X
CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Best Gifts for Tweens in 2024

Kids aged 9 to 12 can be difficult to shop for, so we're here to help take the hassle out of finding the best gifts for tweens.

Desiree DeNunzio Editor
Desiree DeNunzio is the gift guide editor for CNET's Commerce team. When she's not writing and editing, she's either hiking through the redwoods or curled up with a good book and a lazy dog.
Expertise Desiree has been a writer and editor for the past two decades, covering everything from top-selling Amazon deals to apparel, pets and home goods. Credentials
  • Desiree's previous work has appeared in various print and online publications including Search Engine Land, PCWorld, Wired magazine and PBS MediaShift.
Desiree DeNunzio
6 min read
$28 at Amazon
skyfire-target-drone
Skyfire Target Drone
A drone with a twist
$30 at Sephora
sol-de-janeiro
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Jet Set
A collection of irresistible bath and body scents
$20 at Amazon
led-strip-lights.png
LED Strip Lights
For room decor
$85 at Converse
custom-converse.png
Custom Chuck Taylor All Stars
Customized kicks
$36 at Amazon
locca boba tea kit
Locca Boba Tea Kit
Get your boba fix
$24 at Amazon
cloud-slides
Cloud slides
A TikTok favorite
$58 at Kate Spade
kate-spade-pendant
Kate Spade Initial Pendant
A sentimental piece of jewelry
$20 at Walmart
gel blaster surge
Gel Blaster Surge
Fun for any age
$229 at Walmart
yt-firstlook-gopro-hero-10-b
GoPro Hero 10
For sharing extreme exploits
$11 at Amazon
mask set
TonyMoly Superfood Mask Bowl Set
For glowing skin
$198 at Amazon
Razor E100 electric scooter
Razor E100 electric scooter
For zipping around
$64 at Amazon
spikeball set
Spikeball
For having fun with friends
$77 at Amazon
fujjifilm.png
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
Perfect for selfies
$8 at Amazon
clip string lights
Photo Clip String Lights
Aesthetic decor
$72 at Amazon
The D10 drone by Deerc is pictured alongside two batteries, a case and a remote controller.
Deerc D10 Drone
A budget drone for beginners
$40 at Amazon
pro-spin ping pong
Pro-Spin Portable Ping Pong
Portable entertainment
$129 at Apple
apple-airpods-2nd-gen-bf
AirPods (2nd gen)
Budget AirPods
$25 at Amazon
throw throw burrito game
Throw, Throw Burrito
Dodge the burrito
$35 at Amazon
apex 3 tkl gaming keyboard
SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL gaming keyboard
For the PC gamer
$40 at Amazon
mochi-kit
DIY Mochi Ice Cream Kit
Mmmm, mochi
$350 at Best Buy
Nintendo Switch OLED model
Nintendo Switch OLED
The gift of portable gaming

It's challenging to shop for tweens, or kids who are roughly 9 to 12. They'll be the first to tell you they aren't so little anymore. Gone are the days of Elmo and Magna-Tiles: Their tastes have matured, and they want their toys and clothing to reflect their evolving individual style. They may not be teens quite yet, but let's be real: They will let you know if your gift is totally uncool. 

To find the best gifts for tweens, we dug into the top items and brand categories for this specific age group. More importantly, we sat down with the tweens in our lives to figure out what's cool right now. (Wait, is the word "cool" still cool?) What may have been cool when you were a tween probably won't fly with Gen Alpha. From drones to electric scooters, cult beauty favorites and more, these are the products most coveted by tweens that can win you some major cool points -- or whatever the word is now.

Skyfire/CNET

This clever drone can be used with any Nerf gun or gel blaster for target practice. Just throw it up, and the drone levitates and maneuvers as it tries to avoid blasts and tracks your hits. It's tons of fun to play solo or with a group of friends.

Sol de Janeiro

Sol de Janeiro's popular scents are deliciously sweet, with notes of warm vanilla and caramel, and plenty of beach vibes -- perfect for tweens. This set includes the popular Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, a moisturizing shower gel and a light perfume mist. 

