The coolest birthday gifts for tweens 9-12

Trek Jett adjustable bike for kids | The coolest birthday gifts for tweens

We know it’s tough finding great gifts for tweens — it’s like you find the perfect birthday gifts for a tween and by the time it’s the holidays, they’re onto a new interest! But we appreciate the challenge, so we’ve put together our favorite gifts for tweens of all kinds, in every price range. Before long, they’ll be teens who just want money, gift cards or clothes for gifts. So enjoy these years by surprising tweens with the kinds of awesome birthday gifts they’d never image you’re cool enough to buy. (But sure hope you do.)

If you know their interests, tweens be thrilled you took the time to find the very perfect gift. Though be sure not to buy anything too young! If you’ve ever seen a 10-year-old opening a cutesie baby doll (and trying to feign gratitude) you know what we’re talking about.

While ten-year-olds are probably into different things than someone about to age out of middle school, there’s still a world of inspiration here for cool tween gifts — all approved by our own tweens and their wish lists. And hey if you need more ideas for a 12-year-old, take a look at our list of cool birthday gifts for teens too.

Please note that we’ve included links to both big and small shops for convenience and price. But we always encourage you to shop your own local independent toy stores, book stores, and boutiques!

Be sure to see our full list of the coolest birthday gifts for kids by age

And for even more of the coolest gift ideas for tweens and older kids, please visit our holiday gift guide and our guide to cool tech gifts for teens and older kids. 

The coolest gifts for tweens 2022: Cool mom picks ultimate birthday gift guideThe coolest gifts for tweens right now

All gifts have been editorially determined by our staff, there is no compensation in exchange for picks.
CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate. That means we may receive a small commission from certain purchases to help us remain independent and support our staff.

This post is new for 2023.

Specialized's adjustable Jett bike | The coolest tween birthday giftsA bike that will keep up with their growth spurts

($550 for 24″ Jett bike, with other sizes available, at Specialized)

Specialized’s Jett bicycles (also shown at top) “grow” right along with your kids thanks to an extra-long seat post, and adjustable pedals and handlebars. Top-of-the-line construction doesn’t come cheap,  but they’ll keep riding right into their teen years and it comes highly recommended by our resident biking family. (Plus, wait until you see the cost of car insurance for them in a few short years — this is a bargain! Laugh/cry.)

Xbox Design Lab custom controller | The Coolest Birthday gifts for tweensXbox Design Lab custom controller

($69.99+ at Microsoft)

Design a controller that fits their style perfectly, or combine their favorite team colors. With over a billion possible color combinations, you’d better get started now so you finish before their birthday arrives — or give them a gift card so they can make it themselves.

Crazy Aaron's Prediction Putty | Cool tween birthday giftCrazy Aarons Amazing Prediction Putty

($9.99 at Target)

A tin filled with squishy fun that never dries out and will answer all their crazy questions? Yes, please. Think of it as a Magic Eight Ball made of goo — and a perfect tween birthday gift under $10.

Mini GOAT Serena sweatshirt | The coolest tween birthday gifts

A Serena Williams shirt to celebrate the GOAT

(Serena hoodie, $65 at S by Serena)

Whether it’s this awesome GOAT sweatshirt to celebrate Serena Williams’ incredible, groundbreaking career, or their own personal “GOAT” (like the NBA’s Steph Curry), they’ll love showing off their support for their favorite player.

The new Star Wars Villainous Game is one of the coolest tween gifts in 2022Star Wars Villainous Card Game

($39.99 at Amazon)

Everyone gets to be part of the dark side in this Star Wars version of the classic strategy game for kids ages 10 and up. After all, we know that the villains always have more fun, right?

