Before long, older kids will just ask for money and clothes, so enjoy these years by surprising tweens with the kinds of awesome birthday gifts they’d never think you’re cool enough to buy. If you know their interests, they’ll be thrilled you took the time to find the very perfect thing. And be sure not to buy anything too young! If you’ve ever seen a ten-year-old opening a cutesie baby doll then trying to feign happiness, you may know what we’re talking about. Hope these ideas help! They come from our own older kids’ covet lists.
The Cool Mom Picks Ultimate Birthday Party Gift Guide is brought to you by the cool cakes in your grocery store freezer.
All gifts have been editorially determined by our staff, there is no compensation in exchange for picks. CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate.
($199 at Loog Guitars)
If your tween is a little bit rock and roll, check out Loog’s new electric guitar in multiple colors, which kids actually put together themselves. The sound is fantastic, and the three strings are a genius way to get kids playing quickly. There are acoustic guitar kits too, should you not have your own Peavey amp ready to go.
($100-120 at Sunset Skateboards)
If they’ve mastered scootering and bicycling, skateboarding is the next logical step. Sunset makes a ton of cool boards, but the Hippy Skateboard is not only the right size for smaller feet, the LED wheels glow in dark. Awesomeness.
($18.59 at SobiGraphie)
In Unicorn We Trust. That pretty much says it all.
($69 at Ray Ban)
Here’s a savvy shopping tip: You can get original Ray Bans at a great price in junior sizes if you’re shopping for a not-so-huge kid (or even an adult) with a smaller face. Otherwise size up to the regular Wayfarers. Black with green classic lenses, of course. Voila! Coolest gift-giver ever.
($60/3-month subscription, single boxes available)
One lucky kid will end up with a new, fun activity packed into a box each month that lets her design her own canvas pouches, carve stamps, or decorate cards. Our own older kids have tried the Doodle Crate crafts with very satisfying results and let’s just say they recommend them highly.
($14.68 at Little Citizens Boutique)
If your kid has a hand-me-down iPhone 5 after her parents upgraded to the 6, make sure you keep it protected in style. This possum case is seriously awesome but look at the other designs too, like the morose bunny.
($12 each at Cool Mom Picks Indie Shop)
Artistic kids will love a beautiful new set of fine-tipped magic markers along with a set of artist Jenean Morrison’s complex yet stunning design coloring books. Even older kids will find their coloring zen at their desks, or in the back seat of the car when all screens are off.
($79.99 at Gameband)
Minecraft lovers won’t need to leave their worlds at home with the Gameband+Minecraft wearable band for kids. Don’t worry–it doesn’t mean they can play from the band; it’s a souped-up USB that lets them save their painstakingly created worlds, sync to the cloud, and take the work with them. Other cool features help make this one a winner.
($69.99 and up at Amazon)
A camera that spits out an actual picture that develops before their very eyes? How novel! (Ha.) It’s the perfect gift for kids living in an instant-gratification world. Just remember to include some extra film because digital kind of messes you up that way.
Tweens are a terrific age to try more extreme activities and adventures. Take them outdoor rock climbing, or find a zip lining venue. Or check out Cloud 9 Living which offers tons of experience gifts, quite a few of which kids can participate in. Just looking at the NY area alone, we found trapeze lessons , whitewater rafting, and (hello!) private Ninja lessons. Whatever you choose, look for reputable businesses that have different levels for various ages and abilities as well as strong safety practices.
Photo Credit: Laura Bittner via Compfight cc
($44.99 and up at Target)
Tweens love their tunes. And to save their ears from too many hours hosting a pair of ear buds, a Bluetooth speaker lets them play their music loudly in their rooms, just like we used to do back in the day. When we also had to rewind our cassettes. Ahem. We are huge fans of Bem speakers and you really can’t beat the quality for this price.
($60 at Charm & Chain)
We love Moon & Lola’s colorful name necklace, which is a modern update to the classic design. It’s even cooler if you have it personalized with an Instagram handle, a nickname, or an acronym that’s personal to the birthday girl. yolo, kwim?
($149.99 at KANO)
This wonderful kit actually lets kids put together their own computer. Then, jump in with beginner programming. Really. As in, a working computer. While more techy families might consider building their own Raspberry Pi computer for less, this is a complete and easy-to-use kit that kids really rave about.
($29.99 at Mimoco)
Kids with smartphones live in fear of dead batteries the same way we do. The portable chargers from Mimoco come in cool-enough-for-school styles from cute to edgy, while the Star Wars styles are great for kids who appreciate the power of the force.
($409.88 at Toys ‘R Us)
Are you the godparent or grandparent who’s looking for a gift that will end in a vise grip hug for you? A Razor Deluxe Crazy Cart will do the trick even before they take a spin. This speedy set of wheels for kids 9+ can seriously fly. And if you’re under 140 pounds, you can try it too.
(A lot of moneys)
When kids have outgrown the little kid parks, Universal Orlando is a simply amazing family theme park destination. If only for the Gringotts Ride in Diagon Alley. (The best!) If you’ve had a vacation like this on your wishlist, make it a once-in-a-lifetime birthday gift for a really special kid. We’ve even got tips on how to save money on family vacations like this one. Oh, and best tip ever? Stay on site at a Universal resort like the Hard Rock Hotel or the Portofino Bay Resort, and you get to cut all the ride lines for free. That’s a gift for everyone.