Have a pre-teen to buy a gift for? Don’t be daunted by the seeming impossibility of choosing one of the best gifts for tweens—we’ve got a few ideas to make it and actually fun shopping experience.
The 45 Best Gifts for Tweens That Aren't Cringe
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What Age Range is a Tween?
These by turns graceful and awkward creatures are between 9 and 12 years old. Think somewhere between bingeing Bluey and Euphoria and you’ve hit the sweet spot of shopping gifts for tweens.
Why Can’t I Just Shop for Them Like Kids or Teens?
Preteens are at a unique developmental stage, according to child psychologists and any harried middle school teacher. They’ve moved on from being identified as “a big kid,” but they’re not yet comfortable in the sometimes rough and tumble world of full-on hormonal teendom. They might be getting crushes but still wanting to sleep with a teddy bear.
So, Just a Gift Card, Then?
Perhaps. But instead of just handing over a gift card, you might experience a special thrill to giving a tween something unexpected that they might love. Here at PureWow, we endorse giving a little bit extra to surprise and delight a giftee. Maybe you can bring a smile to that bat or bar mitzvah kid or middle school graduate or awkward tween pool party host or hostess (this coverup is made for them). Or you could choose something bright to decorate a young person’s room or wrap up a fun craft project that doubles as a stress reliever. Perhaps your tween would like an outdoor game they can play with a few friends, or a baking set to use with a sibling, or even (yes it can be done) a clothing item that they’ll wear to school and feel fly wearing.
Best for Crafty Kids
• Why We Love It: Easy-to-learn, soothing
This kit lets them plan a pattern, transfer it to a fabric, then follow that with the easy punch needle. Extra points if you help them get started, since tweenage years are all about being shown new skills. Note: The kit says for ages 14+, but we totally know tweens can tackle this.
Best for the Barefoot Gal
• Why We Love It: Retro charm, distinctive jewelry type
What’s cuter than an anklet? Not much, and we predict your giftee will immediately squeal when you explain it goes on her leg not her wrist. The nine-inch length is generous, and the brass plating and glass beads will withstand all the pool parties when she doesn’t take it off all season.
Best for the House Lounger
• Why We Love It: Towel-like softness, cell phone pockets
Ask any tween: Robes are so grandma and grandpa. Gift an oversized hoodie they can toss over their PJs and feel confident in their bod, no matter what is going on growth-spurt wise. Bonus: It’s made with 20 percent recycled polyester.
For the Sleep Resistant
• Why We Love It: Soothing multicolor lights, white noise
In a one-two punch of vibey visuals (swirling red-blue-violet lights) and eight white noise settings, this night light lets users set it to auto-off in one to four-hour settings, and can play Bluetooth-enabled tunes. And the colored lights make some dramatic selfies.
For the Kid Who Wants to Surf
- Why We Love It: OG styling, no-lace ease
Whether they are diehard surfers or just want to look cool, these classic waterproof slip-ons will be appreciated. This design has a fold-down back, so they will find it as easy to wear as a pair of shower slides.
Best for Nail Biters
• Why We Love It: Age-appropriate color selection, easy to apply
Gen Z has made friends with press-on nails, and the new iterations come in subtle colorways and shorter length that are cool without being extra. This kit will help the one with nervous hands get a jump on nail grooming with nine included tools such as a cuticle pusher, nail clipper, file, buffer, strengthener and a set of short, French mani press-ons.
For the Retro Music Fan
• Why We Love It: Vintage styling, stereo speakers
No matter if they’re into Yungblud, Billie Eilish or Wilco for that matter, kids today appreciate collecting and listening to vinyl as a supplement to their steady stream of Spotify. Gift them this Bluetooth-enabled stereo that lets them do both in style.
For the Absent-Minded and Fashionable
• Why We Love It: 11 colors, roll-up leg
This cotton-and-linen jumpsuit has lots of pockets so she can stash her phone, bus pass and debit card and not have to suffer the anxiety of strolling the mall in her posse without the essentials.
For the Performer
• Why We Love It: LED light, metal lock
There’s always going to be the need to touch up makeup before an audition or a performance, and there’s not going to be a well-lit mirror to do it in…until now, with this lightweight leather-look zip case that holds a complete kit.
For the Grooming Newbie
• Why We Love It: Two water-free washing products
Two mini dry shampoo formulas, perfect for keeping in a school locker: Gold Lust Dry Shampoo is a lightweight powder that absorbs product buildup, and Dry Texturizing Spray dries oils at the roots while giving hair traction to hold curl. And rounding out this three-product set, a full-size Dry Texturizing Spray for home use.
Best for the Science Guy or Gal
• Why We Love It: Hour-long construction, engineering made fun
This easy-to-assemble lamp teaches junior electrical engineers about the principles of tension and tensegrity as they build a lantern that floats in mid-air.
