Trying to buy the right gift for a 12-year-old can be tough. They are too old for kid toys and too young for some teen-oriented items, but they still want gifts tailored to their newly sophisticated interests.
Whether your gift is for a 12-year-old boy or a 12-year-old girl, the overall goal is to find something thoughtful that they’ll actually like and use. Much like shopping for gifts for teenagers, you’ll definitely want to stay away from things that seem too babyish. It’s also helpful to keep their interests in mind. If they’re attached to their phones and social media like most pre-teens, tech gifts like a photo printer or ring light are great options. Tween beauty enthusiasts, on the other hand, may enjoy having a fun nail polish kit or a great smelling fragrance.
To help make things a little bit less complicated, we’ve compiled a list of gifts that are parent- and tween-approved. No matter their interests, you’re sure to find something here that they’ll love.
Best gifts for 12-year-olds under $10
Even if you haven't heard about the Croc trend, odds are your 12-year-old has. Let them personalize and style their shoes with these adorable shoe charms. They are handmade with waterproof PVC material to ensure lasting durability.
Simple yet cool, this star choker is sure to win over any tween. We also love this cord black choker — and so do Etsy buyers — as both of these picks are bestsellers.
Tweens love experimenting with makeup, especially when it's practically fool-proof to use. e.l.f. Cosmetics is not only incredibly cool amongst tweens and TikTokers, it's also a makeup brand that's extremely kind on your wallet.
Got a kid who just loves toaster pastries? Here’s a game just for them! Grab the most Pop-Tarts from a parade of pastries lined up between the freezer and the toaster. After all the Pop-Tarts are gone, the player who “ate” the most points wins!
Who doesn't love a bath bomb that transforms bath water into an intergalactic escape? Lush has a wide array of eye-catching (and refreshing) bath products, including this top-seller loaded with essences of peppermint and grapefruit oils.
Shred it, throw it, paint it, lick it — this affordable gift lets them do whatever they please and get in touch with their creative side.
Best games for 12-year-olds
This game of wits is fun for the whole family. Spymasters give one-word clues that point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates must use these clues to select their team's words, all while avoiding the words belonging to the other team and the game-ending assassin.
Essentially 20 questions but 10, try and guess the prehistoric beast in 10 yes-or-no questions or less! Other editions include animals and the 50 states.
Nertz is the high-speed card game your 12-year-old didn't know they needed. The game, which can be played solo or in pairs, takes Solitaire to the next level with a new setup, time pressure and added competition.
Since they're too young to actually go axe throwing, bring the fun of the sport into your home with this axe throwing game! It comes with the target, an over-the-door hanger and two foam axes.
Compete like an NFL superstar in the latest iteration of Madden NFL from EA Sports. Realistic graphics, sophisticated playbooks and voice commentary will make them think they're actually playing on the field, plus nods to football legends of yesteryear will make this release extra appealing for sports-loving dads and grandpas who want to play, too.
A combination of telephone and charades, actors and drawers both can indulge in this family-friendly board game. Draw what you see acted out, pass it to the person next to you and they have a chance to figure out the word based on what they saw and your drawing. One reviewer said it’s “one of the funniest games I’ve ever played.”
Here’s a non-political game that teaches your children elements of math and the electoral college. (Let’s face it, half of the adults don’t understand, either!) This game was developed by a former Coast Guard officer and is a previous Parent’s Choice Gold Award winner.
Your kid can become part of the Marvel Universe as an iconic comic book villain in this new extension of the Villainous franchise. Each villain follows a unique path to victory and uses different abilities to face other bad guys and mighty heroes from across the universe.
Best outdoor gear for 12-year-olds
Worried about your 12-year-old's roughhousing? These Bump N' Bounce Body Bumpers will add extra surface area to the tween's fun. "Great way to get kids outside and play, bounce off each other, try to get up and roll everywhere laughing, and having fun!" one reviewer wrote. "Great for a birthday party, day at the park, picnics, family gathering....consider buying adult size too for family fun."
Mount this version of a ring toss game in the garage or basement for rainy days when playing outside is not ideal. See how many tries it takes to successfully land the ring on the hook with this family-friendly game that will bring out the competitiveness in everyone.
Put their skills to the test with this pogo stick meets skateboard combo toy. It's completely safe and and can hold up to 160 pounds. Plus, you can buy confidently knowing it has over 3,000 five-star ratings on Amazon alone.
Is the weather outside frightful? That's no issue for this hovering LED soccer ball! Now you can bring the game safely inside.
This electric scooter features a hand-operated front brake in addition to the rear fender brake, creating a dual-braking system for better control. It’s for kids who love speed, as it can go up to 10 mph.
Best clothing and accessories for 12-year-olds
These slip-ons are perfect for your tween. They are faux fur with a sheepskin footbed, making them super warm and toasty.
For the tween constantly jetting off to practice, help them keep their hair out of their face with this reversible headband that fits perfectly to their liking with the adjustable tie feature.
Keep your tween's toes perfectly comfy wherever they are with these bestselling pillow sandals. Aside from their ergonomic shape and raised anti-slip design, they're also available in over a dozen trendy colors for whatever their aesthetic is during this pivotal time.
Whether they're rocking it as a cute accessory in their hair or as a fun bracelet, these add a fun pearl detailing no matter where its worn.
Friendship bracelets are the epitome of accessories for girls everywhere, thanks to an insurgence brought on by a certain celeb last summer. This 3-pack features two beaded bracelets and an orange creamsicle-like braided bracelet.
