It's difficult to find the right gift for tweens, or children who are in the 9- to 12-year-old zone. They'll tell you that they aren't little anymore, and they want their toys and clothes to reflect that. Tweens might not know exactly what they want, but they do know what they don't want. And even though they're not quite teenagers yet, they aren't afraid to tell you that the gift you chose for them is sooooo last year.
To find the best gifts for tweens, we took a look the top products for this age group and compiled this list using input from the actual tweens in our lives -- since what was cool when you were a tween might not resonate with Gen Alpha or the youngest of Gen Z. These are the products most coveted by tweens, from an electric scooter to an action cam, a DIY mochi ice cream kit and more. Whether your preteen is into gaming, snapping selfies or simply relaxing, you'll find a great gift here to suit their interests.
So, ready to get an amazing gift for your favorite tween? Read on to discover our suggestions and win some major cool points with your tween for their birthday, a holiday or another special occasion
Create a fun space for your tween to chill with these super-affordable LED strip lights. Set them on one solid color, or rotate through multiple colors on "rainbow mode." You can also sync them up to music so that the lights pulse to the beat. I purchased one and ended up buying a second one to add to my son's room. (He loves them that much.) They come with an app, but my kid prefers to use these with Alexa for voice control.
Converse sneakers are still popular among teens and tweens. Make theirs extra-special with customized Chuck Taylors. Tweens can choose from a variety of unique colors and patterns and then add customized patch logos, racing stripes, laces, eyelets and more for a one-of-kind look.
If your tween is into bobba tea, also known as bubble tea, this kit has everything they'll need to make their own delicious concoctions at home, including tapioca balls, a variety of loose-leaf teas, straws and recipe cards.
If you're looking for a personal and meaningful gift, Gorjana's Power Birthstone Coin Necklace is a surprisingly affordable option. Choose from a variety of gemstones that symbolize their birth month, including sapphire, emerald, citrine, pink tourmaline and more. The necklace comes on a 16-inch gold chain with a 2-inch extender, so you can easily adjust the length and layer it with other jewelry.
Gel Blaster's Surge is tons of fun for both kids and adults. But be forewarned that you definitely want to take this one outside, and the "Gellets" do sting a little on impact -- not as bad as paintball or airsoft, but protective eyewear is recommended. The best part is that the gel pellets are water based and evaporate after shooting them. No more cleaning up a hundred foam Nerf darts afterwards.
If your tween wants to document their next action adventure, GoPro cameras can't be beat. We love the GoPro Hero 11, but not its $550 price point. The GoPro Hero 8 is still pricey, but it's half as much as the 11. It doesn't come with 5K video, but you can still shoot 4K videos, which is plenty for your tween, and it has a 12-megapixel camera.
Give the gift of luminous skin with this six-piece mask set. Tweens will find every mask they need for a healthy complexion, including a green tea sheet mask to brighten and purify, an aloe mask for intense hydration, and a coconut sheet mask to clean and revitalize.
More beauty favorites:
An electric scooter is a great way to get tweens off their screens and heading outside. And luckily, not all motorized scooters are the dangerous, bulky behemoths you see commuters zipping around on. Razor's E100 is for kids ages 8 and up, and the max speed is 10 mph. Tweens will especially appreciate the blue LEDs on the deck that light up whenever you twist the throttle.
Read our Razor E100 Glow review.
Spikeball is a super-trendy, fast-paced game that combines elements of volleyball and four square. Instead of hitting a large ball over a straight net, you're smacking a softer, grapefruit-size ball onto a bouncy, ringed one, sort of like tetherball but without the string.
Be prepared, parents: This is a physical game, one that requires fast movement and probably some diving if you want to score points. Consequently, this might be best for just the kids, although it does require four players.
What better way to take selfies and fun pics with friends than with an Instax? It's easy to throw into a large pocket or backpack so you can document your daily life. And there's something great about immediately getting a physical photo to hold onto as soon as you take the pic.
Once your tween starts snapping pics with their Instax, they'll need a great backdrop and lighting. These dreamy string lights help add a magical feel to any room. With 50 clips to hang up their favorite pics, your tween will love their new sparkling retreat.
Ping pong is a great rainy-day activity, but not everyone has the space -- or the pocketbook -- for a full ping pong table. Enter Pro-Spin's portable ping pong set. This handy set comes with two paddles, three balls, and a retractable net that easily clamps onto any table surface. (Or you can spend an extra $10 and buy the four-player version, which comes with four paddles.) We were impressed with the overall quality of the equipment, though be advised that it works best if you've got a standard rectangular dining or patio table.
AirPods are a tween staple. But if you don't want to shell out $249 for Apple's AirPod Pro 2, you might want to consider the lower-cost first-gen AirPod Pro buds, which still offer a comfortable in-ear design and solid active noise cancellation. Both versions are great for listening to music, tuning into TikTok and more.
If you're a fan of Exploding Kittens (or even if you're not), you'll get a kick out of this game. It's a card game and dodgeball (but with burritos!), all in one. Players collect matching cards to score points, all while dodging flying burritos thrown at you by your opponents. It's a great way to get tweens off their screen and running around -- just be sure to move any breakables out of the line of fire.
More board and card games:
What tween doesn't love mochi? Making homemade mochi can be tricky, but this kit makes it super easy, and it'll be a fun rainy-day project for your preteen. Flavors include matcha green tea and cocoa powder, but you can come up with your own flavors too!
The Nintendo Switch became a hot item during the pandemic, and it's still high on tweens' wish lists. If your kid doesn't have a Nintendo Switch, you can't go wrong with this gaming system. It's a splurge, but it's not as expensive as the PS5 or Xbox Series X, and it's easier to get your hands on than either of those consoles.
The Switch provides hours and hours of fun with games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Super Mario Odyssey. Check out more great game suggestions here. It's fun for adults, too.
If the tween in your life is into PC gaming, take their gaming setup up a notch with a gaming keyboard. The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is our favorite budget gaming keyboard thanks to its durability, super-quiet gaming switches and eight lighting zones. Bonus: It's also IP32 water-resistant so it won't matter if your tween is a chronic spiller.