Families With Grace

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The best Easter basket ideas for tween boys in 2024

25 Easter gifts tween boys will love

A few years ago, the best Easter basket ideas I had for my son included toys. I’ve tried to not go too overboard on candy through the years and include some fun, small gifts in my kids’ baskets as well.

Easter basket ideas for tween boy Pinterest image 10

However, figuring idea for my tween’s Easter basket is a little trickier. My daughter was easier as a tween because there are all sorts of little gifts that were easy to add to her basket from lip balm to jewelry.

In fact, filling my teen’s Easter basket is a bit easier since my current teen is a girl with definitive likes and dislikes. For my tween boy, though, I struggle a bit.

Tween and teenage boys are in the middle of growing. They aren’t so into toys, but they also aren’t usually as into accessories and such as their female counterparts. 

Figuring out fun gifts for tween and teenage guys that are affordable Easter basket stuffers can be challenging. Once they’re past toys, technology and video games seem to be their next best thing. And those are pricey!

​The good news is, though, that there are a lot of great Easter basket ideas for tween boys that won’t break the bank and are great Easter basket fillers.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Fidget toys

Fidget toys are the perfect Easter gift for tween boys. They aren’t toys per se, but are still a fun gift for older kids. And, most of them are small enough to fit into plastic eggs, which will make life easier for the Easter Bunny!

Fidget toys are the perfect Easter gift for tween boys. They aren’t toys per se, but are still a fun gift for older kids. And, most of the are small enough to fit into plastic eggs, which will make life easier for the Easter Bunny!

These transformable fidget spinners were actually on my tween boy’s Christmas list this year. They’d be a great addition to the Easter basket of your tween or teen boys this year. They’re a great way to keep hands busy whether in class, at home or in the car. 

In fact, I’ve enjoyed playing with these as much as my son has. And if your big kids is still on the younger end of the tween years, like my newly minted 11-year-old is, they’ll also have all sorts of fun ideas for what to turn these fidget spinners into and come up with imaginative play ideas.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: transformable fidget spinners

Another great gift in the fidget toy category are magnetic rings. Grab a set of three magnetic rings that your tween will have fun twisting around on his fingers. 

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Magnetic fidget rings

If you’re looking for a fidget toy he can take to school, check out this magnetic pen. I got this for my three nephews last year when they turned 14. My tween son thought they were such cool gifts that I ended up getting one for him just because!

While it is a functional gift in that it is a usable pen, it’s also a fun gift because the pen cane be made into all sorts of shapes.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Magnetic fidget pen

Next up is these sensory robot toys. They put more of the “toy” in fidget toy, but they are small and would be a fun addition to his collection of fidget toys.

Not only are they small enough to easter fit into your tween boy’s Easter basket, they’re also small enough he can stick them in his pocket and take them along when he has a long car ride or another lengthy, boring task.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Sensory robot toys

Squishy fidget toys

Transformable fidget toys are a perfect gift for tween boys, but so are squishy fidget toys. Honestly, I still love squishy fidget toys myself. 

I have a stress ball on my desk that I play with while I’m brainstorming. They’re a fun way to focus and release some frustration as well!

First up is a three-pack of sensory stress balls that are color changing. These stress ball are certainly one of the fun Easter basket ideas that your tween and teen kiddos will enjoy!

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: 3-pack of color changing stress balls

A second great idea for stress balls are ones filled with small water-holding balls inside of them. With a different feel to them than the dough-type balls like above, this three-pack of squishy balls also works well for your tween boy’s Easter basket.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: squishy stress balls

If you’re looking for Easter goodies that aren’t chocolate bunnies that will give your child a sugar high, these squishy animals are a great filler for plastic Easter eggs. This set of 24 mini squishy toys come in a variety of options, including forest animals and Easter.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Easter squishy toys

Puzzles and games Easter basket gift ideas

Though he may be getting older and outgrowing some of his toys, your tween boy still enjoys fun things. Puzzles and games are great Easter gifts to provide some age appropriate fun.

Puzzles and crafts

​As a bit of a larger Easter gift idea, Foldology, an origami puzzle game, will provide hours of mind-challenging fun for your tween. It will take him skill and concentration to fold each of the 100 pages just right to reveal the picture.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Foldology

Another cool boredom beater game is Kanoodle and with 200 puzzles contained in a small case, this is perfect for Easter. The balls and shapes have to fit into the case just right and there are all sorts of options.

This is one game the whole family can enjoy whenever you’re traveling or have downtime. It’s much trickier than it looks — trust me!

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Kanoodle

​For tween boys like mine whose favorite subject is art, crafts are also a great Easter basket gift idea. Check out this rock painting kit that comes with 10 rocks, 12 paints, stickers, glitter glue, googly eyes and gems.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: rock painting kit

This catapult wars kit from Boy Craft gives guys a chance to build a fun game they can then play.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: catapult wars from Boy Craft

Card and board games

Games are a great addition to your tween boy’s Easter basket. While games of the digital variety are pricey, card and board games aren’t so much. 

Plus, anything that encourages them to be device-free and spending time with the family or their friends is definitely a perfect gift idea!

A fun card game option is Sussed. The game poses questions and answers. Players vote on how each other would answer. It’s a great way to spark conversation and get to know each other better.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: card game Sussed

One of the most hilarious card games your whole family will love is What Do You Meme? Family Edition. It’s become a favorite of our entire family, including my parents, my aunt and my in-laws!

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: What Do You Meme Family Edition

As a child during the 1980s, I’ve got to include this fun, unique board game that’s like the old video game Frogger. It’s a blast from the past that your tweens will enjoy in a whole new way.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Frogger board game


Don’t overlook jewelry as a perfect gift idea for your tween boy this Easter. My son is very into jewelry right now. And the good news is that it’s not expensive jewelry he’s drawn to.

The other good news is that jewelry is small enough to fit into plastic Easter eggs in his Easter basket.

Rope bracelets are a great choice for tween boys. This one is personalized with the first letter of his name.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Initial rope bracelet

If you’re buying for more than one tween or teen guy or you want a variety of options for your son, this 12-pack of bracelets include options that are leather, beaded and wooden.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Bracelet pack of 12

Outside of bracelets, the other wristwear my son is into right now is watches. This digital sport watch has a huge amount of color options.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: digital watch

There are some smart watch options that won’t break the bank, like this MgaoLo smart watch that includes a fitness tracker, heart rate monitor and sleep monitor. It comes in four different colors.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Smart Watch

And then there are necklaces. A cross necklace makes for a great Easter gift for tween boys. This simple cross necklace on a 16-inch chain comes in 11 different color options.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Simple cross necklace

With a two-sided design, this cross necklace features the American flag on one side and a Bible verse or quote about strength on the other. It comes in nine different options on a chain that goes up 24 inches.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: Two sided cross necklace


Finally, books are also one of the best Easter basket ideas for tween boys. Even if your tween isn’t a huge reader, there are still some great book options for him.

If your tween or teen boys have a book series or author they enjoy, then definitely go for some of those books. “Wings of Fire” is a super popular series for my son. It has both written novel and graphic novel options available.

For more general picks, we’ve got some fact and riddle books that work for readers and non-readers alike.

Advice books

Let’s start with an advice book of “101 Things Every Boy Needs to Know.”  Filled with life advice for teenage boys, this is a good choice for tweens as they are heading into a time of change.

It covers general life advice and doesn’t delve into the my personal (aka embarrassing) topics.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: "101 Things Every Boy Needs to Know"

Another fun advice book is “Wilderness Survival Guide for Kids.” If your tween boy is into camping or outdoors and/or just likes to think about how he’d respond in every different scenario like mine, this is a great book option for him.

It includes things like where to find help if you get lost, how to defend yourself, how to build a fire and more.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: "Wilderness Survival Guide for Kids"

Riddle and fact books

Riddle and fact books are popular for tween boys. They love absorbing new information that is random they can pull out and share. I know that’s certainly true for mine!

These are more fun books to read as well  because they are usually written in smaller chunks of text that aren’t as overwhelming.

