Got Preteens? Here Are Some Gift Ideas You Can Feel Good About Giving.

The holidays are here and whether the preteens in your life have been naughty or nice, you’re probably going to buy them a few gifts. Sure you can get them whatever big budget electronic gift that is on their list, but we all know what happens when you do that: They disappear into their screen-world for hours at a time, and you get to listen to them complain about needing the updated version next year anyway. 

Because the pre-teenage years are important ones for formation, think about what you want their upcoming year to look like. Think outside the screen and looks for gifts that encourage your preteen to have a year full of active play, social interaction and creative development. How can you do that without giving totally boring gifts that will cause their eyes to roll right out of their heads? Here’s a list of gifts for preteens that they’ll feel excited to get and you feel good about giving.

A boy kicking a soccer ball.

GIFTS OF GOOD FITNESS

Healthy habits should be a priority, even for the under thirteen crowd. Experts recommend that kids and preteens get at least 60 minutes of of physical activity every day, but many don’t. The right gift can be the motivation they need to get them off of the couch, away from their screens and active. Here are some examples of fun fitness finds:

  • New exercise gear such as sneakers, a cool sweatsuit or yoga outfit.
  • A certificate for a fun activity like rock climbing, ice skating, or hip-hop dance.
  • Sports equipment including a new basketball, tennis racket, or football.
  • A cool water bottle in a fun color or design that they can carry with them.
  • Active glow-in-the-dark games like Glow Battle from Starlux Games.
A young boy with headphones closes his eyes to listen to music and is surrounded by yellowing leaves on trees.

GIFTS THAT ROCK ON

There are so many cool ways to keep the music playing in your preteen’s life. Music is a great way to keep them moving and improve their moods. In fact, studies show that listening to music can help preteens cope with their emotions. In addition, listening to music while working out makes exercise feel easier and improves athletic performance. Here are some fun gifts to help them never miss a beat:


Three teens play Wizards & Werewolves on a hill.

GIFTS THAT GET SOCIAL

Research shows that social connection and interaction in the preteen years is important for mental and physical well-being. Search for gifts and games that allow them to connect with their friends and family members in fun ways. Games and activities that involve absurdity and laughter are always a big holiday hit on the preteen gift list.

  • Board games that involve being a little goofy or stepping out of their comfort zone like 
  • Multiple-player sports equipment like a ping pong table, volleyball net or basketball hoop. 
  • A gift card to a social activity with their friends such as bowling, paint ball, or miniature golf.

A fantasy-filled LARP game like Werewolves and Wizards

A preteen uses chalk to draw on the sidewalk.

GIFTS THAT GET CREATIVE

Encourage your teen to embrace their inner creative side with some art-inspired gifts. They don’t have to be a Picasso or Rachael Ray to have some fun using the innovative part of their brain. Plus, the American Art Therapy Association reports that 45 minutes of creative activity can help reduce stress no matter what your artistic ability. Try these gifts to bring a little art to the table.

  • Coloring books or doodle pads for preteens/teens with fine-tip markers.
  • Advanced art and crafts kits or science lab kits made for preteens.
  • A series of lessons with a cooking expert, singing coach or painting instructor.
  • An unusual musical instrument such as a ukulele or a harmonica.
  • A polaroid camera for the little hipster in your life.
Two preteens ride mountain bikes on a grassy hill.

GIFTS THAT OPEN DOORS

The best way for preteens to unplug is to spend some time outside where they can restore their mental energy and regulate their mood. Spending time outside reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Check out these gifts for preteens that encourage them to put down their screens and step out into the fresh air.

  • Camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots or fishing rod.
  • Tools for exploring the great outdoors like a telescope, compass, or metal detector.
  • Outdoor toys for preteens as big as a trampoline or as small as a cool kite or frisbee.
  • Gifts to get moving outside like a mountain bike, scooter, skateboard, or snowboard.
  • An updated neighborhood classic like Capture the Flag REDUX.
A group of kids pose after playing Capture the Flag REDUX.

GIFTS THAT ARE JUST PLAIN FUN

The preteen years can be confusing ones…and not just for the preteens. If you have a preteen in your life, you may feel like you’re on a roller coaster. They like one thing one day but can’t stand it the next. If you’ve exhausted all your gift ideas and still don’t know what they like or what to get them, go for a crazy, fun gift that just might bring a rare smile to your preteen’s face. 

  • Adorable socks with llamas, tacos or snowmen on them.
  • A snuggly burrito blanket, or a blanket with a giant picture of their own face on it.
  • A cool hooded sweatshirt with their favorite sports team, movie character or rock band.
  • Something that lights up their room like string lights, glow-in-the-dark stars or a message light box.
  • A trip somewhere they’ve always wanted to go with an accessory like a travel pillow or trip journal. 

