2012 Gift Guide: For Tweens

When your kids start thumbing their noses at tricycles and tea sets, it’s time to expand the pool of potential gift ideas.


We’ve got suggestions for those “in-between” girls and boys:


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Vera Bradley bag and wristletIf you’re trying to spot a tween girl in the jungle, just look for the Vera Bradley bag. The beauty of gifting Vera is that there is something for every price point, and I haven’t met the girl who doesn’t like it. Indigo Pop Tote, $49; Va Va Bloom wristlet, $34; Vera Bradley, Old Orchard Shopping Center, Skokie.da Vinci’s Catapult with Brain DropsIf your enterprising inventor is set upon making a mess, at least give him or her something to build first. Try this catapult set, a great combo with the very cool BrainDrops. $25, Marbles: The Brain Store, Old Orchard Center, Skokie.Speed Stack StackPacks Thought cupstacking was just for kids? This is the gift that’ll be the talk of the holiday gathering—aunts, uncles, and even Grandma will want to give it a try. Bonus? The timer keeps the last score, meaning your partner can’t shave seconds off his or her time. $35, Children’s Gift Shop, Northfield.
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GeoMate Jr. Instead of just watching “The Amazing Race,” create your own adventure with this great gadget. Loaded up with more than 200,000 geocache locations across the country, this is the perfect present for the kid who would rather be outdoors. $70, REI, Northbrook.Loop De Loo Friendship bracelets never go out of style, and this kit makes some of the coolest I’ve seen in some time. Bright colors and fun patterns are perfect for your crafting kid. $35, Three Wishes Toys and More, Wilmette.Sphero You gave your kids a smartphone, now it’s time to give them something to do with it besides text. Sphero is a little bit techy and a lot of fun. Use your phone or iPad to engage and play games with this nifty robotic ball. $130, Brookstone, Old Orchard Center, Skokie.
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Snap Circuits LIGHT A shout out to a local biz—Elenco in Wheeling—for this toy, geared toward the “I want to make that thing light up” kid. What we like? It connects to iPods and MP3 players and is also an Astra Best Toy winner. Ages 8–12. $80, Children’s Gift Shop, Northfield.Fireflies in My RoomA great way to let your kids bring nature indoors without, you know, actually bringing bugs to the bedroom. Fireflies in My Room makes for a fun, interactive nightlight and is perfect for kids of all ages. $35, thinkgeek.com.


See the rest of our gift guide here.