T(w)eens are really missing their friends. They miss sports and movies. Make sure this year they have a great holiday season and unwrap something that will bring a genuine smile to their normally angst-ridden faces.
Here are our best ideas to give tweens that have survived this difficult year with grace and courage.
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Float on Air
Your t(w)een has probably been spending a lot more time in their room since the pandemic began. That means it’s time for a refresh.
Give an instant upgrade with an Air Candy Mongolian Fur inflatable chair that will keep them comfy in their very own kid cave and give them something to show off once they are able to have friends over again.
Nerf Ultrablaster: Everything about 2020 is a little extra. The Nerf Ultrablaster is a great way to keep the game going longer since there is no where to go and not much else to do. Pair with some homemade targets for solo play that will keep kids busy for hours.
A Girl for the Ages
American Girl: American Girl is a classic any tween will be happy to unwrap. This year American Girl unveiled their newest historical figure that a lot of parents can relate to as well. Courtney comes straight from the 1980s and wants to become a coder thanks to her love of Pacman.
Or, go for a classic girl like Nanea who hails from Hawaii and teaches kids about the spirit of Aloha. Nanea makes a great gift for anyone who misses travel. Be sure to add on any girl’s books to give your tween an irresistible history lesson.
The Oculus Quest 2 may be the hot gift of the season. Who wouldn’t want to escape the reality of the past year? The Oculus Quest 2 is the immersive, next-level VR gaming experience that teens need to take them out of the four walls they have been calling home, school and social center for the past nine months.
There are epic adventures, surreal worlds and new challenges posted weekly.
Friendship Is Forever
Use this Pura Loom 3-in-1 Bracelet Maker to knot, twist or weave. This will keep some lucky child busy throughout the holiday break and they can even use it to make gifts from the heart for friends. It even folds up for easy storage or to take on the go.
Mash It Up
These all-inclusive Mash-Up Art Pack come in themes like Batik and Glitter.
Each pack comes complete with everything your artist needs to get stated including a technique guide, an art pad and different types of media from watercolor to gel pens and pastels.
Kawaii Doodle World: You may have heard “I’m bored!” more than usual this year. Turn off the screens and up your child’s doodle game with this step-by-step guide to creating the most adorable Kawaii cartoons.
Your child just may discover a new hobby to keep them busy for as long as the pandemic lasts – or at least for winter break.
The Great Outdoors
Spending more time outdoors means some more gear is a good idea. This foldable daypack from Sea to Summit is a great choice for those quick runs out to day hikes away from people.
Great that can be used for years to come is a great gift that can one day be used for camping trips with friends. Or, if your teen needs a sturdier pack to take them away the Thule All Trail is a great, waterproof choice with tons of pockets.
It will work well if your teen ever goes to back school as well!
These Teenology shampoos and conditioners are specially designed to help prevent breakouts. They come in a variety of teen-friendly colors and scents.
The company also takes into account things that important to teens and have created cruelty-free products.
Every BeTween the Bookends gift box is curated by a thirteen-year-old girl who has her pulse on exactly what her peers want to read and what they want to do for fun. Each box contains a book vetted by the founder herself along with several hand-picked lifestyle or craft items.
Get your tween one box or spring for a subscription for the year.
Who isn’t spending more time in their comfiest clothes these days?
Tweens will love these cheeky prints from Cheeky Chickadee with everything from sloths to ostriches for their new leggings and sweatshirts. As a bonus, they come in toddler and grown-up sizes so the whole family can match.
If there is a secret to a good night’s sleep a Magic Weighted Blanket just might be it.
With stress levels at an all time high a weighted blanket can help a tween, tween or fully grown adult get the zzzzs they have been missing. Choose fabrics from cotton to chenille and watch the magic when a lucky recipient gets a hug back from their blanket.
Need to get your t(w)een out of the house but don’t want them to venture far? Bring the skatepark home. A Keen Ramps quarter pipe takes up just a few feet of space but will keep kids outside, dropping in and skating for hours. Post-COVID its sure to make your home a destination for neighborhood kids – which may or may not be a good thing depending on your perspective.
