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The Best Toys and Gift Ideas for 12 Year Old Boys in 2019

What do you buy for a 12-year-old boy? Even though most parents dread the idea of their little boy growing up, a 12-year old is nearly a teenager. At this age, you have to cater to his new interests as an almost-teen.

We are moms too, and we know first-hand how hard shopping is. Fear not! We’ve researched and pooled all the best toys and gifts for 12-year old boys into one handy list.

The Top 10 Best Gifts for 12 Year Old BoysWhy It's BestMom Rating
AA Aqua Remote Control Speedboat18 mph, over 100 meter range, fast, easy to use.♥♥♥♥♥
Spikeball 3 Ball KitSturdy, featured on Shark Tank, extra balls♥♥♥♥♥
LEGO Technic WHACK! Building Kit135 pieces, creates working stunt car♥♥♥♥♥
Marky Sparky Faux Bow 3 Archery SetArrows travel 100 ft, safe foam♥♥♥♥♥
Altair 818 Hornet Beginner DroneBeginner to experienced drone, first person video, one button takeoff, 150 meter range♥♥♥♥♥
Scholastic Inc The Boys' Book Of Survival Ninja skills that also have practical use♥♥♥♥♥
Sinbans JB STEM 5-in-1 Build and Play SetBuilding set, 148 pieces, 5 designs♥♥♥♥
BlissLights Laser Projector w/LED Nebula Cloud A star-field cool factor for your sons room♥♥♥♥
MERGE STEM Cube Augmented reality, physical cube interacts with smartphone♥♥♥♥
Capture the Flag REDUXClassic "capture the flag" with lights for night play♥♥♥♥

Page Contents

Best Toys and Gift Ideas for a 12-Year Old Boy

Altair AA Aqua RC Boat

The Altair AA Aqua RC Boat is a high-speed, long-range vehicle for the kid who likes things that go. With speeds of up to 18 mph and a self-righting feature that helps keep the boat upright, this boat provides the thrill of tricks and racing for a fairly wide age range of kids to adults.  

For parents worried about safety (that’s most of us), you’ll appreciate the child-safe propeller system. The boat’s propellers will not turn unless the sensors detect that the boat has been placed in water.

This is also simple to operate. Out-of-range and low-battery alarms help you keep the boat from getting too far away. It has a range of 100 meters and sometimes a little more.

If it does flip upside down, the Anti-Capsize Hull allows it to right itself. With 100m range, your child has plenty of room to play.

Something to note is that it takes a little bit of fiddling to get the boat to flip back into an upright position. Like most things, with a little practice, the maneuver will be easier.

There is no assembly and the included instructions are easy to understand. Simply put in the batteries and go—two batteries are included with an average 15 minutes of playtime each. You will need an additional 4 AA batteries for the remote control.


  • No assembly necessary out of the box
  • Out-of-range and low-battery alarms
  • 18 mph
  • 100m range
  • Self-righting features stops you from losing boat after capsizing
  • Easy-to-understand instructions
  • Child safe propeller system


  • Takes a little practice to master self-righting feature

What We Love About It

The Altair Aqua is a popular remote control toy that has enough umph to keep boys interested and is sturdy enough to last a long time. It is the kind of thing that 12 year old boys will enjoy even if they never thought of asking for one.

Spikeball 3 Ball Kit

Image of the Spikeball 3 Ball Kit - Includes Playing Net, 3 Balls, Drawstring Bag, Rule Book


This 2-on-2 game was featured on Shark Tank. It is the perfect way to encourage your almost-teen to interact with friends without the TV screen.

It is similar to volleyball, though it uses a much smaller ball and a different serving technique before players try to return the ball to the central net, with the team that is unable to return the ball giving their opponents a point. It comes with extra features like a rule book and an app that you can use to connect with other players.

The Spikeball 3 Ball Kit has everything your child needs for a game, including the playing net, a drawstring bag, and a rule book, as well as extra balls in case one gets lost.

The set is easy to carry, making it perfect for family outings, the beach, and sporting events. As an added bonus, the net is adjustable to let the players adjust the level of difficulty.


  • Encourages physical activity and social interaction
  • Extra balls so play doesn’t stop when one gets lost
  • Foldable and comes with carrying bag for easy transportation
  • Can adjust level of difficulty


  • Included app could be dangerous; your 12-year old should only meet new people for games with a parent present

What We Love About It

Spikeball is easy to set up anywhere, indoors or out. This best toy for 12-year-old boys encourages your son to be active in a fun, social, and physically active way.

It’s nice that difficulty can be adjusted as your son’s skills advance. As an added bonus, it might even encourage your son to spend some time with family if his friends aren’t available for a game.

Altair 818 Hornet Beginner Drone with Camera, Live Video 

The Altair 818 Hornet is an advanced drone in terms of features but easy to fly, which makes it deserve the “beginner” designation in its name.

This drone holds its altitude so that you don’t constantly have to increase and decrease the throttle just to keep it level. 

It comes with a wide-angle 720p high definition camera for stills and video. The video can be transmitted right to your cell phone so you can see what the drone sees and create aerial videos. 

It is not indestructable but is much sturdier than many drones and comes with a nice set of replacement parts if ever needed. 

This is not the least expensive gift on our list for 12 year old boys but it is a device that will last, provide many hours of healthy fun and quench the thirst to fly!


