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When you’re shopping for the best gifts for kids, a stroll down any big-box toy department will deliver no shortage of movie-franchise action figures and character-powered playsets. While those are always a hit, finding one-of-a-kind presents (that still manage to pique kids’ interest beyond unboxing) doesn’t have to be a scavenger hunt. There are plenty of STEAM gifts for the curious kiddos, screen-free playthings to keep children and kids at heart entertained, stylish surprises for the budding design dilettante and cool gadgets that will power young giftees’ imaginations year-round.
If you’re shopping for a kid’s birthday, graduation, the holidays (it’s never too early!) or another occasion, we’ve rounded up some of the best gifts for kids — yes, including picks starring this year’s big and small screen characters. Check out our top picks below (which we’ve organized by age group, including gifts for everyone, toddlers and little and big kids), and get more gifting ideas here.
The Best Gifts for Kids of All Ages
Elephant & Piggie Biggie! Volume 5 by Mo Willems
Elephant and Piggie are back in best-selling author Mo Willems’ newest five-story collection. Out Oct. 18, the fifth book in his bind-up series includes I Am Invited to a Party!, I Will Surprise My Friend!, Happy Pig Day!, Waiting Is Not Easy! and The Thank You Book.
TeeTurtle Reversible Octopus Plushie
Also a perfect stocking stuffer, TeeTurtle’s reversible octopus plushie is so cute (and therapeutic), you might just want to stock up on a ton as last-minute holiday gifts — the gifting season will be here before you know it.
Throw Throw Burrito Game
You say throw, I say burrito: This fun Throw Throw Burrito game is the “world’s first dodgeball card game” that kids and grownups alike will love.
KiwiCo Crate Membership
There’s a crate for every age and interest from KiwiCo., which offers gift subscriptions ($23to $230) for its STEAM-themed activity boxes (from $28 each) for a range of ages. From the Panda Crate that encourages babies to explore, to kits focused on art, engineering, science, cooking, geography and culture for ages 5 to 100, recipients will love keeping their minds and hands busy. Monthly deliveries come in one, three, six and 12-month options and free shipping is included. The AAPI-founded company also offers fun (and buildable) seasonal kits, such as Halloween costumes, a light-up Menorah, Advent calendars, and more in its online store for those who prefer to buy individual boxes.
Star Wars Cuutopia Grogu Plush
My Very Own Trucks Personalized Book by Maia Haag
Personalize reading time and put your truck-loving giftee’s name right into the pages of this colorful book written by Maia Haag and illustrated by Jez Tuya.
Petite Plume White Robe with Garnet Piping
Stylish kids will love unwrapping this comfy and chic robe by Petite Plume. Perfect for snuggling, it’s available in tot and tween sizes (from six months to 14 years) and in a range of other prints and colorways. Add monogramming for an extra personal touch.
The Original Air Fort
It takes just 30 seconds to set up this inflatable air fort — yep, no hammering or nails required, just add a fan — that keeps kids entertained and (hopefully) contained. It’s 77 inches wide by 50 inches tall and can fit about three children, and comes with a carrying case and adhesive square fan tabs for easily connecting to a separate box fan.
The Best Gifts for Babies
Milton & Goose Almond Butter and Jelly Play Food Set
Spotted in the playrooms of Jessica Alba’s and Kim Kardashian’s tots, Milton & Goose’s wooden play food set includes pretend jars of almond and sunflower oil butters and jelly (sorry, nothing edible here), all made from solid maple with water-based paints.
Lalo The Play Gym
Forget the noisy light-up play stations — Lalo’s Play Gym offers a more stylish (and quieter) alternative that stimulates baby’s mind. The non-toxic set is made of FSC-certified beechwood and eco-friendly Lyocell, and comes with a machine-washable mat, mirror prism, silicone teether and soft sensory ball. (The company’s stylish high chairs have been seen in the homes of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Ayesha and Steph Curry, Khloe Kardashian and other Hollywood parents.)
The Best Gifts for Toddlers (Ages 1 to 3)
Cassaro Waldorf Climbing Tower and Slide Set
Your giftee (or their caregivers) don’t need to be Waldorf-education devotees to appreciate Cassaro’s multi-purpose climbing play tower, which can be used as a step stool for budding chefs, an art station with the detachable chalkboard or an indoor/outdoor slide. (Famous Waldorf alumni include Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock and Anna Paquin, among others.)
Fisher-Price DC League of Super-Pets Figure Multi-Pack
For fans of the superstar-voiced animated film DC League of Super-Pets, this six-figurine playset lets tots create their own superhero scenes with Krypto the Superdog, Ace the Hound, Pigasus, PB, Chip and Lulu.
Jurassic World x Accompany Fierce Creature Towel
Jurassic World superfans can wear their dino devotion after the bath or pool with this playful fair-trade towel from Accompany’s collaboration with the blockbuster franchise. The artisan-made collection also includes home goods, serveware and other goods that support the livelihood of craftspeople across India.