For day trips or Saturdays at the mall when they need to pack a little bit more than the necessities, gift them the Everywhere belt bag from Lululemon. Outfitted with both an exterior and interior pocket, it has plenty of space to hold a wallet, keys, phone, lip balm and then some.
With over 5,500 verified five-star Amazon ratings and counting, The Comfy continues to make the comfiest sweatshirt around. Designed to be a wearable blanket, your tween will love cozying up in this jacket.
The '90s-era flares trend is going strong, and your tween can rock it with these comfy pants. They're perfect for lounging or wearing during class.
After-bath duty will be extra special in this luxe waffle weave bathrobe.
This sturdy backpack is not only cute, but it's also durable! The Scandinavian brand excels in designing minimalist, functional accessories, and this school essential will have them covered with a water-resistant exterior, a roomy interior that carries most 13" laptops and comfortable handles and shoulder straps.
A Shop TODAY editor favorite that middle schoolers love, the Lululemon Align leggings will be a hit this gifting season. The leggings shine because they are smooth, soft, flexible and last years.
Best food gifts for 12-year-olds
We're here to tell you that plushie stuffed animals are still "cool" in middle school (they're even on trend in college). For the tween who's into food, this bubble milk tea plushie will combine their loves for plushies and yummy food.
These handpainted 16-ounce mugs make eating way more fun. The inspiring baller will love shooting hoops as they enjoy a snack.
Now they can have a taste of the big city in their own kitchen with this DIY Rainbow Bagel Kit. For breakfast or a sweet treat, this kit makes a dozen bagels to enjoy throughout the week. Reviewers rave about how easy the instructions are to follow — and how delicious the final product is.
The super popular Stanley Quencher water bottle once had a wait list of over 150,000 people. And now, you can surprise your 12-year-old with a personalized version. To customize, you can choose a word, their initials, or an image that will give the trendy water bottle a personalized touch.
For the child that doesn’t live nearby, they'll appreciate this sweet surprise. These delicious cupcakes come in a fan-favorite assortment of flavors and can be delivered right to their door!
Kids love exploring other cultures — and eating is a great way to do it. Every month, your child can receive a curated box of high-quality Japanese snacks and candies.
Best tech gifts for 12-year-olds
Make sure their selfie game is on point with this easy-to-use ring light. Beyond having five brightness levels and three dimmable light modes, its rechargeable battery can last over two hours (which is a necessity if they're going live on TikTok).
Whether they’re learning their way around the kitchen or just love adorable home decor (and who doesn’t?), this dumpling-shaped ambient light is a perfect gift for tweens. After one hour, it automatically shuts off, making it ideal for tweens who love a night light.
Millennial parents may recognize Tamagotchis from their '90s childhoods, but this modern version allows your fave tween to connect with their friends and take selfies with their virtual pet.
These powerful but affordable Beats are versatile and easy to use for the kid who's always on the move. The magnetic earbuds also make listening that much easier by automatically playing music when they’re in your ears and pausing when they’re attached around your neck.
For the tween who just got their first smartphone, gift them with this mini photo printer so that they can have physical copies of all their favorite memories on display. Simply connect via Bluetooth and put the 2x3 images into a cute frame, turn them into stickers or put right on the wall with tape.
Best beauty gifts for 12-year-olds
It's never too early to get them caring about their beauty routine. Bubble Skincare was launched to focus on "young skin", especially when it comes to issues that plague tweens like oiliness and acne, and this gel-based moisturizer aims to deliver ample hydration using buzzy ingredients like niacinamide.
Your tween will love freshening up with this sweet blend of vanilla, sandalwood, white orchid and jasmine.
As your tween leans into their sense of style, decorative nails should surely be the finishing touch of a cute outfit. This nail decorating kit includes six nail polish pens, glitter, nail art design tools and more.
At Shop TODAY, we have our feet and ears on the ground to discover the hottest gifting trends. According to production coordinator Bella Druckman’s sister who is in sixth grade, all her classmates love Drunk Elephant skin care. This viral product will let them shine while fortifying their skin, according to the brand.
Unique gifts for 12-year-olds
For the ex-little leaguer who will soon make brushes with the big wigs, gift them with this medal wall display so they can proudly boast all their middle school accomplishments, from softball prizes to cross country PRs.
With 40+ colors to choose from, gauge their mood with one quick glance at this reversible plush octopus. Are they in a sour state of mind? Or just had the best day of their life? Now you can tell thanks to this stuffed animal.
The bookworm in your life is sure to love this gift. Listing 100 classic must-read books, this is a list they can check off throughout the rest of middle school and through high school and college.
Moon lamps has been one of TikTok’s hottest home trends, so this affordable pick from Amazon makes the perfect gift for your 12-year-old. They’ll love adding this trendy decoration to their room.
If they're a big fan of the show and constantly go back and forth between team Connie or team Jer, gift them with the books that started it all.
For the on-the-go tween, stuff a house key and a little extra pocket cash in this scrunchie that features a zipper pouch to store essentials.
Not only are all the 12-year-olds making friendship bracelets, but they are trading them too. This bead box includes 2,300 beads, so your 12-year-old can create to their heart’s content.
Give them a space to write down their thoughts, aspirations and feelings. The Positive Planner features prompts for mindful breaks, reflections and self-care activities that will teach them how to connect with themselves.