You may know what to get your significant others, your parents, and your siblings. You may know what to get your coworker in the mandatory workplace Secret Santa. You may know what to get your best friend the stoner and your cousin the home bartender. But uh, hey… what the heck do you buy for kids? Maybe you got a brand new niece or nephew this year, or maybe you have to get something for your fiance’s teenage sister. It’s tough out here, in a post Toys-R-Us world.
Once again, we’re here to remedy your issue. That’s why we put together the ultimate guide to buying gifts for kids this year. Children are the ultimate Christmas consumers — er, the ultimate Christmas miracles — after all.
So go ahead, check out our gift guide. You’ll be the cool aunt, uncle, grown-up friend, or parent this year… and psst: you might secretly want to snag one of these for yourself. The holiday season can really bring out your inner child, you might as well embrace it.
Without a single doubt, this is the present of the year for kids around ages 5-12. Don’t make the mistake of picking up a Hatchimal because you see one on sale: FINGERLINGS are what the kids want. And even if someone else gives them a Fingerling, you can still be assured that yours is probably a different animal or or a different color or something, because guess what? These little guys can interact with each other if the child has more than one of them. It’s basically like a mix of a Furby and a Tamagotchi, one that hangs out on your finger and blows kisses, climbs, blinks, and can be put to sleep with petting. (Same, tbh.)
Friendship @ your fingertips, promises Fingerlings. For the kid that could be content to amuse themselves for hours with an interactive toy, get a Fingerling.
Funko POP Figures
Let’s face it, you probably have one of these somewhere, especially if you’re a bit of a nerd. But here’s a secret: these are actually supposed to be for kids! Now, now, I won’t blame you for collecting these yourself (does a 7-year-old really need a Funko POP figurine of a violent character from the extremely adult show Game of Thrones? Nah.) but it is a good idea to find kid-friendly ones for your mega-nerdy friend’s kid. And these are really excellent choices for children of any age, even teens. Plus, it requires minimal effort to figure out which one the kid in your life will want.
Spider-Man? Wonder Woman? Harley Quinn? Or maybe they lean toward Minnie Mouse or Disney princesses. Maybe they even like WWE wrestling! There’s pretty much a Funko POP figurine available for anything you can imagine… but we really like this toddler Groot one, and maybe you will too.
If you’re broke this year, these are HELLA affordable while still being cute and collectible.
Soothe and Glow Seahorse
Okay, so, maybe your friends or sister or whoever just had a baby. And babies are HARD to shop for, especially if you’re not a parent and have no idea what babies even want. Don’t worry, even babies appreciate Christmas presents, even if they can’t open the gift themselves.
The Fisher-price Soothe and Glow Seahorse has been an infant toy staple beloved by parents for the past ten years or so. It’s more than just a random stuffed animal: It glows, plays 8 different soothing songs, and plays ocean noises. It’s proven that babies love to hear white noise while going to sleep, and it helps them get to sleep faster. The glow of the gentle, friendly-looking seahorse is pretty much perfect. Plus, for infants who are learning about hand-eye coordination, they can learn to activate that seahorse themselves with just a gentle squeeze.
It’s basically perfect, and the baby’s parents will be impressed that you managed to buy them a toy that is actually useful instead of just another onesie with some “clever” phrase written on it. Plus, unlike a lot of baby gear, it’s very affordable.
MagiClip Disney Princess Dolls
Move over, American Girl dolls. Step aside, Polly Pocket. Get out of the way, Bratz dolls. Because MagiClip dolls are here. And unlike Barbies, their outfits aren’t flimsy pieces of garbage fabric that you will inevitably lose. These dolls are perfect for kids who play rough with their dolls, because their outfits, made of hard plastic, simply snap on and off. If you have a little bit of extra money to spend and want to get the Disney princess-loving child a truly unique gift, get this ULTIMATE 8-piece doll collection with some of the most beloved Disney princesses at the moment: Anna, Elsa, Tiana, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Ariel, Merida, and Belle. The outfits are interchangeable and the products are “officially licensed’ in case you know any Disney aficionados who sneer at knock-off brands.
These hearty toys can withstand quite a lot of severe conditions that kids inflict on them, from car rides to bathtub immersions to dropping from high distances. They’re perfect for kids in the 2-6 year range.
Hi Ho Cherry-O
If you have a preschooler to buy for and don’t want to drop money on dolls, try this classic game instead, and be prepared to actually play the game with him or her, too! Preschoolers love being able to play games with grown-ups, and Hi Ho Cherry-O is a great hands-on alternative to other similar games, like Candyland.
The point of Hi Ho Cherry-O is to add and subtract fruits of various sorts in your basket, and the first player to pick all the fruit off of their tree wins. It’s a great game that helps preschoolers sharpen their math skills, which is more and more important as American public schools lean toward more STEM principles these days. Kids are never too young to learn a little bit of math, and this game comes off as fun and competitive instead of as educational and boring.
Okay, remember how I said you’d want to buy some of these toys for yourself? Never has this been more true than of anything on this list than the Perplexus ball. This clever device is basically a giant maze inside of a single toy. The idea is that you try to get the tiny silver ball inside across a series of over 100 challenges through a complicated maze, spiraling around and around until you get to the very end.
This toy is great not only because it helps stimulate a child’s problem-solving skills, but also because it will literally keep kids distracted for hours until they can figure the thing out and beat the maze. Perplexus describes itself as “easy to play, hard to master” which is exactly the sort of toy you want for keeping hyper children preoccupied during the long stretches of the holiday season while school is out. For a generation that gets way too much screen time, the Perplexus is basically the ideal toy.
Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters
For the hard-to-impress kid who already has everything or gets bored by regular ol’ toys, get them something really unique: prehistoric sea monsters. These tiny triops are considered living fossils: a minuscule crustacean that is hypothesized to have been around for 300 million years. This straight-from-the-Smithsonian kit will impress young lovers of science AND history.
The idea is basically the same as sea monkeys: add water to the eggs and watch ’em grow. Sure, they’ll probably only live for a few weeks, but they are reasonably-priced and come with some cool facts and posters as well.
Some kids have sensory issues, especially if they’re on the spectrum. For them, and really any other kid on earth, I recommend this mess-free sensory sand. It’s similar to that kinetic sand stuff, but looks more like real beach sand. It acts like clay or Play-Doh, but it’s made out of a special kind of sand that won’t dry out or get everywhere. Plus, this gift can be part of a theme: get some beach toys and other accessories to go with it.
The sensory sand might not seem fun to you, but for a small child or a kid with sensory issues, it can be an amazing gift. And the parents will be grateful that they won’t have to clean up a huge, sandy mess when their kids are done playing.