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For the last few holiday seasons, my house has been in full-blown tween mode. I’ve watched my kids, now ages 12 and 10, gain and lose interest in everything from making their own slime to reading certain book series, and I’ve seen how hard it can be to pick gifts for kids who are not quite teenagers but also not “little kids” anymore.
As my kids grow, I’ve paid close attention to what ends up in the donation bin three months after the holidays and what my tweens actually want to hold onto throughout the year. In our house, it seems to be all about creativity, family game nights, expressing their individuality and, of course, video games.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best gift ideas for 9-year-olds this year. Whether your tween is into decorating their bedroom or building with Legos, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to make their holidays as unique as they are.
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When we release our 2020 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But prices change frequently, so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.
Bestselling toys for 9-year-olds
GoldieBlox DIY Glowing Unicorn Pillow
GoldieBlox DIY Glowing Unicorn Pillow $23.98 at Amazon
9-year-olds are at the age where they enjoy spending time alone in their bedrooms, so gifting them with this DIY unicorn pillow from GoldieBlox is a great way to motivate them to spruce up their space. The DIY kit teaches kids about LED lights and gives them a chance to build their own soft, cuddly decorations.
WowWee Pixie Belles
These interactive pets tell kids their mood with a color-changing horn and can be worn on their shoulders using magnetic "power pods." If your 9-year-old is into adorable, wearable, moving toy pets, Pixie Belles will be right up their alley!
GoldieBlox Floating Cloud Light
GoldieBlox Floating Cloud Light $29.99 at Amazon
This DIY cloud light set from GoldieBlox teaches kids about how a circuit functions and gives them a science lesson about what makes a cloud and how to tell the difference between cloud types. Plus, it looks cool hanging in their bedroom — a bonus any kid will love.
Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit
Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye Kit $27.37 at Amazon
9-year-olds who like to create will love this simple one-step tie-dye kit from Tulip. The kit comes with 12 bottles of dye and a step-by-step guide to create several tie-dye designs. All that needs to be added once you're ready to tie-dye is water. Pair this kit with some simple white T-shirts and kids will have a fun craft activity that may also keep them busy throughout the winter!
3Doodler Start 3D Pen for Kids
With this child-safe, heat-free 3D pen, kids can see their drawings come to life. The system comes with an app that gives kids stencils and step-by-step instructions, but they can also create original 3D figures using their imagination. The kit includes plastic filament for drawing and additional refills can be ordered once your child runs out of materials.
Best toys and games for 9-year-olds
Star Wars: Squadrons
Available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC gaming and more, this action-packed “Star Wars” video game is one of my son’s current favorites. Players can step into the cockpits of starfighters like the TIE fighter and the X-wing and compete in strategic fights for freedom in the galaxy.
Geek Out! Family Edition
Geek Out! Family Edition $29.99 at Amazon
This fast-paced family trivia game is a huge hit in my home not only because of the fun questions, but also because on each turn, everyone gets the opportunity to answer. (Read: My 10-year-old not whining because she’s bored when it’s not her turn.)
The game features categories ranging from literature to pop culture and players try to outbid one another and name as many items in their assigned category as possible. Who doesn’t love a good night of family competition?
Adora ToddlerTime Dolls
Adora ToddlerTime Dolls $99.99 at Adora
Being nine means still holding on to some toys and creative play, so these Adora ToddlerTime dolls are sure to be a hit with the tiny “parents” in your home. The dolls are 20 inches long and will remind kids of a real toddler, both with their sturdy size and realistic appearance.
My daughter loves these dolls because they are so life-like, from their creative outfits to their sweet facial expressions.
Xbox Series X
Xbox Series X $499.99 at Microsoft
It’s been seven years since Microsoft released an Xbox console, so the Xbox Series X is sure to be a big deal for any video game-loving 9-year-old. The Series X will be the most powerful Xbox to date, four times as powerful as 2013’s Xbox One. The consoles are available for pre-order now, and will be available for purchase on November 10, just in time for the holidays.
A smaller unit, the Xbox Series S, will also be part of the release. While the Series S has less graphic processing power and only has capability to run digital versions of games, it’s a valid option for families looking to spend a bit less.