  • 120° wide-angle 720p High Definition Camera
  • Headless mode (don’t have to know which way it is facing to fly it)
  • Solid 15 minute flight time per battery with 2 batteries in the box
  • First Person View via smartphone (unusual at this price level)
  • One button takeoff and landing
  • Solid workmanship
  • Outstanding customer service from US based company
  • Beginner, Advanced and Expert modes


  • Advanced trimming takes some practice

What We Love About It

Most boys will see this as a very big score. The limited learning curve, forgiving controls and advanced features will help avoid the frustration that some sophisticated gifts can cause. This drone will compare well against whatever model his friends have.

BlissLights Sky Lite – Laser Projector


Though the average 12-year old has grown out of their nightlight phase, this cool projector is fun, functional, and entertaining. It works as a rotating projector, lighting up your son’s room as if he is in the middle of the galaxy. It also bright enough to light up the room if he has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The BlissLights Sky Lite – Laser Projector w/LED Nebula Cloud also lets you choose from several lighting effects, brightness levels and whether you want to the stars to move.

A galaxy of stars is projected on a blue nebula powered by LED’s.


  • Rotates to coat your room in a galaxy
  • Three foot long cord
  • Rotates
  • 4 lighting effects
  • Auto shut-off after 4 hours
  • Soothing display


  • Differing opinions on whether there is a noise as it rotates

What We Love About It

This gift has a cool factor that will make it acceptable in almost-teen’s room. At the age where being a little different and independent is appealing, this light will allow your 12-year-old boy to be unique in his own space.

Marky Sparky Faux Bow 3 Archery Set


Even though the average 12-year old boy may believe they are grown enough to practice their archery skills alone, real bows and arrows have sharp tips and a powerful drawback—enough to cause serious damage if a finger is out of place. This is a great alternative, giving your son the opportunity to practice archery where and when he wants without you worrying.

The Marky Sparky Faux Bow 3 Foam Bow & Arrow Archery Set is not weak because it is made of foam—it can fire across 100 ft. of ground in seconds. It comes with the bow, a quiver, and six arrows.

The arrows are tipped with a durable foam that eliminates any danger associated with archery and ‘fletchings’ along the backside of the arrow give an authentic feel and balance the weight, making it easier for your son to hit his target.


  • Powerful, safe toy alternative to a real bow and arrow
  • Travels 100 feet in seconds
  • Improves your child’s hand-eye coordination and aim
  • Plenty of opportunities for target practice or play


  • Could be too simple for kids with archery experience

What We Love About It

This is a great practice foam bow and arrow set. Even though it might not suit a child experienced in archery, it is great practice.

It can also be a fun toy for 12-year-old boys when your son wants to interact with friends—pair a few bows and arrows with some foam Nerf gun sets and have an all-out ‘war’.

The Boys’ Book of Survival

Image of the The Boys' Book Of Survival (How To Survive Anything, Anywhere)


From surviving quicksand and tigers to practical situations like the first day of school, this book brings real advice and funny antics together for an entertaining read. Your son can be prepared for anything with this guide. It encourages reading and offers useful tidbits along the way.

The Boys’ Book of Survival: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere teaches skills like treating a snakebite, track an animal, build a ladder, and more. If your son ever found himself in a survival situation, he would be prepared.

Otherwise, this book can incite a love of learning. It is especially useful for kids who have participated in the Boy Scouts or enjoy the outdoors, as well as those who might need to manage stress to get through situations like a pop quiz (or a shopping trip with their mom!). Black-and-white illustrations break up intimidating text and help clarify advice.


  • Includes serious, as well as silly scenarios
  • Good balance of fun and practicality
  • Images break up blocks of text and add to readability
  • Great way to engage your son in learning


  • Might not be a good choice for a boy all about facts (like one who doesn’t want to learn about how to survive an attack from an Abominable Snowman)

What We Love About It

This is the perfect combination of silly and serious to help your son navigate the world. This best gift includes everything from how to survive a school dance to how to survive an encounter with a man-eating tiger.

Doinkit Darts Magnetic Dart Board

Image of the Doinkit Darts - Magnetic Dart Board


Forget the sharp, dangerous tips of the darts included with the typical dart board. This set of darts uses powerful magnets and an innovative design to bring the dart to the board, offering all the fun of darts without any of the risks.

As an added benefit, this best toy for 12-year-old boys helps your son practice his hand-eye coordination—a must whether he is a video game enthusiast or enjoys sports.

The Doinkit Darts Magnetic Dart Board excels because of its neodymium magnets that make the front heavy and the Doinkit material that trails along behind, giving the same balance that you have with a traditional dart.

The board can easily be hung in any room of your home—whether your son’s friends retreat upstairs for a game or you bring it down for family game night.


  • Encourages social behaviors, whether playing with family or friends
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Darts are well-balanced, have an authentic, dart-like weight
  • Can easily move the dartboard to different rooms of your home—without the risk of damaging the walls or your possessions


  • The dartboard could be sturdier

What We Love About It

The quality of these magnetic darts surpasses the average dart kit that’d you pick up from the store. The powerful magnets let them stick to the board easily, without the risk of damaging your home.

LEGO Technic WHACK! Building Kit


This is not your average Lego-building set. If your 12-year old likes to work with his hands and has an interest in cars, this could be the perfect gift to get him off video games for a while. This 135-piece set builds an intricately designed car featuring wide black rims and low-profile tires, a sturdy front bumper, and a giant rear spoiler.

The Lego Technic WHACK! 135-Piece Building Kit is also functional as a stunt car after the building fun is over. It has a pull-back function with a powerful motor that sends it zooming across the floor. Upon impact, the engine pops out.