First up is “Interesting Facts for Curious Minds.” This book has 1,572 random and surprising facts on everything from science to pop culture to history.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: "Interesting Facts for Curious Minds"

Another option for fact books is “Super Interesting Facts for Smart Kids.” It has 1,272 facts about animals, earth, sciAnd, finally, riddle books work well as an Easter gift and fit into your tween boy’s Easter basket nicely. “Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids” has 300 difficult riddles and brain teasers that will entertain your kiddo.ence and more.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: "Super Interesting Facts for Smart Kids"

And, finally, riddle books work well as an Easter gift and fit into your tween boy’s Easter basket nicely. “Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids” has 300 difficult riddles and brain teasers that will entertain your kiddo.

Easter basket ideas for tween boys: "Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids"

The best Christmas gift ideas for 14-year-old girls 2023

Christmas ideas for 14-year-old girls Pinterest image 9

The ultimate list of gifts teenage girls will love!

Just a few years back, I was buying baby dolls and accessories for my daughter. But now, she’s a young teen and coming up with Christmas idea for a 14-year-old girl can be challenging!

So I’ve put together a list of the best gift ideas for your favorite teen girl. Whether you’re buying her a Christmas gift, a birthday gift or any any time gift, these great gift ideas will make your life easier.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Portable speakers

If the teen girl you’re buying is a music lover, portable speakers are a great pick. She can easily listen to her music anywhere. As a mom, I also love this idea for letting my 14-year-old enjoy music without her headphones in order to better protect her ears.

This Anker Soundcore Bluetooth speaker is a great option for a basic portable speaker.

Christmas gift ideas for 14 year old girls: Anker portable speaker

For an even cooler portable speaker, check out this LFS Bluetooth speaker that changes through different colors with five different color-changing themes.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Light up portable speaker

Another fun gift she can rock out to her favorite artists with is this Retro Bluetooth speaker that comes in five different color options.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: retro Bluetooth speaker

One of the more unique presents for the music loving teen is this vinyl record player turntable with a built-in Bluetooth receiver. She can listen on vinyl and digitally depending on her mood!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: record player

Water bottles

I mean, honestly, this probably includes everyone in their teen years, but finding creative gifts that will also be practical can really help your 14-year-old girl life her best life.

First up is staying hydrated. In order to do that, she needs a good, sturdy water bottle. My daughter takes hers everywhere. And I do mean everywhere! Water bottles are one of the best Christmas gifts that you can pretty much guarantee will get used!

This stainless steel vacuum insulated Zenbo 40-ounce tumbler has a handle and comes in a variety of colors. Plus it’s dishwasher safe, comes with its own straw and is leakproof!

Plain tumbler with a handle

Right now Stanley tumblers are one of the latest trends for teen girls. They are a bit more costly than other tumblers, but getting her one in white just might make her Christmas even merrier. (And I am adding this completely at the suggestion of my 14-year-old daughter, so you know it will be a hit!)

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Stanley tumbler in white

Anything that’s personalized is always a cool gift. This gorgeous water bottle with a screw-on lid lets you select the letter you want for your teen’s name.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: personalized water bottle

A great idea to help your teen stay motivated to stay hydrated is a water bottle like this 32-ounce one from Meitagie that encourages her to sip throughout the day and meet her intake goals.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: water bottle with motivational lines

A great addition to any water bottle gift is a set of stickers to help her personalize her water bottle in a fun way. Even better, they are a price point that works well for most budgets. Check out this set of 300 water bottle stickers for teen girls:

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: 300 water bottle stickers

Beauty products

Whether she likes to go with an all-natural look or is into adding some color, teen girls are going to be pretty pleased with beauty products. From skin care to makeup and beyond, these are some of the best gifts for 14-year-old girls.

(And, as a mom of a 14-year-old girl myself, I did pay attention for age appropriateness with these selections!)

Face masks

Face masks are a great way for teenagers to take care of their skin and relax at the same time. They are one of my daughter’s favorite things for taking care of herself and improve her mental health. Face masks are so relaxing and rejuvenating!

The Yes To Tomatoes detoxifying mud mask has been a favorite for my teen. It both takes care of her skin, including treating for acne, and relaxes her.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Detoxifying mud mask

This Bioré instant warming clay mask includes four single-use packets to help your teen girl cleanse and soothe her skin.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: warming clay mask

Paper face masks also make it onto the wish list of most teen girls. What’s nice about paper masks is they aren’t as messy! This Yes To Cotton Comforting paper mask is designed for ultra-sensitive and allergy-prone skin, so it will be gentle.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: paper face mask

This SpaLife Snow Buddies facial sheet mask 10-pack is a festive gift idea for your fave teen!

Body skin care

​While face masks are great for facial skin, body skin care is just as important. And teen girls are usually all about what smells good. The teenage years are definitely the time when many girls start experimenting with different beauty products. And that makes beauty products one of the top gifts for teen girls!

Let’s start with body scrub. If you live in colder weather areas, especially, this is an excellent gift choice. Tree Hut shea sugar scrub is one of my 14-year-old’s top picks!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Tree Hut sugar scrub

This Dove body scrub that is brown sugar and coconut also would work well.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Dove body scrub brown sugar and coconut butter

Shower jelly is also a neat body skin care option, and this set of three Bella & Bear Tutti Frutti Shower jellies is pretty cool.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: shower jellies

Bath bombs help moisturize skin in a relaxing way. The only thing better than relaxing in the tub with a bath bomb is doing so with a cute bath bomb like in this set of 6 bath bombs that look like sweet treats.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: bath bombs

If baths aren’t her thing, then this set of 8 shower steamers aromatherapy from POPCHOSE is a good alternative.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: shower steamers

Lip care

Another one of the best Christmas gifts for 14-year-old girls is definitely lip care. Not only is lip care something she’ll enjoy, but it’s also small enough to be a great stocking stuffer.

If you want to get lip balm that works well to soothe and moisturize her lips without adding color, this 4-pack of Burt’s Bee Lip Balm works well.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Burt's Bees 4-pack of lip balm

With a bit of flavor to them, this eos lip balm variety 4-pack comes in seven varieties of flavors including Sweet Treats, Chill Vibes, Minty Cool and Super Fruit.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: eos variety pack lip balm

My teen girl is especially into lip oil right now. This NYX lip oil is vegan, shiny and tinted. It’s available in clear and in colors. My daughter is a fan of sheer pink.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: NYX Lip oil

Rounding out lip care is an option that has bit of color to it. This set of five NK hydrating lip gels come in various flavors and colors. None of the colors are dark and add just a hint of color. Plus they are priced super well!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: nk lip gel


While makeup might be a hot topic for young teen girls, I’m including it on the list. For my 14-year-old girl, a bit of makeup is allowed on regular school days. Having additional makeup to play around with on the weekends, for special occasions or when her friends are over is a fun option.

Makeup kits can be a great way to let your teen practice and experiment with makeup. If she’s at all interested in makeup, any one of these makeup kits would be ideal!

First up is this simple all-in-one makeup kit with six color varieties and options. This is a terrific kit for a teen just trying out makeup. It’s priced low, includes application tools and offers neutral colors.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: all-in-one makeup kit

For the teen girl itching to experiment with more makeup colors, this Hot Sugar makeup kit is a starter cosmetic set that comes in its own travel case. The case comes in four different colors.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Hot Sugar makeup kit

A fun and colorful option is this set of 88 eyeshadow colors. It comes in a leather case with a mirror. 

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: 88 eye shadow colors with case

While a vanity mirror isn’t makeup, it certainly goes right along with makeup and a great Christmas gift for a 14-year-old girl. This lighted, portable vanity mirror has two, three and 10 times magnification.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: vanity mirror

Hair care

Another perfect gift for 14 year olds is hair care items. While she may be past the day of big hairbows, she’s certainly going to enjoy these sort of hair care items to pamper herself.

First up is claw clips. This set of 8 is a great choice for all hair types. With 14 different color sets and styles to pick from, you’re sure to find something she’ll like. My 14-year-old daughter picked these shades:

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: claw clips

Teen girls with long hair will appreciate and use this 3-pack of microfiber hair towel turbans. Of course a regular towel works, but these hair ones are even easier to use which is a good reason to grab a set. There are nine different color combinations available.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: hair towels

For girls with wavy or curly hair, consider a hair straightener. This Remington Shine Therapy flat iron is argan oil and keratin infused to be easiest on her hair. It comes in both a 1- and 2-inch option. 

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: hair straightener

Room decor

Teen girls get into making their personal space their own, so room decor can be great Christmas ideas for 14 year old girls. A few accents can make her room feel more special and personalized.