And, parents never fear, while new games will be released for the new consoles, all Xbox One games and games from earlier units that are backward compatible will still work on the new units.
Disney Sketchy Tales Board Game
Dumbo blowing bubbles? Mickey Mouse in space? In this family drawing and guessing game, fans of Disney films can create a silly storyline using their own drawings of crazy character scenarios. Similar to the playground game telephone, players try to guess what others have drawn, making for a pretty funny gameplay experience.
PlayStation 5 $499.99 at Best Buy
The second major gaming system to be released this holiday season is the PlayStation 5, a new system from Sony scheduled to be available for purchase on November 12. The system, which is currently available for pre-order, will launch in two varieties: One with an optical disc drive and one with only digital capabilities.
Sony’s last PlayStation, the PS4, released in 2013. And, seven years later, the new systems will have more optimized high-speed data streaming and significant improvements in graphical performance, making it a safe bet that your video-game-obsessed kids will have a PS5 on their Christmas list.
In addition to new games for the release, the PS5 will have backward compatibility with most PS4 and PlayStation VR games.
Adora Be Bright Doll
Adora Be Bright Doll $49.99 at Adora
These 14-inch dolls from Adora are a less pricey alternative to some popular 18-inch dolls. Each doll has vibrant hair that changes color in the sunlight and comes with a “spirit animal” and a backstory designed to inspire young girls to believe that anything is possible.
Disguise Enchanted Purple Minecraft Sword
Disguise Enchanted Purple Minecraft Sword $12.00 at Amazon
Disguise Enchanted Purple Minecraft Sword $21.98 at Walmart
Fans of the popular sandbox-style video game Minecraft will love to play around with this replica of a glowing purple sword. The sword is a special enchantment within the game, and this toy version is sure to delight fans as much as the virtual one whether they play with it in the backyard or display it in their bedroom.
Tiny Headed Kingdom "Honeythunder" Plush Unicorn
Tiny Headed Kingdom "Honeythunder" Plush Unicorn $32.00 at Amazon
Tiny Headed Kingdom "Honeythunder" Plush Unicorn $32.00 at Tiny Headed Kingdom
Animals in the Tiny Headed Kingdom are unique in their minuscule head size...or is it their oversized bodies that makes them so lovable? Tiny Headed Kingdom’s latest release, a unicorn named Honeythunder, is 15 inches tall, super soft and fantastically pink. Kids who love collecting stuffed animals will get a kick out of this unique style of plush toy.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch $49.94 at Amazon
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch $59.99 at Target
This fighting game for the Nintendo Switch came out in 2018, but it’s a current hit in my house because of the recent addition of Minecraft characters Steve and Alex and the addition of a new Minecraft world.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features characters from all over the Nintendo universe, from Mario to Kirby and beyond. New stages and fighters open up as kids move along through the battles and, with multi-player options available, it can be a fun game for family game night.
Mattel "Wonder Woman 84" Dolls
Mattel "Wonder Woman 84" Dolls $28.94 at Amazon
The upcoming Warner Bros. film “Wonder Woman 1984” will inspire kids of all ages to live like a hero. Kids can act out their favorite scenes from the film with Mattel’s collection of dolls from the movie, from a young Diana and her horse to Diana clad in golden glowing armor.
Best building sets for 9-year-olds
Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian's Razor Crest
Lego Star Wars: The Mandalorian's Razor Crest $129.99 at Amazon
If your family binge-watched “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ and is excited for season two of the hit show, this Lego set inspired by the series will make the kids in your house very happy this holiday season. And yes, it comes with a miniature Baby Yoda.
Playmobil "Back to the Future" DeLorean
Playmobil "Back to the Future" DeLorean $44.73 at Amazon
Plan a “Back to the Future” movie night with your family and build Playmobil’s DeLoran together for a special holiday memory. This nostalgic set includes the iconic DeLorean along with Marty McFly, Dr. Emmett Brown, Einstein the dog, the flux capacitor and more.
Lego Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah
Lego Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah $34.49 at Amazon
DC Comics fans are sure to be excited for this Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah Lego set. The two-sided set includes tons of great details — including a high-tech bunker and revolving transmitter tower — and sets Wonder Woman up to battle her nemesis, Cheetah.
