I absolutely LOVE shopping for kids. If I could buy gifts for children as a full-time job, it would be a dream because it’s so fun to think about what a kid loves and brainstorm a creative gift he or she will adore, use and remember. Shopping for our boys, my nieces and my friend’s children throughout the year brings me a lot of joy and I had a little too much fun making this year’s gift guide. Like years past, I’ve divided my gift guide for kids into the following categories:
- Something they want (subdivided into a few additional categories)
- Something they need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
This is the way I approach gifting to our boys as it includes a mix of practical gifts as well as the fun stuff they love!
Also worth mentioning: Don’t forget to check out thrift stores and consignment shops this holiday season. Kids don’t care about new things and are often just psyched to see a new-to-them toy car under the tree and couldn’t care less if it was used by a bunch of kids before them. Consignment shops have served us well for gifting to our boys over the years!
Alright, let’s dive right in and check out some gift ideas for the kids we all love so much!
(P.S. You may find a bunch of these items rounded up together in my Amazon shop! Also of possible interest is this post I wrote last year about the gifts our boys loved and still played with over and over again one month after Christmas: Holiday Gifts: The Hits One Month Later.)
Gift Guide for Kids
Something They Want
Physical activity + Get that energy out:
- Bounce House: This was the hit of Christmas when we had it set up on Christmas morning for our boys a few years ago. It’s low enough to use indoors and perfect for indoor playtime during cold winter months. It’s also on MEGA sale right now and only $141 if you use the clippable coupon which is the lowest I’ve seen it.
- Adjustable Gymnastics Bar: Chase’s BFF Claire has this bar and the kids love to hang all over it and do various tricks. It’s always a playdate hit!
- Shine & Seek Fireflies Game: Our boys have the best time hiding these light-up fireflies all over the place for each other to find. Great for indoor or outdoor active play!
- Plasma Car: We have THREE of these — one for each boy — because every kid wants to use them every single day in our house. We found out about them through the boys’ preschool and I cannot recommend them enough.
- Step 2 Push Car: A must-have for toddler walks! Our boys adore these push cars and we also gave them to my nieces! Step2 also now has a side-by-side option for pushing TWO kids at once!
- Set of Cones: Our boys use cones for obstacle courses, goals, games, etc. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.
- Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course: One of our boys’ friends has this set up in their backyard and the kids are always climbing all over it when we visit!
- Scooter: All of our boys started with a three-wheel scooter and the Razor Scooter is a great option for bigger kids.
- Bike + Helmet: We got Chase a 16” bike when he was 4 and Ryder a 12” when he was 2. (They both started with this bike and the quality is great.) Rhett (age 2) is absolutely obsessed with his balance bike!
- Picasso Tiles: Hands down our boys’ most used toy! These will forever be on my kid gift guides because they’re a sure-fire hit that will be played with for years and years. If you’re going to get one gift from this gift guide, let magnetic tiles be it!
- Tonies: Ryder (age 4) is IN LOVE with his Tonies! He puts a little character on top of the box and it tells him stories during quiet time. He has a light blue Toniesbox + this 3 pack of Paw Patrol characters and we’ll be adding to his collection with a few more Tonies characters this Christmas, including this Christmas Mickey Mouse that will be making its debut in the boys’ refillable advent calendar. Even Rhett (age 2) is starting to love Tonies and likes bringing them on our walks!
- Foamnasium Play Couch: Our big gift for the boys last year! It gets so much use and they are constantly using the cushions for everything from imagination games and forts to creating a comfy little spot to curl up and read.
- Surprise Bath Bombs: Whenever family and friends ask for gift ideas for our boys, this is one I’ll often float their way because our boys NEVER tire of loving bath bombs. These bath bombs feel extra special because they have a little surprise is inside. Our boys have a little collection of tiny bath bomb toys they love to use for imagination games in the tub!
- Tool Set: This set has been a hit in our house for years. I love that it’s higher-quality and made out of wood and not just a bunch of cheap plastic.
- Dress Up Clothes/Costumes: Our boys constantly reach for the costumes from our big costume basket and I love listening to their imaginations at work when they play dress up! This doctor + police officer + fireman set it a great place to start!
- Set of Instruments: Years ago my mom assembled a bunch of small kid-friendly instruments in a bag for the boys and it continues to get a lot of use in our house. (They especially love the xylophone, harmonica and recorder so I’d look for a set with all three of these!)
- Pop-Up Play Tent: Gotta love a gift that appears HUGE to kids but doesn’t break the bank. Our boys love their pop-up rocket ship tent but there are a ton of options out there from princess castles to ice cream trucks!
