Gift Ideas for a Tween Girl

Kristin H has asked if we can talk about gift ideas for pre-teen girls, and I have a pre-teen girl at my house, so I am very keen on getting ideas too. I will tell you what is on Elizabeth’s wish list:

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Nail Stamper. Apparently it is used to stamp images onto fingernails. There were a ton of choices and I couldn’t find any that had really good reviews, so I asked Twitter and this is what the most people said to get. I’m also getting this one and this one, because she wants clear but the clear ones have worse reviews, but they’re cheap and I’m hoping to give her choices in case she has trouble with it.

With those she is getting these stamping plates…I think. And these stamping polishes…I think:

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MoYou Stamping Plates, Princess Collection

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BMC Stamping Polishes, Brights

I feel really uncertain. I haven’t ordered them yet, so I’d love input such as “No, no, these polishes/plates are WAY BETTER!”

She also wanted Simply Peel, an extremely expensive item that looks like white glue; you put it around your fingernails so that any nail polish mistakes or deliberate overruns around the edges can be peeled off:

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My parents are getting that for her, and also some nail art pens:

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and some face/body glitter gel (it was a big thing at the middle school dance):

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Elizabeth also requested clothing for her cat. Listen, I don’t know, but I will say that her cat is surprisingly willing to wear outfits, and in fact purrs and seems very cozy in his pink bunny suit. This time I got him a fleece-lined jacket thing. I got it at HomeGoods and it looks sort of like this, but a different color:

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The one I found is made by The Humane Society, and it’s deep blue with cream fleece lining, and it’s meant for a small dog but I think it will fit the cat. And the lining is super soft and JUST LIKE his favorite blankie, so I think it will be a hit.

This next item may need some further explanation, even after you know Elizabeth is a girl who likes to dress her cat in clothes:

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Music for Cats. Apparently some guy figured out that cats like certain sounds? And he put them on a CD? Also apparently it is not very pleasant for the human ear, so it is for when your cat is home but you are not. Elizabeth’s cat is a nervous cat, and she worries about him when she’s not home to reassure him, and if he enjoys this music I think she will find that pleasing and also funny.

Speaking of pleasing and funny, this plush Pusheen:

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There are cookie, cupcake, ice cream, and doughnut versions; Elizabeth and Edward both think the cookie is cutest. We already have the book (super cute/funny humor book for kids/teens/adults), but if you don’t, it would make a nice combination gift with the plushie.

I share most of my earrings with Elizabeth and I already have these, but if I didn’t and I didn’t, I might buy these ear-piercing studs for her, in silver or gold:

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She hasn’t asked for this but I’m planning to get it for her:

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Taylor Swift Recorder Songbook. Our school system has the kids learn recorder in later elementary school, and she’s the only kid of ours who kept playing it.

She wants a Sony Dream Machine radio alarm clock like mine (which I love with feelings that border on maternal), but it’s been discontinued (I can still find it on Amazon, but for nearly $100, which is silly). This looks like the updated version, or at least it has the radio alarm and the adjustable brightness like mine does:

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If you are doing the “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read” jingle for gift-planning, here’s a book Elizabeth really liked:

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TTYL, by Lauren Myracle.

Or may I remind you of my friend’s excellent book recommended for grades 3-6?

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Horus and the Curse of Everlasting Regret. A girl and a boy team up to solve a mystery together, and there is a lot of adventure and a little magic, and there is a cute (not scary) mummy and a cute (and super-smart) pet bat, and I recommend it for alllllll your children and nieces and nephews and grandchildren. And I will CONTINUE to recommend it, so just settle in for the long haul on that one.

I have been thinking of getting her a diary, but I’m not sure about STYLE. It seems like it has to be the right style. Not too little-girlish, not too mommish. Maybe something like this:

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Owl Forest Journal

33 thoughts on “Gift Ideas for a Tween Girl

  1. Jd

    My tween niece requested several craft kits (like make a pillow) BUT she wanted me to complete the crafts for her.
    Um, no.

  2. Shawna

    At Christmas my daughter will be a month from turning 11. We got her several bathing suits from, even though we live in territory, because it is super difficult to find much in the way of cute bathing suits in Canada in the cold months, and we go away for a week south mid-winter, and her old suits are invariably too small or all destroyed by the chlorine in our pool by the end of the summer. They are mostly Kanu Surf tankinis.

