Ask any soon-to-be 10 year old, and double digits is a really big deal.
So if you’re buying a gift for a child of this age, we are not in the least surprised if you’re feeling the pressure. With a whole decade under their belt, they’re likely to be very vocal about what’s hot and what’s definitely not.
Officially, 10 is the first year of adolescence, so it can be a real turning point for both boys and girls. Tweens – or prenagers, as they’re affectionately known – can be fickle when it comes to what they’re into. One minute they’re fiercely independent, and the next, they want whatever must-have toy or tech their mate was raving about at school.
The good news is, at this age, kids are still pretty much into everything. Play is still an important part of a 10 year old’s development, so toys and games are on the agenda alongside tech like phones and cameras that build on blossoming friendships. Family games also make a great gift idea, and there are some great STEM games available that will enhance their learning in a stealth way.
In the age of YouTube and TikTok, tweens are on the ball when it comes to trends, too – particularly when it comes to anything they consider retro. So don’t be surprised to see the likes of E.T. and Star Wars making an appearance on their wish-list.
We’ve picked out 10 of the best gifts for 10 year olds, from tween-friendly skincare sets to clothes and crafts. The gifts in our list range from cheap stocking fillers to hero gifts, and all of them have been given the seal of approval by 10 year old testers IRL.
This strategic card game from the makers of Exploding Kittens was just as popular with our 10 year old tester as it was with the grown-ups who played it. It’s a zombie-inspired twist on the original game, but the premise – to try and make it to the bitter end without exploding – is the same.
This time around though, players who have exploded can continue in the game by tormenting the ‘living’ players, which makes it a lot more fun for everyone. You can play this as a standalone game or add the cards to your Exploding Kittens deck to unlock new ways to play. As always, the illustrations from Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal are a highlight.
Buy now £19.99, Amazon
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
This compact camera is a great size for smaller hands, and the strap means they’re less likely to drop it. In an age of digital photos, there’s something satisfying about seeing an actual real-life photo pop out of the top.
It’s quick to set up, too – just add batteries and film, and they’re ready to go. Automatic exposure means it’s nice and easy for kids to take decent photos with, and crucially it has a selfie lens, too.
The camera comes in five colours with customisable shutter buttons. Be sure to pop a Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant colour film in, too.
Buy now £79.00, Amazon
Spots & Stripes Hero Box for Boys
Spots & Stripes skin and body care products are specifically formulated for tweens and teens, and this gift set for boys includes some of the brand’s most popular products. There’s a shampoo and body wash, cleansing lotion, hair pomade, a muslin cloth and a skin balm – which we found soothed everything from blemishes and insect bites to dry lips.
Our pre-teen tester was delighted to have his very own products on display in the bathroom for the first time, which made a nice change from stealing everyone else’s. There are girls’ boxes, unisex options and Christmas boxes available, too. A brilliant gift idea for a 10 year old – right down to the super-cool packaging.
Buy now £55.00, Spots & Stripes
Xootz Sketch Ya Deck colour-in skateboard
Every kid asks for a skateboard at some stage, and this customisable one from Xootz is a lot of fun. The shorter 28-inch flat deck is designed to fit kids and made of durable 9-ply maple for stability. Flip it over and the underside is covered in characters ready to colour in with the permanent markers provided – which means no two skateboards end up looking the same.
It’s finished with lightweight plastic trucks and PVC wheels and the whole thing is nice and light. It’s a great first skateboard for any budding Sky Browns, and it comes at a very wallet-friendly price.
Buy now £29.01, Amazon
Squishmallows Star Wars Baby Yoda
While the average 10 year old might be starting to move away from cuddly toys, Squishmallows are still very much a thing. In fact, these soft, squashy plush toys have quite the teen and adult following, and their popularity shows no sign of stopping as more cuddly characters emerge.
This 20-inch Grogu is our favourite, and any fan of The Mandalorian is likely to agree. It’s big – about 50cm – and it doesn’t come cheap. There are lots more designs and sizes that come with a less eye-watering price tag, but few are likely to make the 10 year old in your life as happy as this.
Buy now £59.99, Smyths Toys
Pixobitz Studio Craft Kit
There’s something Minecraft-esque about Pixobitz – small, cube-shaped beads that stick together with water to create pixel-style characters. This Studio set includes 500 beads in 10 colours, plus all the trays, templates and transfer decos kids need to create a whole line-up of pixelated little people.
You can build them flat on the tray – just spray with water to set – or keep building up layers to make them 3D. Because they’re square, they don’t constantly roll away when you’re trying to build, and accessories like keychains and photo clips add to the fun. Plus, everything packs away neatly into the box, so there’s no big mess when they’re finished.
Buy now £35.00, Argos
Scamp & Dude Kids Black with White Bolt Hoodie
Scamp & Dude – famous for their colour-pop prints and vibrant ladies’ dresses – actually started out as a kids’ brand designed to help children feel more secure by filling them with superpowers. It explains the lightning bolt logo on every Scamp & Dude item, and on every inch of this statement kids’ hoodie.
It’s unisex – although the logo on the sleeve is hot pink – and cut to a comfy, throw-it-over-anything fit. Made from soft 10o per cent organic cotton, it goes with pretty much anything thanks to the monochrome palette, and the roomy hood is the icing on the cake.
Buy now £36.00, Scamp & Dude
GraviTrax The Game – Impact
GraviTrax is a modular track system – a bit like a marble run, but more interactive – that develops STEM skills via stealth learning. The game version of this construction toy is a nice way to get a feel for the system without shelling out a fortune, and the price-point makes it a nice birthday party gift.
In this particular brain game you need to build the track and work out how to get the ball from start to finish via various challenges that encourage critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The tiles integrate with other GraviTrax sets so you can create a larger collection, or just keep everything in the box to play again.
Buy now £16.82, Amazon
Nokia C21 Plus
If you’re taking the plunge with a smartphone for your pre-teen, or just need a spare handset for them to use at home to video-call their mates, the Nokia C21 Plus ticks a lot of boxes at a very competitive price.
The handset has a 6.5” HD+ display that works well for video calls, with Fingerprint and AI Face Unlock to stop prying siblings in their tracks. The camera is more than sufficient for your average 10 year old, while handy features like the two-day battery life and two years of security updates were a hit with grown-ups. The clincher, though, is the phone’s sleek and stylish design, which passed our 10 year old’s cool-test with flying colours – not bad for less than £100.
Buy now £109.99, Amazon
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game
This cooperative board game is a nice one to play with family members or a group of friends. Instead of playing against each other, you work together to send E.T. home – collecting essentials and avoiding federal agents along the way.
Although you don’t need to have seen the film to play the game, grown-ups and any retro-loving 10 year olds will enjoy the movie references throughout. Our testers mostly fought over which of the figures – Elliot, Gertie, Michael or Greg – got to carry the cute little E.T. through the neighbourhood on their bike.
Buy now £22.19, Amazon
Zombie Kittens is our top pick for stocking-filler gifts – it’s fun for grown-ups as well as kids, and extends the fun of game by allowing ‘dead’ players to continue playing.
For big-tickets items, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera takes the top spot. It’s easy to use, perfectly portable, and essential for selfie sessions with friends.