The WHACK! model is also compatible with the BASH! Lego set for twice as much fun. You can build them separately or construct a super racer with dual pop-out engines.


  • Encourages working with hands
  • Complete with pull-back motor and pop-out engine
  • Hours of fun
  • Compatible with BASH! set for racing or creating a super racer


  • We couldn’t find any!

What We Love About It

Even though this is technically a ‘toy’, its something fun and interactive for an almost-teen. It one of the best gifts for 12 year olds when your son isn’t rushing into adulthood and can help him preserve his youth a little longer.

National Geographic Kids Why?


Vivid illustrations and fascinating topics come together in this book that will re-spark your 12-year old’s interest in learning. From topics about animals and architectural to crazy facts about the human body, there are plenty of opportunities to grab your son’s interest and encourage learning as he reads.

The National Geographic Kids Why?: Over 1,111 Answers to Everything book also gives your son a chance to interact with you. Invite him to share something he has learned over dinner or try to stump you with a question. Do you know why snot is yellow? Turn to the section on the human body to find out. 

This type of learning, combined with interaction, can create positive experiences and memories that your son will carry with him through the rest of his life.


  • Clear, detailed explanations that are fun at the same time
  • Encourages learning in an engaging way
  • Vivid, colorful photos to accompany answers to questions
  • Over 1,000 topics to explore


  • We couldn’t find any!

What We Love About It

Your child is never too old to continue their love of learning. This book is fun and presents information in an easy-to-digest way. This best gift can help pique your son’s interest in learning the way that sitting down and reading a textbook doesn’t.

Simbans JB STEM  5-in-1 Build and Play Set


Like the STEM toy above, this interactive set lets your son build, design, and play. It comes with flexible pieces and sturdy connectors, letting the only limit to your son’s building be his imagination. A plastic screwdriver and wrench are included for a realistic building experience that encourages real-life skills.

In addition to the building pieces of the set, the Sinbans JB STEM 148-Piece 5-in-1 Build and Play Toy Set comes with a carrying bag and a manual.

The manual has five different designs spread across 28 colorful pages. Your son can either build and set the pieces aside until next or build and play, making it great for children with differing interests.


  • Smaller, more intricate parts are better for older kids
  • 148-pieces for plenty of designing options
  • Colorful, flexible pieces
  • Colorful 28-page manual for five different builds


  • While the tools can be used, they aren’t really necessary.

What We Love About It

The large, flexible plates that attach to the outside of vehicles, buildings, and whatever else your son decides to construct give the building body and really let him visualize his creation.

The included building book is also a great place to get started.

The pieces of this best toy for 12-year-old boys are also non-toxic and easy to clean!

Capture the Flag REDUX


This game is perfect for camping, birthdays, or the average summer night. It is a traditional ‘Capture the Flag’ game with ‘jails’, ‘territories,’ and, of course, the ‘flag’. Players try to capture the other team’s flag while avoiding being thrown in jail. While batteries are required, they last for around 24 hours of play before needing to be replaced.

Capture the Flag REDUX: A Nighttime Outdoor Game is perfect for family and friends to get together for a great time. It requires skills like teamwork and strategizing, as well as encourages physical activity as players chase each other around the playing area.

As an added benefit, different variations of the game are included for a wide variety of play.


  • Encourages teamwork and strategizing
  • Fun way for your almost-teen to bond (without electronics)
  • Encourages physical activity
  • Fun for families and friend groups


  • Can take a lot of batteries once they need replaced

What We Love About It

Anything that encourages physical activity and togetherness is perfect for the average pre-teen whose focus may be on video games. This best toy for 12-year-old boys is perfect for game night with the family or a summer night with friends.



If your child already has a smartphone or tablet, this augmented reality cube is a fun way for them to learn more about math, science, and engineering. Simply open the app, position the cube in front of the camera of your smartphone or tablet, and watch it transform before your eyes. You can hold and interact with everything from planets to the human heart.

One great thing about the MERGE Cube – Fun & Educational Augmented Reality STEM Toy is that it works without wires, batteries, or chargers. It is durable, functional, and works with the camera on your smartphone or tablet.

While the smartphone or tablet is not included, the cube does come with the cube, a device stand, a MERGE sticker, and 13 free apps. A membership to the MERGE member program is also included.


  • Encourages STEM learning
  • Durable, functional
  • Works without the use of batteries or chargers
  • Wide range of apps to encourage learning in several areas


  • Not compatible with all devices

What We Love About It

Even though the cube works with an electronic device, it encourages your child to use their hands through the augmented reality apps. These are critical skills for development in areas like science, technology, engineering, and math.

Threeking Smart Robot

Image of the Threeking Smart Robot Toys Gesture Control Remote Control Robot JJRC Robot Gift for Boys Girls Kid's Companion:Game Fun Learning Music Dance Etc.Rechargeable Rc Robot Kit - Blue


This programmable robot is entertaining for kids of all ages. Your 12-year old will especially enjoy this toy’s programmable abilities. You can use the remote to program up to 50 movement sequences and the robot also responds to hand gestures for on-the-spot fun.

Some of its other functions include talking, singing, dancing, walking, and turning around.

The Threeking Smart Robot- Gesture Control Remote Control Rechargeable Robot is especially entertaining because of its flex-joints that let it bend at the fingers, arms, and knees. It also has wheels on the bottom for smooth movements that let it dance and glide across the floor.

The robot charges using a USB cord and lasts for 60 minutes of play time.