- Mealtime Magic Mia: Chase’s BFF has this doll and she’s amazing! Several of our friends swear by this doll over Baby Alive because she’s totally mess free and still super interactive — her food changes colors depending on which food you touch with a spoon, you can rock her to sleep and she chews and blinks. My niece also has this doll and loves it!
- Power Wheels Jeep: Worth its weight in gold and the only way we can convince the big kids to go on long walks with us these days since stroller rides are a thing of the past in our house.
- Cozy Kid-Friendly Spot for Reading: A bean bag for kids, comfy mini chair, etc.
Educational + Creative:
- Ant Farm: For kids who love creatures, an ant farm is mind-blowing! Our boys flipped for this one!
- Crayola Color Chemistry Set: This set is filled with 50 experiments that are very easy to put together (a big plus for grownups!) but also super cool.
- Gem and Fossil Dig Discovery Kit: Our kids think gem mining is the coolest and this is the next best thing you can do from your own living room.
- LeapFrog LeapPad Tablet: We save this tablet for long car rides and it’s a big time winner with both Chase and Ryder. I fully trust the content on this tablet and love that it’s filled with educational games.
- Decorate Your Own Treasure Chest / Jewelry Box: My kids can’t be the only ones who love putting “special things” away in a treasure chest! These decorate-your-own treasure chests/jewelry boxes are great for kids who love to save their little treasures in a special place.
- Flower Crown Kit: One of my go-to birthday gifts for little girls! We’ve had several friends tell us their little girls loved this kit.
- Geodes: If you want to see kids freak out over a gift in the best kind of way, wrap up some geodes they can crack open. Ryan got these for the boys a few years ago and I never could’ve anticipated how much they loved them.
- Terrarium: A big-time hit with nature-loving kids, this terrarium had our boys captivated as they checked it every day to see how much their plants grew while they were away.
- Games: Some favorites in our house include Hoot Owl Hoot, Guess In 10 (love this one for road trips!), this 6-pack of card games, Guess Who?, Outfoxed! Whodunit Game (a cute cooperative game where you work together to catch a thief), Clue Junior
- Puzzles: We do puzzles in our house daily! Some of our favorites: Firetruck Floor Puzzle, Safari Giant Floor Puzzle, 4-in-1 Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles (great for younger puzzlers), 100-Piece Wild Animals Puzzle
- LeapFrog Rockit Twist Electronic Game: This was the boys’ first video game (another one we save for long car rides) and Chase and Ryder still love it! A big perk: The learning curve on this one was practically zero!
- Easel: We’ve had ours for years and it’s still in constant use.
Something They Need
- Daily Task Charts: Our boys are majorly motivated by these charts and they’ve been great for teaching responsibility.
- Memberships/Lessons/Experiences: The best gift!!! Consider gifting a membership to a favorite museum, lessons for a favorite sport or activity, etc.
- Nightlight / Noise Machine (Hatch Light): The Hatch Light does it all! It’s a night light, noise machine and okay-to-wake clock in one. I love that I can control it from my phone (you can change the noises and colors and set timers) and our boys all heavily rely on it to sleep.
- Arts and Crafts Supplies: KwikStix Fast-Drying Paint Pens (the best for making posters/banners — we use our butcher paper roll all the time), Crayola Marker Caddy (great for small hands + organized markers), Window Crayons, Retractable Markers (to eliminate the frustration of losing caps!)
- Sporting Goods/Activity Supplies: A new soccer ball for a soccer player, a new leotard for a dancer, etc.
- Step Stool/Name Puzzle Stool or Kitchen Helper Cooking Stand: Our boys all began using our kitchen helper stand right around age 2 and still use it regularly. It’s great for “helping” in the kitchen but also allowing them to stand at counter-height safely. Pair this one with children’s knives to let them slice soft foods (hard boiled eggs, bread, berries) and feel like a big kid! And a Name Puzzle Stool is always a hit for little ones just beginning to potty train and wash their hands by themselves! We have stools readily available in every room of our house with a sink!
- Water Bottle: At first I thought the price of the YETI children’s water bottle was a bit steep and then both Chase and Ryder began exclusively using theirs and I totally see the value. It’s leak-proof, super durable, dishwasher safe (not plastic!) and keeps liquids cold or hot for a long time. I ordered these name decals for their YETI water bottles and love them. For a cheaper alternative, Simple Modern children’s water bottles are wonderful.
Something to Wear
- Pajamas: Amazon’s Vaenait Baby pajamas are incredibly soft and adorable and fit kids from 6 months old to pre-teens! We LOVE them.
- Cold Weather Outerwear: A new jacket, snow boots, rain boots, a hat, etc. We got Chase this waterproof ski jacket for skiing last year and I highly recommend it!
