When my children were younger shopping for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, birthdays, and Christmas presents was a snap. All my shopping would be done after 10 minutes in Toys R Us, Target, or WalMart. My children were easy to buy for until they turned 9 and became preteens or tweens.

At 9 or 10, children start to have distinct likes and dislikes. Some like receiving toys as gifts, some do not. Some kids play with toys, some do not. The child you are buying for will know what she wants. Just ask them.

If it is your own child, you can talk to your child about what item he would like. Perhaps she has a collection of American Girl dolls that she wants to expand. Maybe he is collecting Pokemon cards or Bakugan. If your child is an athlete, sports collectibles might be an idea. if you are buying for a grandchild or a friend’s child, ask the mom what the child would like.

I was never at a loss for what to buy my baby, toddler, or child. For girls, as long as the present was pink, frilly, Princessy, Barbie-like, or a craft/science/magic I was set. My son is only 5, so loves trucks, Thomas the Tank Engine, super heroes, and craft/science/magic kits. So, why do I find it so hard to buy presents for my preteen?

Here are some suggestions for what to buy a preteen girl or boy:

Gifts for Preteen Girls

  • Toiletries — girls love scented body lotions!
  • Perfume
  • Makeup
  • Bubble bath
  • Flavored lip balm or chapstick
  • Bags of any kind — large bags, toiletry bags, purses
  • WebKinz — stuffed animal with computer code for use on http://www.webkinz.com
  • Slippers or fuzzy socks
  • American Girl
  • Books — choose from a series the preteen girl reads or give a Borders or Barnes & Noble gift card

Gifts for Preteen Boys

  • Toiletries — boys love anything that Dad would use
  • Cologne — boys love Axe
  • Sports equipment
  • Sports collectible items — action figures
  • Clothing from sports teams
  • Bakugan
  • Pokemon cards
  • Books — choose from a series the preteen boy reads or give a Borders or Barnes & Noble gift card

Gifts for Preteen Girls and Boys

  • itunes gift card
  • movie gift card
  • Starbucks gift card
  • gift card from any store — Toys R Us, WalMart, Target
  • CD from favorite artist or group
  • DVDs — stick with G or PG
  • electronic devices — ipod, cell phone, Nintendo DS, PSP

Games for Preteen Girls and Boys

  • Bananagrams — a scrabble-like game great for playing at restaurants
  • Chess
  • Scene-It
  • Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
  • Multimedia games — Nintendo DS/wii/XBox/PS3 (Check age rating on game, when in doubt about appropriateness of game, don’t purchase. Many stores will have last year’s games at reduced prices. Check bargain bins.)