You don’t have to replace the lighting fixture in her bedroom to embrace some different lighting. From twinkle to neon to strobe lights, light up her Christmas with one of these great gift ideas.

Kick twinkle lights up a notch with this 17-foot string of LED twinkle lights with 50 photo clips. The lights have eight modes and a remote control.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: twinkle lights with photo clips

​These light-up letters would be a great accent in a teen girl bedroom. Priced at less than $10, they’re a great gift idea that fits into any budget.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Light up letters

If a boho aesthetic is what your teen girl loves, this light-up hanging photo display comes in nine color options and would be great in her room. It includes 30 wood clips for her to personalize it with her own photos.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Photo light display

The neon heart light is super fun and comes in four different colors.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: neon heart light

Strip lights are ideal for stringing along the ceiling and in corners. This 100-foot strand of strip lights syncs with music, has a remote and 28 modes. It’s available in other lengths as well.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: strip lights

For an option to light up the room without hanging anything, this sound activated disco ball strobe light fits the bill. It has seven modes and a remote control.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: disco ball strobe light

Cozy space

Anything that makes her space more cozy is a great Christmas gift idea for a 14-year-old girl. Give her somewhere she can snuggle up with a good book or gab session with her friends, and she’ll be happy.

(If you’re looking for a good book option to include with any of these gifts, my teen girl recommends “The Complete Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy Boxed Set.”)

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: The Complete Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy

This set of six throw pillows comes in a pink and green option to bring color and coziness to her bedroom.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: set of 6 throw pillows

Another throw pillow option is this flower pillow. It comes in six different color options to match the color of her room.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: shaped flower pillow

A cozy, fluffy rug works well for most teen girl rooms, whether the room is carpeted or not. This round fluffy rug has rubber backing, comes in three sizes and 15 color choices for less than $30.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: round rug

Nothing says cozy more than a soft, fleece blanket. Available in 15 colors and designs, this 50 x 60-inch throw for less than $20 is an excellent option.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: throw blanket

Toys aren’t going to show up on a wish list for a 14-year-old girl, but Squishmallows have their own special cool factor. They are great for snuggling up with. My teen daughter has a few that she keeps on her bed and often moves around the house with her.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Squishmallows

Wall art

Changing out the wall art in a room can give the space a whole new look without taking lots of money or time. Wall art is a great gift idea for teen girls. Find something she likes and go for it.

Get inspirational with this set of three wall art panels that say, “You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough.” That’s a message teen girls need daily! It’s available in three sizes and three color options.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Positive quote wall art

Though they don’t come framed, this set of 6 sage green art prints would look great in any girl’s room.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: sage green wall art

Another set of unframed prints is this set of nine retro prints that are 8 x 10 inches. They are so cute!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: 9 groovy art prints

This three-panel set of light pink artwork is incredibly feminine and works for 14-year-olds girls. The images are 12 x 16 inches that are wrapped on canvas and ready to hang.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: ballerina wall art panels

A current trend is making collages of artwork. This set of 50 4×6 images is available in 10 different color palettes to match any room decor.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: photo collage

And I can’t make a list of Christmas gift ideas for 14-year-old girls and not include Taylor Swift. This set of six album cover posters that have Taylor’s signature on them would make any Swiftie happy. And at under $20, they’ll make your wallet happy as well!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Taylor Swift album prints

Shoes and accessories

Rounding out our list of Christmas ideas for 14-year-old girls has to be shoes and accessories. Clothes shopping is tricky for multiple reasons from sizes to styles. But, there are a few basic shoe choices most teen girls would love. And accessories are always a great Christmas or birthday gift. Many of them also work well for stocking stuffers since they are small!


First up is classic white platform Crocs. Go for the lined choice to get her through colder weather months. While they come in other colors, white is certainly the latest fad for teen girls.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: white Crocs

A great add-on for the Crocs is a set of shoe decoration charms. This set of 50 has all sorts of options she can use to make her shoes her own. There is a second set of 50 and a cheaper set of 30 shoe charms available as well.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: shoe charms

Keep her tootsies warm with these fuzzy slippers. They are indoor-outdoor shoes available in six color options. My daughter picked tan as a favorite for teen girls, but you know your teen best!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: fuzzy slippers


Bracelets are a great accessory for teen girls. For the Taylor Swift fans, this 12-piece set of album-inspired friendship bracelets would be a fabulous Christmas gift.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Taylor Swift friendship bracelets

With a variety of different color options, these sets of 12 stackable bracelets with five different color options are also a fun choice for teen girls.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Beaded bracelets

Necklaces are also a great gift for teen girls. These 12-piece necklace sets are available with four different options and will give her something to wear every day.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: 12-piece set of necklaces

Both my 14-year-old daughter and my 16-year-old niece are big fans of Kendra Scott necklaces. My daughter got the one below for her birthday in October and is in love with it. The necklace is 14k gold plated and available in 87 color options!

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Kendra Scott necklace

Finally, she’s got to have something to carry all her things in and mini backpacks are not only trendy but a great option.

My daughter has one she carries and loves. The one we got for her is no longer available, but it’s a lot like the Hayner mini backpack set below. This option is nice because it includes the mini backpack, shoulder bag and wallet. It’s available in 10 different colors.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: mini backpack set

Mini backpacks can also be a great way to showcase her fandoms. The Harry Potter mini backpack is pretty cool. And I personally have — and love, love, love! — the Disney Loungefly Beauty and the Beast mini backpack.

The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Harry Potter mini backpack
The best Christmas gift ideas for teen girls: Disney Loungefly Beauty and the Beast mini backpack

Don’t miss these other helpful Christmas gift lists:

The best Christmas gift ideas for mom friends

Funny gift ideas for co-workers: 25 clean gag gifts

Christmas gift ideas for people who are hard to shop for

15 Christmas gifts under $25 for almost everyone on your list

30+ of the best white elephant Christmas gift ideas under $20

Savor the taste of togetherness

6 Easy recipes for kid chefs and their families

Filled with easy recipes for kid chefs, this post comes from Maria Lawrence, a content writer for Cuisipro. These kid friendly recipes not only taste good but will help your family enjoy time together in the kitchen!

The warmth of a kitchen is amplified when it brings family members together in the joyous act of creating meals. With this in mind, we present six delightful, family-friendly recipes that promise not just nourishment but also shared moments of togetherness.

Kid friendly pepperoni pizza muffins

Pepperoni pizza muffins; photo provided by Cuisipro
Photo provided by Cuisipro

A delightful mix of pizza and muffins, these handheld bites are perfect for kids and will make snack time or dinner an exciting affair.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups pepperoni, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pizza sauce


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and Italian seasoning.
  3. Stir in the cheese and pepperoni.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, then add the milk and olive oil.
  5. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Allow the muffins to cool slightly, then serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Mini chicken pot pies

Mini chicken pot pies made in a muffin tin

These comforting, individual pot pies are filled with a hearty mixture of chicken and veggies, all encased in a buttery, flaky crust.


  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until a paste forms.
  3. Gradually add in chicken broth and cream, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
  4. Stir in shredded chicken and frozen vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the puff pastry into squares big enough to fit into the muffin tin sections.
  6. Press each square into the muffin tin, then fill with the chicken mixture.
  7. Fold over the corners of the pastry to the center.
  8. Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Rainbow vegetable skewers

Grilled vegetable skewers

These colorful skewers are a fun and nutritious way to serve a variety of vegetables.


  • A selection of colorful vegetables (like bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, mushrooms)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Skewers


  1. Preheat your grill or grill pan over medium heat.
  2. Chop the vegetables into chunks.
  3. Thread the vegetables onto the skewers, alternating colors for a rainbow effect.
  4. Brush the skewers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill the skewers for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and lightly charred.

DIY taco bar

Prepared tacos from a DIY taco bar

Creating a DIY taco bar is an entertaining and customizable dinner idea, suitable for everyone’s taste.


  • Taco shells or tortillas
  • Cooked ground meat (like beef, chicken, or turkey)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole


  1. Prepare and cook your chosen meat, seasoning as desired.
  2. Arrange all the ingredients in separate bowls on the table.
  3. Let each family member build their own taco, adding their favorite fillings.

