Gift Ideas for 12-Year-Olds

The twins are turning twelve. I still haven’t figured out how to make it easier to find the gift-idea posts.

My parents are giving them both pogo sticks:

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The fun thing is that my parents gave Henry a pogo stick for his birthday last month, and the twins have been sneaking turns on it when he’s not around.


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Qixels. I expect these to result in a brief period of frenzied play, followed by total lack of interest and little weird cubes scattered all over the house. But Edward pines for these every time he sees them at the store, so FINE.


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Martha Stewart glitter markers, one box each of warm tones and cool tones. Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle gave her these for Christmas, and they’re GREAT, and she uses them all the time, and so some of the colors have run out of ink.


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Circuit Maze. Edward saw this demonstrated by one of the YouTubers he follows. I think of anything by ThinkFun as a pretty good bet.


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Paint by Sticker. Elizabeth wanted this, but now I’m worried I should have gotten her the one for kids. She can get a little door-slammy when frustrated. [Update: Thanks to Kate for mentioning that the non-kids one was a little door-slammy for grown-ups, too. I gave Elizabeth a kids one instead and it was JUST RIGHT. It might be too easy for a 12-year-old who was chiller about things going wrong.]


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Water balloon pump. We got this for Edward last year, too, but the balloon-tying part finally broke off, so we’re replacing it; he can use the broken one as a back-up water supply. I also got him a pack of something weird I found at Target: a clump of water balloons that attach all at once to the hose, and they self-seal—so you can fill a whole bunch very quickly.


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A dinosaur costume for Elizabeth’s cat.


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Hexbug remote-controlled fish. I made Edward look at all the “It broke in a week!” reviews with me, but he still wanted it, so he’s getting one.


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Zazzle has custom earrings now, so when they were having a 50%-off sale I made two pairs for Elizabeth. We have three cats, and one of them is her favorite, so I made one earring of each cat’s face, and then I used a different view of her favorite cat’s face for the fourth earring. I did the stud earrings because she doesn’t wear dangly ones yet and because they were cheaper, but the images are Very Small; if I were doing a pair for myself, I’d go with the larger, dangly ones.

15 thoughts on “Gift Ideas for 12-Year-Olds

  1. Jill

    The bunch o balloons are AMAZING but expensive. My kids go through them in like two seconds but they are super fun to fill quickly and then ambush them while they’re all playing in the back yard.

    Also, my oldest is 8 but he has Gravity Maze and Laser Maze and he likes them but my husband will play them long after the kids have wandered off.

    1. Alexa

      I was just coming here to say that Simone got Laser Maze (looks similar to Circuit Maze, also by Think Fun) for her birthday and she likes it fine but *I* am COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH IT, and would say it definitely belongs on any Gifts for 37-Year-Old Women list you may make.

    1. Swistle Post author

      This is very good to know. I have put the book I got her aside for some other occasion, and I bought her one of the kid ones.

    2. Jesabes

      Do they have different levels of kid ones? Because I came here to say the opposite! We’ve gotten the kid version before and it was perfectly easy for my then 5 and 7-year-olds. Probably too easy for a 12-year-old? Unless you’re looking for something along the line of most adult coloring books – not HARD, by any means, but something easy and shut-your-mind-off meditative.

  2. Shawna

    I can’t believe the twins are twelve! Time flies.

    I want those Martha Stewart Glitter markers for myself! Added to wish list :)

  3. Becky

    My 10 year old son LOVES the Qixels! We have done about four different refill packs and he still enjoys it. I don’t have trouble with the pieces getting all over, but I do have trouble getting them put away – the pieces fit in little cube holders but they don’t have tops, so if you are trying to pack them up to put them away it is messy. Maybe small plastic ziplock bags would be easier, or if you don’t mind mixing them up, one big ziplock.

  4. stephanie

    TWELVE?!!??!?! Stop. I feel like they are 8, but since my oldest is almost 8, I suppose you MUST be right and yours are 12. Wow!!!

  5. Maria

    “Door-slammy” is just about the most perfect description of tween girls under duress!!

  6. Gigi

    “Door slammy”….hmmm, this could describe me some days!!

    I’ve seen that bunch of balloons thing in action, it really does fill up a bunch of balloons quickly; perfect for water balloon fights.

    Happy birthday to the twins!

  7. Joanne

    My oldest is 12 today! He is getting a bike because he is participating in an I Can Bike program, to finally learn to ride from some experts, since we have never been able to do it. Happy birthday to the twins, 12 years old seems super old to me, I can’t believe it. I love those earrings, I’m going to do that for my nine year old next year. Thanks!

  8. Lindsay

    Love these posts. Wow, twelve! I am remembering one of your posts when they were toddlers and chuckling – dirt or something messy, I forget, was poured out all over the ground inside for some reason? Oh, toddlers.

  9. Carmen

    I will only buy Bunch o’ Balloons now. I get them at Costco in packages of 8 clumps and they are worth every single penny to me. Every one. I could only tie about 20 by hand before my fingers hurt; with a tying thing, it was about the same number before I lost the will to live. These things? I can fill 100 balloons in 2 minutes, it lasts the kids a long time, and that means I get more time to myself in the hammock with my book!

    Happy birthday to the twins – I can’t believe they’re 12 already!

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