Best Gift Ideas for the Preteen on Your List

Some of the best gift ideas for the preteen on your list provide familiarity with family stories, legends, and lore.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

“Grandma Scofield made a prophetic statement when I was born,” Andrew Palau said. “And Grandma is not notably prone to that sort of thing. When Dad called her and told her I was born she told him. ‘Luis, this one is going to be an evangelist.’”

The nine to twelve age range is ideal to give gifts that reinforce that a preteen is connected and belongs. Studies show that kids do better when they have a sense of where they came from. When children know more about their family history, they have a higher sense of family cohesion and self-esteem. Tweens experience lower levels of anxiety when aware of how family members leveraged experience, talent, and faith to face difficult challenges.

Andrew spent his early years as a prodigal. Today, as an international evangelist, Andrew holds his grandmother’s words as a rich part of his family history.

Experience Events

From fishing the favorite spot to Civil War reenactments, some of the best gift ideas for preteens are experiences have been meaningful to family members. One family gifted their preteen with a collector model of the first stealth jet their great-aunt had worked on as part of the development team.

Similarly, relatives uploaded photos to a common link including notes about who was in the images. Compiled into an album and given as a gift, the collection prompted rich conversations, sharing how couples met, fell in love, and how their faith grew. A section was left open for their preteen to share their own developing story as an individual and as part of the larger community of family members.

After watching the film, Gettysburg, I took my preteens to tour the battleground where we found our great-grandparent’s name on a battle site memorial. History became personal as we studied what our relatives of that time did and why. Each month, I gave a book that described the timeframe or events family members participated in. Pieces of our family story are found in the book She Jumped the Tracks by John P. Ascher. Such titles share a broader context of historical events that shaped relatives who lived in those times.

When possible, visit the town and museum in the area where family members grew up. Attend a music concert featuring selections favored by previous generations. What instruments did family members play? Who received penmanship awards? Did relatives spend summers at church camp? What recipes remind them of places they came from? Are there connections to a branch of the military? To a sports team? To a country where mission work was supported?

Shared Skills

Tweens develop confidence as they learn and become practiced at skills. By definition, confidence is the belief in one’s own ability and effectiveness; being able to trust that you can do something.

Consider gifting a tween with the materials and showing them how to do a skill. One grandma taught her granddaughter to sew and another taught cake decorating. Author DiAnn Mills collaborated with her preteen granddaughter to write a book. Gardening, art, building, mechanics, and fashioning lures for fly fishing are opportunities to pass on skills while sharing information about where relatives grew up, went to school, and went on their travels.

Give the gift of a healthy peer group for tweens by inviting their friends to learn these unique skills together.

Tweeners often have a lot of affection to give. Depending on the environment, the gift of a pet may provide hands-on opportunities to express affection, bond, and learn responsibility in the care and feeding of a dependent life. Together, set a workable plan for integrating the pet into family life.

Heritage of Faith

“Everyone is an example of what to do or what not to do,” said Pastor Greg Escher.

As a preteen, Mike Robinson heard the story of an ancestor in Scotland who heroically remained friends when political lines divided relationships. That story sparked an interest in Scotland and encouraged him to explore creative ways to nurture relationships despite obstacles.

Year-long gifts that encourage faith and talk about the importance of choosing good friends include membership in the Adventures in Odyssey Club and subscriptions to Clubhouse Magazine, and Radio Theater.

Encourage preteens to ask deep questions about their relationship with God. Pair J. Warner Wallace’s book, Cold Case Christianity for Kids with a magnifying glass, notebook, pen, and microscope. Make a date to talk about the chapters and discoveries together.

A preteen can make the best connection by knowing that God has uniquely created and loves them everlastingly. Resources like The Chosen assure the preteen on your gift-giving list that Jesus invites them to belong to God’s forever family. After watching That The World May Know, my nine-year-old said, “I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” 

Gift Ideas for Preteens that Last a Lifetime

Stories about family, and friends who are as close as family, who have achieved high points, navigated disappointments, and grown through the transitions can bind families together and be a source of hope. As a youngster, Andrew Palau heard stories from his father, Luis Palau, about the change in his grandfather’s life when he heard about Jesus.

“His dad died when he was ten years old,” Andrew related in his memoir, The Secret Life of a Fool. “But before he died, Grandpa Palau’s testimony was strong in my dad’s life. He told Dad that if anything ever happened to him, the Scriptures would parent him. Dad took that to heart. From an early age, he weaned himself on a healthy diet of Psalms and Proverbs. This produced an engaging gentleness in him, such a deep well of love and compassion.”

Give preteens the gift of belonging and connection by sharing who and Whose they are. When considering the best gift ideas for the preteen on your list, what stories of connection and belonging can you share?

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