Gift shopping for ‘tweens can be difficult any time of year. ‘Tweens are teetering between childhood and their teen years, and are beginning to distinguish between quality gifts and quantity! They’re no longer satisfied with piles of inexpensive dollar store toys that thrill their younger brothers and sisters, and beginning to develop their own tastes in music and fashion.
Since my grandchildren are beginning to hit the ‘tween years, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what to get them. If you’re like me, you’re out of the loop of what’s considered hot and fashionable by the younger crowd, and get stuck for ideas when Christmas shopping for ‘tween children. Here are my thoughts, with hope that they will help other Christmas shoppers who aren’t sure what gifts their ‘tween might actually use and enjoy.
One thing I have noticed is that most ‘tweens have portable electronic devices, MP3 players or Gameboys, that seem to be permanently attached to their bodies, and these gadgets require batteries. My grandchildren are always rummaging through the junk drawer for batteries. A battery charger and extra sets of rechargeable batteries in the appropriate size would make the perfect Christmas gift for these ‘tweens. Don’t tell, but I will be buying at least one of these this season.
These portable electronic games and gadgets also make great gifts, if the ‘tween doesn’t already have one. Kids often prefer a specific brand or model (they have to have the right status brand; substitutes won’t do). Buy them the one they ask for, not the generic version. These electronic gizmos can make future gift shopping easier, since they often have games and accessories that can be bought separately.
Tweens love to shop but most don’t have their own income yet, and aren’t old enough to go to the mall without supervision. Give them cash and a promise to take them and a friend or two to the mall for an afternoon of shopping. Remember that children this age are often embarrassed to be seen in public with us old folks. Even if we are well-behaved, we are an embarrassment just because we live and breathe! It’s just part of their growing up, usually nothing personal. Allow the ‘tweens to walk a few steps ahead of you while shopping, just enough to look like they are out on their own. With a friend or two along, you won’t have to worry so much about the ‘tweens wandering around alone when they try to abandon you, which they most likely will. You’ll probably find them where all the other kids are hanging out! The gift of this small amount of freedom may mean more to them than the shopping bags they come home with.
‘Tweens are starting to develop their own fashion sense, and their style often mystifies us. Even when we pick out something we think they’ll love, at this age they are contrary enough to tell us they don’t like it, even if they do! If your ‘tween wants cool clothing for Christmas, a good bet is to surprise them a gift card from a clothing store that caters to the younger generation. How do you know which store is popular with the younger crowd? It’s as easy as taking a walk through the mall and looking to see which store has the most teens browsing in it, or asking your older teens where they shop, if the ‘tween sibling tries to mimic their style.
If you attempt to buy the clothing yourself, you can’t go wrong with sweatshirts or t-shirts that bear the logo of their school, favorite sports team, or favorite pop idol. Another option is to let an older sibling or cousin do the Christmas shopping for you. They’ll be glad to pick out fashions for the ‘tween sibling, since it will be one less piece of clothing their younger brother or sister tries to borrow from them!
To help your ‘tween plan for the future, consider buying them a savings bond in their own name, or open a savings account in their own name. Encouraging your ‘tweens to save money and learn how to handle it well may be one of the best gifts you can give them that will last them a lifetime!