The best gifts for kids by age 2023

The coolest first birthday gifts
The coolest birthday gifts for 2-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 3-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 4-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 5-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 6-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 7-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for 8-year-olds
The coolest birthday gifts for tweens and big kids 9-12
The coolest birthday gifts for teens

 

Stranger Things backpack from Jansport | The coolest birthday gifts for tweensOfficial Stranger Things backpack

($80 at Jansport)

So many cool details will thrill your Stranger Things fan, making this a fabulously cool gift for tweens: The D&D dice zipper pull, Hellfire Club insignia, the “upside down” Jansport logo, and the themed lining insid…wow. This bag is more than ready for whatever the school year throws at them.

Color-changing LED Lightbox for tweens and teens: One of our favorite gifts for kids this year | cool mom picks gift guideColor changing cinema light box

($28-38 at Amazon)

Tweens have a lot to say and this small, battery-operated,  cinema-style light box gives them one more way to speak their minds. Alternatively, don’t miss the LEGO Dots Big Message Board in our Gifts for 8 year olds; it’s another awesome option for tweens who have a lot to say.

Classic Dr. Martens are one of the coolest gifts for tweens | cool mom picksClassic Doc Martens

($90 at Doc Martens)

You never forget your first pair of Docs. We say go for the classic, and consider amping it up with a colorful shoelace. Bonus? They’re awesome for stomping to the bedroom when you remind them to do their homework.

Create your own comic book kit from Lulu Jr | The coolest birthday gifts for tweensComic book making kit

($23.35 at Amazon)

For years, our readers have gone wild for this fantastic tween gift, so we keep including it in our gift guides every year. Who are we to argue with perfection! Kids can create their own, send it to the company, and they’ll print and deliver an actual published comic book in return. Amazing.

LEGO Chess set | The coolest tween birthday giftsLEGO Chess Set

($65+ at Amazon)

Is it too corny to call this “The Tween’s Gambit?” We adore this set which combines the timeless game of chess with the fun of building with LEGO bricks. Watch the price on Amazon which fluctuates, and check out LEGO.com for inventory as well.

Black Panther Young Prince book series | The coolest tween birthday gifts

Black Panther Young Prince books

(from $11.28/ea at Amazon, each book sold separately)

A great gift for fans of the movie, this three-book series of Black Panther Young Prince books was wrtten by Ronald L. Smith, who had won the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award a few years earlier. Start them with Book 1 or grab all three and bundle them together.

 

Build your own headphone kit from Kiwi Crate: Best gifts for tweens 2022Build-your-own headphones

($39.95 at Kiwi Co.)

Be sure to check out the Cool Mom Tech list of the best headphones for kids by age — but if you need a tween gift for a tinkerer or maker, check out this amazing kit that lets them build their own.

Nintendo Switch Sports | The coolest gifts for tweensNintendo Switch Sports

($47.98 at Amazon)

Reminiscent of the Wii Sports games of old, but will lots of new twists, this new game for the Switch will have everyone out of their seats.

Nintendo Switch OLED Platoon-3 special edition: coolest gifts for tweens right nowNintendo Switch OLED-Model Splatoon 3 Special Edition

($359, wherever you can find it that’s not scalping)

Of course if you’re looking for THE It-Gift of the year for tweens, it has to be this brand new, impossible-to-find Nintendo Switch. Try Amazon, Best Buy, or the Nintendo site directly…and sign up for alerts whenever possible. Image: @Nintendo on Instagram

Unicorn snot body glitter gel: Cool birthday gifts for tweensUnicorn Snot glitter gel

($14.99/ea or $59.99 for the bundle at Amazon)

Tweens who were once making slime will be way into this, and its huge with kids of any gender. Pro tip: Wearing two colors together, like silver and green, can be…well, magical.

Climb Like Amanda journal kit | Cool tween birthday giftsClimb Like Amanda journaling kit

($29.99 at KidsCrafts LLC on Etsy)

Whether they want to jot down their poems, write stories, or compile lists of their favorite things, they’ll find a lot of inspiration in this journaling kit which includes the words of poet and activist Amanda Gorman.

