How to choose budget-friendly, screen-free gifts for your tween

October 31, 2018 Published by

The older children get, the smaller and more expensive their requests seem to become!

As a result, you may need to manage your child’s expectations – you may need to explain to your child that if they want that one expensive gift, they might not get as many other presents as they used to, or perhaps their younger siblings are getting. Our article about what to do if you can’t get the ‘big Santa present’ can help with that.

Image is everything at this age, so it’s also tricky to choose surprise gifts. Anything that makes your tween seem childish to their friends will be branded ‘uncool’, even if they were playing with the exact same toy just a month ago.

“Finding low cost, low tech toys gives children an alternative to screen-based play and is often a great way of encouraging collaborative play with friends or siblings. Simple is often best and board games, or arts and crafts and construction toys all offer great alternatives to tech toys.” Dr Amanda Gummer

Going retro

As your tween experiments with their identity, they may revert to younger toys to revisit calmer, easier times. Retro toys provide a ‘cool’ way for them to do this without looking childish, so they may appreciate cute collectables or revamped toys from their childhood.

Board and card games – particularly the timeless classics – are a more grown-up way to play and are also a good way to keep your family playing together as your tween becomes more independent.

Nurturing their talents and hobbies

If your tween has shown an interest or talent in a certain area, such as sports or art, toys can help to nurture their passion and build confidence. Magazines and subscription boxes can be a good way to encourage your tween to pursue their hobby, find out more about it and learn new skills.

For those who haven’t yet discovered a favourite hobby, this is your opportunity to get them to try something new. If they like challenging themselves, how about a magic set? If they like the thrill of racing games, how about an air, land and sea drone?


It’s really important to manage expectations at this age, both in terms of price but also age-appropriateness, as many tweens will ask for age-restricted games that aren’t suitable for them!

You can find gift inspiration to get you started in the Christmas Good Toy Guide which you can view here, where we’ve picked out a few of our favourite toys for tweens. Simply click on the toy to read a full review online, including ratings for play value as well as an overview of the skills the toy can help your child develop.

For more advice and tips for Christmas, take a look at The Christmas Good Toy Guide magazine.

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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