The Best Gifts for Tomboys (Gift Ideas for Not-So-Girly Girls)
Finding the perfect gift is always difficult, but trying to find the perfect gift for the spirited girl in your life is a true challenge. You may be tempted to just get her something 'normal for a girl her age' and move on with your shopping, but this is a bad idea. I know—I was that difficult girl. I was the girl who owned exactly one Barbie (gift), defiantly insisted on the 'person' toy for my kid's meal, and wanted a Creepy Crawlers Bug oven, not the Easy Bake.
The tomboy on your gift list will not suddenly decide to like princess costumes and play makeup because you give it to her for the third year in a row. Giving her 'girly' gifts will hurt both of you. You'll be upset when she rejects your 'normal' gifts, and she will either be upset because she feels like you don't know her well or you don't value who she wants to be. She may also end up feeling guilty because she doesn't like your gift. No matter what, she won't magically love ponies, so stop trying.
By giving her a gift she really wants, you can not only make her happy in the moment, but you can also help her grow into a confident young woman.
Gifts for Girls Who Love Science
Our society is biased against girls' interest in science. Observational research shows that, while attending a children's science museum, parents were three times more likely to explain science to boys than to girls. This happened whether a girl's mother, father or both accompanied her. This needs to change, and you can do your part by choosing gifts for girls that encourage scientific inquiry.
For general science fun, try Be Amazing Toys' Big Bag of Science. I used to work at a store that sold lots of educational and science toys, and this kit was always a favorite. With over 70 experiments to help curious minds learn more about the world around them and how everyday objects work, this kit is good for hours of entertainment. The bag is similar to the heavy-duty plastic, zipper-top bags comforters and mattress toppers come in (but much smaller, of course!) and is durable enough to provide long-term storage.
Science Project Kits
For more specific projects, I highly recommend anything made by Toysmith under the name "4M." There are kits that show children how to construct a weather station, a tin can robot, a miniature solar water heater, and much more. Each kit is fun, informative, and "green." When I worked in retail, these kits would fly off the shelves whenever we received a re-stock order.
Many girls also enjoy building toys, like Legos, Erector Sets, and K'NEX. Many of these toys are adaptable to a wide variety of age ranges. With basic building options for younger children and more advanced designs with motors and robotic capabilities, a building toy kit can grow with a girl as it helps her grow.
Gifts for Sporty Girls
Just because a girl loves the outdoors or a particular sport does not mean she loves all sports, so make sure to either get her something you know she wants, or something generic enough to be useful, no matter what sport she plays.
High-Quality Water Bottle
All active people need a high-quality water bottle. The best water bottles are metal or glass because they are 'inert.' Many plastic water bottles contain substances that can leach into the water, especially when the bottle is either new or old. While it is possible to find water bottles that are certified BPA free, which means they shouldn't leak toxins, you never know what new research might uncover in the future. Just a few years ago, people didn't realize plastics had the ability to leak. If you stick with stainless steel, aluminum, or glass, you can rest assured the bottle won't be labeled dangerous next year.
Sportswear and Gear
All active girls need comfortable clothes to practice and run around in. Practice gear like shorts, sweatpants, tops, and comfortable socks are great for every athletic girl. If she has long hair, accessories like soft headbands and sweatbands can keep stray strands from falling in her eyes.
Outdoorsy girls may also enjoy non-traditional gifts like pocket knives, fishing poles, or even a personal tent. Even if her family doesn't share her passion for hiking or camping, a backyard camp out is always a fun activity!
Gifts for Girls Who Love Making Things
Just because your attempts to get a girl interested in sewing or knitting didn't pan out doesn't mean she dislikes creating things. Try engaging her with other types of projects. I loved DIY kits as a kid and continue to have a can-do attitude, today. It all started back in elementary school with a great Christmas gift and the Girl Scouts' Ms. Fix-it badge.
If she likes gum (and doesn't have braces), consider a make your own chewing gum kit. The high-quality kits come with all-natural ingredients. Making gum is a little messy, so be sure to use the provided disposable containers! I loved making gum, and creating my own flavors, I owned more than one of these kits. If she has braces, but still enjoys candy, consider a make your own chocolate kit, instead.
I also highly recommend anything by Klutz Press. This company's activity books are fun, engaging, and many come with all the supplies a girl needs for activities like face painting, making giant bubbles, and the learning world's most popular board games. Other books teach her 'skills' like juggling and how to use a Foxtail. Looking through the Klutz Press offerings, I think I've owned, and loved, almost every one at some point in my life.
Gifts for Girls Who Love Reading
What could be better for a strong girl than a book with a heroine? Even before I could read, my parents read me fables and fairy tales with strong female characters—there was no waiting to be rescued in my bedtime stories!
A Book With a Strong Heroine
Fortunately, many of today's most popular young adult stories feature lead females. The Hunger Games is one of America's hottest books and features Katniss, an exceptionally strong 16-year-old girl.
Other popular books with female leads you may know from their movie versions include The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. More traditional favorites, such as Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time and Roald Dahl's Matilda, also feature heroines to inspire your non-traditional girl. Additionally, virtually every book by Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, Kristin Cashore, and Maria V. Snyder star an admirable female lead.
Any of these books, or authors, are sure to present young adult girls with believable female characters with plausible flaws, determination, intelligence, kindness, and the physical/emotional/mental strength to surmount whatever stands in their way.
Help Her Be Strong
People are frequently afraid to encourage independent girls to pursue their own paths. As a society, we still cling to the myth that guys will be intimidated by girls who they perceive as stronger, smarter, or in any way 'better' than them. Real men aren't afraid of strong women, and it's time we stop forcing girls into cookie cutter molds. Being independent, loving science, or enjoying the outdoors doesn't mean a girl won't grow into a responsible, caring woman, but it does mean she will blossom into a confident, self-assured young lady who isn't afraid to be herself.
Doesn't that sound like the kind of person you'd like to help create?
Were/are you a girl with 'non-traditional' interests?
© 2012 Natasha