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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

Our toy expert visited 10 local stores to bring you the hottest gifts for the holiday season. Here are Chicago Parent’s picks for the tween crowd.

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

10+, $24

Gamewright Forbidden Desert


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

5+, $40

Umbra Pongo Ping Pong Game


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

10+, $29.99

Brainwright Puzzle Blox


Crafty kids will enjoy the challenge of needle felting, atechnique that uses a sharp needle to make tiny creations. Thesekits 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

Woolpets kits


  • Becky & Me Toys, Gleview (additional location in Evanston);beckyandmetoys.com
  • Building Blocks Toy Store, Lakeview neighborhood, Chicago(additional location in Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago);buildingblockstoys.com
  • Cat and Mouse Game Store, Bucktown neighborhood, Chicago;cat-n-mouse.com/ocart/
  • Galt Toys + Galt Baby, Skokie (additional locations downtownand in Lincoln Park neighborhood, Chicago); galtbaby.com
  • Geppetto’s Toy Box, Oak Park; geppettostoybox.com
  • Marbles: The Brain Store, Skokie (additional locations inNaperville, Schaumburg, and downtown and Lincoln Squareneighborhood, Chicago); marblesthebrainstore.com
  • My Favorite Toy Store, Downers Grove (additional location inElmhurst); myfavoritetoystore.com
  • *play, Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago;playlogansquare.com
  • Timeless Toys Ltd., Lincoln Square neighborhood, Chicago;timelesstoyschicago.com
  • Toys et Cetera, Andersonville neighborhood, Chicago (additionallocations in Hyde Park and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, Chicago);toysetcetera.com

Where We Shopped:


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