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WHAT TO GET A 12-YEAR-OLD FOR HER BIRTHDAY OR CHRISTMAS
If you are wondering what to get a 12-year-old girl for her birthday or Christmas, look no further than this list of ideas based on gifts currently popular with 12-year-olds (my daughter and her friends).
At 12, girls are teetering on the brink of being teenagers, but they aren’t quite there yet. This makes it incredibly hard to come up with great gift ideas for them. They are no longer little kids, but they aren’t teens either. I guess that’s why they are called ‘tweens’!
I thought I’d make it easy for anyone searching for what to get a 12-year-old for her birthday by listing all the gifts that my daughter loved receiving for her 12th birthday and Christmas.
Having worked on glossy magazines for several years, I think I’m fairly good at keeping my finger on the pulse of trends.
Here is a list of the fruits of my labours. I hope they come in useful as a gift guide.
35 GIFT IDEAS: THINGS TO GET A 12-YEAR-OLD FOR HER BIRTHDAY OR CHRISTMAS
Browse through this big list of the best things to get a 12-year-old, and you are bound to find the perfect birthday gift for your soon-to-be 12-year-old.
- The HappySelf Teen Journal - A Daily Journal for Age 12+
- Giles & Posner Pastel Mini Waffle Maker
- Paper Girls: The Complete Story
- Multicoloured Led Strip Lights
- iWALK Mini Portable Charger
- Divoom Planet-9 Smart Mood Lamp
- LEGO 31207 ART Floral Art
- Florence By Mills Zero Chill Face Mist
- Posca PC-3M Paint Marker Art Pens
- Lucky Voice Karaoke Machine & Microphone
- Sculpd Pottery Starter Bundle
- Rookie Classic 78 Quad Roller Skates
- Natural Himalayan Salt Lamp
- Cricut Maker Tools - Sewing Kit Set
- iPhone case: You are exactly where you need to be
- Kindle Paperwhite | 16 GB
- Tony Hawk SS 360 Series Complete Skateboard (Cosmic)
- Kids Love Heart Stud Hypoallergenic Earrings
- Personalised Enamel Disc Name Necklace
- Harry Styles: and the clothes he wears
- Harry's House Cassette - Limited Edition Yellow
- Steepletone Stereo Cassette Player
- Danielle Creations Quick Dry Turban Towel
- Adil Retro Vintage Style Pine Desk
- Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiets Volume Limited Headphones
- Nintendo Switch OLED White
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (Nintendo Switch)
- Fenty Gloss Bomb Ice Cooling Lip Luminizer Cold Heart'd
- Sephora Gift Card
- Bad Influence
- Three Lionesses
- Speak Now (Taylor's Version) Charm Bracelet
Journals are great for 12-year-old girls on so many levels. They provide a brilliant outlet for all the angst, thoughts and emotions of tweens soon-to-be teens. A journal is also a great way to encourage kids to write and allow their thoughts and dreams to flow onto the page. I also know from experience that journals are a wonderful memento to look back at in years to come.
I know plenty of 12-year-olds who love getting creative in the kitchen; brownies are a favourite in our house. This mini waffle maker is a lovely, affordable gift for tweens. You could even use it to encourage them to make their own breakfast.
Papergirls are the graphic novel books of the moment - and also now a very successful Amazon Prime TV series. The novels feature four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls from 1988 who uncover the most important story ever. It's a tale where suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide with nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood. In short, Papergirls is wonderful, and I challenge any 12-year-old tween not to love it!
Striplights are a TikTok trend that has taken hold with tweens and teens. They are super easy to put up, and it's fun for kids to control the different lighting schemes with the remote-controlled app that comes with the lights.
A portable phone charger is pretty much essential for 12-year-olds who are still getting used to the responsibility of having their own phone. They will love having it, and it will help you put your mind at rest that their phone won't run out of battery.
12-year-old girls start taking an interest in styling their bedrooms into more grown-up spaces and, therefore, begin taking an interest in cool pieces of decor that can be introduced into their room.
