Twelve-year-old kids are fully into their tween phase, which means they spend half the time wishing they were little kids and half the time wishing they were teenagers. When it comes to buying gifts for kids of this age, you have to find something that threads that needle. And while they'll tell you they're no longer into "toys," they are — it's just that the toys themselves have grown up. Board games have turned into party games, video games are now tech gifts and art sets are now DIY projects that can help them decorate their rooms. 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 lot.
Our picks for the best toys and gifts for tweens of this age are a mix of items tested by the Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting and Pets Lab (including current and former Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award winners), editor's picks, best-sellers and favorites from tweens themselves (yep, we asked them!), so you don't have to put in much guesswork when shopping for those inscrutable 12-year-olds. Whether you're shopping for gifts for boys or gifts for girls or anyone in the tween phase, these are the best gifts for 12-year-olds in 2022.
1Unique Art Gift for 12-Year-OldsProfessional Printing 3D Pen MYNT3D Read More
2Personalized Gift for a 12-Year-OldCustom Name Neon Sign NeonTea Read More
3Fun Fidget ToyDoodleJamz Sky Castle Read More
4Best STEM Gift for 12-Year-OldsGravity Maze ThinkFun Read More
5Fun Stocking Stuffer for 12-Year-OldsDifficult Riddles For Smart Kids CreateSpace Read More
This year, tweens are definitely into cool lighting for their rooms, be it in the form of colored lights, neon signs or anything else that'll set the mood for their photos and TikToks. They're into projects they can display in their spaces, too. And, if you need just a little something, you can never go wrong with an inexpensive fidget toy or a mind-building puzzle!
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