TWEEN Gift Guide

2nd Edition of Cara's Corner!

By Cara Saxwold December 19, 2019

What on earth do TWEENS want for Christmas? Truthfully, I am still trying to figure that out for myself but speaking from experience, here’s a few ideas surfacing on Wish Lists at our house that might spark some ideas of your own:


Yep… I said it.  You may not agree with me and if I’m being completely honest, there was a point in time that I wouldn’t have agreed with myself either (i.e. BK… Before Kids).  I would have NEVER agreed to such a social travesty that lacked any thoughtfulness whatsoever.   Fast forward 10 years and two kids later (plus 7 nieces and nephews all older than my own children), and my thoughts have changed. I can confirm that my children have VERY SPECIFIC ideas about what they want and they each have their own ideas about what they want to do with their money (including SAVING it for something bigger down the road like a car, a plane (no joke) and college).  My kids also recognize that there are now items on their wish lists that we deem expensive and that it would be RUDE to ask for it as a wish list item  (think pretty much any product Apple makes or any cool shoe available from Nike). But cash, helps them achieve a savings goal towards that item.  This is the time of life we SHOULD be teaching our kids a more in depth approach to fiscal responsibility and learning what to do with cash is a great life lesson. Cash recipients are granted the freedom to choose which is a gift in and unto itself.  (It will also save us a trip to Target after the holidays with the masses to return the wrong size sweater without a gift receipt. Bless.)  ***Please note there are some fun and creative ways to present the cash in a festive way if that will help you feel more thoughtful; turns out a $20 bill rolled up fits nicely in a Rudolph Pez dispenser.  Just say’n. 


Ah yes… a family favorite as well! Gift cards are a step up on the Thoughtful Meter, have the same allure as cash and they are equally appreciated ***so long as it’s to a place the kids actually want to shop at***.    You have to know your audience.  Classic favorites at our house include: Amazon, Target, Starbucks, AMC Theaters, JoAnns/ Michael’s/ Hobby Lobby craft stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Barnes & Nobles.  This is another great opportunity for kids to learn how to spend within their means since gift cards have a set dollar amount. 


As the fraternal twin to gift cards, gift certificates are usually geared more towards specific EXPERIENCES and don’t necessarily show a dollar amount at all.  For example, my daughter would love to be pampered with a manicure/ pedicure or treated to a cooking class at PCC. My son would love an hour at High Trek Ropes Course or Defy.  If you know the tweens’ hobbies and interests, finding a suitable experience is usually a click away.  What a gift it is to let kids experience something new without having to worry about the financial piece of it.  Music lessons, woodworking classes, stadium tours, lift tickets, scenic flights, admissions tickets… really the options are endless.


This might be the trickiest of them all given the specific likes/dislikes, and ever changing trends.  In fact, I’d encourage you to go shopping WITH your tween to get a sense of their style or maybe even consider letting them pick their own gift.  Who wouldn’t want to go on a shopping spree (within reason)?  If you must go rogue and pick something out for them on your own accord, please consider including the gift receipt. #askingforafriend  

Fun fact for you… as we’ve discovered, a Girl’s Youth XL is comparable to a Women’s XS/ S in size but NOT IN CUT OR CONTENT.  When moving to women’s sizes you will find lower necklines, a tighter fit, shorter skirts, off-the-shoulder and exposed midriffs.  Jesus take the wheel. The good news is there are less sparkly rainbow unicorns and fluffy kittens too so pick your battles. The price tag tends to include an extra $20 once your cross the bridge to adult sizes (especially in footwear) so hold onto youth as long as possible. 


When it comes to anything with WiFi capability, please ask the parents first; technology ownership is a right of passage. Albeit a beautiful and useful tool when used appropriately, technology is also a slippery slope and can be a sensitive subject for families. These days there are more safeguards in place but turning your tweens loose on the world wide web is a big step.  Perhaps shift your focus to all the accessories they want too (new headphones, new iPhone case, new pop socket, new controller, etc).


Part of growing up is the freedom of self-expression and our kids’ bedrooms were an early platform.  Enter… the tween room remodel.  Gone are the days of bright, flowery aqua and hot pink for my daughter and my son has traded in cute sailboats and airplanes for a more mature shade of blue and streamlined offerings on his floating shelves. If given the opportunity, I think most kids would appreciate a fresh gallon of new paint, new bedding or décor of their choosing and new furniture to create their own space. It can be a fun process together but set a budget up front.


My tweens are discovering there is a great big world full of wonder out there and they are itching to see it all (I take full credit for that wanderlust in their veins).  They want less STUFF and more EXPERIENCES. But traveling these days as a family of four can be super expressive depending on the duration and destination of the trip. I would think anything you are able to gift to a tween that would allow them to be outside their city limits would be awesome (think plane/ train ticket vouchers or airline gift certificates , hotel gift cards, admissions to theme parks, etc.). Making memories is a gift itself on a whole new level and perhaps you should go too!


I don’t care how old you are, you should always make time to PLAY; it keeps you young at heart. When dealing with tweens, it just might look a bit different. Even though we don’t play with Barbies and Hot Wheels any more, we still appreciate an array of “toys” to play with as “brain breaks”. Legos, for example, are timeless and now even have robotic offerings for all ages. Other ideas include board games, puzzles, sports equipment, magnetic blocks or tanagrams, slime, Xbox games or even virtual reality games. Christmas is the perfect time to appeal to the child in all of us. 


Tweens are growing like weeds and are constantly hungry.  So why not give them the gift of their favorite food or snacks?!  Of all the gifts our kids have ever received, I’d say a Costco 5lb bag of Gummy Bears has ranked fairly high on their list. It’s something so out of the ordinary and unexpected that it ends in pure delight. Just try giving a Party-Size bag of Sour Cream Cheddar Ruffles, with a 2-liter Bottle of Dr Pepper and a pound of Red Vines and see what kind of smile you get.  If junk food is not their thing or you don’t care to contribute to their dental fund as well, any food they crave will work. Better yet, take them out to eat at their favorite restaurant. Win-win! 


If all else fails, ask them. A good old-fashioned handwritten wish list is a tried and true method, but one of the best things we’ve done at our house, has been the creation of a WISH LIST for each kid on  It is a quick way to see what’s on their mind, figure out what they really want and a convenient way to share the information with relatives that might ask.  Just think of an amazon distribution center as the new North Pole.  


All of these tangible ideas aside, just know that the very best gift of all, and perhaps they one thing they want most has no price tag and cannot be wrapped: TIME. My kids want my undivided attention and that is often hard to come by.  My goal is to create a coupon book good for simple and meaningful activities that I know they will appreciate (i.e. take a walk to the coffee shop, pick the next family movie, play a game of their choice [even if it’s something I have no clue how to play like Xbox FIFA], create a Tik Tok video together, let them pick my #OOTD,  have a spa night at home,  bake their favorite cookies together, etc).  Ten years from now, I guarantee these are the gifts they will remember and will be the memories I cherish.

Meet the Mom behind Caras' Corner:
Cara Saxwold is many things: local mom extraordinaire, friend, educator, athlete and so very much more!  I couldn't be happier to have her as a guest contributor here at West Seattle Macaroni Kid.  
Be on the look out for more of "Cara's Corner" contributions coming soon and follow Cara on Instagram at

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