Birthday Present Ideas for a 12-Year-Old

Updated March 23, 2017

Buying a birthday gift for a 12-year-old probably seems easy, but beware. The wrong gift can earn you an "uncool" label -- or worse. Preteens in 2010 want far different gifts than those from 10 or even five years ago. Do the research before you buy a birthday gift for a preteen, and you'll earn their appreciation, along with plenty of cool points.

Cell Phone

By 12, most preteens are chomping at the bit for their very own cell phone, which represents a crucial bit of independence. Consult his or her parents prior to gifting a cell phone, and choose a low- to mid-range model that's inexpensive but durable. (Kids are often rough on electronics.) If the parents don't want to deal with their child's monthly phone bill just yet, opt for a prepaid phone that costs only when additional airtime is purchased.


Some preteens have a clear idea of what they want to be when they grow up. Help the birthday boy or girl toward a cherished goal by paying for classes at a local school or private lessons with an expert. For someone who wants to become a rock star, guitar lessons would be a big help. For those who dream of becoming master chefs, cooking classes can help them decide whether the kitchen is where they really want to be. Lessons are a fun birthday gift that allow the birthday boy or girl to get more experience with something he or she enjoys while meeting new people and gaining new skills.

Bedroom Decor

Tweens, especially tween girls, have strong interests and crave recognition as individuals as they enter their teen years. Let the birthday boy's or girl's personality shine through a bedroom redecoration or some new bedroom accessories. If you can't afford to do an entire redecoration, stick to small things; posters, lamps, rugs, pictures, and bed linens can all add personalised touches to a tween's space.

Day Out

Tell the birthday boy or girl to pick two or three good friends and send them on a fun day out together. Young girls may enjoy a spa day together, with manicures, pedicures, facials, and make-up to make them feel like grownups. Boys may prefer tickets to a sporting event. Both boys and girls are likely to be delighted to receive concert tickets, a trip to an amusement or water park, or a parent-free lunch or dinner at a favourite restaurant.

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About the Author

Kate Bradley began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in German from Berry College in Rome, Ga; TEFL/TESOL certification from ITC International in Prague; and a Master of Arts in integrated global communication from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.