Baked ziti pasta

Baked ziti pasta

Baked Ziti is a classic Italian-American comfort food, full of cheesy, tomato-based goodness. The combination of melted cheese, pasta and a robust tomato sauce is certain to satisfy everyone’s palate. Plus, it’s a one-dish meal, meaning less cleanup and more time spent with your family.


  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cook the ziti according to the package instructions until just al dente. Drain.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, mix the marinara sauce, ricotta, half of the mozzarella, the Parmesan, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and cheese mixture, stirring well to coat all the pasta.
  5. Transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.
  7. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Chocolate dipped fruit

A strawberry being dipped into melted chocolate

This simple, semi-healthy dessert is a delicious way to end a family meal.


  • Selection of fresh fruit (like strawberries, bananas, grapes)
  • Melting chocolate
  • Skewers (optional)


  1. Cut any large fruit into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler.
  3. Dip each piece of fruit into the chocolate, then place on a tray lined with parchment paper.
  4. Allow the chocolate to set in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve the fruit as is or thread onto skewers for easy eating.

Cooking together isn’t just about the food; it’s about the conversations that flow while the stew simmers, the teamwork it takes to assemble a dish and the shared laughter when something goes awry. When served at the dinner table, the food brings with it a slice of these cherished moments, making every bite a celebration of togetherness.

Check out these additional great recipes for kid chefs and your entire family:

A sloppy joe recipe your family will love

Microwave baked potato recipe

BLT pizza

Easy oat and honey granola

Easy microwave fudge recipe made five ways

An easy way to make a boxed brownie mix fudgy good

Peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters

Edible chocolate chip cookie dough

Advice to my younger self

Words of wisdom for tweens and teens

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

When I think about whether I’d go back and tell my younger self anything if I could, sometimes I think I would. Other times, I think I wouldn’t. After all, the life I’ve lived has formed me into who I am today. However, as my daughter is officially in the teen years, I have been thinking more of advice to my younger self.

Advice to my younger self Pinterest image 3

These nuggets of wisdom garnered over four decades of life have been hard-earned and oftentimes hard-learned. I want to pass along words of wisdom as much as I can to my children. I know they won’t always listen. Some lessons they’ll have to learn the hard way. And they’ll learn lessons that weren’t even relevant to me as a teen, especially as it relates to social media. As a xennial, social media wasn’t on the scene for me in middle or high school.

I also realize that neither of my children are replicas of me. I see parts of myself in both of them, but they are fully and uniquely their own people. So in thinking of advice to my younger self, I stayed away from specifics. Instead, I came up with 10 main points I wish all tweens and teens could embrace and take in.

1. Don’t take everything so personally.

Honestly, at the root of not taking everything so personally is more this message: Not everything is about you. Here’s what I mean. If you have a friend who isn’t as talkative one day, chances are he or she probably isn’t mad at your. Most likely your friend is tired or having an otherwise off day. If your mom snaps at your for something small, she is most likely just juggling multiple things or having a rough day. It doesn’t mean you’re awful.

I’ve always been incredibly good at taking things personally. I see the same attribute in one of my children, especially. But really and truly I’ve learned at least 90% of the time, the action or words I take so personally don’t really have anything to do with me specifically. I wish I would have learned that sooner. I could have saved myself a lot of grief and anxiety.

2. Learn to speak up for yourself.

It took me into adulthood to find my voice. And even now, I still struggle to speak up for myself. Advocating for yourself is important. If someone is treating you poorly, speak up for yourself and let them know it’s not OK before it’s too late.

In fact, I had a friend I was close with through middle school and most of high school. She would often say hurtful things that I let slide. And then one day, I’d had enough. I decided we were done. Our friendship ended (for this and other reasons) when it might not have had I spoken up for myself and worked out the issues sooner. Being a people pleaser never leads anywhere good. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. Don’t be afraid to respectfully speak up for yourself and your needs. And remember nobody can read your mind. If you have an issue with someone, talk to them plainly instead of passive aggressively.

3. Know you’ll find your people.

Some people make lifelong friends early on in life. My husband, for example, has a great friend who he met in fifth grade, and they have been friends ever since. But not all of us are those kind of people. When it comes to friend “luck,” in fact, I’ve struck out more often than not. If I were to give advice to my younger self, I’d tell her to hang in there.

During the tween and teens years, you’re mostly just with the kids you know from school. Maybe you’ve found your people during these years — and that’s awesome. But maybe you haven’t. Or maybe they are sort of your people but not quite. Know you will eventually find your people who “get” you and accept you for who you are. As you get older and into college and work, you’ll meet more people. Some will be part of your life for a season; others will remain for a lifetime. Don’t worry if you’ve not found your lifetime friends, yet. You still have plenty of time.

4. Stick with friends who stand by you.

Friendships are constantly shifting and changing when we’re in middle and high school. I have a plethora of stories just from my own middle and high school days! But, if you find a friend who sticks with you during hard times, keep them.

I will never forget the day in my senior year of high school when a group of “friends” spent the entire lunchtime talking negatively about me. One of my friends got up and left the table. She didn’t engage in the conversation and came to find me instead. She gave me support and encouragement. To this day, she is still one of the only people from high school I see on a regular basis. When you identify your true friends, hang on tight.

5. Ignore other people’s opinions of you.

During middle and high school, I was very aware of other people’s opinions of me. I think that’s pretty normal. But sometimes we need to just ignore what other people think and live our lives. Don’t be so busy worrying about what other people think of you that you let it shape the decisions you make. I know that can be easier said than done. I wish I would have learned sooner to not care about other’s opinions too much, though.

A great piece of advice I see floating around online is to not take criticism from people who you wouldn’t go to for advice.

6. Remember everyone has a story and a struggle.

To some degree, I think we all are aware everyone has more going on than we know about. Yet, we can easily forget that in the midst of dealing with our own challenges. In giving advice to my younger self, I’d remind her she doesn’t know everyone’s story. Some people need more grace than anyone gives them. Some people need to be loved. Others need someone to call them on their actions.

Remember if you’re going through a difficult time, it doesn’t mean your friends aren’t. We can be very good at acting like everything is fine when it isn’t. Sometimes the people who seem the happiest and most bubbly at school are the ones who cry themselves to sleep each night. Give grace, compassion and love to the people around you. Do they always deserve it? Nope. But, that’s what grace is – giving someone something they don’t deserve.

Give grace, compassion and love to the people around you. Do they always deserve it? Nope. But, that's what grace is – giving someone something they don't deserve.

7. Don’t be so stressed about academics.

Growing up, I put so much pressure on myself to do well in school. I have theories about why I did this, but they don’t matter. What I’ve learned is nobody in my life as an adult cares what my high school GPA was. Did having a great GPA help me land a full scholarship to college? Absolutely. But, did I need to stress as much as I did over it? Definitely not.

My advice to my younger self would be to just let it go sometimes. To do well, do her best and get good grades, but don’t make that such an important part of life. I completely missed my 16th birthday because I had a band concert that night. My band director threatened to dock my grade to a “C” if I didn’t go to the concert. So instead of celebrating with my family as planned (and as I wanted to), I went to the concert. I didn’t want to risk my GPA. Looking back, I should have just stayed home and celebrated. And that leads to…

8. Relax and enjoy life.

I know life seems stressful and busy when you’re a tween and teen. I do remember that, but I can also promise you are in a phase when you can choose to just enjoy life. You have some responsibilities, sure. However, you aren’t in charge of everything in your life. While that is sometimes frustrating, it’s also freeing.

Middle and high school are the perfect times to enjoy life. Try new things. Take up a new hobby and see what you think. Spend a Saturday reading through an entire novel. Don’t get so caught up in the stress of life that you forget to also enjoy it!

9. Life will never go according to plan.

Poor younger me. She was a planner. In fact, I still am a planner. I love to have a plan and to-do lists. They make my heart sing. But my best advice to my younger self is to know that life won’t go according to plan, and that’s OK. Your tween and teen years are a great time to learn to embrace the unpredictability of life. Get upset about the change in what you had planned if you need to. However, don’t get stuck there. Move forward into a plan B, C, D or however many letters it takes!

One day, you’ll look back and understand why your original plan not working out was for the best. Or at the very least, you’ll see lessons you learned as a result. And more times than you would guess, you’ll be thankful your original plan fell through because the alternative was so much better. Make plans, but know they won’t always turn out exactly as you envisioned, and it really is OK.