Best for the Driveway Hoops Star
•Why We Love It: Youth-sized, lights on impact
Two LED lights activate on impact in this size 6 basketball that’s just right for pre-teen hands. And unlike many novelty balls, this one keeps its bounce for a good long while. Note: This ball arrives deflated, so include a sport ball hand pump to get the game started.
For the Pastel Lover
• Why We Love It: Three lids, 25 colorways
Why just carry a water bottle when you can really express your inner color-lovingspirit? Show your giftee you appreciate her love of bright things along with her desire to stay hydrated with this 32-ounce double-walled cooler.
Best for Boba Tea Fans
• Why We Love It: Cute overload, functional nightlight
Memorialize their love of all things boba with this LED lamp that is pretty much the cutest nightlight we have ever seen. It’s 5.5 inches tall, so it can fit on their bedside. Note: It runs on three AAA batteries, not included.
For the Over-the-Top Dresser
• Why We Love It: Crystals, shiny
She will shriek when she gets a load of this excessive in-the-best-way scrunchie. Her parents will appreciate the way it keeps her hair off her face.
For the Guy Jock
• Why We Love It: Zippered pocket, cool wearing
Sure, he’s got a lot of workout shorts, but these are fancy. Quick-drying four-way stretch fabric in a generous seven-inch length means these are so comfortable and versatile, he won’t want to take these off once he’s dominated his workout.
For the Cool Guy or Gal
• Why We Love It: Quality lenses, classic style
You’ll not often find a fashion item that’s going to appeal to Gen Z, millennials, X and boomers, but we nominate these Wayfarers as one such item. Lightweight, good-looking on everyone and a way to teach them early to take care of their peepers.
Best for Court Sport Lovers
• Why We Love It: Built-in shorts, off-court options
The humble tennis dress has been reinvented as warm weather knock-around garb, layered over a T-shirt or just worn as is with sneaker, sandal or flip-flops. Of course, if she wants to slay a pickleball opponent, this dress works for that, too.
For the Sleepover Guy
• Why We Love It: Indestructible, roomy
Heavy-duty nylon packcloth is going to withstand whatever toothpaste tube isn’t on tight or shampoo leaks, and still look tight when he’s tossing it in his bag to overnight at his bestie’s house. After you’ve called to check it’s okay with his friend’s parent, of course.
For the Hiker
• Why We Love It: Sneaker styling, water resistant
For real outdoor scrambling, ankle support is key. These give her just that, along with deep tread and a leather-flocked outsole, all put together in a cute and colorful package she won’t wrinkle her nose up like she does at most technical footwear.
For the Budding Conservationist
• Why We Love It: Do-gooder feels, plush toy gift
For your donation, your giftee gets a photo of their charge, a species information card and an orange plush toy that will make them remember how they’re helping to save a hairy orange life with their donation to the World Wildlife Fund.
For the Emily in Paris Watcher
• Why We Love It: Kicky style, lightweight construction
Is she cutely dropping French hrases into conversation, c’est vous plait? Acknowledge her Francophile tendencies with this nubby acrylic knit beret that updates the classic shape.
For the Complexion Obsessed
• Why We Love It: Facial massage feel, comes with serum
Skincare feels good with this warming wand that used blue light to kill bacteria and calm redness. For as little as ten minutes post-washing, a few swipes of this vibrating microcurrent wand will really bring out your giftee’s healthy glow.
For the One with Wild Style
• Why We Love It: Graffiti print, waterproof
Thermoplastic clogs with a strap that can be flipped back or hinged forward to make a slip-on shoe…convenience, thy name is Crocs. These mold to their footbed as they wear them, and look cute with everything from swimwear to skirts.
For the History Buff
• Why We Love It: Conversation starter, short chapters
It’s said that history is told from the perspective of the winning side, and this young people’s version of the Howard Zinn’s adult-focused work, tells history using the voices of workers, enslaved people, immigrants, women, Native Americans and more.
For the Ear Party Tween
• Why We Love It: 14 K gold plated, crystal insets
Ear parties are trending, and we’re seeing piercings all up and down the lobe. But if her family isn’t set on her getting extra holes in her body, or if she’s just curious about the look, these ear cuffs let her experiment with a little extra bling, in “demi-fine” gold-plated sterling silver.
For Fans of “The Mandalorian”
• Why We Love It: Posable, makes great room display
This 1,073-piece Lego sculpture is rated for 10 and up, so it’s not going to be impossible to put together. And once it’s assembled, the mouth and ears can be adjusted, and you and pose him with his favorite toy, a gearshift knob.
