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31 best gifts and toys for 9-year-olds in 2021

According to a mom who knows them best, these gifts are perfect for every kind of kid.
Two nine year old boys playing outside
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/ Source: TODAY

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After watching my own kids, now ages 12 and 10, gain and lose interest in everything from making their own slime to reading certain book series, I understand how hard it can be to pick gifts for kids who are not quite teenagers but also not “little kids” anymore.

As my kids grow, I’ve paid close attention to what ends up in the donation bin three months after the holidays and what my tweens actually want to hold onto throughout the year. In our house, it seems to be all about creativity, family game nights, expressing their individuality and, of course, video games. Always video games.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best gift ideas for 9-year-old girls and boys this year. Whether your tween is into decorating their bedroom or building with Legos, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to make their gifts as unique as they are.

To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 31.

Best toys and games for 9-year-olds

1. National Geographic Play Sand

Using sand that is kinetic, meaning it sticks only to itself, this kit is generally mess free and beyond fun. The sand is the perfect texture to mold into any shape, so kids can build castles or pyramids easily.

2. Infrared Laser Tag Blaster & Vest Set for Kids & Adults

Parents and kids alike can have fun for hours with this laser tag set. Simply strap the vest to your chest, turn the products on and start the battle.

3. Star Wars: Squadrons

Available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC gaming and more, this action-packed “Star Wars” video game is one of my son’s current favorites. Players can step into the cockpits of star fighters like the TIE fighter and the X-wing and compete in strategic fights for freedom in the galaxy.

4. Powerup 4.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane

It's official: Your 9-year-old has graduated from making paper airplanes to flying remote-controlled ones. Using Bluetooth Smart technology, your little one can control their plane's movements with their smartphone through the toy's app.

5. Geek Out! Family Edition

This fast-paced family trivia game is a huge hit in my home not only because of the fun questions, but also because on each turn, everyone gets the opportunity to answer. (Read: My 10-year-old not whining because she’s bored when it’s not her turn.)

The game features categories ranging from literature to pop culture and players try to outbid one another and name as many items in their assigned category as possible. Who doesn’t love a good night of family competition?

6. Disney Sketchy Tales Board Game

Dumbo blowing bubbles? Mickey Mouse in space? In this family drawing and guessing game, fans of Disney films can create a silly storyline using their own drawings of crazy character scenarios. Similar to the playground game telephone, players try to guess what others have drawn, making for a pretty funny gameplay experience.

7. Adora Be Bright Doll

These 14-inch dolls from Adora are a less pricey alternative to some popular 18-inch dolls. Each doll has vibrant hair that changes color in the sunlight and comes with a “spirit animal” and a backstory designed to inspire young girls to believe that anything is possible.

8. Disguise Enchanted Purple Minecraft Sword

Fans of the popular sandbox-style video game Minecraft will love to play around with this replica of a glowing purple sword. The sword is a special enchantment within the game, and this toy version is sure to delight fans as much as the virtual one whether they play with it in the backyard or display it in their bedroom.

9. Tiny Headed Kingdom "Honeythunder" Plush Unicorn

Animals in the Tiny Headed Kingdom are unique in their minuscule head size...or is it their oversized bodies that makes them so lovable? Tiny Headed Kingdom’s unicorn named Honeythunder is 15 inches tall, super soft and fantastically pink. Kids who love collecting stuffed animals will get a kick out of this unique style of plush toy.

10. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch

This fighting game for the Nintendo Switch came out in 2018, but it’s a current hit in my house because of the addition of Minecraft characters Steve and Alex and the addition of a new Minecraft world.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features characters from all over the Nintendo universe, from Mario to Kirby and beyond. New stages and fighters open up as kids move along through the battles and, with multi-player options available, it can be a fun game for family game night.

11. Mattel "Wonder Woman 84" Doll

The Warner Bros. film “Wonder Woman 1984” will inspire kids of all ages to live like a hero. Kids can act out their favorite scenes from the film with Mattel’s collection of dolls from the movie, from a young Diana and her horse to Diana clad in golden glowing armor.

12. Pixie Belles Interactive Pet

These interactive pets tell kids their mood with a color-changing horn and can be worn on their shoulders using magnetic "power pods." If your 9-year-old is into adorable, wearable, moving toy pets, Pixie Belles will be right up their alley!

Best building sets for 9-year-olds

1. Build Your Own Marble Coaster

Boost your child's engineering skills with this set that allows youngsters to build their own miniature marble coaster. Powered by a hand crank, this set includes more than 30 Baltic birch pieces for your child to build a ride full of twists and turns — no batteries required.

2. Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian's Razor Crest

If your family binge-watched “The Mandalorian” on Disney+, this Lego set inspired by the series will make the kids in your house very happy. And yes, it comes with a miniature Baby Yoda.

3. Playmobil "Back to the Future" DeLorean

Plan a “Back to the Future” movie night with your family and build Playmobil’s DeLorean together for a special memory. This nostalgic set includes the iconic DeLorean along with Marty McFly, Dr. Emmett Brown, Einstein the dog, the flux capacitor and more.