  • Easy to charge
  • Programmable features are fun
  • Gesturing lets you come up with moves on the spot
  • Plenty of cool functions, with and without the remote


  • May be a little juvenile for some 12-year olds
  • Limited music functions

What We Love About It

If your son is interested in robotics or programming, this is a great first step to pique his interest. Even though the music and dance function may not be as entertaining of a toy for a 12-year old, the programmable features are cool.

This also avoids obstacles and can roll over some carpeting, so it is fun to play with all around the house.

How to Be a Math Genius

Image of the How to Be a Math Genius: Your Brilliant Brain and How to Train It


Whether your son has an interest in math or is struggling in his classes, this book is the perfect tool to propel him to success.

Unlike the traditional textbook that throws facts and problems at students with the hope that they understand it, this book shows your son how he already knows and uses pieces of math in his daily life. Then, these ideas are reinforced and built on in a fun way.

How to Be a Math Genius is packed full of features that let it be relevant and engaging to young minds. It contains puzzles and activities to encourage learning, as well as stories of math geniuses and their capabilities.

The topics covered include algebra, logic, and algorithms, all of which are basics to more advanced math subjects that your son will encounter in his school career.


  • Teaches students about how they already use math
  • Reinforced why math is important
  • Included fun stories about geniuses in the math world and where their abilities led them
  • Fun activities to reinforce ideas in logic, algebra, and algorithms


  • The book is more about reinforcing math, rather than teaching it

What We Love About It

Math is something that many students struggle with. This book is packed full of activities that are fun and engaging, helping your son build the basics of math in a fun way.

This gift for 12 year olds also helps students overcome the question of ‘why’ they have to learn math by creating relevancy.

WIKI LED Colorful Flashing Finger Gloves


These flashing gloves are perfect for the child who loves to move around their hands. They are a cool gift that your son will want to show off to his friends, as turning off the lights and moving the gloves around creates a visually stimulating light show.

They are also functional, so in addition to the possibilities for light shows, these can be used while riding your bicycle to promote safety or while playing the piano.

The WIKI LED Colorful Flashing Finger Lighting Gloves are constructed of a stretchy, soft knit material that is free of harmful substances like formaldehyde.

It also features three vivid colors and six different light modes, which you adjust with the push of a button. As an added benefit, the gloves come with replacement batteries!


  • Doubles for play and nighttime safety
  • Vivid lighting and different modes for a fun experience
  • Free of formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals
  • Comes with replacement batteries


  • May not be big enough if your son has large hands

What We Love About It

These gloves are a fun gift to play with, but they also can be used to provide visibility while bike riding or playing at night. The extra batteries are also a nice feature!

National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2


This book lets your son explore different topics in depth. From 50 facts about bears to 15 facts about peanut butter, each topic is spread across two pages. A series of facts is presented alongside a vivid, engaging design and colorful photos.

National Geographic Kids 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2is a follow-up to the original awesome facts book by National Geographic. It is perfect for encouraging your son to explore learning and new topics in a way that is fun, rather than boring. You never know what he is going to share with you next!


  • Encourages your son to share what he learns
  • Packed full of interesting facts
  • Vivid, colorful photos and engaging colors
  • Promotes fun learning


  • Format can seem a little cluttered sometimes, especially on pages that have 50+ facts

What We Love About It

Books are an excellent gift for 12 year old boys. Whether your son reads it all in a few sittings or picks it up and reads a few pages when he is bored, it can sit around until he is ready for it. It is also packed full of plenty of facts about the world and how it works!

eYotto Waterproof Sports Watch


Whether your son is into sports, tech, or just wants to look cool, this watch is a sleek addition to any outfit. The sleek design means that it won’t get in the way when running track or playing ball and the waterproof design means you don’t have to worry if it’s raining or your son forgets to take it off before a shower.

The eYotto Fashion Sports Waterproof Watch with Rubber Band can be trimmed to fit and a powerful magnet on the clasp secures it back in place. Additionally, it features a power-saving design that causes the LED light that displays the time to dim when it is not in use.


  • No-frills watch keeps your son on time
  • Battery-saving LED display
  • Waterproof up to 30M
  • Sleek, sporty design stops the watch from getting snagged as your son goes about his day


  • Even though it is waterproof, the manufacturer recommends avoiding hot and warm water
  • Works to tell time, but doesn’t have a lot of other functions

What We Love About It

This is the perfect no-frills watch for a teen, especially if he is interested in sports or works with his hands. Being waterproof to a certain degree is also a nice feature.

Betheaces Kids Toys Hover Soccer Ball Set


The innovative hover soccer ball included in this set is surrounded in a bouncy foam material that stops the ball from damaging walls and other obstacles. It also glides across hard-wood surfaces, making it perfect for indoor fun with family or friends. The ball is so protective of surfaces that it is even recommended for ages three and up.

The Betheaces Kids Toys Hover Soccer Ball Set with 2 Goals and Football Disk also comes with two separate goals that you can set up on either side of the playing ‘field’. These are close to the ground, large enough to let your son sink shots easily but not so tall that you have to worry about kids trying to get the ball to ‘catch air’ in the house.

This best toy for 12-year-old boys encourages foot-eye coordination and is great for practicing balance.


  • Encourages foot-eye coordination and social interaction
  • Foam ‘bumper’ around ball protects walls and furniture
  • Goals are the perfect height for sinking shots
  • Ball glides effortlessly across hard floors and bounces off obstacles


  • Ball takes batteries and goes through them fast

What We Love About It

This best gift for older boys is perfect for fun when it is raining or snowing outside. It encourages foot-eye coordination and makes it possible for your son to play a fun game indoors, without the risk of damaging your home.