10. Give yourself grace.

Yep. I do harp on this a lot, but it’s something I wish my younger self knew sooner. I’ve spent a lifetime excelling at being hard on myself. I’m nice to people around me. In fact, I love encouraging other people and always have, even as a tween and teen. But, whew! I am mean to myself. My inner voice says awful things and has no patience for mistakes.

I’m continually learning to quiet this voice and remind myself I’m doing the best I can. I truly wish I had learned this lesson from a younger age. It would have saved me from so many negative feelings and given me self-confidence.

See the video of this post here and on the Families with Grace YouTube channel:

15 Cyber safety tips for parents

Tips to stay safe online from a cyber security expert

As a child in the 1980s, I didn’t do much at all with technology. That’s not at all true for my own kiddos. They’ve been using tablets and computers since preschool. And that’s just at school. Unlike other parenting strategies my husband and I can draw from our own childhood experiences, online safety is all new. Parents like us have to figure out how to keep our kiddos safe online and navigate the challenges that come with technology. Knowing some cyber safety tips can help.

Let’s go a step further than basic cyber safety tips. Instead let’s take a deeper look into how to keep our kids safe online. I recently sat down with my husband, a cybersecurity expert who is a certified ethical hacker, and talked with him about cyber safety for families. These 15 cyber safety tips come through him and what works for our own family.

15 cyber safety tips for parents from a cyber security expert

1. Be aware of what you post about your children.

We parents get the blame for everything. But the truth is when it comes to cyber safety, we have to be just as careful as our children. While social media may be your outlet, be aware that what you post about your kids can impact them and affect their safety. Gulp.

I have some strict rules in place for my family that we all adhere to. For example, I don’t share on any public platform our specific location, the name of my children’s school or even the full names of my children. I’m very protective of their information and their photographs. I try to always consider how what I post could impact my kids if the wrong person got that information. And I assume the wrong person will get any information I post publicly in order to keep myself on track.

2. Set up their email accounts to go to yours as well.

One of the settings offered in Gmail (and pretty much any email service you use) is mail forwarding. Our daughter, who is 13, has been using her email address for the past two years. The rule from the beginning has been that all messages are forwarded to her dad’s email address. She doesn’t get anything that he doesn’t get as well. While we trust her, we also want to be aware of what she’s doing and with whom she is interacting. The biggest thing we’ve found with getting her emails is what kinds of things she’s signing up for online, which is important.

(Check out these directions for how to automatically forward messages on Gmail.)

3. Check their direct messages.

While teens still email, they do much more when it comes to direct messaging. For any account our daughter has, she has to give us her username and password so that we can check in on it. Right now the only social media she has and uses is Pinterest. She and I are connected so I can see her boards, but I can also log in and check her stuff.

For a while, especially during quarantine, she was really into a writing app that I didn’t use. I had the app on my phone and set up with her account so any time she got a notification, I did, too.

4. Utilize YouTube Kids.

Kids love videos, and YouTube Kids is a great way to let them have access to videos without worrying as much. We started both of our children with YouTube Kids and only in the past two years let our daughter have access to regular YouTube. While it isn’t completely locked down, it does keep the content mostly child friendly and help keep your kids from accidentally (or intentionally) getting onto a video that is inappropriate.

Whether they are on YouTube Kids or the regular version, periodically check their search history and the videos they are watching. Last year, my daughter was talking about a pastor she really enjoyed watching on YouTube. I checked out the videos to make sure they were solid and was pleased that they were. In fact, when Sarah Jakes Roberts came to a city near us earlier this year, I got tickets and the two of us went to see her in person. But it could have been a different story if the “pastor” wasn’t Biblically sound or was otherwise a negative influence

5. Know their passwords.

Anything that requires a login and password is something that our kids are required to give to us as well. If there is ever a question, problem, issue or a need to do a random check, we are able to do so. The same is true for their devices. If they have a lock-screen, we have to know the passcode to get in. We haven’t had an issue with our kiddos (really just our 13-year-old right now) not sharing this information or keeping us updated, but if we did, the consequence is loss of technology.

When it comes to cyber safety tips, one of the most important things for both adults and kiddos is to keep passwords protected. Find a system that works for you. My husband trusts Bitwarden to manage passwords, so I use it as well. I like that I can have it installed as an extension on my laptop and on my phone, so I always have log-in information and passwords easily accessible. Consider using a password manager to more easily keep track of your kids’ passwords (and your own!).

6. Pick the correct usernames.

Usernames for apps and games are public. Help your kids choose an appropriate username that doesn’t reveal personal information. Our rule is that usernames can’t include their real name. My daughter uses favorite fictional characters to comprise her usernames. We have also used variations of favorite animals. Regardless, definitely don’t allow usernames that include their name or their full name for games, apps or social media.

7. Approve of their profile photos.

Many apps and programs require a profile photo, even if it isn’t social media. Be sure to approve of your child’s profile photo for apps before they post them. Our rule is photos of themselves are typically not allowed. There are so many fun alternatives they can use instead. In fact, my daughter’s Pinterest profile picture is a funny meme.

8. Talk about liars online.

A huge cyber safety tip for parents is to talk about online stranger danger. Most adults these days know to be cautious on who you trust online, because people aren’t necessarily who they say they are. But, kids don’t know that as well. Our 13-year-old has gotten tired of hearing it, but we still remind her that you never know who you’re talking to in many situations. Just because someone seems like a fellow fan of a book who is also in school doesn’t mean they are. Instead of being a 13-year-old girl, the person could be a 30-year-old man looking for an inappropriate relationship.

15 cyber safety tips for parents from a cybersecurity expert

9. Remind them of the permanence of online content.

Just like we talked about in what we post about our kiddos, we all need to know that what we post is always online, even if we delete it. Someone can access it. My husband’s online philosophy is that he assumes anything he posts will eventually become public, even if he is sharing it to only friends on social media. Chances are that won’t actually happen, but it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure that you aren’t oversharing or posting inappropriate things. Our kiddos also need this information and reminder.

10. Utilize filters and device managers.

Figuring out what to use for filters and device managers can be a challenge. I’m fortunate in that my cybersecurity husband is on it. I can’t tell you what’s best, but I can tell you what works really well for us and both are free. Our kids’ computers have Microsoft Family Safety installed on them that filters internet content and generates reports.

What we use the absolute most, though, is Google Family Link. It works on both Apple and Android devices, including Chromebooks. This allows us to see what our kids are doing on their device, set time limits and prohibit them from installing apps (even free ones) without password-protected permission from us. The time limits include being able to set times that their device shuts down. For example, our son’s tablet is set so that he can’t use it before 7 a.m. or after 7:30 p.m. We can go in and modify that for one-time or ongoing instances.

11. Don’t allow them to install apps without permission.

I trust my kiddos. Neither of them have given me a reason to not trust them with technology, but for right now, neither of them are allowed to install apps on their devices without permission from us. Through Google Family Link (see the previous point), their devices are set so any app installed on their phone requires password-protected permission from us.

The biggest reason we’ve instated this policy is to keep them from installing apps that will fill up their devices or are otherwise spam-y. But it also serves to make sure they aren’t able to install nefarious apps to hide things. I know there will come a point at which they are allowed to be responsible for their own app management, but right now they are 9 and 13. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

12. Keep passwords and passcodes secret.

Our kids want to be good friends and trust their friends. And they should be able to, but they also need to understand that sharing passwords and passcodes is not OK. In order to stay safe online, our kids’ devices and accounts need to be controlled by them (and us). Allowing anyone else access to them is asking for trouble.

13. Don’t let friends have free reign on devices.

This goes right along with protecting passwords. Nobody else should have free reign on our kiddos’ devices. Again, friends should be trustworthy, but not everyone has the same rules and standards for cyber safety.

For example, a couple of years ago, a friend of my daughter’s nabbed her tablet and starting messaging with someone on a writing app my daughter was using. Our rule was that our daughter couldn’t use her real name on the app at all, even in private messages. Her friend started to send a message to someone that mentioned her real name. There wasn’t an issue in the end, but even just those sorts of things can happen without malintent.

