Once kids get to middle school and high school, they start realizing that holiday toys get more pricey, and the piles of less expensive presents shrink to a few more valuable gifts… along with the warning “It’s about quality, not quantity.” Although the newest iPod touch or iPhone may be on the top of your tween’s holiday list, don’t assume that they are too cool for toys.
As the mom of an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, I hate to let the magic of Santa’s workshop disappear entirely into the electronics section. Even though they’ll never ask for it, sometimes older kids like to relive their childhood and are delighted to see a few “retro” gifts under the tree.
Here’s my top 10 list of toys that your teen might enjoy this holiday season along with those electronic “This is all I want, promise!” items:
10. Stuffed animals: Fluffy and cute for girls or quirky and even a bit grotesque for boys, plush toys always garner a quick hug. Check stores like Urban Outfitters, Justice, Newbury Comics or Target for your hipster’s favorite TV character, an Ugly Doll, or a stuffed animal based on a favorite movie.
9. Lego kits: The Lego stores and online sell very affordable holiday gift packs for less than $10 (usually right at the register) and they can relive some Christmas morning Lego creation even if they say they have outgrown those infamous little plastic bricks.
7. Favorite childhood candy, gum, or food items… supersized: Remember when they put ketchup on everything? Buy them a giant ketchup bottle from your local warehouse store… the bigger it is, the bigger the reaction you’ll get.
6. Duck tape: No batteries, dozens of colors and patterns, thousands of creative things to do with a few rolls of duck tape.
5. Silly socks or silly mittens: Duckies, kitties, frogs… teens love to relive their childhood with socks or mittens shaped like their favorite animals. Another item they will never put on their holiday list, but will love unwrapping.
4. Hats: Funny, scary, wild, bigger-than-life hats not only keep heads warm, but make for funny holiday photo opportunities.
3. Drawing/craft items: For budding artists, there’s nothing like unwrapping a huge pad of paper, a fresh set of charcoals, pastels, paintbrushes, a new easel, or a scrapbooking set to capture the new year’s milestones.
2. Old-school Polaroid camera: Everything old is new again, and artists are still enamored with the old point, press, presto! photos that we enjoyed with our old Polaroid cameras. Ebay and Urban Outfitters are booming with new versions of the old Polaroid cameras.
1. Time machine time: their favorite toy makes a return appearance. See that toddler smile again on your teen when you buy them the new version of their favorite toddler toy. Sounds strange? Buy them a Slinky, an Etch-A-Sketch, a Kermit the Frog puppet, a dinosaur, or a musical toy and watch them snarl at you… and then play with it in the privacy of their room. They may be eating you out of house and home, but they were little once. Army men, T-Rex, their long-lost favorite doll… let us know in the comments if you’ve tried this and how it works on your teen!
Julie Dennehy is a member of the 2013-2014 Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board. She is also a blogger at MyShinyMonkey.com, a blog by and for tweens. You can follow her on Twitter at @myshinymonkey.