I Am Fartacus (MAX)


This story is about a kid named Chub, who becomes bald after the school bully gives him a ‘lice-killing potion’ that kills his hair as well. As Chub starts to uncover some of the dirt about Arch, who is running for class president, he finds that the darkness of his secrets goes much deeper than anticipated.

Some of the themes that become clear as your son reads I Am Fartacus (MAX) include the importance of friendship and teamwork, as Chub teams up with an unlikely group of friends to take down the dark empire of Arch.

It also becomes clear that it is important to stand up to bullies—rather than bowing to his insecurities, Chub stands up for what is right for the sake of the entire school. He does this with the help (and resistance) of zany characters that only amp up the entertainment factor of the book.


  • Positive themes like teamwork and bravery
  • Teaches kids about overcoming bullying
  • Age-appropriate reading level is entertaining enough to get your son hooked
  • Plenty of zany characters
  • Has been compared to the well-known ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’


  • Transphobic ideas presented when describing some of the characters

What We Love About It

This is the perfect combination of real-world issues like bullying and the fun of outrageous situations and characters. It also teaches critical lessons that your son can use as he moves onto his high school career.

Outdoor Exploration Set


If your son is interested in the outdoors, this exploration set will help him navigate the great outdoors. It includes 4x30mm binoculars, an LED hand-crank flashlight, compass, whistle, and magnifying glass, all stored in a convenient drawstring carrying bag.

The LED hand-crank flashlight needs wound up to charge, so you never have to worry about not running out of batteries. Additionally, the compass helps your son get a chance of direction while the whistle can help him be found if he gets lost or injured.

The Outdoor Exploration Set – Kids Adventure Pack also comes with a magnifying glass that can teach practical outdoor skills. This best toy for 12-year-old boys includes everything from using the magnifier to create a fire (in a safe, enclosed area, of course) to using it to explore different insects and plants in an area.

This is information that could be useful, whether for a weekend out camping with friends or a survival situation.


  • Has all the essentials for exploring the outdoors in a convenient pack
  • Teaches practical skills
  • Hand-crank flashlight does not need batteries to work
  • Magnifying glass can be used to start fires (with adult supervision)
  • Includes tools that help your son learn more about different plants and insects


  • Unless your son is into outdoor exploration, this could be too simple

What We Love About It

This is a best gift for 12-year-old boys who want to start exploring the great outdoors, whether you are walking down by the river, camping, or just exploring the backyard.

It also helps them acquire outdoor skills that could be useful in the future. Includes a guide to local plants and wildlife could encourage your son to learn more about the great ideas.

National Geographic Kids: Ultimate Weird but True – 1,000 Wild & Wacky Facts and Photos


Kids absorb information better when it is less-structured and more interesting. This is the reason that earlier grade levels focus on play-based learning—it is the most effective choice. This book also encourages your son to learn in a fun way, with 1,000 weird facts that will keep him pondering the world around him for hours.

The National Geographic Kids: Ultimate Weird but True – 1,000 Wild & Wacky Facts and Photos book contains vivid photos and is packed full of facts. This gift is ideal for teens who don’t have an avid interest in reading because you can look up a few facts and set the book down until next time.


  • Vivid, colorful photos
  • Random facts are a fun way to learn
  • Covers many topics
  • No commitment to reading the whole book


  • No organization (can be hard to re-find facts to share)

What We Love About It

Anything that encourages learning is a good choice in our book!

This is also nice because your son does not have to commit to sitting down and reading the entire book (or even the entire section). He can just open it to a page, learn something new, and go on with his day.

Waterproof Children’s Digital Sports Watch


Though this wristwatch is designed to withstand the common challenges of living on the wrist of an almost-teen, it can send the message that you trust your son to be responsible. This watch features a sporty design and comes in four colors, including blue, red, green, and gray. It is shock-resistant and waterproof up to 30M, which enhances its durability for use on young wrists.

The Waterproof Children’s Digital Sports Watch works as a daily or hourly alarm clock. It can easily be set with the push of a button and it has a backlight that lets the numbers remain clear any time of day.


  • Comes in several color options
  • Easy, digital display tells time and date and functions as an alarm clock
  • Waterproofness works at the beach, when showering, and in the pool
  • Sporty design


  • Cannot push buttons underwater or causes damage

What We Love About It

Who doesn’t need to know the time and date? This is a functional watch that can give your son a sense of responsibility without breaking the bank.

As an added bonus, the company includes a gift box that corresponds with the color watch you have chosen.

OWI Samurai Scorpion Aluminum Skulpture Kit


This sculpture is fun to build and looks cool once it is finished. Posed with a ‘striking’ design, the small aluminum plates are held together with nuts and bolts that your son secures into place. The aluminum is lightweight but durable. When the sculpture is finished, the tail, claws, and individual legs can move.

While the OWI Samurai Scorpion Aluminum Skulpture Kit is only supposed to be put together once, the movable parts let your son reposition it time and time again.

This best toy for 12-year-old boys doubles as a decoration and a reminder of his ability to create sculptures like these.

As an added bonus, if your son likes this model, there are others available—like the Rhino Beetle and Mega Mantis.


  • Tools needed for assembly included
  • Sleek, silver design when finished
  • Movable parts
  • Intricate without being overly complicated


  • It will break if you play with it too much

What We Love About It

This kit comes with everything you need to build an aluminum scorpion, from bendable aluminum parts to screws, nuts, and springs.