Best gifts for tweens: The cool robot building kit from Snap Circuit | cool mom picks gift guide 2022Snap Circuit mechanical coding robot

($27.96 at Amazon)

Future engineers, STEM fans or kids who just like coding will get a kick out of this little guy that they can build — then program it to throw, lift, kick, and draw.

Throw Throw Burrito game | Cool birthday gifts for tweens

Throw Throw Burrito

($24.99 at Amazon)

Family game night gets a whole lot more exciting when you add what’s basically dodgeball with burritos to your game play. It’s a hilarious and ridiculous game by the masterminds behind Exploding Kittens, and our tweens love it.

Alternatively, check out our long-time favorite Superfight card game, which encourages–ahem–spirited conversation, and with fewer projectiles.

 

Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer 2 | The coolest birthday gifts for tweensInstax Mini Link 2 photo printer

($99.99 at Target)

If they’ve already been gifted their very own smartphone, they’ll love this amazing palm sized photo printer. So easy to add graphics and effects to their photos before they print them too. And if they haven’t gotten their own phone yet, don’t forget the super popular Instax instant camera which we featured in our recent guide to the best tech gifts for teens.

Rainbow cake from the Cake Boss bakery | coolest birthday gifts for tweens

Their own rainbow cake

($74.95, Goldbelly)

If you can’t be with your favorite tween on their big day or you just want to surprise them with the coolest cake of all, Goldbelly ships an actual “Cake Boss” rainbow cake from Hoboken’s Carlo’s Bakery. Whoa. Talk about a cool gift for tweens that they won’t stop talking about!

 

Personalized journal from Wonderbly | Cool tween birthday giftPersonalized journal

($37.99 at Wonderbly)

Younger tweens are the perfect age to start expressing feelings, or jotting down ideas, poems, or song starters. While any journal makes a great birthday gift for a tween, these personalized journals from Wonderbly are beautifully designed and so uplifting.

Go-kart riding | The Coolest Birthday gifts for tweensA day of go-kart racing

(price varies)

Most tweens can’t wait to be old enough to drive, so scratch that itch with a gift certificate to the closest go-kart facility, like K1, shown here, which has 60 locations across 21 states. We love experience gifts of all kinds. But learning how to avoid traffic on a track before they hit the open road Priceless.

Stranger Things Lite Brite set | The coolest teen birthday giftsStranger Things Lite Brite

($19.99 at Amazon)

Yes, one more Stranger Things gift idea! This retro toy has come back from the Upside Down with 12 designs from the Netflix series. Great gift for the super fan, as our tweens will tell you.

FinFun mermaid tail | The Coolest Birthday Gifts for tweensFinFun mermaid tail

($39.95 and up for tail only, $74.95 and up with Monofin)

With The Little Mermaid live action film coming up (we cannot wait!), mermaids are destined to be huge again. This is one of the coolest pool toys we’ve ever tried out — the lightweight flipper and gorgeous fabric tail turns a strong swimmer  (emphasis on strong) into a real mermaid.

Chance basketball | The coolest birthday gift for tweensChance Basketball

($29.99 and up at Amazon)

Any basketball can be fun, but Chance Basketballs are beautiful too. Plus, your kid will know which one to bring home from the playground.

Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses | Coolest tween birthday gifts

Ray Ban Jr. Wayfarers

($77 at Nordstrom)

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 for a very special gift for a tween. You can stick with black frames + green classic lenses, or get wild with color.

 

Best gift card for tweens | cool mom picks birthday gift guide
Gift card to their favorite shop

(prices vary)

While gift cards can seem like a cop-out birthday gift, for a tween without a lot of disposable income, it’s the gift of freedom, possibilities, and a glimpse of big-kid responsibility, all in in one little piece of plastic. (Or you know, a QR code on their phone.)  Figure out your tween’s favorite interests —  tech, campinggaming, music, shopping at tarzhay, reading, bath bombs, sports, or vanilla bean Frappuccinos — spend a few bucks, and let them go to town. Literally.

 

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