Disclaimer :: This article is sponsored by myFirst USA to offer gift ideas for tweens. This article contains affiliate links. Dallas Moms may receive a commission if a purchase is made. Thanks for supporting Dallas Moms in its mission to support local parents.
Whether for birthdays, milestones, or holidays, gift-giving for tweens is tricky! I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the question asked in a Facebook group: What should I buy an 11-year-old boy?
Why does this age seem difficult to buy for? I think it’s because these are the in-between years. Kiddos are part child and part teen — a jumbled mix of leaving one stage to enter another. Brainstorming gift ideas for tweens is challenging, to say the least!
Fret no more! Take it from an experienced tween mom: This article will help you figure out the best gift ideas for the tweens in your life!
You can think about experience gifts in a few ways . . .
- Memberships to a museum, the zoo, etc.
- One-time events like concerts, sporting events (Go Rangers!), special exhibits, etc.
- Outings with you or friends like having a day date for lunch, fun at Alley Cats or Main Event, or going to the movies.
I will interject that tweens often need, crave, and appreciate your time, especially if it is one-on-one or you facilitating a friend hangout. They may stay in their rooms more, pull away from hugs, and use words like “so annoying,” but they still need and long for your attention and time. Don’t forget it.
2. Gift Cards
Gift cards are FOR SURE a desired gift among the tween crowd. Gift cards scream independence: Buy what you want! Parents and caregivers love gift cards, too, because it’s a GREAT tool in teaching budgeting and money management.
Gift cards can also be a great way to get tweens to try something new because if they have a gift card there, then they will want to go!
>> RELATED READ :: Road Trips with the Big Kids <<
3. Watch Phone
Watching your tiny tot transform into a tween right. before. your. eyes. is well, scary and unhinging at times. There is also this sense of panic that washes over you when you realize how little time you have left (okay, hopefully) with them in the home. You kick it into high gear with coaching and allowing bits of independence.
Enter tech. My oldest did not get a phone until sixth grade, which is the first year of middle school for us. It honestly kind of became necessary because it was hard to find each other at dismissal (because middle school dismissal was NOTHING like elementary dismissal, i.e. organized). Add in sports and practices and slumber parties, and I wanted to be able to contact her on a whim — and vice versa. The texting convos are also really awesome. She says stuff to me and expresses affection via text that sometimes she wouldn’t in front of her friends.
Watch phones are also a good introduction to independent tech usage, responsibility, and citizenship. For our family, we wanted LOTS of safety features and parental controls. Let’s face it: Tweens do not yet have the maturity of brain development to handle unlimited access to social media, the Internet, and more. I will die on this hill: You need to slowly introduce all of this to your kiddos and coach them along the way.
*Steps off soap box.*
Thus, Dallas Moms is a fan of myFirst Fone s3 because it is a controlled introduction into digital independence. It has features like GPS tracking, text and video messaging to parents, the SOS feature, and safe apps. Its tag line is: “All the good from staying connected with no ads, no strangers, only real connections.”
While I am a big fan of myFirst Fone from a parent’s perspective, I’ve learned to look at the tech topic from the kiddo’s perspective. Tweens want the ability to grow socially in the digital space. It’s an aspect of social life and education that wasn’t part of our growing up years. This will only increase as they get older. Having these younger years to practice and learn in safe ways is critical. Features like voice note, reminders, and even things like tracking steps and monitoring heart rate encourage ownership and independence. Being able to message, voice call, and take and share photos introduces them to connections via tech.
Kids also care about style! myFirst Fone has fun color schemes and even CareBuds to match! The CareBuds are awesome because they come with an 85db volume limit, Smart Transparency mode, and multiple gels for different sizes. The Smart Transparency mode adjusts when body movement is detected. So, if your kids are outside, walking around, etc., the Smart Transparency mode allows them to hear their surroundings.
In addition to phones, this brand offers smartwatches, cameras, headphones, smart sketch boards, 3D pens, and more!
Yes, art. Art for the win. Now, your immediate thought might be: Crafts are for the little years. However, art continues to speak to and be an outlet for middle schoolers. (Hello, remember doodling in your notebook?)
Also, don’t think of art as a “girl thing.” All of the suggestions below apply to boys too.
If you can find out the tween’s interest, add that level of personalization to it. Love Star Wars? Look for Star Wars themed options here and there.
You’ve just got to up your art game. Here are some ideas:
- Sticker books :: Our family loves the Brain Games brand, especially the animal books. They are spiral bound and easy-to-use. Other options are: National Parks and the Paint by Sticker brand. The works of art series is awesome and difficult!
- Sketch pad :: Get a good one like the U.S. Art Supply brand. I like this option because it comes in different sizes, and it is spiral bound (notice I’m a fan of that). However, the sky is the limit here. You can even get leather options or themed options. Just look for quality, thick paper.
- Stuff to use on the sketch pad :: How’s that for a technical term? I’m thinking charcoal, pencils, markers, watercolor pens, etc.
- Marbling art kid :: Not sure why, but marbling is a hit with this age group. The key here is to think next-level painting fun with a bit more skill needed and difficulty.
- Poster kits :: You remember all the stuff we had on our walls? The Gen Z and Alpha kids are no different. Here are some options: Heroange and Craft-astic.
Art is a great way to unwind and re-center. Art is awesome for the brain and the soul!
>> RELATED READ :: Toddler or Tween? Different Ages, Similar Needs <<
Not gaming games — although I double dare you to play video games with your kiddo every now and then; it’s great bonding time.
Games are a great way to have fun, make memories, and create family time. Like art — you just have to up the ante with some new, age-appropriate games.
“Upgraded” games :: Uno has TONS of new versions and you can also upgrade the junior versions of games you already have.
That’s my list of gift ideas for tweens! PLEASE COMMENT below and add to the list. Let’s keep this discussion going because so many parents, friends, and loved ones will check this list for ideas. The more the merrier!