As a parent with an 8 and 10-year-old (WHERE DID THE TIME GO??!!!), I was STUMPED on what to give them until a few weeks ago. Listen, all they really want is endless YouTube time (no chance), crop tops (not yet, ma’am), video game ANYTHING, and any sort of tech that they definitely don’t need….yet. I feel increasingly old school, wanting them to go outside or just engage in something without a screen. I’m so glad I didn’t publish this post a few weeks ago as planned because I’ve done so much more research/shopping and found stuff I’m really excited to get them – let’s just see/hope if they agree. I’m also just going to pepper in photos of my kids when they were toddlers, when I felt more ok to put them on the internet (because they didn’t look like who they were going to become yet). Y’all, they might be the cutest kids on the planet.
But first, for this year’s kids’ gift guide, I’ve asked our kids their favorite toys from every age that they can remember (I filled in ages 1-3), and then at the end I’m telling you what we are giving them. I shopped long and hard to find some new things this year that I really hope they’ll like. But on Christmas days they can act like monsters so who knows?!??!
Listen, these are the waters that we swim in – the Christmas consumer conundrum. So if we are doing this let’s just have them be great hits and things they’ll love and play with for a long time, shall we?
0-1 is the year to buy them toys and clothes that YOU like to look at because you get 100% control (which will change). I feel far away from the baby years (but would have another if I could snap my fingers – read about Brian’s vasectomy here) so there are likely other blogs that will do this better, but the classics and the goods are always classic and good.
Both of our kids were obsessed with these blankies with faces – the face was soft but gave them a sense of a buddy, but the blankie part was extremely soft. Be prepared for them to have an outsized obsession with this guy and not be able to sleep without it.
Activity Gyms + Quiet Books + Busy Boards
Both our kids loved activity gyms or blocks (for multiple years) and I didn’t discover the quiet book til I had Elliot (amazing for restaurants, flights, anywhere they need something to do with their hands). Definitely good for toddlers, too. Busy boards are GREAT, too.
These are both pretty and so fun to play with. Even I loved to build with them at the end of the day.
Rocking anything – you’ll worry about them falling off, but the moments between terror and joy will be worth it.
Ages 2-4 (Or Up)
Imagination toys were my favorite things to play with the kids when they were toddlers. This grocery store (while big and not my favorite aesthetically) was so much more fun than a kitchen because they felt like they had a grown-up job, with credit cards and money. They played with it til they were 5 and 7. The belt actually moves and every item beeped when you scanned it. Our kids rarely played with the toy kitchen but played “store” for hours and hours.
We had the larger version of these faux wood blocks and they were a huge hit for YEARS – they could go so high without fear of tumbling on them when they were little. These colorful ones are also a classic.
Hours and hours of tactile fun.
Go for a big inventory! Both our kids loved legos of course (A LOT), but these are more fun, less messy, and strangely rewarding to play with.
Because getting them into the bath every night is like hazing for a fraternity over and over. Sure, some nights it’s fun but for others, you need some extra tools. Colorful bath bombs always helped.
Costume party: For Birdie, it was a Princess dress-up set with tiaras (or for Charlie he loved anything with shields, swords, masks, etc).
Washable, no-stress nail polish so that you can have a mani-pedi with them without ruining their clothes, your carpet, or your life.
Jewelry Boxes (or any secret boxes with a key). Elliot has the Pottery Barn ones (and I let her buy trinket boxes when she vintage shops with me). Most kids just like a box that only they can open that feels secret and private (same:)).
I’d like to introduce you to one of the presents that looks like garbage but they continue to LOVE so it makes the gift guide every year. She ain’t pretty or cool, but they can’t wait to manage their money inside. (Just make sure they write down the pin, it’s annoying to reset). This toy expires around age 9 FYI, but we are still enjoying it with our youngest.
