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The Best Gifts for 12 Year Olds

It can be tempting to take the easy way out with a gift card — but surprise your favorite not-quite-teens with a fun, funny, or useful present.

Lexi Dwyer

12 Year Old Gift Guide

Twelve-year-olds are standing on the threshold of teenagerdom. Their friends are becoming more and more important to them (sorry, parents), and they tend to be obsessed with gadgets, and possibly mature enough to keep track of them. Besides just dance moves, they're probably picking up lots of cooking and decorating ideas from TikTok. As budding activists, they will argue passionately about causes that matter to them — but also their right to have a later bedtime or bigger allowance. These gifts might just lure your 12 year olds out of their rooms and turn sulks into smiles.

Kid Made Modern Arts & Crafts Supply Library

The beauty of 12 is that kids are starting to get crazy-talented at making art, and this set will indulge those urges, as it practically overflows with more than 1,000 beads, sequins, fuzzballs, doodads, googly eyes, and more. Ditching the screen, creating something they're proud of, relaxing, bonding with friends — let us count the reasons we think pre-teens should be given the time and space to craft their hearts out.

Polaroid i-Type Camera

The black, chunky Polaroid cameras from the seventies and eighties have gotten glamorous makeovers. They're sleeker, prettier, and have more techy features that tweens will love, like autofocus, a "human-friendly" flash, and the option for double exposure to make things just a bit more dramatic. Just make sure you throw in some string lights and clips for their walls so all those photos have somewhere to go.

Sunnylife Glitter Inflatable Lilo Chair

Naysayers may balk at the price of this fabulously sparkly chair but consider these three words that will transform photo-ops: Glitter confetti filling. The chair, which will have kids counting down the days until the pool opens, can also be extended to a lounger, so it's basically a two-fer.

Kids Against Maturity Illustrated Edition

Nothing brings the fam together like potty humor. This game will have everyone ROFL with its cheeky humor — and we do mean cheeky, as nearly every other card is a joke about butts and farts. It's recommended for kids ten and older, and we can pretty much guarantee that preteens will be willing to put their phones down to join in the hilarity.

Gingko Flip Click Clock

Trying to confiscate the phone at bedtime but losing because your kid uses theirs as an alarm? Depending on one's mood, this laser-engraved wooden alternative can be controlled by either sound or touch. It's got enough of a fun factor to maybe make mornings with dozy tweens less painful — parents can dream, right? 

Bob Ross Official Coloring Book

This coloring book proves that we could all use a little more Bob Ross in our lives — that soothing voice, gentle encouragement, and belief that everyone has artistic potential. If they loved him on YouTube, kids will also get a kick out of seeing his quotes and original artwork sprinkled through the coloring pages.

LEGO Eternals Rise of the Domo

Turns out The Eternals have been here all along and nobody ever noticed them, possibly because one of them is literally called “Kingo,” which is hard to take seriously. But now that they’ve stepped into the limelight, they’re an unbelievably big deal, and the hottest Eternals toy right now is this ridiculously cool LEGO set that everyone in the family will want a turn with.

eeBoo Triangle Pattern 500-Piece Puzzle

Sometimes those 1,000-piece puzzles can feel like a bit...much. This smaller option, ideal for a few siblings, will still keep them plenty busy and hopefully tamp down the winter break squabble fests. The round border and trippy pattern make it a little more challenging, too.

W&P Matcha Tea Shaker

Has your tween been spending their allowance on pricey after school tea runs? Encourage them to tap into their inner chef (and save some bucks) by making their own. The mesh screen will help emulsify their frothy beverage, giving it a fluffiness that would make a barista proud.

Franklin Sports Table Tennis To Go

Video-game fans with quick reflexes and an enviable ability to focus may find they're table-tennis naturals. And if there's a snowpocalypse outside, you can still stay active, since all you need for a match is a table that's at least six feet long.

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