious to play Watch Ya Mouth with one other and maybe even the occasional roped-in parent.
The Telestration game brings guaranteed laughs and since there are no winners or losers it makes a great party game even for adults. And who knew Dutch Blitz was so fun to play with the kids? I’d never even heard of it until last year so I was amazed to learn that it’s been offering card slapping fun for families for decades. These are tween gifts the whole family can enjoy too.
Best books for Tween girls.
There are few things more satisfying than your sweet girl running up to you to gush about all the exciting things happening in her book! I don’t think I’ve ever read books with as much attention to detail as my girls have!
But it seems to me that most tween girl guides list books that are a bit too simple for most tweens. Consider the reading level of your girls, but my kiddos were reading some pretty hefty books by 10. Find stories that resonate with them and let them loose.
I can’t say enough about The Land of Stories series. It turned my struggling reader into a passionate reader while my other girl devoured the Warriors series. My niece loved the Babysitter’s Club when she was 9 or so, but quickly moved on to longer books like the Harry Potter series. The first book starts when Harry turns 11 so it’s a great time to introduce them to the series.
James Patterson also writes some very entertaining books for this age range that my girls really enjoy like Jacky Ha-ha and I-funny.
Best tween books from American Girl
American Girl has many excellent books to help middle schoolers navigate through this awkward time. They span all kinds of subjects and are very well written as they often discuss how important it is to talk to your parents about anything. It’s a refreshing stance when so many TV shows meant for tweens portray the parents as fools or totally irrelevant. I personally gave my oldest girl The Care and Keeping of You when she turned 9. It’s made conversations about adolescence and her changing body much more comfortable and she still refers to it 4 years later. I’m pretty sure the Smart Girl’s Guide to the Digital World will be under the Christmas tree this year.
For your budding hostess
I’m sure there are tween girls who don’t like to bake. I’ve just never met one. I must have gained 10 pounds in the last 2 years from all the cookies, breads, muffins, and scones my girls bake. This is a skill that they developed quickly and one in which they excel. They even got the entrepreneurial bug and started successfully baking for the neighbors to raise money for camp and for our church’s missionaries. Cookbooks make great presents even for adults (hint hint).
Crafts tween girls will love
Crafts are great gifts for tweens.
It’s no wonder there’s a whole aisle dedicated to kids’ crafts in the big box stores. Tweens love to craft. And you will love the wonderful quiet hours you’ll have to yourself!
Perlers have been a staple in our house for a couple of years. My girls have spent hours and hours making all the different shapes. In fact, when asked which of all the gifts in the guide she would recommend the most, my 11-year-old said “Perler for sure! You can do lots of fun and creative things and it’s great for all ages”. You can never go wrong with an insider tip! To do Perler right you could buy a set, but it’s best to buy the big beads bucket, a couple of Perler Idea books and several board shapes. See how they like it and expand to more board shapes from there.
Slime is a big hit in our house (and everybody else’s house) right now. I was searching for a slime recipe book to add to this list when my daughter spotted Karina Garcia’s books and began wildly jumping up and down. Karina Garcia is a kid friendly You-Tuber big on fun DIYs and according to my kids hers is the only slime resource you’ll ever need.
String art and Paracords are also really popular, and you can never go wrong with a well stocked Washi tape set. As I’m writing this my girls have spent 1/2 the day making Washi tape greeting cards!
Funny socks, Fuzzy socks, knee high socks.
I remember having loads of funny socks as a tween and the trend, it seems, is either back or has never left. My daughter just chose 4 pairs of socks to give to her friend as a fun 13th birthday present. As for fuzzy socks, well, those may just end up in my drawer…
The sure bets
The Kindle Fire tablet and the Fujifilm Instax camera are options for those working with a little large budget. The Fire tablet, at less then $50 is the perfect alternative to the more expensive Ipad but still has many of the features your tween is looking for.
The Instax camera is just really cool. I had a Polaroid as a kid and loved it. But back then there were no digital cameras and having access to your prints instantly almost seemed like magic.
Getting your daughter an instant camera will definitely get the big reaction but I’m afraid that it may end up in the back of a drawer rather quickly. When nearly every middle-income kid has had the ability to take a thousand photos a day at absolutely no cost, it’s a bit of a shocker to discover how expensive, and honestly, how limiting, instant film really is. This is a tween gift option but before you plunk down the money you may want to make sure that your girl is genuinely interested.
Speaking of money, this is a great time to teach your girl the value of money and the skills surrounding saving and delayed gratification. The Money Maze Puzzle Box is a creative, fun way to encourage that discussion and a great way to slow down money’s departure from their possession.
So warm their feet and encourage their creativity and strengthen their skills. But remember that some of the best gift that you can give your tween girls is your time, your attention and your care. The things on this list are fun but the tender care and instruction of your girl are far, far more important. Give them that gift and they will treasure it above all others.