4. Lego Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah

DC Comics fans are sure to be excited for this Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah Lego set. The two-sided set includes tons of great details — including a high-tech bunker and revolving transmitter tower — and sets Wonder Woman up to battle her nemesis, Cheetah.

5. Lego Harry Potter Forbidden Forest: Umbridge's Encounter

Harry Potter fans are familiar with the Forbidden Forest and the magical creatures who live there and interact with the lovable groundskeeper, Hagrid. In this Lego set, Hagrid’s giant brother, Grawp, comes to life along with Harry, Hermione and other characters from the franchise.

6. Lego Super Mario

Kids who love video games and LEGO will love this mash-up of LEGO and Nintendo’s popular Super Mario franchise. The sets feature iconic characters from the video games and let kids build their own Super Mario levels in the ultimate show of creativity.

Best unique gifts for 9-year-olds

1. Bluetooth Karaoke System with LED Disco Lights

Your 9-year-old and all of their friends can sing their hearts out while using this light-up karaoke machine. It has both a CD option and bluetooth connectivity as well as two microphones for duets.

2. Polaroid Now Instant Camera — Star Wars The Mandalorian Edition

This instant camera uses iconic Polaroid instant film and has an auto-focus feature to help young photographers get the best shot possible. And, the camera comes in a variety of colors, making it an easy gift to personalize.

3. Vans Customs Kids Macaron Authentic

Get your favorite 9-year-old a customized pair of Vans this holiday season. They can be personalized to their liking with exclusive patterns provided by the brand or with art or photos that you upload from your computer or smartphone.

4. Grandparent Pen Pal Set

It's been tough for families to get together this year thanks to the pandemic, so help your child keep in touch with their grandparents with this adorable gift. It includes thoughtful prompts, lists and other fun activities to inspire letter writing so each generation can stay up-to-date on each other's lives.

5. New Wave Toys USB Charge Machine

The ‘80s style is back in a big way, and this USB charging machine from New Wave Toys perfectly nails the look of arcade bill changers. Kids can charge up to six devices at one time with this totally tubular charging system, and the on and off button is a cute “temporarily out of service” LED indicator. The unit even comes with mini golden tokens for a true nostalgic feel.

6.Classic Tie-Dye Crocs

A beautiful collaboration between Crocs and Vera Bradley brings these floral print clogs that will look adorable on all little feet. The Crocs come in varying colors and are available in kids and juniors sizes.

These shoes are a favorite of my daughter because they give a stylish update to Crocs clogs while still slipping on quickly and easily when she’s on the go.

7. Lego Dots

Lego's creativity combines with home and jewelry design in the new Dots collection. From bracelets to desk organization supplies, kids can design their own colorful and modern creations and then re-design them over and over as their preferences change. The Dots line also comes in a variety of prices, making it a great gift for any kid on your list.

8. GPX All-In-One Vlogging Kit

Got a little YouTuber or TikTok maven on your hands? This vlogging kit from GPX will let kids be the star of their own show, whether they’re posting to social media or just pretending to have their own YouTube channel. The unit balances and mounts any phone and keeps the shot well-lit with super-bright LED lights.

9. My BKB "Big Kids Bed" Nest Bedding

Nest Bedding has developed the first kids mattress in the online market, made specifically for young children and available in twin, twin XL and full sizes.

My 10-year-old daughter sleeps on a BKB mattress and loves both how soft it is and how well she sleeps on it. And, my husband and I loved the BKB because of how easy it was to set up — like regular Nest mattresses, it goes from the box to the bed easily.

10. Fortune Cookie Kit

This DIY fortune cookie kit from Global Grub teaches kids exactly how to make and fold the classic Chinese treat. The kit comes with 60 pre-written fortune messages to choose from, plus blank slips and an edible food marker for creative kids who want to pen their own words of good luck.

11. GoldieBlox DIY Floating LED Cloud Light

This DIY cloud light set from GoldieBlox teaches kids about how a circuit functions and gives them a science lesson about what makes a cloud and how to tell the difference between cloud types. Plus, it looks cool hanging in their bedroom — a bonus any kid will love.

12. Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit

9-year-olds who like to create will love this simple one-step tie-dye kit from Tulip. The kit comes with 12 bottles of dye and a step-by-step guide to create several tie-dye designs. All that needs to be added once you're ready to tie-dye is water. Pair this kit with some simple white T-shirts and kids will have a fun craft activity that may also keep them busy throughout the winter!

13. 3Doodler Start 3D Pen for Kids

With this child-safe, heat-free 3D pen, kids can see their drawings come to life. The system comes with an app that gives kids stencils and step-by-step instructions, but they can also create original 3D figures using their imagination. The kit includes plastic filament for drawing and additional refills can be ordered once your child runs out of materials.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:

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This article was originally published on Sept. 12, 2018.