I love giving craft stuff as gifts, and there are so many cool things for 8-9 year old girls.
At a bookstore near me I saw all these kits - one had supplies and instructions to make fairies, one was a learning to crochet kit, one was about the art of paper twirling.
Someone got my 8 year old nephew some fusible beads, an idea book for the beads, and a bead organizer and he loved it.
I also second the idea of board games - my nephews and the kids at school love them. I love Apples to Apples, I didn't know there was a Jr. version. Its a great game.
I usually just check out the Hearthsong catalog if I'm stuck, they have such great stuff!
"Home is where the heart is, no matter how the heart lives." - PP&M