This encourages fine motor development and the easy-to-follow instructions and included tools mean that your son can practice building on his own.

DIMY Bike Wheel Light


This hands-on gift keeps your son looking cool (and safe!) for nighttime bike rides. This becomes important as your son gets older and grows into his independence, wanting to try more things on his own. The lights are available in red, white, blue, green, and multi-color and can be set to ‘Constant On’ or ‘Flashing’.

The string of the DIMY Bike Wheel Light is flexible enough that it can contour to the round shape of your son’s bike tire. If he isn’t a frequent nighttime rider, these lights can also be used to decorate his room.

As an added bonus, the manufacturer throws in an extra set of batteries.


  • Extra set of batteries included
  • Doubles as a ‘cool’ gift and a safety feature for your son’s bike
  • Hands-on installation that requires the wire to be shaped to fit the rim, encourages fine motor skills
  • Available in several colors, as well as a multi-color option


  • Lights are breakable, might not be a choice for pre-teens that are rough with their bike

What We Love About It

Even though your son will feel cool as he rides along from his friends’ house, you’ll know that he is well-lit and visible to traffic. At a low price, it is a safety feature that your son won’t be embarrassed to use.


Toy Pal STEM Learning Building Blocks Set


While your son may have developed plenty of hand-eye coordination from playing video games, this interactive set lets him build whatever he can imagine.

Unlike Lego building sets, these STEM toys for 12 year olds require a little more work to put together. It uses nuts, bolts, and other connectors that encourages creativity and challenges your son to create the picture in his head.

If your son isn’t quite ready to explore his own crafting skills, the Toy Pal STEM Learning Building Blocks Set with 132 Pieces and Box also comes with an instructional guide. Complete with full-color photos, it walks you through the steps to build a motorcycle, car, helicopter, and more.


  • Little pieces are great for big hands
  • Instructional guide with pictures
  • Plenty of opportunities to develop special organization and design
  • Encourages creativity and exploration


  • Wheels do not always stay on

What We Love About It

The different shapes and colors, as well as the connectors included with the set, make this a best toy for 12 year olds with creative minds and hands.

Even though there is an instructional guide included, there is unlimited potential for designing new vehicles and structures with this gift.

National Geographic Kids Quiz Whiz


Who doesn’t love trivia? This book is packed full of fun trivia questions in categories about countries, animals, the weather and more. These are perfect for family trivia night, stumping friends, or engaging the mind. The trivia questions are presented in several styles, including using photos, true-and-false, and multiple-choice.

The National Geographic Kids Quiz Whiz: 1,000 Super Fun, Mind-bending, Totally Awesome Trivia Questions book is a great way to encourage fun learning. (Did you know that a group of cats is called a clowder?) As an added benefit, vivid photos make the trivia process even more fun.


  • Colorful photos make the book engaging
  • Different styles of question keep the book from being redundant
  • Can encourage your son to learn more about some of the topics
  • Trivia is a fun way to interact with family and friends


  • Quality of the binding could be better

What We Love About It

The size of this book is also just right for your son to toss in his bag and bring along anywhere he might be bored—from long car rides to doctor’s visits.

It can also be used to spark your son’s interest on different topics and encourage him to learn more.

Awesome Since 2006 12 Years Old Shirt


This unique gift is personalized with your son’s birth year and age. It features a smiley face with cool sunglasses and comes in several colors, including black, navy blue, asphalt, royal blue, and red.

The Awesome Since 2006 12 Years Old Shirt is made of 100% cotton, which makes it soft. It is a great accompaniment to a larger gift and has the same sentimentality of a card.

This shirt is also perfect for the boy who is getting tired of relatives asking, “How old are you now?” at family gatherings.

It should be machine washed in cool water to avoid fading and dried at a low temperature to avoid shrinking.


  • Soft, 100% cotton
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Sentimental gift


  • Can only wear it for a year with the shirt being relevant
  • Will fade with time, especially if improperly cared for

What We Love About It

While this is a gift that is only relevant for one year of your son’s life, it makes a great memento if you want to put it in the closet for when he is older.

You could also pass it along or donate it once the shirt has had its use. Most growing 12-year old boys won’t wear the same shirt for more than a year anyway.


The Manual to Manhood


While no mother wants to think of their little boy growing up, this book helps ease the transition in a positive way with 100 different skills that can benefit your son. It teaches everything from tips he needs to know to get through his earliest romantic relationships to advice for excelling in sports and at life.

The wide range of topics covered is perfect for that boy who may want to learn more about growing up—but is too shy to ask.

The Manual to Manhood: How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change a Tire, Impress a Girl & 97 Other Skills You Need to Surviveis perfect for a child who does not always come out and ask his parents what he wants to know. By encouraging him to explore new topics on his own, you are also helping your son build researching and learning skills.


  • Teaches practical, real-world skills
  • Can be used for everything from dating advice to learning how to throw a baseball
  • Bridges the communication gap between parents and pre-teens
  • Covers 100 different topics


  • Might be too advanced for some 12-year olds
  • Not very colorful, chapter format is not always engaging

What We Love About It

This is the perfect gift for the ‘mature’ 12-year old who is looking forward to making his own decisions in life. When he is ready, your son can use this tool to learn practical skills that will help him through his life.