Amazon

Create a fun, chill space for your tween with these affordable LED strip lights. Set them on one solid color, or rotate through different hues on rainbow mode. You can also sync them to music. I purchased one and ended up buying a second strip for my son's room -- he loves them that much. They come with an app, but my kid prefers to use them with Alexa for voice control. 

Converse

Converse sneakers are still popular among teens and tweens. Make theirs extra-special with these customized Chuck Taylors. Tweens can choose from a variety of colors and patterns, then add customized patch logos, racing stripes, laces, eyelets and more for a one-of-kind look.

Amazon

If your tween is into boba tea, also known as bubble tea, this kit has everything they'll need to make their own delicious concoctions at home. It includes tapioca balls, a variety of loose-leaf teas, straws and recipe cards.

Wysbaoshu/CNET

Cloud slides took off on TikTok, and they're still popular among tweens. These nonslip shoes are perfectly cushy, waterproof and simple to slip on, so kids can wear them indoors and out. They're so comfy that adults just might want to pick up a pair, too.

Kate Spade

If you're looking for a personal, meaningful gift, Kate Spade's initial necklace is a surprisingly affordable option. It comes on a 17-inch gold chain with a 3-inch extender, so your tween can easily adjust the length and layer it with other jewelry.

Gel Blaster

Gel Blaster's Surge is tons of fun for kids and adults. Note 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 still recommended. The gel pellets are water based and evaporate after shooting. That means no more cleaning up a hundred foam Nerf darts.

If your tween wants to document their next action adventure, GoPro cameras can't be beat. We love the new GoPro Hero 12, but not its $400 price point. The GoPro Hero 10 is not nearly as much, and they'll get a lot for the money including amazing stabilization and 5.3K video.

Urban Outfitters

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:

Razor

An electric scooter is a great way to get tweens off their screens and outside. Luckily, not all motorized scooters are the 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 they twist the throttle.

Read our Razor E100 Glow review.

Spikeball

Spikeball is a trendy, fast-paced game that combines elements of volleyball and four square. Instead of hitting a large ball over a straight net, your tween will be 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 that requires fast movement and probably some diving to score points. Consequently, this might be best for just the kids, although it does require four players.

Amazon

What better way to take selfies and fun pictures with friends than with an Instax? It's easy for your tween to throw into a large pocket or backpack so they can document daily life. There's also something great about immediately getting a physical photo after snapping a pic.

Amazon

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 for their favorite pics, your tween will love their sparkling retreat.

Deerc

They don't have to be a seasoned pilot to fly Deerc's budget-friendly D10. It's easy to operate and has a built-in camera that captures and records high-definition video. It's compact, foldable and weighs just 5.8 ounces, so tweens can take it just about anywhere. 

Pro-Spin

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. It comes with two paddles, three balls, and a retractable net that clamps onto any table. We were impressed with the overall quality of the equipment, though it works best if you've got a standard rectangular dining or patio table.

Apple/CNET
Battery Life Rated up to 5 hoursNoise Canceling NoMultipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 -- splash-proof)

AirPods are a tween staple. The AirPods Pro 2 are the best lightweight earbuds you can buy, according to CNET's David Carnoy -- but do you really want to shell out $249 for a earbuds that will probably end up in the lost and found? Instead, you could go with Apple's 2019 standard AirPods. They're not as feature-rich, but they'll do the job, and the buds are a better fit for smaller tween ears.

Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.

Amazon

If your tween is a fan of Exploding Kittens (or even if not), they'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 by opponents. It's a great way to get tweens off their screens -- just be sure to move any breakables out of the line of fire.

More board and card games:

SteelSeries

If the tween in your life is into PC gaming, take their setup up a notch with a gaming keyboard. The SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL is our favorite budget gaming keyboard thanks to its durability, quiet switches and eight lighting zones. Bonus: It's IP32 water-resistant, so it won't matter if your tween is a chronic spiller.

Uncommon Goods

What tween doesn't love mochi? Making homemade mochi can be tricky, but this kit makes it super easy, and it will 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.

Nintendo

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 travel with. The Switch offers endless entertainment with games including The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Pimkin 4 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It's fun for adults, too.

More of our favorite gifts