Best for the Emerging Vlogger
• Why We Love It: Removable phone holder, 3 light temperature settings
Whether they’re into makeup tutorials, fitness demos or just the latest TikTok dance, your tween can find a use for this ring light when they’re making videos. And even if they’re not starring, they can use the light when they’re joining a Zoom study session.
For the Astrology Buff
• Why We Love It: Multi-disciplinary insights, cool graphics
This cunning book has 366 profiles, one for each day of the Leap Year, comprising astrological insights, numerology and Tarot intel. This will be fun to look up not just the giftee’s own birthday, but their friends and family’s as well.
For the Outdoors Lover
• Why We Love It: Unisex, sheer coverage
You’ll want to start nagging them early about always wearing SPF, and this all-mineral sunscreen goes on practically invisibly, so no one will think they are wearing anything on their face. Bonus: This formula protects against blue light, too.
For Dancers, Gymnasts and Other Bendy Bodies
• Why We Love It: Alleviates tension, passive recovery
Any young athletic person will appreciate how pressure-point manipulation can help loosen strained or tensed muscles. This buckwheat hull-filled pillow has more than 2,000 spiked discs to really get the neck, shoulders, lumbar or other regions going.
Great for the Shower Resistant Guy
• Why We Love It: Customizable, natural scents
Gift a selection of eco-friendly bar soap, pump soap, eco-deodorant and more, and you can be sure to get him into the bath out of sheer curiosity, at the very least.
For the Gamer
• Why We Love It: Easy setup, immersive gaming
Someone’s going to have to explain the Metaverse to you, and it might as well be the kid who is 11 years old now. This hands-free headset lets the user just slip it on and set up with the smartphone app right out of the box.
For the Campfire Entertainer
• Why We Love It: 12 colors, free online course
A digital tuner, a strap and everything your little warbling giftee needs to become uke adept is in this bundle: a 21-nch soprano ukulele, picks and more.
For the Preteen Man Cave
• Why We Love It: Updated beanbag, small profile
Get ready for him to host hangouts in his room with this 39-inch wide bean bag chair that’s a little more structured than yesterday’s free-form blob. The durable cotton canvas cover is spot cleanable, and tough, to stand up to all his ruffian friends.
For the Overstimulated Tween
• Why We Love It: Diverse sensory stimulation, stress relieving
With so much information bombardment, social pressure and school responsibility, it can be helpful to let off a bit of steam by squishing a squeeze ball in your hand, setting a liquid motion timer or playing with a flippy chain. All those toys and more are in this cornucopia.
For the Dog Walker
• Why We Love It: High visibility, easy to custom-fit
It may be raining. It may be snowing. It may be after dark. But that tween still has to take out the family dog, and this light makes the both of them that much more visible and therefore safer.
For the Bed Studier
• Why We Love It: Seven colors, cell phone pocket
Soft micro mink texture polyester covers this 36-inch long pillow that can help the student (or let’s be real, YouTube binger) not get a sore neck or back when they’re logging in the hours. It is filled with solid Temperpedic foam, so we’re talking support.
For the Skater
• Why We Love It: Accelerates without pushing, 175-pound capacity
The pivoting deck and 360-degree inclined casters mean that just by shifting their weight, riders can speed up or slow down. At only 5.5 pounds, this is the new wheeled challenge tweens will love taking on, as long as they’re wearing the helmet you’ve gifted along with it.
For the Festival Goer
• Why We Love It: Compact, waterproof
These sturdy fog- and waterproof binoculars are rubber-coated, so they’re less likely to slip out of your hands. And they’re so clear, your giftee can take photos with them using the mobile phone adapter, available separately.
For the Sun Worshipper
• Why We Love It: Accent stitching, scalloped brim
It’s rare that you find a hat that looks as cute at the beach as it does with an entire outfit, but this charming chapeau has all that and more. The floppy cotton is lightweight, to boot.
For the Dress Shirt Denier
• Why We Love It: Low key fashion, plaid
If he’s the type of guy who would just as soon wear a t-shirt to a wedding, ease him out of his comfort zone with this loose-fit, inoffensive plaid number. It’s from Cali cool company Pac Sun, which is popular among his demo.
Best for the Future Interior Designer
• Why We Love It: Bold florals, organic cotton
Does she have a knack for mixing florals and stripes? Does she know her way around the color wheel? Is she constantly rearranging her room? Then she will appreciate this gorgeous duvet cover that reverses to a ditsy print. (And she’ll really love that you threw in a pair of matching shams.)
For the Serious Swimmer
• Why We Love It: Multi-snap neckline, maximum bust support
This versatile swimsuit has a medium leg cut and comes in long-waist sizes, so it’s not going to pull too much on a growing girl. And the snap top means she can get a bit of sun on the girls when she’s done swimming laps.