Best Gifts for Preschoolers and Older (Ages 3 and up)
Bluey Ultimate Caravan Adventures Playset
Wikki Stix Reusable Molding and Sculpting Sticks
Trust us when we say that this sensory-friendly set of Wikki Stix will be the attention-consuming gift that keeps on giving to kids and caregivers alike.
Change Sings by Amanda Gorman
New York Times best-selling author and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s new tome, Change Sings, is one of the best books for kids ages 3 to 8 years old. The 32-page picture book spreads a heartwarming message of being a positive force in the world — one that all ages will delight in reading.
Tovla Jr. Cooking and Baking Gift Set
Little chefs and bakers can safely whip up their favorite meals and treats with Tovla Jr.’s cooking and baking gift set, which includes three nylon knives, tongs, cookie cutters, measuring spoons and cups, a spatula, a whisk, a cutting board, an apron and recipe cards in a portable storage box.
Ooly Switch-Eroo Color-Changing Markers
Aspiring artists will have a blast doodling with Ooly’s fun color-changing markers, which come in a set of 12 (but they’re really getting double the rainbow).
Turning Red 18-Inch Mei Panda Plush
Yovako Galaxy Star Projector
Kids can use 10 light modes to create their own starry night, relaxing room or party zone with this Galaxy Star Projector, which uses a combination of 16 million colors to create illuminated scenes indoors across 195 square feet. The Bluetooth-enabled device syncs to a smartphone app so users can control it remotely, sync the projector to their own music, set a timer, turn it on using Alexa or Google Assistant voice controls and more.
Singing Machine The Mood Kids Karaoke System
For the kids who can’t stop singing their hearts out to Sing 2 or Encanto, encourage them to belt it out with this portable karaoke machine, which has Bluetooth for streaming music from your phone or another device, multi-colored LED lights and fun voice-changing effects. (And for family members who prefer silence, may we suggest a great pair of noise-canceling earbuds?)
Ada Twist, Scientist On-the-Go Lab Set
Preschool-aged scientists can concoct their own experiments with this portable lab like the one they’ve seen in Ada Twist, Scientist, the Netflix series co-produced by Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins) and Barack and Michelle Obama. The hands-on kit comes with a beaker, a flask, three test tubes, goggles, a ruler, an eye dropper, a funnel, a measuring spoon and a real working scale, plus stickers and experiment cards.
Tiny Land Kids Large Play Tent
Designed for ages 3 to 5, this chic canvas play tent by Tiny Land will let little giftees imagine a whimsical wonderland, backyard adventures and more. It comes with a comfy padded non-slip mat, star string lights and a carrying case.
CreateOn Galaxy Spaceship Magna-Tiles
If their enthusiasm for outer space is to infinity and beyond (and they’ve got all of the Toy Story merch they need), CreateOn’s exclusive Magna-Tiles spaceship building set will encourage them to continue reaching for the stars.
Yoto Player with Disney Audio Cards
One of the coolest screen-free toys for kids, Yoto’s cool storytelling speaker (best for ages 3 to 8) reads aloud stories and plays music without the need for tapping or swiping (though you can use your phone to play audio using the Yoto app). It comes with two five-minute Disney story cards (or choose from other options), and the device can be used as a clock, night light or sleep trainer. Other card packs are available, including recordable ones.
Meri Meri Gold Sparkle Cape Costume
Got a Waldorf kid who’s grown accustomed to wearing a brandless wardrobe? Whether or not they’re living the logo-free life, your aspiring thespian will love wearing Meri Meri’s whimsical sparkling gold cape costume, which comes with a sequin star wand.
Lunii My Fabulous Storyteller
Lunii’s My Fabulous storyteller lets kids choose their own adventures while encouraging their imaginations — and without screen time. Designed for ages 3 to 10, the interactive device includes 48 pre-loaded tales that prompt little ones to select their character, setting and other story elements. Best of all, you don’t need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to set the device up; you can download new content by connecting the unit directly via USB cable to Mac or Windows computers.
Playtime Engineering Blipblox Toy Synthesizer
Pint-sized and grown-up hitmakers alike will love dropping beats on Playtime Engineering’s After Dark edition of its popular Blipblox synthesizer, which has a built-in drum machine with over 100 pitch-shifting samples, hundreds of melodies and endless ways for little DJs to create their own music. It can be plugged into keyboard, drum machine or digital audio workstation (DAW), and there’s even a headphone jack so DJs can listen and play without turning the rest of the house into a club.
Little Tikes Jump ‘n’ Slide Bouncer
Why reserve bounce houses for just birthday parties when you can give year-round jumping fun? Made for ages 3 to 8, this inflatable jumper from Little Tikes comes with a heavy-duty blower, GFCI outlet, storage bag, repair patches and stakes.