14. Talk about what information is OK to share and what isn’t.

When it comes to cyber safety tips, this is sort of a no-brainer. We all know we shouldn’t share personal information online. But our kids don’t have those years of experience or even always think about how what they are sharing could be used against them. In our family, our kiddos aren’t allowed to share where they live any more detailed than the geographic region of the country. They also cannot share their school name or their real names. Those are our rules for their protection.

15. Keep lines of communication open.

Being able to talk with your kiddos about what they’re doing online and any issues they encounter is important. We want our kids to come to us with questions. We also talk with them about various situations and how to be safe online. Technology is part of their world, and we can’t pretend it isn’t.

My husband and I are doing our best to help our kids navigate technology and the internet in safe ways. That means giving them chances to use technology and not forbidding it. It means trusting them, but arming them with information about how to stay safe. And it also means having consequences in place for breaking our technology rules.

One of the other things we do in communicating with our kids about cyber safety is to be sure to praise them when they make the right choices. I’ve seen my oldest handle direct messages with well when the sender seemed suspicious or was telling her something required more help than she could give. I complimented her for her responses to highlight to her what she did well. Giving praise is just as important as doling out criticism and advice.

Connecting with Grace: A Mother and Daughter Shared Journal

A giveaway of a faith-based way for moms and daughters to connect

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I discovered shared journals. We fell in love with the idea of being able to write back-and-forth to each other. It was a great way to connect, but we were disappointed that we couldn’t find one like us: a bit serious and a bit silly. So, we decided to create own. Thus the idea for “Connecting with Grace” was born.

And now “Connecting with Grace” is completed and ready just in time for the Christmas season!

What is a mother and daughter shared journal?

A mother and daughter shared journal is a journal that a mom and daughter both write in. Instead of all blank pages, however, the journal includes writing prompts and questions to get the conversation flowing. The mom and daughter then pass the journal back and forth to each other after they’ve written in it.

Lexi and I usually leave it on the other one’s bed for them to see it. We read what the other one wrote and then write as well. Sometimes we make comments specifically on what the other one wrote, but mostly we move on to the next prompt.

Mother and daughter journals can be a great way to connect without having to sit and talk face-to-face. It gives you a chance to think about your words before you write them. You can be more contemplative and honest. Though Lexi and I both enjoy writing, the benefit of a mother and daughter shared journal is that the writing prompts make sure we have something to talk about each time we write so we don’t get repetitive or somehow run out of things to say.

How “Connecting with Grace” is different

Faith is a big part of our lives, so we wanted to have a mother and daughter shared journal that included a faith component. But at the same time, we didn’t want something all serious, all the time. Because we are a mix of serious and silly. And sometimes we are seriously silly!

When we were working on “Connecting with Grace,” we wanted to make it something we would love and use. Most prompts include a Bible verse. A few have inspirational quotes instead. And each topic has a page for a mother and a page for a daughter. (If you have more than one daughter you want to do this with, you can always use “Connecting with Grace” with a separate journal or notebook as well.)

The 50 different prompts include topics like school, the Bible, relationships, friendships, womanhood and more. We also added in some blank journal pages throughout that you can use for whatever you most want to do. And there are five Q&A sections throughout to help you get to know each other even better.

Lexi and I know each other well, so we tried to come up with things that we didn’t actually know about each other. We worked well together in writing questions. For example, Lexi let me know when my questions sounded too much like a Sunday School teacher!

We also didn’t want to add pressure to busy schedules, so we didn’t date the journal in any way. That way you can complete on your own timeframe. We have written in ours daily sometimes and weekly other times. It really just depends on what’s going on in our lives.

Another component we really wanted to include was ideas for one-on-one time together. We’ve called them “Face-to-face with Grace” and included 10 of them throughout the book. Because while we love the idea of getting to share with one another through writing, we also think it’s important to be intentional about spending time together.

Where to buy “Connecting with Grace”

Right now “Connecting with Grace” is available on Amazon as a paperback for $12. It is part of Amazon Prime, so it will ship quickly and free to you if you are an Amazon Prime member. The journal is 8.5 x 11 inches so you have plenty of space to write. We went with white paper to make writing with any writing utensil easy to show up.

A chance to win a “Connecting with Grace” gift basket

We’re so excited to share “Connecting with Grace” with the world. So, we are doing a giveaway to get it into the hands of a lucky winner. And we’re adding in some other items for a perfect mother and daughter bonding gift basket!

(This giveaway is in no way sponsored by the makers of the products we are including in the gift basket along with our book.)

Along with a paperback copy of “Connecting with Grace,” the winner will also receive the following:

A set of 6 magnetic inspirational bookmarks to use for marking your page in “Connecting with Grace” and extras for any other book you’re reading.

A set of 4 glittery ink pens you can use to write in “Connecting with Grace.”

A box of Russel Stover chocolates to snack on while you’re journaling. (Or any other time, because there’s never a bad time for chocolate!)

A blank journal you can use to make additional notes, include a second (or more) daughter or even just to write your insights for “Connecting with Grace” in case you don’t want to write in the journal itself.

Giveaway entry

In order to enter the giveaway, you MUST “like” Families with Grace on Facebook and complete the giveaway form (below). You can earn extra entries by signing up for the Families with Grace email list (which will also give you a free copy of the 7-Day Acts of Grace Challenge Devotion AND 10 Ways to Start Living as a Family with Grace Now!), follow Families with Grace on Instagram, follow Families with Grace on Twitter and follow Families with Grace on Pinterest. Just indicate those options on the giveaway form. (You do not have to be new to Families with Grace to participate!)

The giveaway starts at 12 a.m. EST on Nov. 2, 2021 and ends at 12 a.m. EST on Nov. 15, 2021. A winner will be randomly selected and, once confirmed that they fulfilled the mandatory guideline of “liking” Families with Grace on Facebook, will be announced on the Families with Grace Facebook page by 2 p.m. EST on Nov. 16, 2021.

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Back to school clothes for middle schoolers

10 Great options for back to school clothes for middle schoolers you and your parents will love!

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Clothes are one of the hardest things to some up with ideas for. Today I decided to do the shopping for you, and came up with 10 awesome finds for back to school clothes for middle schoolers! I looked for pieces that would be easy to mix and match while also being comfy and practical for a day of middle school.

These four shirts, four bottoms, one dress and one jewelry set will help you get through this upcoming back to school season in style.

First, try this cute graphic tee with back jeans. And I love the reminder to be kind! We need more kindness in middle school — and everywhere!

This cute T-shirt dress comes in about 40 other colors. Pair it with leggings or shorts for added comfort and modesty.

Another option is this cold shoulder style shirt, which also has a color variety. I think it is quite cute and a great way to kick it up a notch from a plain tee!

This adorable pullover jacket, which I like best in pink, also comes in other colors.

I also found this long-sleeved top I liked. The only other color is green!

When it comes to back to school clothes for middle schoolers, being able to buy staples in bulk is a good thing. And, according to me, you can’t go a year without black leggings! You also can’t have too many of them!

Jeans are also a necessity so I thought I would list a pair! I love ones that are comfy and soft. They work for so many outfits!

Back to school starts out hot most places. These shorts are another great option, which you can get in lots of different colors.

I also like this skirt, which yet again comes in multiple colors. I’m a fan of black because it works with so many other colors and options.

And we can’t forget accessories. Check out this super cool jewelry set that would work well throughout the entire school year.

Looking for more ideas for tween girls? Don’t miss these posts!

Girls with Grace, a tween blog written by a tween girl, has new posts on Tuesdays two to four times a month. Find out more from Girls with Grace:

Talking to your tween

Ideas from a mom and daughter on talking to your tweens and connecting with them

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Caught somewhere between being a child and a teenager, tweens (kiddos age 10-12) are growing and evolving in ways their parents often struggle to keep up with. Talking to your tween is a bit different from when they were younger kiddos and requires sometimes being intentional — and patient!

With that in mind, Lexi from Girls with Grace and I (Stacey from Families with Grace) have put together our ideas about talking to your tween based on our own experiences. Lexi is a couple months away from turning 12. We don’t always have our stuff together and communicate like a tween dream team. But we have found ways to change and grow our relationship and communication as Lexi has gotten older.

Ideas for ways to talk to your tween from a tween

Lexi: Talking to your tween can go so many different ways depending on your tween’s personality. Therefore, the first step is to figure out exactly what that is. Starting off, decide if your tween is the open, talk-about-it type or the type that will NOT talk about it.