The Divoom Planet-9 is a programmable smart LED mood light with an app that allows the lamp to be customised to display an array of different colour light combinations. It is also dimmable so that it can be used as a night light, which makes it a practical gift. It can even be synced with music so that the light patterns work in tune with your 12-year-old's favourite songs, movies or video games.
12-year-old girls are often just starting to become interested in skincare, they may have noticed spots and bumps appearing. Gentle skincare brands with no nasties make great gifts. This face mist is a real favourite amongst the tweens and young teens I know.
Posca pens are amazing next-level art pens. Great for kids who love to draw and create. The pens are versatile and easy to use, and the ink quality is second to none. This starter set has a few well-coordinated colours, but there is a whole world of Posca colours, so look at the Posca Store for more ideas!
Many 12-year-old girls love crafting and have probably enjoyed using silk clay and play-doh. This starter pottery kit is a great way to graduate to using more grown-up clay to sculpt and create with.
Crystals are huge with tweens, so this lamp is everything! It's made from natural rock salt, which acts as a natural air purifier (always good for tween and teen bedrooms!!).
My daughter loves upcycling old clothes, particularly denim. She is an avid watcher of YouTube tutorials on upcycling, so this Cricut sewing kit was a very welcome gift and has been used lots over the months after she received it.
CASETiFY is the ultimate mobile phone case brand for tweens and teens. They have so many different styles, many of them customisable, for Apple phones and Samsung Galaxy phones. One of the best things about these cases is that they pretty much guarantee the phone becomes unbreakable - not a small thing for parents of 12-year-olds!! Take a look at their whole range for oodles of inspiration.
Getting kids to read often feels like an uphill struggle in this age of screens and instant dopamine hits from social media. A Kindle paperwhite is a great way to encourage them to read actual books and load it up with some well-researched tween favourites.
Skateboarding is huge with tween and teen girls, not least because of the success and prowess of the female skateboarders at the 2020 Olympics (including a then 13-year-old girl called Sky Browne). This is the skateboard my daughter has and loves; she has endorsed it as a cool gift!
Lots of girls have recently got their ears pierced or have them pierced for their 12th birthday. So hypoallergenic earrings in cool shapes and styles are a great gift idea. Little Book of Earrings are great for storing earrings if you want a great gift to go with a set of earrings.
I've noticed a trend for personalised necklaces for 12-year-old girls and other tweens. It can be their name or a word that means something special to them.
This necklace gold-plated necklace can be ordered with a choice of up to seven letters, and there are gift-wrap options, too. It's a great way to gift a birthday girl something special.
My daughter absolutely loves her copy of this book. It is filled with images of Harry's outfits ('fits) over the years, along with an insight into the cultural references that inspired each of them. If your daughter loves style and Styles, this is an absolute winning gift.
Cassettes are making a comeback. Who knew that would ever happen?! So, I'm doubling down on the Harry Styles merch, as 2023 is the Year of Harry, and adding this limited edition Harry's House on cassette as a gift idea.
As cassettes are making a comeback for Gen Alpha, you might find this retro-looking white cassette player and recorder will go down well as a gift. My daughter simply borrows one I bought a couple of years back when she raids my 'vintage' cassette collection.
My daughter and I each have one of these quick-dry hair turbans. The turbans are made from soft, super absorbant microfibre and have a little button to fix them in place. They dry your hair without you having to rub it, which means your hair stays sleeker as well as drying more quickly.
School homework starts to build once kids start secondary school, so it's a good time to buy a desk. I remember being bought a desk for my 12th birthday and loved being able to do my homework quietly in my room.
The PuroQuiets Volume Limited Headphones are great for 12-year-olds who want something a little more grown-up looking than kids' headphones and for parents who want to keep their daughter's ears safe.
Built-in volume limiting keeps sound at a safe 85 decibels to prevent hearing damage. Noise cancelling allows immersive listening without distractions. The headphones have up to 16 hours of battery life.
