By the time they're 12, they'll tell you they're no longer into "toys," although they totally are — it's just hat the toys themselves have grown up. Tweens of this age are into tech toys, party games, things that help them decorate their rooms and other fun fidgets they can use to keep their hands occupied. And while that all sounds very expensive, it doesn't have to be: Sure, there are some splurges you might consider, especially if your 12-year-old needs a new laptop or tablet for school. But you can still nourish their interests, engage their brains, get their bodies moving and help them express their personal styles without spending a whole lot.
Our picks for the best toys and gifts for 12-year-old boys and girls are a mix of items tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting Lab, editor's picks, best-sellers and favorites from tweens themselves, so you don't have to put in much guesswork when shopping for those inscrutable 12-year-olds.
Best STEM Gift for TweensGravity Maze ThinkFun Read More
Budget-Friendly 12-Year-Old GiftRainbow Pop Fidget Toy Pop It Read More
LED Strip Lights MINGER Read More
'Stranger Things' Chibi Characters Mini Backpack Loungefly Read More
Fun Stocking Stuffer for TweensDifficult Riddles For Smart Kids CreateSpace Read More
You can also check out all of Good Housekeeping's gift guides — including gifts for teens, gifts for teen boys, stocking stuffers for teens and gifts for tween girls — to find ideas for anyone else on your gift shopping lists.
For toys, the Good Housekeeping Institute does year-long toy testing to evaluate for safety, durability, and ease of use, then hands the toys over to real kids to make sure they have the all-important fun factor. While non-toy gifts are not evaluated in the Lab, editors still look for gifts put out by trusted brands, gifts with great reviews from purchasers, best-sellers and editors' favorites. The list is then vetted by Good Housekeeping editors, who, after years of curating gift guides and keeping track of trends, tries to match the items with what is popular now and what Good Housekeeping readers and families have loved in the past.
For decades, the Good Housekeeping Institute has provided expert reviews and advice on everything parents and children love, including STEM toys,educational toys, sensory toys, board games and outdoor toys.
While not all of the selects on this list have been specifically vetted by our experts, Marisa LaScala, Good Housekeeping's senior parenting and relationships editor, has scoured the internet and spoke with tweens and teens for the other top-picks. Marisa has covered all aspects of the world of parenting, from the postpartum years through the empty nests, since 2015, and she's pitched in with Good Housekeeping's toy coverage since 2018. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter, who are both avid toy collectors.
Shanon is a former products and reviews editor for the Good Housekeeping Institute covering the best deals and products across home, appliances, health, beauty and parenting.
Looking for more great gifts for kids? Let the experts do all the hard work for you! The Good Housekeeping Institute's Parenting Lab has expert-tested, kid-approved picks for the best toys and gifts for kids of every age, including:
- Best Gifts for 1-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for 2-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for Toddlers
- Best Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers
- Best Gifts for 3-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 3-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 4-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 4-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 5-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 5-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 6-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 6-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 7-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 7-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 8-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 8-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 9-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 9-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 10-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 10-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 11-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 11-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for Tween Girls
- Best Gifts for Boys
- Best Gifts for 13-Year-Old Boys
- Best Gifts for 13-Year-Old Girls
- Best Gifts for 14-Year-Olds
- Best Gifts for Teen Girls
- Best Gifts for Teen Boys
- Best Stocking Stuffers for Teens