These gift guides are hard because IMO gifts are personal to the person and their interests, needs, homes, bodies, etc., and buying people a gift they don’t want or need is a massive bummer for a million reasons. So by nature making a list for “her” or “him” feels harder every year. But if I reframe it as just “ideas” that could spark other more personal ideas I can get excited. So in an attempt to gather ideas and understand what might be both specific and thus possibly universal for kids, I did what most moms would do on a Monday night in November, and offered to pay my kids a quarter for each solid gift suggestion they think a lot of kids would like. They understand the blog now and we made it a family meeting, which was actually really sweet doing it together. We all really went for it and I still need to settle up 2 dollars each, which I admit is totally weird parenting but oh well). FYI our kids are 7 (girl) and 9 (boy) and if your kids, or your gift recipients, are younger I highly suggest you check out last year’s gift guide which is still extremely relevant – all toys our kids genuinely played with a LOT. Many of them still to this day.
First off, I’m calling rank right now as they call me their #1 Squishmallow, because as they say I have a pretty darn great jelly belly (I know how much kids love the softness of their mamas and it’s really sweet). While these inanimate competitors are extremely squishy, snuggly, and cute stuffies (who don’t have my “love pillows”), our kids are obsessed with how cuddly they are. OBSESSED. They also want you to know that Jellycats are still the best (but not as soft as Squishmallows). Squishmallows are BIG THOUGH, which makes them a great gift because size matters to kids but you are warned that they take up a lot of real estate:)
Crystals, Gems, And Prisms
Both of our kids really love anything that feels like a gem. They collect them and cherish them as something special. I think they recognize that they are earth’s real treasures. We have also given these as gifts to their school friends which are always a HIT and so affordable (tie a string to it so they know to hang it in the window). Not bad for a dollar a piece.
Really hard not to think these are cool. The cheaper ones will die/break faster unless you really know how to control them. But Charlie specifically loved his (until it broke after a few months).
I feel like they are speaking a different language, but they are obsessed with these trading cards and it does keep them quite occupied. They sit in their room talking about them for hours with their friends. So when I asked for what kind of Pokemon cards they both looked at me like I truly will never get it and said “VSTAR and VMAX”. And so it begins.
Our kids play with these A LOT. Both of them. They made bracelets for all their friends (and us). So cute.
On the same note, Birdie got this one for her birthday and has made SO MANY bracelets since then. Many of them with “I love you mama” on it, which I highly endorse and encourage to potentially get to experience.
Brian’s worst nightmare is tiny beads everywhere and yet we keep buying these because our kids love them so much. The key to these is to get a lot of the fun stencil shapes (not just circles and squares). Our kids will do this for hours and yes, it’s messy but their creations are just that – their creations, usually full of color with so much personality.
Y’all. These are 3 or 4 years old (I originally put them on a holiday gift list years ago) and they still love theirs and have all of their tooth fairy and chore money in them (and they get a lot of use and haven’t broken down). They are ugly big pieces of plastic but they are a homerun that your kids will like (and include a special pin number so they feel like grownups). Plus they have to put their money somewhere, right?
Birdie just got into birthstones and they feel so special to her (I guess opal AND tourmaline are both her birthstones and y’all Tourmaline is NOT a cheap stone, so we are leaning into opal). Charlie is actually into them too! She also loves this jewelry box where she keeps her jewelry treasures. Her box is the medium size and is kinda spendy but hopefully will go on sale this weekend! For her, I take her vintage/thrift shopping and buy her costume jewelry. Thanks, Sue Sue for giving her the idea.
It seems like a lame gift but it’s not. I’m not sure what is normal but our kids are obsessed with extremely soft blankets. They each have their “cozy blanket” which gets A LOT OF LOVE. They drag them from their bed to the sofa every weekend and prefer them over clothes in the morning. My only beef with this type of fabric is that after you wash it a couple times it isn’t as soft (I think that’s just the nature of faux fur). So our kids avoid putting them near food/water so they NEVER have to wash them. Both disgusting and adorable. But yes these soft blankies are always a huge hit.
This is pretty specific but they INSISTED I put it on the list. For Birdie’s birthday, she asked for a sewing machine so I got her a $30 machine that not-so-shockingly stopped working on our 4th pillow (Day 1). The kids BEGGED (and begged and begged) for a real sewing machine and I was honestly hesitant to buy one (while secretly SO EXCITED to start quilting with them). Since we bought it they have spent hours upon hours sewing pillows or clothes for their stuffies (after watching these super slow and sweet YouTube tutorials). I’m bragging here for sure, but they learned how to thread the needle and bobbin and do it all by themselves. Obviously, this is personal to the child. I wasn’t surprised that Elliot loved it, but Charlie loved it equally if not more. I think most kids like “making things” and a sewing machine (when not framed as fashion design or even “crafting”) is a cool machine with engineering and sharp needles that helps them create something that satisfies their inner world. We went to a local store and after talking to the passionate salesperson, was recommended Baby Lock Joy. It’s only been two weeks but I feel good recommending it since the salesperson was so adamant that for our skill level and our desires, this was/is a solid machine that will last.
Some ideas that Charlie is into but we haven’t tried – night vision binoculars and lava lamps (dear god).
I cannot vouch for these gel non-nerf guns but I’m extremely excited about these because you don’t have to keep track of the bullets when outside and these “bullets” are biodegradable (we won’t allow these inside, I hope). IT’S ABOUT TIME. If anyone has experience with these please leave your tips in the comments, but these are going to be a family present for all four of us because we like to play these kinds of games outside, and this time no hunting for foam bullets afterward!
Paint By Number For Kids
Birdie really wants this and I kinda want to get one for me too.
Disco Ball Party Pack
Our kids (with friends or without) love to throw on the disco ball, ask Alexa to play The Greatest Showman, or now Marshmellow, and dance/sing and feel like they are in their own world. For a year we had out the drum machine which was awesome (and we need to set it back up). They could plug in their favorite The Greatest Showman song and play along. We added a karaoke mic one year which was fun while it lasted (but didn’t last long enough IMHO).
My Favorite Affordable Big Impact Present
Probably the most fun-for-the-price gift I ever gave them was for Birdie’s rainy birthday party last year. I went to Goodwill (which admittedly was before Halloween so the getting was good) and bought $100 worth of costumes, including hats, jewelry, and crowns, and shoved them in a trunk we already had. WHAT A HIT. The kids played with it consistently for 8 months and still do when friends come over. So much imaginative play and a LOT of giggles. I mean, I would love a treasure trove of costumes, too.
Stocking Stuffer Ideas
The specific products above are just examples of Mad Libs, Pez dispensers, toothbrushes, cute band-aids, hair ties, and fun socks! All of these are great, easy, mostly practical, and are what goes in our kid’s stockings. They are always a hit.
And just as a reminder…
The “No-Fail” (In Our Personal Experience) Kid Gifts We Own
1. Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Clear Colors Set | 2. Straw Constructor STEM Building Toys | 3. Squigz Starter Set | 4. 3in1 Safari Wildlife Tree House Building Toy | 5. Rad Rainbow Craft Case | 6. Napping Nipper Dog Stuffed Animal
Lastly, I hope it doesn’t feel disingenuine to keep recommending the same stuff year after year but I’m telling you, Magna-Tiles, Straw Toys, Squigz, LEGO anything, Craft kits, and of course, Jellycats.
Well, there you have it. Gift ideas directly from Charlie and Birdie that they think most kids will really love (because they want them too:)) Hope this helps! xx
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Emily’s “Messy” But FULL Of Memories Christmas Family Room