    Let’s see, what else… let me consult my excel spreadsheet (not even kidding): flannel sheets, flannel PJs faux-fur covered earmuffs (we do live in Canada, after all), battery-operated strings of LED lights with silver wire because she wants to string fairy lights around her bed, leggings and a shirt outfit, some nice micron pens and decent art paper to use them one (we get small quantities of good art supplies instead of large kits of kid-grade supplies by this age), and a CreativeLive intro to Adobe Illustrator course (since she wants to be a graphic designer).

  3. Erin in CA

    My girl is 10-1/2. She is interested in updating her room, so I’m looking at new (more sophisticated) throw pillows for her bed, a new poster or two (she’s very into Hamilton, so probably something from that), and also framing a few recent photos of her and her friends and cousins. I think she could also use a small backpack (like a crossbody bag size), but I haven’t looked for that yet, so I have no idea where I’ll get it. As a side note, I’m so grateful my 13-year-old son started playing guitar in the past year, because now he has a THING he LOVES, and it’s making gift buying so much easier! (Off topic, kind off, but one thing he’s requesting is a year subscription to Spotify, which is a perfect grandparent gift for our family!) Thanks, Swistle — the holidays are here whether we are in the mood or not, so let’s do this!

  4. Alice

    Oh lordy I am already so behind on xmas presents. The only people I proactively started on were my notoriously difficult inlaws, and ALL PRESENTS AND ADDITIONAL IDEAS I had for them have since been shot down / never delivered and now out of stock / cancelled in some way. So. Doing well with presents over here so far.

  5. Erin

    The clear stampers can be hit or miss. I find I have to make sure mine is clean before each use. I have several of the bmc stamp polishes and haven’t had a problem with them. Have her watch a YouTube video or two about stamping, there are tricks and tip and you have to be quick. I have some plates from bundlemonster, born pretty store and Amazon. As long as they are cleaned after each nail they work great. A suggestion to add, a cotton ball claw like this (I just picked one that had prime at random). Because you have to clean supplies after each nail you can ruin your other nails cleaning with an acetone soaked cotton ball.

    The peeling polish is just liquid latex, I bought a small bottle of body paint for MUCH cheaper and use a small paint brush, works the same and I have tons left over. (I got this one, they have many colors

  6. Kara

    My pre-teen girls are obsessed with animal onesies. Think those footed pajamas, with hoods and tails, for big kids and grown ups. Those are fun and cute.

    For books, graphic novels like Lumberjamrs and the graphic novelizations of The Babysitters Club books.

  7. Sian

    Just a quick nostalgia high five on the Sony Alarm Clock. I have a Dream Machine from the 1990s and it still works like a charm.

  8. ESL

    This may be not at all helpful because clearly I have the least girly 10 year old on the planet, and you, less so.
    But here’s what mine wants/is getting (some subset):
    Lego Ninjago sets
    Books (Gregor the Overlander series. But if you haven’t seen it, I recommend Mango Shaped Space based on what you are getting)
    Gift card to theme park
    Homemade coupon book for various things (she just used hers from last year right before TG: “parents clean my room” — may not be getting that one again!)
    Throw pillows for room
    Wii U Legends of Zelda
    Rollercoaster building set

    1. British American

      I bought this one a year or two ago and haven’t tried it yet! Which is a reflection on me and not the journal!

  9. Katie

    1) Could you also do a post on what to buy for tween boys? I have an 11 year old on my list and I have no idea what to buy him.

    2) I would add bath bombs from some place like Lush. They’re fancy and “grown up” but also super fun (who doesn’t want they’re bath looking like outer space?)

    1. Erin in CA

      I find tween boys more difficult than girls for sure! Depends a lot on his interests — is he into sports? A nicer baseball cap or wool pennant for his room. My kid started to be into things from at that age — funny t-shirts and/or posters. Card games (Gubs, Sushi Go, etc) are always fun. That Marbles store that’s in the mall has a lot of cool ideas that are appealing to tweens. Graphic novels or collections of comics (Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, FoxTrot are the faves here). A better remote control vehicle could also be fun. So much depends on the individual kid; good luck!

  10. jessica fantastica

    Thank you for the gift idea of the cat CD. I am now purchasing that for my 42 year old best friend! :D

  11. Melospiza

    Great ideas, as always!

    I have questions about something I’d like to get for my preteen girl: a teen magazine. I say that with many dubious feelings. When I turned 12, I got a subscription to Seventeen, which, even though I am not that girly and was kind of politically opposed to it even then, I read like it would tell me the secrets to the universe (it did not). I want to replicate this experience in a form that is slightly less…Seventeen magazine-ish. For a while there was a magazine called Sassy that seemed a fun blend of fashion and actual real life helpful supportive advice with a subtle feminist slant. That’s been defunct for 20 years. And while I know that probably the hippest most progressive pubs are probably online only, those can’t really be gifted in the same way (plus there is nothing like the magic of getting an awesome magazine in the mail.)