If he or she is the open type, then just ask your questions head on. (EX: Do you think the new kid is cute?) If that doesn’t go well, try a more indirect approach. (EX: Who is the new kid?)

If he or she is less open, try out a trade-off journal. You can find journals with prompts to write about and exchange, or just use a blank journal. Ask the questions on the page and let the other person write about it.

If that fails, try just leaving a book or something in her room about the topic you are trying to talk about (EX: boys). In order to get her input on the subject, leave three to six (depending on the length of said book) notebook pages with one question each throughout the book. Ask her to read and then answer them. Make it clear you will read the responses and write a paragraph or two on anything you want reply. For example, maybe her response to a question is “Conner is kinda cute.” Then maybe you respond “When I met him, Conner seemed very nice.” Give her the option to respond or not.

Ideas for ways to talk to your tween from a mom

Stacey: One of the things I’ve learned these past couple of years is to find time when my tween is feeling chatty to talk with her. There are certain times of day Lexi feels more like opening up about what’s going on in her life. Right now, the best time for us to talk is in the evening before bedtime. While I’m an early bird, I understand that my night owl kiddo wants to talk in the evening, so I’ve made that a priority as much as possible.

We have been intentional about having one-on-one (or two-on-one when we include my husband) time throughout the week to check in with Lexi. Reading relevant nonfiction books together has been a great way to connect and talk. American Girl (yep, the doll maker!) has a terrific selection of “A Smart Girl’s Guide” to everything from cooking to puberty to room organization to boys to clothes to friend drama. We’ve read through a few together and had some great conversations as a result.

Another way Lexi and I have connected as mom and daughter is through the shared journal she mentioned. I can more easily write about my feelings than talk about them, so it’s a natural fit for me. Lexi has inherited my love of writing and reading so it works well for us. We talk about random things and deep things in the journal with prompts. We’ve enjoyed the shared journal so much that the two of us are working to create one together.

Check out and download this sample of our journal for free to try with your own tweens!

Advice for moms of tweens from a tween

Lexi: Try to take time out of your day to make her feel special. (Especially if she has siblings.) Take her out to go get ice cream, or watch an episode of her favorite show with her. Even if it is as simple as making or ordering our favorite food, it does make us feel better. Also, we love compliments. (Check out these compliment pencils from my most recent blog post!)

Advice for moms of tweens from a mom

Stacey: Having quality one-on-one time together is often the best way for connecting with and talking to your tween. We’ve found being in the car together is a great time to chat. And we’ve had some mom and daughter dates. Neither of those things happened as often or as easily during COVID-19. But once the weather got warm again this spring, Lexi and I went to Dairy Queen and shared an order of chicken wings and each got ice cream. We sat outside in the sunshine and just enjoyed chatting together and being out of the house. I really do think usually the small stuff makes the biggest difference!

Advice for tweens from a tween

Lexi: Remember your mom is with you to the end and your one friend from class probably won’t be. Therefore, talk to her. Tell your mom about your day, give her a card (and maybe a gift) on her birthday and other special occasions. Even if you just make your mom dinner or draw a picture for her, it still counts. Maybe even start a Bible study club with each other! Just do stuff together, because it really does make all the difference.

Advice for tweens from a mom

Stacey: Be patient with your parents is my biggest advice. Just as you are figuring out how to be an older kid with more mature tastes and interests, we are figuring out how to be your parents. We still remember how tiny you started in the world. And we are doing our best to let you grow up. But sometimes we mess up. Know we are always doing our best to love you and connect with you.

After patience, I offer the reminder that your parents were once your age. We may not have lived your exact experiences, but we do have experiences to draw from. And we love having a chance to talk with you about any and all of it. Mostly, though, we just want to connect with, talk to and love on you.

Why talking to your tween is important

Lexi: Parents and tweens do need to stay connected. Whether you know it or not, this is the phase of life your tweens are deciding to keep you or not. It is possible we decide you are annoying and don’t engage with you any more than necessary for the next five years. Maybe instead we decide you are awesome and hang out often. It all depends. Staying reasonably connected can make us keep you.

Stacey: Honestly, Lexi’s comments on this floored me. When I think back to my own tweenager days, what I wanted most was to feel heard and understood. My parents weren’t perfect (and neither am I!), but they were there for me in so many ways that our relationship stayed in tact.

As a mom, I do my best to make sure my kiddos feel heard and understood. It isn’t always so easy. I want them to be able to come to their dad and me with everything they have going on. I want to be their support system as they grow and change. And none of that happens without talking and connecting on a regular basis.

How to make a better connection

Lexi: Parents can do things they don’t even realize kinda break it for us. First of all, don’t push something. If you think something is wrong, then you can ask if we are OK. But if we don’t tell you anything is wrong despite your efforts, then please realize we either honestly don’t want or need to talk about it or nothing really is not wrong! If you have done well as a parent, then we will be open with you when we want or need to be, OK?

Also, when picking something that has to do with us, ask us what we want. You want to take me somewhere to celebrate my half birthday? Yay! You took me to McDonald’s, the one place I didn’t want to go? Boo! Point is, just ask what I want instead of trying to guess, because it is very possible you will get it wrong.

Stacey: Making a connection with your tween is about more than talking to your tween. It’s also about really listening and taking an interest in them. And it’s about knowing when to back off. For me, backing off can be the most difficult, because if my kiddos are upset, I want to know what’s going on and try to help! However, I also know that for me personally someone being too pushy with me is going to result in me being even quieter. So, I do my best to give space to my kiddos when they need it.

Aside from talking, doing special things for our kids is important and helps them feel valued, but we need to do the things they enjoy. For tweens, we also have to realize that what they enjoy may not be the same as it was two years ago (or even two months ago!). My husband and I started a policy early on in our marriage that asking isn’t a bad thing. Neither of us are mind-readers, so sometimes we just have to ask what the other needs or wants to do. The same is true with our kids. Just asking what they’d like to do for a special moment together can make all the difference on whether it’s successful.

Makeup for tweens and teens

Light facial care and makeup tweens and teens will love

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here

I have always been interested in makeup. I would play it as a young kid — and end up looking like a clown. Now that I’m a bit older, I get to look human instead! But I want the makeup to look natural and my skin to be healthy. I know I’m not alone, so I’ve put together a list of makeup for tweens and teens that are reasonable and light. I even included some perfect face care product ideas as well.

When it comes to makeup, you want the right amount. You don’t want too much. Instead, you want to enhance your natural beauty. It’s something we all have! If you’re interested in makeup just because YOU want to wear it, ask for permission from a parent or guardian. I put together lots of options that are great ways to get started with makeup.

None of these are like some of the crazy full coverage, expensive makeup tutorial that I know you have seen online. Whilst in some situations these may be helpful, nobody is actually going to wake up at 5 a.m. every single day to apply primer and foundations 1, 2 and 3, and then add concealer, highlighter, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, etc. There is literally no point, and you don’t need to do all of that! So without further ado, these realistic and practical makeup ideas for tweens and teens to help you use makeup without looking like a clown.

Foundation options

Instead of full-on foundation, other products are great for younger faces. Whilst foundation is nice and all, if you are under age 17, you probably shouldn’t be using high coverage foundations. There are other alternatives though

Tinted moisturizer

Whilst you are still evening out your skin tone, your skin still shows so that you aren’t masking your face. Even better, go for tinted moisturizer with SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

Light concealer

Concealer may be a good option if you only need to cover small blemishes. Pick a shade closest to your skin tone.

My favorite option for concealer is this Neutrogena skin clearing blemish concealer because it also treats pimples to help them go away. Double duty!

Mascara options

Mascara can also be heavy, but fortunately other options are available.

Petroleum Jelly

It doesn’t get much more basic than petroleum jelly, which lengthens your lashes with just a small amount. Keep it around for treating dry skin as well!

Clear Mascara

Clear Mascara doesn’t add any harsh color, and gives a much more natural effect. My favorite is e.l.f. clear brow and lash mascara.

This is my mom’s favorite mascara, though she uses black instead of clear. She’s been using Maybelline Great Lash mascara since before I was born!

Lip color options

Lipstick is intense and not exactly perfect for teens. A few other options can add a bit of color without overpowering your face.

Lip gloss

Lip gloss is nice because it adds a nice shine and, depending on the kind, even some color to your lips.

