The teenage years are notoriously tough, but being a preteen can be just as challenging as the years that come after. At 12 years old, a boy is stuck somewhere in the no man's land between being a kid and being an adult – can he still put toys on his Christmas list? Is he too young to go to concerts? How should he dress? What should he do?
Luckily for anyone racking their brains for Christmas gift ideas for 12 year old boys, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of gifts out there that strike a balance between too young and too old for a preteen, and we’ve rounded them up for you today!
Yeah, sometimes! A National Retail Foundation (NRF) survey of American adults revealed that the majority (54%) of people have gift cards at the very top of their wishlist this year, with still more people saying they show up elsewhere on the list. And while your favorite preteen isn’t an adult yet, gift cards but the control in their hands – which is a nice feeling at that age!
Plus, you can get them gift cards for items that are high on their list, like:
Physical gift cards are old school these days, perhaps even bordering on lame – and what could be cooler than a gift card sent straight to their phone? Ditch the plastic, and give a GiftYa!
Choose from thousands of local and national brands, then customize your GiftYa with a photo or video – maybe your 12 year old kicking butt at their last soccer match, or getting a high score on their favorite video game? Add a personalized message and choose when the message goes out – now or later – and you’re done! Maybe Santa’s getting tech savvy this year…
Your favorite preteen can cash in the gift card right from their phone, or attach it to one of the cards you carry around everyday anyway. Anytime you make a purchase at the qualifying brand, the gift balance is automatically used.
But that’s enough about that – let’s get into the gifts, digital and not!
There’s no shortage of science supporting that music is good for mental health – particularly for children and teens. It gives them a way to express themselves, which is a positive outlet that will take him through those difficult teenage years. So even if he’s struggling with something he feels like he can’t talk to mom and dad about just yet, music can help him relieve some stress until he does.
Not to mention, playing an instrument that’s a little more culturally relevant today than the clarinet will give him a way to connect with his peers that’s still cool, which means he’ll actually want to do it. Sure, you might have to deal with band practice in your garage when it’s your turn every other week – but you can’t put a price on the value of him having positive social engagement.
Even better if you play an instrument yourself and can jam with him 😎
GiftYa Recommends: Complete the gift with a Guitar Center gift card so he can pick out his gear – a beginner guitar itself, a tuner, some backup strings, a capo, and a metronome can be super helpful when someone is first learning to play guitar.
Kids love gaming. Sure, you probably try to limit his screen time so he actually sees the sunshine every now and then, but playing video games can actually have lots of social benefits for preteens and teens. According to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, a whopping 84% of participants experienced benefits from gaming.
And particularly for someone who was a youngster during the pandemic – when 50% of people who played multiplayer online games that were surveyed reported feeling happier and less isolated – video games will feel like a natural way to spend time with peers. Sure, you might cringe at some of the things you overhear him shouting to his friends through the headset as he gets older, but hanging out with friends is invaluable to his social development.
As a kid, he probably played on a Nintendo console. With cute cartoon-y characters like Mario and Yoshi, they’re a popular choice with parents. Now could be a good time to consider upgrading him to an Xbox or Playstation, but no matter where you get him access to online multiplayer, he’s sure to be thrilled.
As a little one, he was probably a menace to toy trucks and planes. But now that he’s a little older, perhaps he can be trusted not to accidentally sit on a remote control (RC) plane or nosedive it directly into the sandbox.
Model planes can get surprisingly expensive, but this Top Race Channel Airplane strikes a nice balance between price and performance. At about $150 (often dropped down to around $100 on sale) it’s nice enough to be his big gift without totally breaking the bank on something that ultimately might get injured in action.
LEGO isn’t just popular with kids! Even as your boy gets older, he can have fun with adult sets, like this (super expensive 😭) Avengers Tower, 3D rendition of Starry Night, or replica of a famous architectural site.
In the meantime, something a little simpler, seasonally appropriate, and not $500 should do!
Out top pick is the Alpine Lodge set, which comes with 5 mini figures and an array of winter-themed blocks.
Every year towards the beginning of December, Spotify releases Wrapped – a summary of each user’s listening habits since January. If you haven’t seen it all over social media, it breaks down favorite genres, favorite artists, favorite songs, and more. And he might just appreciate having a playlist of his favorite songs from the last year someday when he’s feeling nostalgic.
This one’s up to parental discretion, but not all PG-13 movies will be too much for every 12 year old. Find one that’s coming to theaters soon, and get him tickets to go see it together. Even if the movie stinks, it’ll be a great memory the two of you can share for decades to come.
Trying to keep your favorite 12 year old boy out of contact sports? With reports of football being linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), it’s understandable.
Luckily, this at-home laser tag game will get him outside, running off some energy with his friends… and you don’t have to shell out cash to take him to an arcade every time. It comes with enough for two players, including wearable targets and blasters. He can even customize his team colors using more than 20 combinations, which is cool.
Sick of hearing that fidget cube clickclickclickclickclick? Kick it old school and swap it for a Rubik’s cube, instead. It’s a brain teaser that will get him thinking, and you can even start him out on a coach cube until he learns the algorithm. And once he gets good at those? You can continue leveling him up from the 3x3 cube to the 4x4, 5x5, 10x10, or even different shapes like Rubik’s triangles.
Some things never change – like the fact that the cool kids always have some super specific type of shoe. It might not be chunky DC skate shoes and Demonias anymore (or maybe it is, they’ve both got hashtags on TikTok, I don’t know), but it’s always something.
So whether it’s crisp white Adidas sneakers or classic Converse Chucks, find out what the kids are wearing these days and get him those. To get you started, here are a couple of the big shoe trends right now.
Why Crocs came back around again, I do not, however, know.
Visa credit cards can be used anywhere that accepts Visa credit cards, so basically anywhere. You can customize it with a picture, his name, and a gift message for a personal touch. Choose from an expert-created Christmas design, or make your own. Either way, he’s sure to have a blast whipping out his Visa to buy some snacks or a video game. Someday he’ll probably have the real deal, but until then this makes an awesome Christmas gift!
From music streaming services to old school Rubik’s cubes, we’ve covered it all. We hope one of these gifts is the perfect Christmas present for your 12 year old boy. If you’re still searching, check out the GiftYa catalog for more inspiration! Whether it’s the local odds and ends store to the national chain of trampoline parks, you’re sure to find something he likes.
From all of us at GiftYa, happy shopping and happy holidays!