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

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Growing up, Natasha never had much interest in traditional, girly-girl toys and products. She preferred her Creepy Crawlers Bug Oven.

Shopping for a tomboy can be tough. Here are some stellar presents to consider getting for the not-so-girly girl in your life.

Shopping for a tomboy can be tough. Here are some stellar presents to consider getting for the not-so-girly girl in your life.

Finding the perfect gift for someone is always difficult, but shopping for the tomboy in your life can be 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 (it was a gift), defiantly insisted on getting the "boy" toy with my McDonald's kid's meal, and wanted a Creepy Crawlers Bug Oven instead of an Easy-Bake.

The tomboy on your gift list will not suddenly decide to like princess costumes and play-makeup just because she receives them for the third year in a row. Giving her "girly" gifts won't benefit either of you. You'll be upset when she rejects your "normal" gifts, and she'll be upset because she feels like you don't know her very well and don't value who she wants to be. She may also end up feeling guilty because she doesn't like your gift. In any case, she's not going to magically start loving ponies and dolls, so you might as well 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.

The gift ideas in this article are grouped into four general categories for your convenience:

  1. For Girls Who Love Science
  2. For Girls Who Love Sports
  3. For Girls Who Love Making Things
  4. For Girls Who Love Reading
The budding scientist in your life will adore the items in this section.

The budding scientist in your life will adore the items in this section.

1. 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 scientific concepts to boys than to girls. This happened whether a girl was accompanied by her mother, her father, or both. This needs to change, and you can do your part by choosing gifts 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." They offer 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 as soon as they were stocked.

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 for older kids, a building toy kit can grow with your child as her interests develop.

The ideas in this section will delight the little athlete in your family.

The ideas in this section will delight the little athlete in your family.

2. For Girls Who Love Sports

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 either something you know she wants or something generic enough to be useful regardless of what sport she plays.

A 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 water, especially when the bottle is either new or old. While it is possible to find water bottles that are certified BPA-free (meaning they shouldn't leak toxins), you never know what future research might uncover. Until just a few years ago, most 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, compasses, and camping tents. Even if her family doesn't share her passion for hiking or camping, a backyard campout is always a fun activity!

The hands-on, activity-based ideas in this section are great for young makers.

The hands-on, activity-based ideas in this section are great for young makers.

3. 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 enjoy building projects to this day. 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. Be sure to get a high-quality kit that comes 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, and 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 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 can teach her skills like juggling or 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.

If your tomboy is a voracious reader, consider getting them one of these books featuring strong female protagonists.

If your tomboy is a voracious reader, consider getting them one of these books featuring strong female protagonists.

4. For Girls Who Love Reading

What could be better for a strong girl than a book with a strong 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 by some prince in my bedtime stories!

A Book With a Strong Heroine

Fortunately, many of today's most popular young-adult stories feature female protagonists. The Hunger Games is one of America's hottest books and features Katniss, an exceptionally strong 16-year-old girl, as its lead character.

Other popular books with female leads that 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 A Wrinkle in Time and Roald Dahl's Matilda, also feature independent heroines that will inspire your non-traditional girl. Additionally, virtually every book by Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, Kristin Cashore, and Maria V. Snyder stars 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 too often 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. By supporting her interests and passions—whatever they may be—you are helping her 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?

© 2012 Natasha

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Linda Bryen on August 18, 2020:

Great ideas for gifts to give tomboy friends.

Nora on July 31, 2020:

Im a tomboy and i get treaded like a girly girl i hate it my dad says i need manors

Tia on May 27, 2020:

my mom doesn`t like any of these someone plz help me and give me a good website !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alley on May 11, 2020:

I sometimes literally buy boy's clothes.

Taylor on April 30, 2020:

I think you should but i like boy toys and stuff cause im a girl and i love boy stuff my b day is coming up and this could be more helpful

Quinn on April 21, 2020:

This helped I little...thanks..?

caitlin on April 15, 2020:

y'all cant just go and say you have to like science to get this because tomboys aren't all about science and sport ya know

Flossie on April 13, 2020:

I love the outdoors but I have been missing it but these things really helped

noone ur buissness on March 12, 2020:

Ok

I am a tomboy looking for birthday ideas and stuff to ask for and I like sports like basketball ect and this kinda helped

tala on February 21, 2020:

ya I LOVE boy things hoodies, football, ya pretty mutch.

I Agree on November 25, 2019:

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

OH HELL NO on November 15, 2019:

TOMBOYS DONT HAVE TO LIKE SCIENCE ETC THEY CAN LOVE GETTING DIRTY BEING FREE NOT AFRAID TO GET HURT

no on November 08, 2017:

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

Jolie on October 23, 2017:

thanks now I know what I want for my birthday

TROLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO on December 22, 2016:

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

Linda on April 23, 2016:

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 from Texas on March 12, 2016:

Great gift ideas for Tomboys. Really good.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on March 18, 2015:

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!

annoyed person on March 17, 2015:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on December 11, 2014:

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

Alyeska Martinez on December 04, 2014:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on January 31, 2014:

Someone's got to be that middle ground =

Jill on January 31, 2014:

I am in-between tomboy and girly Girl

Harshil Patel on January 12, 2014:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on April 29, 2013:

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 from USA on April 29, 2013:

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.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on September 30, 2012:

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!

Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on September 29, 2012:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on September 29, 2012:

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

Bev G from Wales, UK on September 29, 2012:

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 :)

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on September 29, 2012:

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

Judi Brown from UK on September 29, 2012:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on September 06, 2012:

Thanks so much!

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 06, 2012:

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

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on August 31, 2012:

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.

Sasha Kim on August 31, 2012:

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.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on August 31, 2012:

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

Dianna Mendez on August 31, 2012:

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.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on August 31, 2012:

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

Marissa from United States on August 31, 2012:

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!

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on August 31, 2012:

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 on August 30, 2012:

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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