The possibilities are endless. Whatever your gifts to your preteens end up being, we hope your holiday is filled with quality time with your friends and family. 

Because Holiday Stress Isn’t Just for Adults

When most people think about holiday stress, they envision people fighting to shop in crazy retail store sales or struggling to put toys together at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, or even hoards of people stressed by holiday parties and spending overload. They don’t realize that the holidays can be an extremely stressful time for teenagers as well. Here are just some of the factors that lead to teen holiday stress: 

  • End-of-semester exams and projects
  • Winter break assignments
  • Upcoming grades
  • Family situations
  • Financial stress
  • Overscheduling
  • Changes in sleep routine
  • Less time outside 
  • Poor eating habits

Here are five ways to help your teen combat holiday stress:

A woman and her pug sleep on a bed.

1. SLEEP WELL

Studies show that teens need eight to ten hours of sleep nightly, but most don’t get it – especially during the busy holiday season. In fact, two out of every three teens is sleep deprived, and that’s just not healthy. Teens need good sleep habits to perform their best when they are awake and to manage the stress that comes with being a teenager. Sleep is like fuel for their growing brains and their bodies. Try to encourage your teenager to get as close to eight hours of sleep each night as possible and to stick to a bedtime routine that involves going to sleep around the same time each night and winding down an hour or so before bed.

Regular physical activity can also improve the quality of their nighttime sleep and increase sleep duration. Exercising outdoors reduces stress which leads to better shut-eye and better health overall. Encourage your teens to get out and walk, bike or play active games. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out Capture the Flag REDUX from Starlux Games. It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights, and it’s a great way to get teens moving as they break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win. Plus, you can still play it outside even with shorter daylight hours!


Five kids play Capture the Flag REDUX together.

2. STAY ACTIVE

As mentioned above, exercise is a great way to reduce stress! There is no end to the benefits of physical activity for kids and teens. It builds strong bones and muscles, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves strength, coordination and endurance, plus it promotes emotional well being. But, as you probably know, teenagers can get bored doing the same type of activity Every. Single. Day. It’s up to you, as the parent, to offer them a variety of choices that are fun and age-appropriate. The best way to encourage your teens to get active is to be a good role model when it comes to physical activity and join in with them on their exercise endeavors. Not only will you get to spend valuable time together, you’ll also stay healthier in the process. 


This holiday season, look for a variety of games to play with your teens are active AND exciting. One such game? Glow Battle! Players use harmless, glow-in-the-dark batons to team up and thwack their opponents then send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Teams are distinguished with light-up bracelets and bases are marked with LED lights. Play inside or out – it’s easy to set up and way better than staring at a screen.

A variety of colorful, healthy foods.

3. EAT WELL

Hey: It’s the standby recommendation for a reason. Teens won’t always choose the healthiest food on earth, so there’s always room for a few upgrades. Because holiday parties and crazy schedules can wreak havoc on any diet (teen and adult!), a few small changes could make a difference in their mood and general well-being. Encourage them to add some protein to their meals or choose a fruit for their snacks. For example, you could persuade them to add a yogurt to their usual bowl of sugary cereal or cut the chips in half and add some grapes or carrots to their lunch box. Lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water can help regulate their mood. Taking good care of your body through diet, sleep and exercise can help teens combat stress and keep it from becoming a serious prolonged problem.

Four teens smiling as they take a selfie together.

4. BE SOCIAL

That party they’re asking to go to just might be good for them! Research shows that social interaction in teen years is important for both physical health and mental well-being. Social relationships help teens cope with the stress and pressure of teenage life. Encourage your teens’ friendships, and help them find activities over the holiday break that involve putting down their phones and connecting with these friends. 


Is your teen a fantasy fanatic? Try Wizards & Werewolves! This epic glow-in-the-dark game pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits. This game is sure to be a huge holiday hit for teens as werewolves howl, hide crystals and hunt wizards, while the wizards use their mystical powers to avoid the werewolves and destroy the dark side.

Four teens stand on top of a mountain at sunset.

5. PUT DOWN THE SCREENS

This one is good for teens AND you. Over holiday break, unplug and get outdoors to restore mental energy and regulate moods. By now it’s confirmed: Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier. Set some guidelines for screen time with your teens and be a good role model when it comes to screen use. And, as you’re searching for cool teen gifts this holiday season, look for ones that encourage your kids to be active, play outside, and interact with others while having fun. You just might be surprised at how much holiday-break excitement that you can conjure up  with the right screen-free gift. Help create good habits now to reduce teen holiday stress and embrace a lifetime of improved sleep, better health and well-being and overall happiness.