Tween gifting. Why is it SO freaking hard???

Tween gifting. Why is it SO freaking hard???
This is how a typical conversation goes with my 12 year old and an adult trying to figure out what she might want as a gift for Christmas/Hanukkah/Birthdays, you name it:

So, what are you into lately?
What have you been up to?
Just hanging out in my room.
What do you like?
I dunno.
What’s your favorite movie?
Teen Titans Go.
Oh uh what’s your second favorite movie?
Teen Titans Go to the Movies.
What games do you like to play?
Sims 4.
O. M. G. What happened to my sweet little angel who liked dolls and horses and cute clothes? I mean, she still loves clothes and that’s always easy to buy for her. But she doesn’t want anything pink. It must be blue or teal, maybe green. No glitter, no sequins, no wording on it. Ugh. A miniature version of my husband. God help the person who gives him a shirt with a pocket on it.

Anyhoo, having had a toy store for years, I know this is not a weird thing for kids her age, nor is it new. The real unicorns are the kids who have a hobby that’s easy to shop for. My middle child loves cooking. Anything cooking. This kid is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy to find something for. She’s also 10, so the new Amirah Kassem books about magical baking that we just got in are perfect for her!

But my 12 year old. . . hmmm. I got to see, firsthand, people who would come into the toy store and look around, a little lost, looking for the perfect gift for the middle-schooler in their life. Being LA’s largest toy store, we always had something, but I wished we had more. We had a magic shop, with magic tricks and magic sets. Those were always a great find for kids that age. We had some Funko pops. We had STEM stuff. We had some board games. But our clientele was mainly young kids, so we catered more to that age range.

It wasn’t until my oldest child hit middle school that I realized, we needed completely different things and more of them. So now, of course I’ve got the little kid and baby things in the new online store – but now I also have a great Tween/Teen section as well!

What do we get these kids, you ask? Well, let me tell you. . .

I’ve got new games, not even just new to me, new new games – most of the new Exit Room style games are for ages 12 and up – even the new Scooby Doo exit room game! Chunky Monkey Business and Idiom Addict are age 10 and up. Kids are always happy to play with something that they are just old enough to play.

Is your tween into DuckTales? The new one, not the old Disney Afternoon one – did you know there was a new one? My husband showed our kids the latest reboot and it’s actually hilarious for grown ups too. David Tennant (Dr. Who, Harry Potter) voices Scrooge. Danny Pudi (from Community) voices one of the nephews. And Don Cheadle briefly voices Donald Duck. Yes, you read that right. It’s a solidly hysterical cast. Our family is into it big time. This same, hard-to-shop-for child actually had a DuckTales birthday party in 2019. (More on that in another post) Anyhow, there’s a DuckTales Munchkin game. If they’re into the show, it’s amazing. If they’re not into it yet, get them this game AND introduce them to the show. Double win! Who’s the coolest? You are.

The Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle game really needs its own post. It is SUCH a good game. My kids love it. My husband loves it. We have family in their twenties who have come by on repeat to play this with us and even came back for more with their friends. It made me feel cooler than should be allowed. We’ve even played it with my kids’ great-aunt. See? It needs its own post. Just trust me here. If we didn’t already own this, my kid would love to get this game as a gift.

Another thing that is great for crafty teens and tweens? Cross stitch kits. One of my favorites simply says, This Took Me Forever. We're constantly bringing in new patterns. RBG is always a favorite and, rather oddly, a La Croix can. New styles are winging their way from a small maker in Michigan as we speak.

Mad Mattr and Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty are both total winners as well. When I had my shop in LA, we had a huge Mad Mattr display with a tray of the stuff sitting out so people could see what it is. Adults would stand there and absent-mindedly play with it while their kids looked around. You can't stop touching it. If you’ve never seen it, it’s like if PlayDoh and Kinetic Sand had a baby. It will hold its shape well enough to be made into little bricks or other shapes that you can build with and then you can pick it up and let it fall apart, soft as sand. It comes in lovely little backpack or purse-sized containers. It’s great when you feel the need to fidget with something.

Last year, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty came out with new SCENTsory putty in four different scents to help calm, focus and energize. Rosemary, Lavender, Rose and Mint. A new release this year that my daughter says is absolutely perfect is the Crazy Aaron’s Hide Inside Puttys! There are three different styles of clear putty filled with little pieces. Hidden inside each are six unique shapes. Insanely fun and portable.

My final suggestion – at least for this post – is bath bombs. These serve two purposes. The first is that they’re just fun! And we have them from both Nailmatic and Feeling Smitten. The Nailmatic ones are gorgeous, crackly and smell amazing. About half of the Feeling Smitten ones have a surprise in the middle – key chains to clip on a backpack or little figurines like a corgi or a lucky cat. The others from Feeling Smitten are in birthday and greeting cards!! The second cool thing about bath bombs is that they get kids to take a bath! And what better way to get a newly stinky middle schooler into the bath?

Some wonderful mom (bless this woman!) put together a gorgeous basket of bath things for my daughter's birthday a few years ago. At the time, she wasn't much of a regular bather without a struggle. This basket had her in the tub every single day and smelling fabulous. Our Magic Box Bath and Beauty Set from Nailmatic will have the same effect! 

For more suggestions, please look at our Tweens and Teens Collection on our website.*** And if you’re stuck, send us a message! We LOVE helping people find the absolute perfect gift!

***A note about our stock. If you see things that say sold out - they aren't sold out, they're on their way to us. (Except for Avocado Smash. It actually sold out and is a few weeks away.) It's just the way the site looks for the moment. We're still tweaking the way things work here and there. Most things are a week away at most. Sign up to be notified when they come in and you'll be the first to know!

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  • Carrie Harr
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