Lego Harry Potter Forbidden Forest: Umbridge's Encounter
Lego Harry Potter Forbidden Forest: Umbridge's Encounter $29.95 at Amazon
Harry Potter fans are familiar with the Forbidden Forest and the magical creatures who live there and interact with the lovable groundskeeper, Hagrid. In this Lego set, Hagrid’s giant brother, Grawp, comes to life along with Harry, Hermione and other characters from the franchise.
Lego Super Mario
Kids who love video games and LEGO will love this mash-up of LEGO and Nintendo’s popular Super Mario franchise. The sets feature iconic characters from the video games and let kids build their own Super Mario levels in the ultimate show of creativity.
Best unique gifts for 9-year-olds
Polaroid Now Instant Camera
Polaroid Now Instant Camera $119.98 at Amazon
This instant camera uses iconic Polaroid instant film and has an auto-focus feature to help young photographers get the best shot possible. And, the camera comes in a variety of colors, making it an easy gift to personalize to the recipient.
New Wave Toys USB Charge Machine
New Wave Toys USB Charge Machine $59.99 at New Wave Toys
‘80s style is back in a big way, and this USB charging machine from New Wave Toys perfectly nails the look of arcade bill changers. Kids can charge up to six devices at one time with this totally tubular charging system, and the on and off button is a cute “temporarily out of service” LED indicator. The unit even comes with mini golden tokens for a true nostalgic feel.
Vera Bradley Crocs
Vera Bradley Crocs $34.99 at Vera Bradley
A beautiful collaboration between Crocs and Vera Bradley brings these floral print clogs that will look adorable on all little feet. The Crocs come in varying colors and are available in kids and juniors sizes.
These shoes are a favorite of my daughter because they give a stylish update to Crocs clogs while still slipping on quickly and easily when she’s on the go.
4. Lego Dots
Lego's creativity combines with home and jewelry design in the new Dots line. From bracelets to desk organization supplies, kids can design their own colorful and modern creations and then re-design them over and over as their preferences change. The Dots line also comes in a variety of prices, making it a great gift for any kid on your list.
GPX All-In-One Vlogging Kit
GPX All-In-One Vlogging Kit $79.99 at GPX
Got a little YouTuber or TikTok maven on your hands? This vlogging kit from GPX will let kids be the star of their own show, whether they’re posting to social media or just pretending to have their own YouTube channel. The unit balances and mounts any phone and keeps the shot well-lit with super-bright LED lights.
Vera Bradley and Disney Convertible Crossbody Bag
Vera Bradley and Disney Convertible Crossbody Bag $55.00 at Vera Bradley
For little ones who love Disney and need a place to carry their essentials, this small convertible crossbody bag from Vera Bradley is the perfect gift. The colorful fabric displays Disney treats like Mickey Mouse ice cream bars and sweet cotton candy and the bag itself can either be worn as a fanny pack or a crossbody purse. Plus, the connection to the iconic Vera Bradley brand will make tweens feel like they have a very grown up sense of style.
My BKB "Big Kids Bed" Nest Bedding
My BKB "Big Kids Bed" Nest Bedding $299.00 at Nest Bedding
Nest Bedding has developed the first kids mattress in the online market, made specifically for young children and available in twin, twin XL and full sizes.
My 10-year-old daughter sleeps on a BKB mattress and loves both how soft it is and how well she sleeps on it. And, my husband and I loved the BKB because of how easy it was to set up — like regular Nest mattresses, it goes from the box to the bed easily.
Fortune Cookie Kit
Fortune Cookie Kit $27.99 at Global Grub
This DIY fortune cookie kit from Global Grub teaches kids exactly how to make and fold the classic Chinese treat. The kit comes with 60 pre-written fortune messages to choose from, plus blank slips and an edible food marker for creative kids who want to pen their own words of good luck.
Finding the perfect present can be a challenge, but Shop TODAY's up to the task. Try our interactive gift finder to sort gifts by price, person and interest. And no matter who you're looking for, we've got gift guides for everyone on your list, including:
This article was originally published on Sept. 12, 2018.