The winter holidays are just around the bend, and you know what that means (cue dreamy music)… baking holiday cookies, decorating the house, sipping eggnog, singing songs with beloved family members in front of a crackling fire … HA! Yeah, right! For most moms, the holidays mean brainstorming gift ideas and doing lots of WORK.
They’re a month-long scramble during your limited free time to send out holiday cards (can we find just one picture with all of us smiling?!), carefully maneuver the politics of which side of the family you’re spending the holiday with (or as the grandmothers see it, who you “love more”), and find adequate gifts for oh-so-many family members.
And then there are your own kids: you want to celebrate with them without spoiling them, give them gifts they’ll love while also showing them the holidays are really about spending time with your loved ones. Oy. It’s a lot. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who manage to avoid gift-buying altogether without offending anyone (please tell me your secret!), we’ve put together this list to make your lives a little easier when it comes to figuring out quality gift ideas for the kids in your family. We hope it’s helpful. Enjoy!
Toys for Infants (0 – 18 months) ~ sorted by price
Here are some gift ideas in every price range for your infant or young toddler. Remember: they have no expectations of receiving gifts, so keep it simple!!
Hape Wooden Pull Toy ~ $9
Hape is known for its quality wooden toys made with baby-safe materials. If your baby loves pulling things around the room, this sweet little elephant will be a huge hit.
Toddlers learn about what’s OK to hit with a hammer (pegs yes—your sister’s head no!), and they also love to push the little pegs up and down on their tiny see saws. Loads of fun.
Green Toys Shape Sorter ~ $17
Green Toys makes awesome toys out of 100% recycled plastic that little ones love, and this shape sorter is no exception. Your baby will enjoy exploring the different shapes, and you’ll enjoy helping her problem solve and learn her first matching skills.
Plan Toys Stacking Rings ~ $18
These rainbow rings are brightly colored with non-toxic paints and made of smooth, sanded wood that is safe for some inevitable chewing action.
This classic, brightly colored bead shaker/rain stick is mesmerizing to grown ups and kids alike. You can use it as a maraca during music time or tempt your baby to start crawling by placing it just out of reach. Winning!
What toddler doesn’t love to get their rock on? This little blue rocking horse will make for some great indoor fun this winter (it’s also suited for outdoors, weather permitting). It’s sized well for infants and small toddlers. Bonus points: made in the USA.
Little Tikes Water Table ~ $29
If you ever need to kill an hour, put your kids in front of a water table. Toddlers LOVE playing with water—it’s like they’ve never seen it before! This one has a spinning ferris wheel, a cup, and floating balls. Note: your kids will definitely get wet, so put this in a place where getting soaked is okay.
This thing cracks me up. It tosses out balls to inspire your crawling baby to keep up. Genius.
An oldie but a goodie: babies love to spin the painted beads and make the alligators go “chomp”; it’s a fun push toy when they’re ready to start walking. Even older toddlers and preschoolers love pushing this toy around, so it will be useful for a couple of years/kids!
Toys for Toddlers (18 months – 3 years) ~ sorted by price
Cardboard Box Robot- free!
This is a friendly reminder that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to please your kids. With a box-cutter and a little creativity, your old vacuum cleaner (or whatever…) cardboard box will provide endless hours of fun for your little robots. They will love it as much as they do the toys you spend actual money on, and it will inspire adorable imaginary play that will have you pulling out your camera every time they ask to put it on. Beep-Beep-Boop!
Caterpillar Construction Truck Sandbox Toys ~ $9/set of 4
No toddlerhood would be complete without their correcting you on the difference between a bulldozer, an excavator, and a bucket loader, amirite? Check out this sweet set of heavy machinery from Caterpillar.
This set from Hape is very well made and stands up to heavy use; it includes a clapper and a guiro (never heard of that before), but kids love it! You? Maybe not so much, lol.
Your budding carpenters will love this 24-piece toolbox play set, which includes a wooden hammer, wrench and screwdriver, plus nails, screws, nuts and bolts they can actually use. Pair it with a copy of the awesome board book, Tap Tap Bang Bang, and your kid will really go “nuts”!
AquaDoodle ~ $13
Finally, there’s a way to let your kids get artsy without marker/crayon/paint ending up all over them, your walls, your table, and the dog. Kids can draw (in two colors) on this Travel Doodle with a water-filled pen that doesn’t make a mess. This is a fun car/take-along toy for your trips this holiday season.
Learning Resources Gears ~ $23
For your budding engineers, this STEM toy is colorful, fun, educational, and very highly-rated. The parts are all interchangeable, allowing for endless combinations and creative designs.
If we know two things, it’s that kids freakin’ LOVE trains and Legos. Put them together, and you’ve got… the Lego My First Train Set. It includes a lego station, conductor, passenger, and goat (…because no train set is complete without a goat?). Choo choo!
Step2 Cozy Kitchen ~ $44
This is a great little kitchen that allows kids to pretend they’re cooking (which they LOVE to do) without taking up too much space in your house. It includes dishes and cups; the stove, fridge, and cabinets have doors that open and shut. Good indoor fun.
If your kid is fascinated by cars and trucks and things that go, this toy is for him/her. It comes with two vehicles they can send racing down the ramp and a sick roller coaster loop. Pro tip: lift the jump at the end of the loop to send car flying, teehee.