This L.A. Colors high shine lip gloss comes in clear and 17 other shades.
This Neutrogena lip soother not only offers a shiny tint in three shades but also SPF 20.
This lip gel from NK Makeup comes in three different options to help moisturize and care for your lips. You can buy them in a variety pack of six or packs of six with only one type.
If you’re looking for both tint and clear, check out this super affordable 5-pack of NK Makeup’s lip gel.
Burt’s Bees lip shine is all natural and available in five shades.
This Rimmel Stay Glossy lip gloss has 29 different shades.

Tinted Lip Balm

Tinted lip balm adds color without adding any heaviness. It’s also a great option if you are newer to adding any color and just want to try something light.

This Chapstick Total Hydration is available in at least six shades.
This Covergirl tinted lip balm comes in 10 shades.

Tinted lip oil

Tinted lip oil is great if you want a bit of hydrating gloss, as well as some color.

This Almay lip oil-in-a-stick comes in six shades.
This Burt’s Bees tinted lip oil pen comes in six shades.
The tinted lip oil from e.l.f. comes in two shades.

Other face care and makeup for tweens and teens

Other things you may add to your makeup routine include:

Face cleaning wipes:
Yes to clear skin
Neutrogena oil-free
Dickinson’s with witch hazel and aloe

Moisturizer (unless you use tinted):
Neutrogena oil-free acne moisturizer
Cetaphil daily hydrating oil-free face lotion with hyaluronic acid
Clean & Clear morning burst gel moisturizer for acne-prone skin
Neutrogena soothing clear Tumeric gel moisturizer

Acne cream:
Burt’s Bees spot treatment
Clean & Clear persa-gel-10 spot treatment

Bioré clarifying toner
Neutrogena oil-free acne stress control toner
Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner with Rose Water

Hydrating lip balm:
Aquaphor lip repair ointment (for chapped lips)
Burt’s Bees moisturizing lip balm
Chapstick Total Hydration

Makeup brushes:
Bestope 16-piece makeup brush set
Luxaza 15-piece makeup brush set
Syntus Makeup Brush Set 16 Makeup Brushes, 4 Blender Sponges and 1 Cleaning Pad

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer
Maybelline Master Bronze Kit
Rimmel Natural Bronzer

Profusion Cosmetics on-the-go blush palette
Covergirl Cheekers
Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow and Mood Boosting Blush

Eye shadow:
U Can Be eye shadow palette
Revlon Color Stay eye shadow palette
Rimmel Magnif’eyes eye shadow palette

Makeup remover wipes:
Garnier Skin Active

Face masks:
Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Peel Off Face Mask
Yes To Cotton Comforting Paper Mask
Bioré Charcoal warming clay mask for oily skin with natural charcoal

Girls with Grace, a tween blog written by a tween girl, has new posts on Tuesdays two to four times a month. Find out more about Girls with Grace:

6 tips for protecting your teens on social media

Ivana Davies, from Find Your Mom Tribe, has some practical ideas for keeping kids safe online.

This guest post is part of the Families with Grace’s Social Media Savvy series that covers a commonsense approach to handling social media as a parent.

Social media has its positives, but like pretty much anything else online, it also has dangers. Scammers and predators are always on the prowl, and online bullying has risen significantly in recent years. Teens are constantly bombarded with ads, threats, frauds and general bad influences.

If you’re a parent, you’re probably familiar with the little gnaw of worry whenever you think about the darker corners of the web. How do I keep my child safe? What can I do to protect them without smothering them?

You aren’t alone. Many parents have these concerns, but a few tips and tricks can help keep your teen safe online.

1. Get familiar with social networks.

Most teenagers don’t use Facebook. Studies have shown that it’s less popular than sites like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat. Teens also do most of their browsing on their phones rather than traditional computers or laptops.

Knowing these things are important if you want to understand what your child is doing on social media. You don’t have to be a technological genius, but you should have a working knowledge of the problem if you want your actions or advice to carry any weight.

To put it another way, your child isn’t going to let you deal with Snapchat bullies if you don’t know about or can’t even operate Snapchat. Your first step in becoming a social media warrior is learning what the battlefield looks like.

2. Protect their identity.

We live in a world where our GPS-enabled smartphones can track and analyze our locations. Our social media accounts are full of names, addresses, schools, workplaces and family pictures. Most people don’t even think twice about letting an app announce who they are or where they’re going. They might even help with things like vlogs and livestreams!

Make sure your child understands the danger of giving out too much information on the web. For example, they might complain about a late ride, but they shouldn’t share street names or broadcast the fact that they’re a stranded minor at a particular location without any adults around. Don’t let them ask their followers for a lift or accept any offers from accounts they don’t know.

You should also warn them against divulging personal information just because people ask for it. You might be stunned to realize how easily teenagers are willing to share their bank information just because someone claims to need it to resell them some concert tickets.

“Could a weirdo use this against me?” is the golden rule of posting things on social media. Tell your child to memorize it and ask it of themselves before they post anything. A little diligence today can save them a lot of trouble tomorrow.

3. Remember the internet is forever.

People don’t always understand the permanency of things posted online. While this applies to both kids and adults, impulsive, short-sighted teenagers are particularly vulnerable to it.

If they make a questionable post that gets taken out of context and publicly shamed, they could be haunted by the screenshots for years to come. If they share racy selfies that get passed around, both sender and receiver could be in trouble under child pornography laws.

The “delete” button is pretty much useless on the Internet. Make sure your child understands this. If necessary, remind them of all of the silly or embarrassing things that they might’ve posted before, and ask if they would still want to be known for these things five years down the line. Remind them that whatever they post today will have to pass the five-year test someday.

4. Watch out for stranger danger.

Unfortunately, lots of predators are on the web. Some are scammers or identity thieves; others have more nefarious purposes, especially for young people.

The simple truth is you can’t protect your teenager from every creep on the Internet. You can, however, teach them how to recognize the signs of one, and make sure they’re comfortable coming to you if they suspect someone is trying to take advantage of them.

Here are a few danger signs:

  • Anyone who offers to send them money or buy them things
  • Deals that are too good to be true
  • Deals that require them to give personal or financial information to strangers
  • Weird links, ads, promos or direct messages

You should also teach your kids to never trust a profile of someone they don’t know. It’s way too easy for a 40-year-old man to pretend to be a 16-year-old girl! It’s called catfishing, and people do it for money, power, influence, sexual gratification or personal amusement.

If your child doesn’t understand the dangers of catfishing, try registering for a fake account yourself to show them how little effort it takes to lie on the Internet.

5. Install controls and blockers.

Lots of parental control software is on the market and doesn’t have to be a bad thing that your child rails against.

For example, your teen might not appreciate any programs that monitor his web activity or limits her screen time, but he or she shouldn’t be bothered by adblockers or virus blockers. As long as you’re not butting into their conversations, they probably won’t care if you know who’s on their friends list.

Content filters are usually the biggest argument. Teenagers don’t want to be restricted from seeing “inappropriate” content like they’re little kids being denied access to an R-rated movie. Try sitting down with them and seeing if you can agree on reasonable content filters for things like violence, pornography and hate speech. R-rated sites might be okay for older teenagers, but you can draw the line at X-rated.

You should probably stay away from things like keyloggers. Unless your child is being punished, that level of scrutiny is only going to foster resentment.

6. Always be willing to listen.

At the end of the day, there’s only so much that you can do to protect your child on social media.

Your best bet at staying “in the know” is to keep an open line of communication with them. Emphasize that you’re always available if they want to chat, discuss, whine, rant or ask questions about something that they’ve seen. Even if it’s just complaining about spam accounts or a bad website design, it’ll build trust between the two of you, and they’ll be more likely to seek you out if and when they have a real problem.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. You won’t have a rapport with your child after a single conversation. Just like parenting classes would tell you, it takes consistent, everyday effort to maintain an open and honest relationship about their online activity, but it can definitely be done.

About the author:
Ivana Davies is an educator turned stay-at-home mom to a beautiful 7-year-old girl and a playful 5-year-old boy. She found so much parenting information online that she started her own blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, to share her experiences and struggles as a mom. You can connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.

This post is part of Families with Grace’s Social Media Savvy series that covers a commonsense approach to handling social media as a parent. Check out these other posts from the series: