As the mother of a borderline tween girl, I’m well versed in these fickle little creatures. It can be really difficult to shop for them, partly because they’re not even sure what they like right now. They’re beginning to feel an inexplicable pull towards things they consider cool and grown up while simultaneously longing for the comfort of old favorites and wondering if that’s okay or if it’s too babyish. The key to giving them gifts they’ll love is straddling that very fine line.
I’ve made a list of five categories of gifts for tween girls that you can’t wrong with:
Most of the tween girls I know love magazines. The simple act of reading one makes them feel a tiny bit more sophisticated and they get sucked right into a world of quizzes and stories about girls just like them. My daughter’s favorite (which I like because of its positivity and lack of mean girl vibe) is Girls’ World. Other great choices include American Girl, Byou, and Discovery Girls.
I realize this can be a slightly controversial one. It’s probably best to check with the girl’s parents on this one beforehand. My opinion is that makeup and nail polish are a form of self-expression. I’d much rather my girls experiment under my watchful eye than sneak around behind my back and do it (and they absolutely will). Still, this doesn’t mean you need to buy the tween in your life tubes of mascara and dark lipstick. The girls I know thoroughly enjoy just about any bath and body product you can think of. EOS lip balm is a huge favorite among my daughter and her friends. They also love nail polish, hair styling kits, lotions, and bath sets they can claim as their own. The key here is finding products that are gentle but come in packaging that doesn’t scream for babies!
Even if they’re only starting to dabble in the tech world, tween girls usually love tech accessories. From pretty headphones and cute USB cables to fancy cases, my daughter and her friends want the tech that they have to be an extension of their personality. Also popular? Anything emoji related. They can’t get enough!
I know giving gift cards can be boring for you as the gift giver, but trust me: tween girls love the power that comes with a gift card. They get to go into a store that they like and buy whatever they want. Plus, it’s a great way to teach them about managing their money. They have to decide whether to save to buy something bigger once they have enough, or use what they have to get what they can. Great places to get them gift cards to include Justice, Claires, and Forever21 (you also can’t go wrong with Barnes and Noble and places like Five Below or Toys R Us).
Lastly, tween girls really love to prove that they can do things themselves. A great way to encourage this and help build up their confidence is with DIY kits that they can tackle with limited adult interference. Whether she’s interested in science or fashion or wants to make a product she can use herself, there are a ton of great kits out there for this group—and they love them.
The most important thing to remember when you’re buying for these ladies is that they’re still little but they really want to explore what older girls are into. If you can balance on that line, you’ve got a winning gift!
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Jennifer Garry is a writer and the mom of two girls who talk as much and laugh as loud as she does (just ask her much quieter husband). She writes about that ever-elusive struggle for balance on her personal blog, Cuddles and Chaos. Read all of Jennifer’s posts.