Rose & Rex Sunrise Arch ~ $51
Whether these brightly colored shapes become imaginary phones, tunnels, bananas, rockets, or watermelon slices, kids are sure to tap into their creativity and imagination with this cool wooden puzzle. It’s crafted from a single piece of wood and painted in richly saturated colors.
Another great option is the Grimm’s Rainbow Stacker ($44), which is hand made in Germany and also promotes the all-important unstructured playtime. (And it’s available on Amazon!)
The Land of Nod Teepee ~ $99
Land of Nod makes some beauuutiful teepees that make a lovely addition to a bedroom or play room. Your kids will love having their own little fort to play in—throw a few pillows in there, and they’ve got a great reading nook. (You can alternatively cut up some old sheets, tie together a few sticks, and make your own teepee or fort with them!)
Toys for Preschoolers (3 years+) ~ sorted by price
This Melissa & Doug cutting kit includes safety scissors and pages of cutting activities to engage your preschooler while helping develop his/her fine motor skills. Many hours of entertainment for a great price.
Your aspiring bakers can frost and decorate play-doh cupcakes to their heart’s delight with this fun bakery play set. Their cupcakes are going to look positively edible by the time they’re done with them… as if they needed another reason to eat their play-doh!
Move over Barbie, these magnetic dress-up dolls inspire little girls to envision their future careers as astronauts, detectives, doctors, fire fighters, chefs, and rock stars. The colorful magnetic clothes and props attach to two wooden dolls and encourage loads of imaginary play.
Stomp Rocket ~ $21
It’s nice to see a cool toy for older kids that doesn’t include screens or batteries. The stomp rocket launches rockets up to 200 feet in the air. This one comes with two rockets and a “dueling base” to encourage a little friendly competition between you and your husband… I mean, between your kids and their friends.
This cute wooden stegosaurus makes a great gift for kids who love puzzles … and dinosaurs!
Playskool Sit n’ Spin ~ $27
It’s cool to see this classic toy from our childhood is still around… and still beloved by children! You’ll enjoy watching your kid spin around and around…and around and around, while you have flashbacks to your childhood (when you could still spin around like crazy without puking).
Skip Hop Luggage ~ $29
Perfect for their first travel adventure (pretend or otherwise), Skip Hop makes some adorable suitcases with wheels that kids will love. These feature a bottle holder, retractable handle, and even a handy “parent strap” for when your kid decides they’re “all done” pulling their own luggage around. See also Must-have Travel Paraphernalia.
Little Tikes Trampoline ~ $39
This little tramp will help your kiddos burn off some serious energy during the long, dark, cold winter.
Marble Run ~ $44
When I say “hours of family fun,” it’s no lie. This 85-piece marble run is designed for kids (and their parents/grandparents) to engineer different tracks for marble races. Note: be sure your kids are beyond the “swallowing tiny things” phase before purchasing!
Magna Tiles ~ $49/32 piece set
Magna Tiles need no introduction — they’ve been at the top of our list for years. Little and big builders alike will enjoy creating towers, buildings, rockets, and other structures out of these 3-D magnetic building tiles. Bonus: no hazardous tiny parts for little sibs!
Gonge Riverstones ~ $65
These six stepping stones, designed to mimic the stones you’d jump on to cross a river, vary in steepness and challenge level. Your kids can practice jumping from stone to stone without touching the floor (another great inside activity to entertain them when going outside is not an option).
Novelty Gift Ideas ~
Membership to a local children’s museum, play gym, zoo, or botanical garden ~ $ varies
Kids can learn so much from a membership to a children’s museum or zoo, and a few trips make the membership fee totally worth it! A play gym, if you’re lucky enough to live near a good one, can totally save you on those cold wintry days when your kid needs to burn some energy.
Kid’s Sewing Machine ~ $ varies
Kids as young as three are able to learn this new life-skill! We love this buyers guide for sewing machines specifically designed for kids.
Tough Love Teethers ~ $18
This family business based in California makes their beautiful handmade teethers out of sanded and oiled maple wood (which resists bacteria and splintering). Teething babies will enjoy chomping on these beautiful wooden teethers to soothe their gums — and you don’t have to worry about their chewing on nasty plastics or chemicals. Yum!
Baby Keepsake Ornament ~ $19
This is my favorite gift on the list this year. Write a personalized message every year for your little one and it becomes a sweet keepsake to give them when they are older. I get teary just thinking about it…
Personalized books make great gifts for kids because they love reading about themselves. The Magic of My Name series takes your child (as the book’s protagonist) along an adventure in which they learn about the meaning of their name (e.g., “C stands for Creative”).
If you’re on the lookout for a personalized book that does a fabulous job celebrating the accomplishments of women throughout American history, check out My Name Is Not Isabella, a New York Times bestseller.
Engraved Feeding Set ~ $32
Commemorate your baby’s first bites (they grow up so fast!) with this set of nickel-plated utensils with their name, birth date, and even a short message. They can pass it down to their kids too 🙂
Pottery Barn’s sleeping bags are too cute with those fluffy puppy/bear pillows. Kids can fall asleep in the arms of their favorite animal friends. Bonus: you can personalize them with your child’s name. Dawww.
That’s it! Hope we’ve helped you find some awesome gift ideas for all the kiddos in your life…happy shopping!
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