If cats already creep you out this will not be your friend. It’s weird and expensive (so try to snag it on sale next weekend). This is a comfort pet for senior citizens but our kids LOVE THESE SO MUCH. It’s animatronic, and meows, purrs, and cleans its own paws, rolls over to pet tummy, etc. WHY OWN AN ACTUAL CAT???? Do some people think it’s creepy? SURE! But it was the second stand-out toy from last year (behind the 3D printer which they still play with). It’s so fun TBH. Perhaps this was more for me.
These take some adult help at times, and are the types of toys that they resist playing with, calling them boring or “educational” but then once they start hours go by and you can check that stem box.
My mom got Elliot one of these a couple of years ago and we all loved it. Just throw it in the microwave and it’s so awesome.
These are their (well, our) favorite cooperative games and they make us feel way better than turning on the TV.
These wood blocks may look boring but aren’t. The kids LOVED them.
They pulled this out recently again and played for a couple of hours (started at age 4).
Ages 6 + And What I’m Giving Them This Year
Truly not one I understand, but Birdie and her friends (ages 6-8) are obsessed with these. Shrugging emoji. 🙂
This was their main joint present three years ago during lockdown. You can hook it up to music and play along with songs which is fun, and yes use headphones so it’s much quieter. After we moved we kept it in storage and I feared that it was not going to interest them anymore, but we pulled it out six months ago and sure enough a huge hit still and Charlie is legit into playing the drums, almost every night. So this is specific to your kid, but our kids love this (as do their friends).
This was their big present last year and was and remains a huge hit that they spend hours doing. It requires an app to create on (or just select an option), but they mastered it very quickly (within minutes) and even yesterday when we had eight kids over during the teacher’s strike they all took turns, for hours, making different little objects with no adult supervision (just how I like it). It’s a splurge and does require some adult setup/learning curve at first, but it has been a huge hit for a full year (and it’s super easy, Brian set it up and we haven’t had to troubleshoot since we got it last year).
Both of our kids take watercolor classes at their school, they love it. So I was marketed these pencils which you just dip in a cup of water and paint and boom, in my cart. I haven’t tried them yet but they have good reviews (and seem so much easier, and less messy than paints).
My kids have currently given up begging for the elusive phone, so my hope is that between their Gabb watches (that they use daily and we love as parents) and these MP3 players, they can be satisfied without hating us like I did my parents for not having Keds or Guess jeans. These MP3 players have no internet/social media and lots of parental controls (and they can’t add any apps). Spotify and Amazon music are pre-installed so we just have to add them to our accounts. I haven’t bought this yet (although I’ve done a lot of research) so if anyone has it let us know! Imagine Dragons and Olivia Rodrigo will be on repeat, I’m sure as well as a lot of kid podcasts.
I know that Birdie would love this for her room, so here’s to hoping it lasts and isn’t too janky.
Here’s to hoping that these gloves don’t become landfill material, but I KNOW my kids will love them so much (they love any “lights off” toys, like the disco ball. Speaking of which, this year we are getting them these disco ball lightbulbs, they can just put them in lamps!
For Charlie (video game obsessed and a constant battle over here), this DIY Video 8-Bit game will (I’m hoping) scratch an itch. Reviews are GREAT and at least teaches him coding and stem stuff.
Both our kids love these rubberband bracelet-making kits and y’all, Fuse beads are still a HUGE time grabber over here. Again, during this teacher’s strike, so many kids have been over here fusing all day (just make sure to get extra templates or shapes to form cool stuff).
Our kids just got these from the Switch Witch (we exchange all Halloween candy for a toy). They are OBSESSED with these.
From Elliot: I like it because it’s like a little computer, it can open up. It’s fun and you can get 15 different pets and you can level them up by caring for them. it’s like a pet but in your pocket.”
Do I get it? NOPE. But the satisfaction and time consumption boxes are checked with these little boxes.
I know the last thing any of us want is to get gifts for our kids that they aren’t going to enjoy so hopefully, this list will minimize that as much as possible! Good luck folks:) xx
Opening Image Credit: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: We Had Portraits Drawn Of Our Pups By A Professional Artist – You Have To See Them!!