Best Gift Guide for Kids

I have had a few people ask me for suggestions on what to get their kids for Christmas, so I decided to post some ideas for everyone to see. But first, let me clarify: There are plenty of lists out there of gifts for kids that are really fun to give. If I were making a list like that, these cute mugs from Anthropologie would be my top recommendation. (They're only $6!) But this is not one of those lists.

I don't like clutter, and I don't like having a lot of toys that can clutter up my house. I am very picky with what toys I let my kids have, so I make sure the toys they get will get a lot of usage. This guide features toys that get played with the most at our house.
(Note: Lucy's much-adored L mug did get played with, and was, subsequently, broken. . . by Adam. I consoled her tears by promising her that I would replace the darling gift, given by her Aunt Rebecca. I still need to follow through.)

Most of these unisex toys are not super thoughtful, unique toys, but more along the lines of what I think the basics are. So if your kid is missing something off of this must-have list, get shopping ASAP. I broke them into categories, but the reason many of these toys made my list is because they can be used for so many different age categories. Adam (2) and Rachel (6) both like to ride around on their Plasma Cars, and sometimes I even ride them too.

Ages 0-2:

1. Oball ($5 Bed Bath & Beyond, Target): Amazingly, little infants can actually grasp this ball. Target just started selling a version with a rattle.
2. Playskool Busy Gears ($15 Wal-mart, Target): This has been the most-used toy at our house. Adam still plays with it every single day.
3. Little Tikes Toddler Swing ($20 ToysRUs, Amazon): Don't have room for a swing set outside? No worries. Screw two eye bolts into the ceiling of your garage, basement, or even in a doorway and. . . Voila!
4. LeapFrog Fridge Phonics ($15 Amazon, Target): The alphabet can get a little annoying after you've heard it for the hundredth time, but the repetition helps them learn.
5. Rocking Horse ($40 Walmart): Boys and girls alike need a rocking horse. My girls used to spend hours, styling the poor horse's hair with all of their clips and bows. Adam still feels the need to jump on it for a ride every night before he goes to bed.

Ages 3-5:

1. Razor Scooter ($20-30 ShopKo, Target...watch for sales) : Every kid needs one of these. The handlebars slide down low enough for a two-year old. And don't bother with the three-wheeled version for younger kids. They will figure out how to balance on two wheels after a little practice.
2. LeapFrog Tag Reading System ($40-50 LeapFrog, Amazon, Costco): I used to worry that we would rip the pages, but even with my destructible boy, we have only ruined one book. (He threw it in the bathtub.)
3. Plasma Car ($40-60 Overstock, Amazon, Target): Forget a tricycle or any other ride on toy. This one is so much more fun.
4. Heely's ($30-50 Amazon, Zappos): I actually resisted getting Heely's until I was finally forced into it. And now I love them. They just came out with this trimmer, less clunky model.
5. Marble Run: ($25-50 ToysRUs, Amazon): There are dozens of versions of this classic toy on the market today. My kids love going to Grandma's house to play with the same one I played with as a child.

Ages 6-8:

1. Melissa & Doug Travel Hangman ($13 Little Cherry Blossoms, Amazon): My kids bring this with us everywhere we go. Super cute and helps them learn how to spell.
2. Apple Ipod Shuffle ($39 Apple refurbished): I am a big fan of Ipods, and these shuffles are perfect for kids. Need more convincing? Click here.
3. CamelBak Better Bottle ($12 REI): Doesn't look like a sippy cup, but provides the same function. The perfect present for children and adults too!
4. Camera (free): No need to buy a new one, just give them your old 2-5 mp digital camera and buy yourself an upgrade.
5. Hyper Dash ($13 Target, Amazon): Suitable for kids as soon as they know their colors, this award-winning game will help keep your kids active. Perfect for rainy (any snowy) days. Challenges speed, skill, and memory.

Happy shopping.


cathy said...

Nice Emily-your very good at this Christmas shopping! But why are you worring about it-Santa Claus will just bring the kids all the toys they want regardless of the price, right?

Katie said...

Oh fun! I'm impressed...I better start stocking up now for the years ahead...

edith said...

What a useful and well thought-out list. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! I may share it with a few friends.
P.S. Edith is Aaron's secret identity

ferardandy said...

thank you! actually stuff they'll play with? these are the things i want to know, not just what's cute.