    1. Swistle Post author

      Sassy/Jane was THE BEST. If they still had Sassy, I would totally get that for Elizabeth. WHY OH WHY DID IT LEAVE US??

      1. Melospiza

        I know, right? I’m leaning toward BYOU magazine, which is fine, but seems …oddly overmarketed? Like it was created on purpose for middle school moms to buy for their daughters?

    2. Teresa

      I’ve been hearing very good things lately about how Teen Vogue is exploring social justice issues. Haven’t looked into it myself, but lots of my Twitter friends read and retweet their articles, so I see the headlines in my feed, and it seems promising.

  12. Melanie

    God – that TTYL book! Back in 2004 (or so), my oldest, one of her friends and my youngest made sock puppets and made movies reading/acting out the book. It’s over a decade later, and we still scream with laughter when we watch them. A lot of literary types declared those books to be the end of literature and intelligent reading – because fun must be squashed at all costs. And, yes, reading survived.

    Elizabeth should dress up her cat, put the cd on in the background and do a dramatic reading or two from the book.

  13. Lauren

    Swistle, I have a question! I know you usually research these things…I’m fascinated by the adopt-a-walrus, and I know a girl who I think would love the dolphin variety. What made you choose this charity instead of (for example), WWF or another place that does the adoptions?

    1. Swistle Post author

      Hm, I can’t remember. I think Elizabeth is the one who picked which one she wanted on her wish list, and I think it had to do with what was included in the adoption pack and how much that pack cost—but the details are fuzzy at this point. I see that particular organization I linked to is a very small company, charity-wise; I think I’ll take out their link, just in case.

  14. Alison

    I have all boys and find these suggestions fascinating. I’m wondering if the nail stamp sets are too mature for a 7-8 year old, very girly, niece? Also super intrigued by the cat music, though I know my husband would never let me live it down.

    1. Swistle Post author

      My guess is yes, the stampers would be too hard for age 7-8. Based on reviews, I’m concerned they’ll be out of Elizabeth’s range too: they look really tricky/involved.

  15. Kristin H

    Thank you so much for this – it’s fantastic! I saw your post about the nail thing on twitter and had never heard of it. I think my daughter will love it. I’m also doing the books you mentioned. Does anyone know about the Maze Runner books and how appropriate they might be for this age? My girl is super into Hunger Games (her Christmas list: “Anything Hunger Games.” Me: …… ) and I wondered if it might be as big a hit for her.

    1. el-e-e

      My son loves, loves, loves the Maze Runner series. He’s 12. I was actually hesitant to let him read the Hunger Games series, and thought this was maybe a good alternative. From what I can gather, it’s less kids killing actual kids, and more like, a nefarious virus (or nefarious bad guys who concocted it) killing kids, and some other kids are trying to figure out how/why/what and fight back.

      Hope that helps?!

    2. ESL

      FYI — I’m actually an adult who read the maze runner series, and I found it much more gory than any of the other YA dystopia books I’ve read before. I would let my kid read Hunger Games before Maze Runner.

      Has she done the Divergent series yet? That to me is relatively similar to the Hunger Games, though maybe the love story is stronger there.

      I really liked the Matched series. But again, depends on how much you mind a love theme at the center of it all. There is death there, but it’s a bit more removed than in Hunger Games or Maze Runner.

      Could you have her read The Martian?

      Age of miracles was excellent.

  16. British American

    My daughter is 11. All she wants for Christmas is a Chromebook, since she’s now in middle school and all her homework is on Google Classrooms. We got a deal on Walmart on Black Friday for that, thankfully.

    She doesn’t like anything like makeup / jewlery / nail-polish, which makes it hard. I remember starting to get jewlery from my Nanna at Christmastime instead of toys.

    She does like leggings and I got her a couple of pairs from Fabulegs.

    She also now likes Neko Atsume, after I saw it mentioned here. I found a free pattern online to sew a cat head, but I don’t know if I will get around to it. Etsy has a lot of cute things like buttons and such on that theme.

    Last year I got her a set of Zometools, which is a building kind of toy, but not for little kids. She liked them a lot at the time, but hasn’t used them lately.

    Funko Pops are fun too.

    Oh and my daughter wants slippers too.

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