DIMY Walkie Talkies for Kids

Image of the DIMY Toys for 3-12 Year Old Boys, Outdoor Toys Stocking Stuffer Walkie Talkies for Kids Xmas Toys for 3-12 Year Old Boys Girls Gifts Age 3-12 Year Old Boy Toys 2018 Christmas Gifts Green DMDJJ01


This best gift for 12 year old boys is practical as well as fun, letting your son freely explore the neighborhood with his friends, play ‘army’, or do any other number of things. It has a built-in flashlight that makes it practical for exploring. The two-mile range is perfect for exploring the neighborhood block and beyond.

While not all 12-year olds will be interested in the DIMY Walkie Talkies for Kids, 2 Mile Range, Built-In Flashlight TM388, it is the perfect companion for the right kid’s active imagination.

It can be easily stored on the belt clip and works with a ‘push-to-talk’ function. It also has an auto-squelch function to prevent feedback, adjustable volume level, and a feature that limits background noise for clear sound.


  • 2-mile range
  • Has a belt clip so it doesn’t get lost
  • Limits background noises
  • Has crystal clear sound


  • Not all 12-year olds will be interested in Walkie Talkies

What We Love About It

If your son has an active imagination or likes playing outdoors, these walkie talkies are a great companion to his outing. It is a great way for him to have fun with friends and encourage him to have fun a little longer.

The Don’t Laugh Challenge


As your son grows into a teenager, his outlook on the world is going to change. This book encourages relief through laughter, which can be a useful tool in emotional development. Jokes, riddles, puns, and everything in between are used as players sit facing each other and the jokes are read aloud. Each time someone does not laugh, they get a point.

The Don’t Laugh Challenge – 2nd Edition: Children’s Joke Book is perfect for dishing out the best medicine—laughter. Whether your son sits around with friends or uses the book for family game night, it sure to have everyone in stitches by the end of the game.


  • Encourages laughter
  • Social interaction with friends or family
  • Turns laughter into a fun game
  • Helps your son get through the emotional throes of puberty


  • Some of the jokes are a little on the simple side

What We Love About It

Going through puberty can cause your son to have a lot of emotional changes, so a gift that will make him laugh is the perfect tool to help him stave off the puberty blues.


National Geographic Break Open 4 Geodes Science Kit

Image of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Break Open 4 Geodes Kit - Discover Crystals Inside!


If your son is interested in science, this kit might be the perfect gift. Inside, you’ll find four different geodes to be cracked open, each of them revealing glittering crystals inside. As the geodes come uncracked, each is a surprise.

However, National Geographic takes care to select from a wide variety of mines to find high-quality gemstones. Some of the most common minerals he will find inside include calcite, fluorite, quartz, and amethyst.

The National Geographic Break Open 4 Geodes Science Kit comes with a colorful, informative guide that helps you identify what you unearth.

Additionally, display stands are included to put the crystals on display. Pieces can be broken off once the geodes are opened as well. Finally, included safety goggles keep your son’s eyes protected as he breaks into the geodes to find what they have inside.


  • Colorful guide to learn about different crystals
  • Display stands and goggles included
  • Fun, cool way to learn about the earth
  • Surprise every time that you open a geode, as they have not been broken open before


  • Might not be a good fit for a boy who is not interested in geology or the earth

What We Love About It

This fun kit encourages learning about the minerals that make up the earth. The included display stands make it easy to showcase beautiful crystals, while the included safety goggles ensure any stray fragments do not end up in your son’s eyes.

TOP Gift Compact Shock Proof Binoculars

Image of the Gifts for 4 5 6 7Year Old Girls, TOG Gift Compact Shock Proof Binoculars Best Gifts for 3-12 Year Old Girls Boys Girls Toys for Boy Age 3-12 Years Old Gifts for Girls Age 3-12 Years Old Yellow TGUS03.

Binoculars are a great gift for kids of any age, as they can be used to explore a wide range of interests. Whether your son likes to birdwatch, look at nature, or get a closer look at sporting events, these binoculars are the perfect companion. This best toy for 12-year-old boys is durable and shock-proof, which means they will not be damaged even if they are dropped.

TOP Gift Compact Shock Proof Binoculars are a best gift fo 12-year-old boys because of their durability. They also offer incredible magnification of up to eight times, with an FMC prism green-coated optics system that brings whatever you are looking at into crystal clear focus.

As an added benefit, the chunky design is perfect for adolescent hands and a rubber-coating protects your son’s eyes in case he bumps into anything while using the binoculars.


  • Chunky design makes these easy to hold onto
  • Shock-proof so drops won’t cause damage
  • Excellent magnification once properly adjusted
  • Comes with a carrying bag and many color options


  • Hard to adjust the width to make the viewing area larger

What We Love About It

These are a good gift choice for boys who might be rough or careless with gifts. These also come in a wide range of color options, so you can easily buy binoculars in the same color as your son’s favorite sports team emblem.

Gifts for Similar Ages

How the Gifts Were Chosen

Choosing gifts for a 12-year old boy requires tact and an understanding of where your child is with their developmental milestones. Below, you’ll find the milestones of development for a 12-year old boy. By choosing gifts that coincide with certain milestones, you can encourage healthy development.

