The Best Gifts for Tomboys (Gift Ideas for Not-So-Girly Girls)

Updated on October 1, 2019
Natashalh profile image

Natasha is a writer, artisan, and recent graduate with a Master of the Arts in Teaching.

If a girl wants a magnifying glass, why not encourage her scientific inquires?
If a girl wants a magnifying glass, why not encourage her scientific inquires? | Source

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.

Educational Toys

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.

Building Toys

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 Items

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.

DIY Kits

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.

Activity Books

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?

See results

© 2012 Natasha


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    • profile image

      I Agree 

      7 weeks ago

      I totally agree to that because I am a tomboy and I like about everything that guys pretty much like.

    • profile image

      OH HELL NO 

      2 months ago


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      ummm... what about geeks? and girls who don't mind getting hurt but hate sports aka Swiss army knifes

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      thanks now I know what I want for my birthday

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Next time please just show the pics and words down the bottom what it is cos I can't read all that

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Great thoughts. I climbed trees, hung over the engine compartment is of cars and built things. Also love to cook. My granddaughter is similar. She says she wants a nerd gun and for sure that's on my list. The klutz press books look great. Thanks for the additional ideas!!

    • Samuel Orris profile image

      Samuel orris 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Great gift ideas for Tomboys. Really good.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Sure, I also liked climbing trees and aggressive inline skating and I agree that not every "tomboy" is into science toys and making things. Now I like making things and power lifting, so there's definitely still a mix going on. I'm sorry you were so distracted by the science section you didn't notice my outdoorsy suggestions!

    • profile image

      annoyed person 

      4 years ago

      Tomboy doesn't always mean "loves nerdy boy stuff"

      Most of the time it means girls with skateboards and beanies. It is really hard finding stuff other than pennyboards! The last thing I want is to buy them a science kit

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome - thanks! I hope she enjoys any hands-on gifts you get her. =)

    • profile image

      Alyeska Martinez 

      5 years ago

      This was super helpul to me because my step-daughter loves science and building/crafting her own toys, so these were great gift ideas!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      Someone's got to be that middle ground =

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I am in-between tomboy and girly Girl

    • profile image

      Harshil Patel 

      6 years ago

      Best article and useful information thanks a lot for the post.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Those all sound like great gifts! I always really appreciated that my parents got me gifts I liked instead of trying to force me into some girl mold.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Cute ideas for the non-girly-girl. I have one of those and she's a bit of challenge to buy for. Usually we do sports and reading gifts. Board or card games are also good, plus we've also done a magic kit, gift certificates to the arcade center where she can rock climb, do laser tag, and play interactive games.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by, Wilderness. One set of my grandparents never really caught on to the fact that pink fluffy things weren't what I was looking for!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 

      7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Some really great gift ideas for tomboys, Christmas is coming soon and I've two granddaughters. Thanks, Natasha - these suggestions will come in useful.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! I totally loved the Klutz press books and am glad for the crafting and DIY spirit they fostered in me.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      This is so much better than the usual run-of-the-mill gift ideas. My daughter has morphed from girlie to tomboy in the last couple of years. The Klutz kits/books are a wonderful resource for us. I usually buy a few for Christmas and then they get left on a shelf but then rediscovered with enthusiasm. Great suggestions :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Hooray! I love it when girls are allowed to be interested in things other than dolls and makeup. =) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      7 years ago from UK

      My daughter is interested in science and reading and isn't a "pink" kind of girl - this will be useful at Christmas!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks so much!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Natashalh, these are great ideas! Voted up and sharing all over.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the votes and pinning! You're right, it goes both ways - stereotypical boy toys are no good, too! I'm glad you're letting your little guy do what he's passionate about.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful ideas, Voted up and pinned! I too wasn't totally girly and I'm making sure to consider my children's interests when buying for and playing with them. For instance my son loves cooking and gardening.... so instead of typical boy toys we got him a play kitchen and gardening tools.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent! I'm glad I wasn't the only girl with a science kit! Thank you for voting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I voted this up, Natasha, for the unique approach to this topic. I was a tomboy and wanted that science kit when I was a child. I did get it, too. Great post and voted way up.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you so much, PracticalMommy. As everyone. Can see - your lack of girly toys hasn't kept you from being a caring, competent mother. =)

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      These are awesome ideas! I wasn't always into dolls or girly stuff as a child and loved kits that allowed me to create and be artistic.

      Voted up, useful and awesome!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, Janis Goad. I'm glad you understand. And you're right - its difficult to realize that you have to discover who you really are or you won't find happiness. Kids and the adults they learn from) are so good at bullying people who choose to do something different. I'm not saying you should intentionally do things just because they're different, but there's also no reason to decide you have to do something just because you happen to be male or female or because everybody else does 'x.'

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 

      7 years ago

      Great ideas, and values, to support girls being who they are. We have to be authentic if we are going to be free, and this is not always an easy life lesson for a young person to learn.


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