Buying for kids can sometimes be a nightmare. My kids have too many toys and I’m constantly trying to pair them down. My boys have gotten expensive and well-meaning gifts that light up, make all sorts of noises, and take up the entire living room floor – only to spend hours playing with the 10 cent plastic truck from the dentist’s office. As a rule, we try to only purchase gifts for the kids that are well-made (no plastics) and are educational or imaginative. We try to only invest in a few nicer wooden toys rather than giving them the most we can buy.
Unless the gifts are books. Then, the more the better! (Extra bonus points for you if they’re beautiful and teach a good lesson)
So here are our top 12 favorite gifts for kids this year. Some we own, some we’ve stored away to give this Christmas, and others we have on our wish lists!
1. Main Street Magic, by Ingela P. Arrhenius
You guys! This book is the absolute cutest book for your little readers. There are a toooooon of pop-outs and flaps to lift with all sorts of hidden surprises. The colors are beautiful, bright and vibrant! It was originally published in France, so it’s filled with sweet illustrations of bakeries and hair salons and smiling faces. I’m tempted to buy a second copy to keep for myself!
2. PlanToys PlanCity Deluxe Road System
Vehicles are EVERYTHING over here. I think Noel makes engine noises more than he says anything else. Owen had a good run with trains, I don’t think he’ll ever grow tired of them, but when we saw this road set at a local toy shop it was nearly impossible to pry him away. The pieces are double-sided and large, making them easy for little hands to move around. There are connecting pieces for standard train tracks, so you can totally set up what we like to call a “super track.” Honestly, though… I think the adorable lampposts are my favorite thing about this set!
3. TinkerToy Deluxe Building Set
4. Snuggle the Baby, by Sara Gillingham
This book was so good to us that I buy it for pretty much every toddler I know who has a sibling on the way. We bought this book for Owen when we found out we were having Noel, and it was a total favorite right away. The pages are cute and bright and fun to play with! Your little one can feed, change, swaddle, and put the baby to sleep – or just carry baby around under their shirt for hours.
5. PlanToys Submarine Bath Toy
I wouldn’t necessarily call this little guy a “bath toy” because it gets around the house like no other toy we own. You can probably tell from the photo that this little dude is well-loved! PlanToys are some of my favorites because they’re so nicely made. I remember opening this submarine up a couple of years ago and being surprised by the weight of it. The best part about it is that you aren’t going to get any gross mold-growth inside like other cheap bath toys (we’re constantly bleaching and/or throwing those squirty ones out). I love this one so much that I’m probably going to add another one of their bath toys to my list for the boys!
6. A Doctor Kit
There are a million of these out there! Our plastic one is going on 2 years of use, but here’s a fun wooden set from Hape!
7. Owen Davey’s Smart About Sharks
This book is a great resource for kids in elementary school, but my 3 year old is really into sea creatures! The illustrations are great and there’s a ton of info about different kinds of sharks.
8. Melissa and Doug Fruit Cutting Set
9. Kids Wooden Espresso Machine, Pottery Barn
Our real espresso machine is a big hit around here, so this is the next best thing. Now if only I can train them to make me a real cup of coffee in the morning.
10. Micro Mini Scooter
This scooter has been a lifesaver on days that I need him to get some energy out. He LOVES this thing. The Micro Mini seems a bit more sturdy than some of the other scooters that we’ve checked out and was a great size for Owen when he was around 2 years old.
11. Fridge Play Food, Melissa + Doug for Land of Nod
Play food and kitchen items are great pretend play gifts for 18 months and up. These are our favorite because they’re all wood and just absolutely beautiful to look at.
12. PlanToys Road Maintenance Trucks
These little trucks are perfect stocking stuffers!
Happy Holidays, friends!