The ultimate gift guide for unimpressed tweens
How to win friends and influence tweens
We've all been there: that first moment when we realize what we're with isn't it anymore. Normally, we can make our peace with that fact and settle into our new lives as "old people." But then the holiday season rolls around. Suddenly, you have a gift-giving shopping list that includes a tween niece who already drinks too much Starbucks and a tween boy who speaks in meme-related slang you neither can nor want to understand.
In this situation, it's easiest to stuff a gift card in a gift bag and move on. But that's not going to win you any points with the next generation. If you really want to impress an unimpressable tween, you've got to make an effort. Just think, if they're already unimpressed, you technically have nothing to lose and everything to gain. To help make that valiant attempt a little easier, here are some gifts that just might do the trick.
Best tween fashion gifts
Everyone likes to lounge around their home in comfort after a long day, whether that day was at an office or at a school. Usually, though, if you have to get up for a drink or a snack, you have to leave that comfort behind. Not so with this wearable blanket-and-hoodie hybrid. It's even got a little sleep mask that can fold down from the brim of the hood for a well-deserved nap. It comes in 12 designs.
Hello Kitty is an enduringly popular brand and, as exemplified by this darker design, not one that's strictly relegated to the Barbiecore scene. Because it straddles the line between the bubblegum-pop classic Hello Kitty and a more teen-friendly "I'm a dark and serious adult now, Mom" vibe, it's excellent for tweens. To help this pullover stand out from the rest of the pack, it has little ribbons on either side.
If there's one thing that's practically a given for tweens nowadays, it's that they're on TikTok. TikTok has spawned many viral trends in endless categories. Wikipedia even has a page dedicated solely to TikTok's many food trends. You can't really gift a food trend, but you can gift a clothing trend like this sweater. It's surprisingly affordable for something so viral.
A never-ending cycle of fashion is the new, old, new again loop. High-top sneakers like these from PF. Flyers move quickly enough through this loop that it feels like they're always in fashion, making them a great gift for fashion-forward tweens. A brilliant thing about getting this all-white version is that the most creative tweens can customize them as they wish. Once they do that and start reaping the compliments in school, they'll have to be grateful to you, right?
Sneakers, and especially Jordan sneakers, have such a huge impact on fashion that they've developed into an entire subculture of their own. People even camp out for hours, if not days in some cases, to even attempt to get new ones. These don't draw that kind of attention since they're rereleases, but that means two good things for you: They're popular enough to even get rereleased, and they're affordable enough to be a manageable gift.
Best toys for tweens
Tweens exist in that awkward middle stage between wanting only cool new toys for gifts, and wanting things with actual substance. This Mario-inspired LEGO set is perfectly placed in that middle ground since it's both a cool new LEGO set (the new toy) and something with a large, recognizable design that's perfectly placed on a shelf or desk as decoration (the substance).
The tween years are when the most creative kids start to really explore art as a method of self-expression, and begin developing a personal, recognizable style. This squishy collection is perfect for those tweens since it's all about customization. It comes with two squishies (either a caticorn and Shiba Inu or a bunny and hedgehog). It also comes with eight colors of paint and two brushes.
Most younger kids can't imagine eating raw fish, but they can certainly eat as much candy as it takes to make themselves sick. This creative kit lets them create sushi they actually want to eat, and they can even reuse the bento box and utensils it comes with as a lunch box for school. You might not want to get it for non-creative kids, though; they'll likely just eat all the pieces individually instead of making the "sushi."
It's a bold move, getting anything remotely educational as a gift for tweens. They can sense the school-like atmosphere around such items, and there's nothing worse than watching a tween failing to hide their disappointment in your gift. But some gifts break that trend by being actually fun, and this stuffed skull, for the right kid, hits that mark. They can pull out all the organs and decorate their room with them. There are also educational cards to read, if they get curious.
Can you believe Tamagotchis are actually still around, after coming out in the mid-'90s? That was almost 30 years ago. Yet here we are, with new Tamagotchis that are not only actually in color, but have built-in cameras so you can take pictures with them. They come in six colors so you can try to get one in your tween's favorite.
Fidget-style gifts have been consistent top-sellers ever since the fidget spinner shattered that market open. These magnetic rocks fill that void nicely, letting you squish and mash them in your hands. There are 500, too, so even as some are inevitably lost along the way, there are still enough to last until the tween gets bored. They also meet autonomous sensory meridian response needs.
Many people love a good brainteaser, and tweens are no exception. This collection of 100 folding puzzles ranges in difficulty so every tween of any skill level has some to enjoy easily and some to aspire to solve. Plus, once they're all folded up, they become cute decorations or can be given to their friends as gifts.
Another entry into the fidget toy list, this one serves some functional purpose as a working pen. Most of its pieces make up the pen, so your tween can take it to school to enjoy while listening to a lecture. It's bound to impress their friends, too, because who doesn't want to have a pen that's more than a pen?
Best science and tech gifts
The tween years are when children can start developing lifelong hobbies and interests, but to do that, they need to be introduced to different things. This rock, sorry, mineral collection and tumbler is a great way to introduce them to the pretty parts of geology. It also comes with jewelry pieces so they can create a new favorite accessory.
Another excellent scientific introduction is this circuit-making toy. Over 500 types of electronics can be created with this plug-and-play kit, all without the immense danger of soldering. If you already know your tween has a love of electrical engineering, you can get a set with more than 750 makeable types instead.
Best home décor for tweens
Tweens start developing a sense of style that might not mesh with the childish atmosphere that was carefully concocted for them by their parents or other guardians. They don't need to completely reinvent their room just yet, but adding little touches like this cute little cherry-inspired mirror can start them on their new path.
Usually, getting something like a throw blanket as a gift for a tween is a fast track to them expecting nothing good from you in successive years. Kinda like getting them a set of socks. But if that blanket happens to look like a favorite food, such as a tortilla, they may just love it. This blanket also comes in the form of a pizza or waffle.
If there's one thing tweens and teenagers are known for, it's being surly. A surly tween may not show any outward happiness or gratitude toward you no matter how amazing the gift is, but secretly, they could love the chance to chuck a pillow that says "ugh" or "bye" at an annoying caretaker. Or, if by some miracle they're not surly, grab the happy "Hi" pillow instead.
More of the best gifts for tweens
Everyone likes candies and sweets, so grabbing a snack subscription like this one is a no-brainer. But this snack subscription is potentially better than most, because it's specifically for Japanese snacks. That makes it an incredible gift for the anime fanatics out there. It comes in one-, three-, six- and 12-month subscriptions.
Another great Hello Kitty gift for tweens who like to style on the darker side of life, this one is for holding all the makeup they might be starting to collect. Plus, if they don't have much or any makeup yet, it's inexpensive enough that you could slip in a gift card or two for major makeup chains like Sephora or Ulta Beauty so they can start that collection.
The more we learn about healthy living, the more successive generations are better set up for success in leading a healthy life. One area that doesn't need any fancy studies to prove is that we all need to drink more water. This simple but effective insulated tumbler is perfect for helping a tween meet those water requirements.
Music is an incredible gift that we should all be lucky enough to enjoy. To help a tween enjoy that gift, give them these wireless earbuds. These aren't the $100-plus kind, but they still have excellent features, including a noise-canceling microphone for clearer calls. They also take only 15 minutes to charge enough for one hour of listening time.
Video games are a huge point of relaxation for those who enjoy them, and tweens are no different. To really get the most from your gaming time, you need a great headset. This lets you hear your game better than you would through TV speakers, plus it keeps a tween from disturbing the rest of the family while they game. It also has a microphone so they can play and chat with friends.
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.