Check a few people off of your Christmas shopping list, because I’ve rounded up the best gift ideas for tweens and teens in my ultimate Holiday Gift Guide. All of the items included were hand-tested by my picky team: age 12 and 15.
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of these links, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read more.
Additionally, some of the products included were provided to me at no cost so my kids could test them out.
Shopping for kids in the 10 to 16 age range is kind of hard. The youngest tweens are starting to lose interest in toys. The oldest ones are thinking about cars and college. At this age, the best way to find out what your child or grandchild wants to Christmas is simply to ask.
Of course, when I ask my own kids (age 12 and 15 as of this post) their answers are both “I dunno” so I need to get creative. For middle and high school kids, a lot of the best gifts are things they can do: games and crafts and hands-on activities.
I’ve rounded up our favorites below. Some were sent to us as a complimentary sample for review; others we purchased or had gifted from someone. All are tested by my own kids and include our experiences.
Gift guide for tweens and teens
Diamond Art Club
Diamond Art Club is a blend of a puzzle and a craft kit. Each kit comes with a fabric design, bags of tiny rhinestones, and an applicator. The process is simple. The fabric design has tiny numbers that correspond to the rhinestones, like a color-by-number. Use the applicator to dip in the wax and pick up a diamond, then place it on the fabric. Once the kit is complete, you can frame and hang the artwork.
My daughter chose the dreamcatcher wolf design, but there are dozens of different designs that fit every interest. She’s worked on it for a few hours here and there for several weeks and hasn’t completed it yet. While it takes a long time to complete, she enjoys having a project she can work on little by little. As tempting as it is, do not open more than one bag of rhinestones at a time! The kit comes with a handy little dish for holding the color you’re currently working on, but if you open several at once, there is a risk of spilling them.
Browse all the Diamond Art Club kits on the manufacturer’s website.
As soon as my son tried a 3D pen during the STEM Night as his school, he added it to his wish list. The 3Doodler is a handheld pen that extrudes plastic to essentially 3D print anything you can draw. There are over 70 colors to choose from, plus wood and metal.
We tried the 3Doodler Create+, which is perfect for teens and adults. (There is also a 3Doodler Basic for younger kids, but we didn’t specifically try it for this holiday gift guide.)
The Create+ works with a wide range of plastic. It heats quickly and the extruded plastic cools just as fast. Although the tip of the pen does get hot, the main section does not, so safety is not a big concern for teens. When turned on, the pen vibrates slightly and makes a humming noise.
While it definitely took some practice before making our 3D snowflakes, this is a fun and challenging tool that my son will enjoy for a long time.
Spot It! Card Game
Spot It! is a matching game for two or more players. The metal tin holds 55 cards, each with only one matching item between them. Shuffle the deck and turn over two cards. The first person to find the one item that matches between the two keeps that pair. Flip over another pair of cards and keep going.
My kids have had the classic version of this game for a few years. It’s great for road trips or waiting for food at a restaurant. The game is easy to store and can be played for 10 minutes or an hour.
Purchase Spot-it! UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation Smile Edition Card Game through Amazon Smile and 100% of the proceeds go to fund medical grants for children in Texas and throughout the U.S. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded over 12,000 grants valued at more than $34 million to children and their families across the United States for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.
Vex Robotics STEM Kits
My son received several Vex Robotics STEM Kits for Christmas last year and still plays with them regularly a year later. The kits are very detailed and combine science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Each comes with detailed instructions on how to assemble and use the kits, but are also versatile enough that kids can use the parts to design their own projects too.
LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Kits
LEGO is one of my favorite toys for all ages because it’s durable, easy to clean, and all LEGO pieces can work together. The LEGO Creator kits are really perfect for tweens and teens. Somewhere between the basic kits for younger kids and the really detailed kits for adults, the 3-in-1 kits are fun for building and rebuilding over and over. They include instructions for three different projects to build with a single kit, but also inspire creativity to build original ideas too.
We have the Changing Seasons building kit and the Modular Family Villa building kit, as well as a ton of other LEGO building sets. My daughter has about half of the bookshelves in her room filled with her LEGO creations.
Perhaps the thing I love best about all of the items in this holiday gift guide is this. Most of these items will grow with your tween and teen for many years. You may have felt like for years you were purchasing toys that your child would lose interest in within a year or two. But these gifts for older kids will be enjoyed much longer.
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