Four must-have gifts for Chicago tweens


We know how it goes: the holiday season has arrived, so you're in a race against time to find some gifts that a) your kids will actually like; b) fit your budget; and c) can be bought, wrapped and handed over to the munchkins sometime near the appropriate holiday.

So this year, we did the work for you. We visited 10 toy stores in and around Chicago to find this holiday season's hottest items. Best of all, every gift is less than $50, so you won't break the bank in order to see that awed expression on your child's face.

Here are the results for Tweens (10 years and up).

- Elizabeth Diffin


Gamewright Forbidden Desert

This new game is cooperative, so kids have to work together to survive the scorching heat and relentless sandstorms of the desert. It's great for those who aren't quite ready for strategy games like The Settlers of Catan or Risk.

10+, $24


Umbra Pongo Ping Pong Game

Any surface can become a ping-pong table with this portable set that includes two paddles with retractable handles, a portable net, two balls and drawstring pouch. Just be sure to clear off your dining room table before a tournament breaks out.

5+, $40


Brainwright Puzzle Blox

What do you get when you combine a Rubix cube with some of the most famous paintings in history? This fun puzzle, where you arrange 130 cubes to form six different paintings, from Renoir to Chagall. Trust us: it's harder than it sounds.

10+, $29.99


Woolpets kits

Crafty kids will enjoy the challenge of needle felting, a technique that uses a sharp needle to make tiny creations. These kits come with needles, wool roving and step-by-step instructions, so your penguin or sock monkey comes out looking perfect.

9+, $16.99-$19.99


Where We Shopped:

  • Becky & Me Toys, Gleview (additional location in Evanston);
  • Building Blocks Toy Store, Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago (additional location in Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago);
  • Cat and Mouse Game Store, Bucktown neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Skokie (additional locations downtown and in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago);
  • Geppetto's Toy Box, Oak Park;
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations in Naperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago);
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location in Elmhurst);
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago;
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additional locations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago);

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