Physical Milestones

Perhaps even before he turns 12, it may become apparent that your son is growing up. Here are some of the physical milestones that he may reach as he grows into the age of 12:

  • Muscular development that is indicative of his body going through puberty
  • Greater interest and/or ability in sports
  • Possible growth spurt
  • Sexual development that occurs with puberty

Emotional Milestones

The time before the teenage years can be a challenge for adolescents. By choosing the best gifts for 12 year olds, you can give your child a way to cope when they are stressed and an outlet for their emotions. Here are some emotional milestones you should expect:

  • More moodiness as your son enters puberty
  • Distancing themselves from their parents, guardians, and other relatives
  • Increased ability to understand stressors of the world, which can result in the uprising of mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and others
  • Questions family values and develops own sense of morality
  • Some rebellion

Social Milestones

Social milestones are major for a child growing into their adolescent period. The teenage years can be a tough time and without the social skills to make friends and the self-confidence to overcome obstacles, your son will not be set up for success. Here are some social milestones that your child should develop around age 12:

  • Greater attention to clothing and appearance
  • Greater interest in their peer group
  • Possible interest in sex, drinking, and smoking (you should have an open, honest conversation with your child about these things and encourage open channels of communication)
  • Becomes interested in activities with the other gender (or expresses interest in boys as more than friends)

Cognitive Milestones

As your child’s body and social development continue, they will also meet several cognitive milestones. These are milestones associated with thought patterns. Here are some things you may notice in your 12-year old:

  • Stronger sense of right and wrong
  • Ability to express feelings by talking (though they may not always be willing to share at this age)
  • Greater ability for complex thought patterns
  • Greater understanding of their own role in success in school, social situations, and life in general
  • Desire to make his own decisions

FAQs- 12-Year-Old Boy Gifts

How much should I limit screen time?

One of the biggest challenges that you are going to face with a boy growing into a teen is going to be his screen habits.

There is nothing wrong with your son playing video games or watching television, especially if he is interacting socially by playing team games online. Not all screen time is created equally.

As long as your son is balancing his screen time with physical activity, social interaction, his homework, and other responsibilities, and getting enough sleep, it’s fine.

By choosing things that engage your son without the use of electronics, you are encouraging variety in his activities.

What if my son says he only wants video games as a gift?

If you let your son, he may decide to hole himself up in his room and play video games all day long.

Even if your son insists that he won’t use anything but video games, sometimes parents know best.

Engage his interests. For example, kids who are interested in playing shooter video games might benefit from the archery set mentioned above.

Limiting screen time and putting your foot down about how long he can play video games each day can also help. Your son will quickly realize he needs something to fill his time.

How can I choose gifts if my son doesn’t seem to be interested in anything?

As children age, they may communicate with their parents less. They are distancing themselves and growing into their own person.

While you can keep the channels of communication open by having serious and casual conversations, your almost-teen will not always be cooperative.

The best thing that you can do is be interested and listen when your son does talk. He has interests—he just hasn’t shared them with you yet.

How do I choose toys that aren’t ‘too babyish’ for my son?

As kids go through puberty, they tend to look at some of their favorite toys and pastimes as being part of their life as a ‘younger’ child.

As you choose toys and activities, think about those that meet your son’s needs. Explore his interests with things like race cars, building sets, and activities that he can do with his friends.

Does my 11 or 12-year-old have to have the “right” brand?

No and yes. Platinum Threads may be no better than what you can buy at Walmart; may come off the same line, in fact. Buying Platinum Threads makes no practical sense. But kids aren’t practical. They want the right thing; and there is a “right thing”. Usually it’s a more expensive thing.

The right thing won’t make your child popular, but it will make him more comfortable among his peers. If you can’t afford the right thing, even secondhand, be honest with your child; she’ll understand. Notice what the kids in your kid’s society are wearing, what they’re carrying. Try to buy reasonably-priced things for your child that are not too far off.

If you can afford the right thing, buy one on occasion (and one for the kid whose parents can’t afford it).

It’s hard being a kid, especially for tweens and teens. Everything doesn’t have to be the right thing.

Everything shouldn’t be the right thing. But your child will be a lot more comfortable if he has at least a few things that are.

Should I let my 11 or 12-year-old have a boy and girl party?

Not unless the party is all-inclusive: all boys and girls in the class, all boys and girls in the neighborhood, church class, club, etc. It’s too early for special opposite-sex friends or mixed cliques. With boy and girl parties, close supervision is key.

How to choose a thoughtful gift for your 11 or 12-year-old?

The most thoughtful gifts are always those which take into consideration your recipient’s need, preferences, and personality. If he’s a racing fanatic, maybe it’s tickets to the races. If she’s suddenly gone horse-crazy, maybe it’s the opportunity to ride. In purchasing personal belongings, consider his or her favorite color, tastes, hobbies, and style.

Maybe the child needs spending money for an upcoming field trip, new equipment for a chosen activity or sports team, art supplies, or even the fees for participation in a club or activity. A thoughtful gift says not just, “I love you,” but, “I know who you are.”

How can I be sure I am purchasing the game or device my grandchild is asking for?

This is very difficult, especially for grandparents. Have the child show you the item online, or have the parents send you a link to the product.

This is especially helpful for technology gifts, but it’s a foolproof means of identifying any product. It is a good idea, as children get older, in fact, to have them send a list of links for specific gift ideas rather than hand you a handwritten birthday list.

Wrap Up

Choosing gifts or toys for an almost-teen can be a challenge.

When you consider your son’s interests, cater to his needs outside of playing video games or watching television, and choose toys and gifts that can encourage exploration and learning, choosing the best gift for your 12-year-old becomes easier.

Hopefully, this list helps you find something age-appropriate and engaging.

Samantha Davis
Samantha Davis is a part-time writer and a full-time mommy of two boys, Apollo (age 3) and Adrien (age 5). She has been working as a writer for five years and one day plans to run her own writing company. For now, Samantha is content working as a writer and spending all her free time with her little boys. They live together with dad in Ohio and spend their free time crafting, hiking, and baking.