The OLED is the latest version of the Nintendo Switch, and its popularity keeps on growing.
It has a wide range of games, including classics like Mario Kart and all the latest releases. It has a 7-inch OLED screen, 64GB storage, a built-in stand, a dock, a wired LAN port, and controllers. It supports 4K gaming resolution, up to 120 fps frame rate, and 3D spatial audio, enhancing the gaming experience.
This is a single-player Nintendo Switch game for kids aged 12+. The game, which launched in May 2023, is a brilliant addition to the Zelda series and great for older kids seeking a more challenging gaming experience with a compelling storyline and well-developed characters.
The game features a vast open world that is filled with secrets, puzzles, and enemies that will keep players engaged for hours. The graphics are stunning, and the soundtrack is thoroughly immersive
Your 12-year-old might well be angling to wear a little make-up, and this clear lipgloss from the popular Fenty beauty line by Rihanna is a great starter product that isn't too grown-up but will have tween girls feeling super cool, especially as it's a bit of a luxury item beyond the realms of pocket money.
My daughter has this lip gloss, and I can confirm that it is slick rather than sticky and has the most delicious minty flavour.
Worried that a gift card might be a cop-out? Worry not; you just need to give the right gift card! I can guarantee that a Sephora gift card will go down well with most 12-year-old girls.
Sephora is the French beauty store chain that's super popular in the US and has a cult online following in the UK (where there is currently only one IRL store).
This novel is written by Tamsin Winter, who is fast becoming a go-to author for tween and teen fiction.
The plot: Amelia Bright longs to improve her unpopular status, but a regrettable viral moment cements her as a 'bad influence'. It's a funny, relatable novel that explores reputation, identity, and learning to be true to yourself.
Whether the 12-year-old you are buying for is football crazy or not, this book, published in August 2023, is a must-read for tween girls.
England soccer stars Toone, Stanway, and Parris share empowering stories and practical advice to help young girls find confidence, embrace their inner strength, chase their dreams and support one another like lionesses.
Taylor Swift fans (Swifties) will go ga-ga for this cute gold-plated charm bracelet. Those lucky enough to have Eras Tour tickets can wear it along, and those who haven't can console themselves with it!
The bracelet is electroplated 18k gold and has a heart, TS, koi fish, 'The Story Of Us' book, and a bird charm.
TIPS FOR BUYING GIFTS FOR 12-YEAR-OLD GIRLS
Always work to a budget for gift-buying and try not to be swayed by hints for expensive gifts. Tweens can be fickle, so if you buy a big-ticket item, make sure it isn’t just a trend that will be forgotten about within weeks.
I always set a maximum gift budget for buying gifts for my daughter’s friends or the kids of family friends. 12 is around the age that girls like to start choosing gifts for their friends, so giving them a clear budget is a great way to help them stay on track and understand budgeting their money.
Take time to research big-ticket items before you buy them. You want to ensure you go for the most reliable, best quality product. It is always worth doing a Google search or asking friends and family for recommendations.
3. BRANDS ARE IMPORTANT
Like it or not, brands start to matter when kids are around 12. There is no point in buying a brand your child won’t wear or be seen with, even to save money.
However, this doesn’t mean you must overspend to buy them their current heart’s desire. I suggest that if you can’t stretch to the brand they want, speak to them about it and buy a completely different item instead.
Or let them know that if they really want something, they will have to save until they can afford to buy it themselves.
4. SEASONAL USE
Remember the season you are buying the gift in, especially for clothing or footwear. For example, there is no point in buying a really great summer outfit just as autumn is coming.
There is also no point in buying outdoor sporting equipment just as the sports season is about to change unless you have a child who has already proven their passion for the sport.
5. ON A TIGHT BUDGET
Much as we’d love to shower our kids with mountains of gifts or at least a lovely pile of gifts, it is important to remember that love doesn’t come gift-wrapped.
It is much more important to be realistic about what you can afford to buy for your child and go for fewer gifts rather than lots of cheap gifts to make it look like you’ve purchased a lot.
Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.