Chances are your child spends their days wearing the same, steadfast shirts day after pandemic day. Give them a new cozy favorite like this Since 1914 Wilson Sporting Goods pullover.
This stylish sweatshirt will give a quick wardrobe refresh that your child will love all winter long.
For Grumpy Girls & Boys
Has this year made your child grumpy? It must be 2020!
The Grumpy Octopus may be the best stuffy of the year and it’s perfect for your kids to keep nearby when they are grumpy about not being able to go to school or see their friends.
Fidgeting is getting a lot of kids and grown-ups through sitting in front of computers for far longer than anyone should be expected to sit still.
Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty is thicker than silly putty and makes a great fidget for when it’s necessary to occupy hands to keep minds focused. It also makes a great stocking stuffer!
Work it Out
Thinkfun Pocket Brainteasers are small puzzles come in four different levels of difficulty and are designed to deliver an Aha! Moment. At about $7.00 these make great stocking stuffers. Give different puzzles to siblings so they can share and practice different skills.
Kids have lots of big feelings in a typical year. That goes triple for 2020. Big Life Journals use a scientifically-based approach to promoting a positive mindset through age-appropriate guided prompts for teens.
Journaling is a great way to get through the pandemic and these journals will help your t(w)een get started.
Smart Egg Labyrinth Puzzles come in the form of beautifully decorated eggs that not only are pretty enough to display but are challenging to solve. Choose different levels of difficulty for everyone on your list and then let family members trade once they have solved their own and are ready for a bigger challenge.
Brick by Brick
LEGOs are the classic STEM toy that kids have been using for generations to learn basic building skills. Themes range from Harry Potter to friends to Ninjago.
LEGOs come in every price point from under $10.00 for sets that are stocking-stuffer sized to larger sets that will be the premium gift from Santa. Or, check out DUPLOs for the smallest hands.
Blast From the Past
This new edition of Judy Bloom’s classic Are You There God, It’s Me, Margret? puts the story in a new context with a cover that features Margret texting with God and waiting for an answer.
While the story inside has not changed this new edition with a faux leather pink cover will help grab the attention of today’s t(w)eens and draw them into the same beautiful story that captured their parents’ attention years ago.
A Legend Is Born
Legendborn: When Bree loses her mother in an accident she moves into a residential program for bright teens. On her first night she witnesses a magical attack and her own powers are unlocked. This book is full of Black Girl Magic and is a page-turner from start to finish.
City Spies: In this new series five kids from very different backgrounds find themselves embedded in an elite spy agency.
They learn skills from hacking to sight of hand that enable them to go where no adult can. Young readers will become immersed in this world full of suspense that shows the value kids bring to the world.
Read All About It!
Even reluctant readers are often grabbed by a great graphic novel. Some of this year’s hottest make great gifts for tweens and teens.
Shirley & Jamila don’t know each other well but they have the same problem: their parents are sending them to dreaded summer camps. Together, the girls convince their parents to let them spend the summer together instead and they set off to solve a neighborhood mystery.
When Stars Are Scattered tells the important story of kids growing up in a refugee camp. This graphic novel comes from the author of the very popular Roller Girl and tells what day-to-day is like for refugees in a honest but hopeful way.
The Weird and Wonderful
This new illustrated edition of the Roald Dahl classic Matilda will earn a permanent place on your family’s bookshelf.
Matilda loves to read, and her family thinks she is ridiculous. She eventually heads off to school hoping things will be different but there she encounters the fearsome Miss Trunchbull.
Things turn around once Matilda meets the kind Miss Honey, who herself has the type of strange family history expected from Dahl.
Light the Way
Give your t(w)een a unique way to light the night (or day) with a custom neon Brite Light sign for their room. Starting at just $40.00 this gift will become the centerpiece of their room and prove once and for all that they are not a little kid anymore.
Every child is used to finding a necessity or two wrapped up for the holidays. This year make it something they will actually like. Your eco-warrior will appreciate this eco-friendly coat from Coalatree that hides its practical features (like being waterproof and very warm) under styling evening a t(w)een can appreciate.
A version of this post appeared on Medium