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There’s nothing quite like nailing a kid gift. Their little eyes light up — maybe there’s an actual shriek of joy or a high jump. Yet kids are notoriously hard to shop for. I have two of them, and by the time I share with curious friends and relatives that my daughter loves all things dress-up, she’s moved on to an exclusively crafts phase. The best kid gifts cut through this frustrating truth, providing fun and play that lasts — at least for longer than five minutes.
Whether you're looking for toys, games, something outdoorsy, something bookish, or beyond, we’re here to elicit happy squeals and sustained, genuine interest with these kid- and parent-approved picks.
Holiday Gifts for Big Kids
Wiggle Chair, Dick's Sporting Goods
Wiggle chairs became popular because they are beneficial for kids with ADD, ADHD, and autism — but it turns out they can help all kids stay calm and focused through the challenging task of sitting. Plus, they make sitting still (or not so still) a whole lot more fun. This one is safe, sturdy, and easy to clean. Wiggle away!
UNO Flip Card Game, CVS
What do we do in those awkward post-dinner lulls when the whole family gets together? We pull out the card games, of course. This double-sided deck includes the tried-and-true classic UNO, plus a “dark side” option for an even tougher game. Wholesome entertainment for the whole family — plus a bonus learning-moment conversation about cheating. Fun and educational!
Basketball Arcade Game, Dick's Sporting Goods
An actual arcade game in the house? Unquestionably cool. I loved basketball as a kid, and this two-player game, which comes with four rubber basketballs, feels like the good part of middle school. It folds in half for easy storage if and when parents would rather tuck it away.
Food Science Kit, Staples
It’s more fun to practice essential STEM skills when food is involved. Perfect for elementary school kids, there’s a journal, activity book, goggles, and other goodies that will have kids cooking up edible experiments.
LEGO® Friends Donut Shop Building Set
LEGO products have been a staple in the toy world for eons. They remain a classic for good reason, encouraging open-ended play and creativity. This cheerful, retro set lets kids create their own donut shop, complete with a snazzy green motorcycle for donut deliveries. I’ll take a cruller, please, and a coffee.
Junior Electronic Kickboxing Light Up, Dick's Sporting Goods
It’s in everyone’s best interest when kids have a healthy outlet for their frustration, like this electronic kickboxing bag. With light-up targets and silly sound effects, it makes for a fun-filled, interactive workout. Plus, it hones hand-eye coordination.
Hydro Flask Water Bottle, Dick's Sporting Goods
Environmentally smart and wonderfully practical, a new water bottle in their favorite color can be the perfect pick-me-up to help get through a long school day or a hard sports practice. Trendy, durable Hydro Flasks keep drinks cold all day and look cool, too.
Holiday Gifts for Toddlers
Cute Wooden Animal Magnets, Walgreens
Twenty wild and domesticated wooden animals make for an open invitation to play. They’re great for kitchen fridges and taking along on trips, and they come in a handy wooden case to keep them from getting lost in toy bin chaos.
Schwinn Kids' Cruise Balance Bike, Dick's Sporting Goods
We were unsure about investing in a balance bike, but for a solid year my daughter rode it to the playground, to the bakery, and around our backyard. The Cruise balance bike helps kids learn to ride by putting the focus on balance and gliding. This well-built bike has adjustable handlebars that can be lifted up as kids grow.
Fisher Price Mega Bloks
We have a set of these at my house and one at my parents’ place because they’re ideal for both of my littles. The smaller one is now starting to build his own towers, but before that he found endless joy in emptying the blocks out of their bag in a noisy cascade. Our bigger kid is constantly dreaming up new creations, from boats to castles. The blocks are big enough that we don’t have to worry about choking hazards.
Bilingual Book Library, Staples
These inviting books are both in English and Spanish, perfect for families practicing multiple languages. Each story spotlights discovery, friendships, and challenges — big bedtime favorites in my house.
Car Carrier With Cars, Walgreens
Kids immediately understand that this truck has a big job: delivering four colorful cars to their proper homes. This classic toy has a ramp that is easy for little hands to load and fold, so they can take their cars on adventures great and small.
When in doubt, Play-Doh! Fun for all ages and a great gift for kids who want to start or grow their collection. Kids of any age can cut, stamp, roll, and sculpt their hearts out.
Fire Truck Puzzle, Staples
This 23-piece puzzle helps young explorers learn about shapes and new words as they bring a three-foot-long fire engine to life. Round pieces can be mixed and matched freely, so they can decide who's driving (more often than not it’ll be the cat).
Pattern Blocks and Boards Set
This double-sided board is an ideal canvas for kids’ creativity, which they can unleash with more than 120 bright shapes. They can follow one of ten design templates or create their own masterpiece.
Kid Scissors and Construction Paper, Staples
My daughter’s teacher explained to me that there are four sets of scissors for 20 kids in the class, so scissors are a hot commodity at school. At home, they’re sacred, too, since her little brother is not quite scissor-ready. So when she gets one-on-one time with a grown-up, she’s super excited to cut all sorts of shapes and creations with just these scissors and colorful construction paper. Sometimes, the simplest gifts are the best. (Case in point: the cardboard box, which kids can dress up with their paper cutouts!)
Holiday Gifts for Babies
Polar Bear With Sound Machine and Star Projector, CVS
Baby gifts are mostly for parents, of course, and this cute polar bear is no exception. It will keep a baby calm and entertained while at home or on the go by projecting rotating stars onto the wall or ceiling. It also plays soothing lullabies.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Remix Record Player
A less calm pick with activities, fun music, and lots to learn. This toy includes Spanish phrases and helps babies practice their fine motor skills as they grasp and interact with the clacker beads, buttons, and toggles. Let DJ Baby spin!
Eight Silly Monkeys Storybook, CVS
When I’m not sure what to give, I gift books. This sweet one is a win and seems to enchant babies with its friendly monkey faces. Each page reveals silly, touchable monkeys — as kids grow, they can practice counting and rhyming within its pages.
Moonjax Swaddle Blanket, CVS
My husband was the swaddle master in the hospital, eliciting praise from the nurses. When we got home, we needed less scratchy blankets for his swaddling skills. These are pretty, lightweight, and perfect for stashing in the diaper bag and stroller.
Stacking Cups, Walgreens
We were gifted stacking cups when my daughter was a baby, and they remain a favorite bath toy four years later. They’re ideal for making “tall tall tall” towers, pouring bubbles, and lining up in all sorts of configurations.