- Slippers: For high-quality slippers that stay on little feet, I swear by Joules Padabout Slippers. The boot-like style keeps them on and they also have little grips on the bottom to prevent slipping.
- Rain Boots or Snow Boots: The Bogs Baby/Toddler/Big Kid boots are awesome. Chase’s pairs have held up well and have been worn by all three of our boys!
- Bitty Brah Hats: Our fav summertime hats just came out with a winter version!! We love this small shop so much. They’re some of the only hats our boys will actually wear on their heads for more than 2.5 seconds.
- Cozy Socks: I love to leave a pair of fuzzy holiday slipper socks our for our for the boys from our Elf on the Shelf in the beginning of December. (Old Navy is my go-to for these.)
Something to Read
(You may find a bunch of our family’s favorite Christmas books in this post if you’re looking for some Christmas-themed reads!)
- Press Here: Creative concept and a very interactive read!
- The Circus Ship: A fun, well-written story with a little “find the animal” page at the end.
- Magic Tree House Series: The best foray into chapter books for little kids. We’ve read every single book in this series at least twice with Chase and are on our third round now with Ryder.
- Merlin Missions: Very similar to Magic Tree House but a little longer.
- The Pout Pout Fish: A fun read for kids and parents! Love the rhyming in this one.
- Harry Potter: We began reading Harry Potter with Chase in 2021 and it was instant infatuation! The illustrated editions are just as magical as everyone says.
- The Snail and the Whale
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: Love this one for teaching kids about kindness in a way that makes sense to them.
- Dragon Masters: Another great chapter books series for young kids.
- Pete the Cat Series: I’ve lost count of how many Pete the Cat books we own at this point. Forever a hit in our house.
- Dragons Love Tacos
- Frog & Toad Collection
- National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why: Great for curious minds.
- Fly Guy Series: One of Chase’s favorite early reader series.
- The Gruffalo
- Learning Library Books
- Excellent Ed
- Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
- Highlights High Five Magazine
- National Geographic Kids Magazine
Question of the Day
If you have any gift ideas for little ones, please share them below!
We just celebrated our little guys 5th birthday over the weekend and these have been hits (also for our 7yo boy!). We have one more birthday and Christmas and seeing a lot of favorites on your list! We also got him the Why book!
Rukus fx music creator
Monopoly for kids
Handheld voice changer
Thank you for sharing!!! That water doodle pad is awesome — our boys have and love that one, too!
Hey Julie, what age did your boys start using the plasma cars and the balance bike? I’m looking at getting something like this for my toddler this Christmas, but he may still be too young. He’ll be almost 15 months at Christmas.
We also have 3 plasma bikes, one for each kid. However, my youngest is 12 month and not into it yet, but I have a feeling will be soon, especially since he is watching his older siblings.
I think you would be surprised on how early they get the hang of it! I think 15 month might be a bit young, but it wont be long! I can not get my children off of them! I will also ride one with my 12 month old in the front and he loves it!
Rhett took to the Plasma Bike really early because of his big brothers but I think 18 months is probably more common!! We first learned about them through the boys’ preschool class and the 2 year olds all FLY around on them so you’re very close!!
As for the Balance Bike, Rhett started really loving this around 18 months as well. Now he can fly on it!! For what it’s worth, the Plasma Car was a bigger hit with all of our kids if you’re deciding between the two but Rhett loves the Balance Bike for family walks/outside fun!
No gift ideas, but I second the Picasso tiles! We just ordered another set to add to our collection. They keep my 3 year old occupied for hours!
YES!! The more the merrier with those tiles! They’re the best!
Hi – you somewhat recently posted about custom keychains (for kids book bags) from Etsy! Could you share the link again??
Yes!! Aw, I should’ve included them in this gift guide because they’d be an adorable stocking stuffer. Here’s a link to the ones I ordered for the boys and my nieces from Etsy: https://bit.ly/3X4wM4L
Great list! I have a question about the name decals you bought for their Yeti bottles. Do you still run yours through the dishwasher once the decal has been applied?
This was a great gift guide! I am usually not a fan of these on blogs even though I know they’re helpful for the blogger to make money-I don’t mind anyone making money but they’re usually not that fun to read! This was fun AND practical and seemed very true to you. Thank you for taking the many hours to share something this high quality! You had some ideas on here and you have my gift giving ideas buzzing now.
Thank you for sharing this feedback with me, Sarah! I really, really try hard to make them authentic to gifts I know our boys and their friends would genuinely love and also pprovide reasons why items are on my gift guide beyond just a list of items so I truly appreciate your comment so much!
Always love your gift guides!
I am a “grandma”, and I have purchased several items that you have listed over the years.
I know you are trustworthy!