Tobbi Maserati Kids Rechargeable Ride-On Electric Car
For the future driver (or caregivers) with expensive tastes, this mini Maserati will be the most luxurious ride on the playground. (You’ve seen similar wheels on the Instagram feeds of Chrissy Teigen, the Kardashians and countless other starry parents.) A fully-charged vehicle gives 60 minutes of play, and the kid- or parent-controlled car has real working headlights and doors, a horn and MP3 inputs.
Best Gifts for Kids Ages 4 to 9
Black Panther: World of Wakanda Kids Pullover Hoodie
Whether they’re 4 or 14 years old, this cool pullover hoodie for Black Panther fans will keep kids cozy all fall and beyond.
Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 Kids Fitness and Activity Tracker
Not everyone has spidey senses when it comes to chore time or taking a screen break. Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. 2 fitness tracker(recommended for ages 4 to 9) for kids helps young Spider-Man fans stay active by way of a parent-controlled app that motivates kids to get up and walk, complete household activities and more.
Sega Kids Sonic the Hedgehog Costume Hoodie
If they’re already excited for Sonic 3, this official costume hoodie of the little blue devil might just hold them over until December 2023.
Classic Fairytale Pop-Up Book by Robert Sabuda
Bring classic books like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid to life with one of these pop-up books (best for ages 4 and up) by acclaimed New York-based illustrator Robert Sabuda.
Clixo Rainbow Pack
This Toy of the Year 2021 finalist inspires kids ages 4 and older to snap together creations with these magnetic and eco-friendly play pieces. Available in a variety of sets, Clixo’s colorful toys are flat, so they’re easy to store (not to mention less of a pain to step on).
PlayShifu Plugo STEM Pack
Guilt-free screen time awaits with PlayShifu’s interactive Plugo learning toys, which turn iPads and Amazon Fire and Samsung tablets into mobile classrooms. Sync the educational accessories with the brand’s apps for hands-on games that teach kids how to count, add, subtract, spell and build their problem-solving skills. (The tech toy brand has plenty of other kits for dinosaur lovers, young globe-trotters and more.)
Stylish pedalers will be happy to zoom around the block in Tokyobike’s pint-sized bicycle (grown-ups can match with their own set of wheels, too), which comes with removable training wheels and is available in other chic colorways.
Hearth and Hand Kids Market Cart
Their summer lemonade stand just got an upgrade with this stylish market cart from Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ Hearth & Hand with Magnolia. It features the Magnolia brand founders’ signature rustic-modern aesthetic and has working wheels, storage shelves, charming metal bells and a front chalkboard.
Best Gifts for Kids Ages 6 and Up
Pura Vida x Harry Potter Gryffindor Half N Half Bracelet
Lego City 2022 Advent Calendar
If you’re already counting down to the holidays, you’re in luck: Lego’s 2022 Advent calendars have arrived online (including at Amazon, Target and Walmart). This 287-piece City set (for ages 5 and up) includes characters from the toy brand’s City Adventures TV series, including Billy, Maddy, Mr. Produce, Tippy and Raze as well as Santa himself.
Waffles + Mochi Cookbook
Got a future Michelin chef or Waffles + Mochi fan? The Neflix show’s 112-page cookbook will take 6- to 8-year-olds on a hands-on culinary journey around the world as they whip up onigiri from Japan, delicioso stew inspired by Peru, kimchi grilled cheese and cloud meringues, to name a few.
Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron
Now might be a good time to snag last year’s top sold-out toy. The Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron (ages 5 and up) lets kiddos whip up a whimsical potion to reveal an adorable furry friend.
Lego Disney Frozen Elsa’s Magical Ice Palace
One of the best gifts for kids who love Legos and Frozen, this 701-piece building set of Elsa’s Ice Palace will let them relive the movie’s magic — and inspire them to whip up their own creations that will never melt.
Best Gifts for Kids Ages 8 and Up
Tamagotchi Star Wars R2-D2
This R2-D2 Tamagotchi digital pet is two nostalgic toys in one.
Petite ‘n Pretty At First Glow Makeup Starter Kit
For future makeup artists, pediatrician-approved beauty brand Petite ‘n Pretty’s Glow Basics starter set includes non-toxic mascara, lip gloss, eyeshadow and blush with a kid-sized dual-ended synthetic brush and a handy carrying case. The products are vegan, cruelty-free and formulated without parabens and phthalates, so recipients (and their caregivers) won’t need to worry about any harmful ingredients in their beauty kit. The kit is suggested for ages 9 and up and safety tested for ages 5 and up.
Educational Insights Artie Max Coding and Drawing Robot
SmooStat E9 Pro Electric Kids Scooter
Lead-footed kiddos can zip around in SmooStat’s E9 Pro electric kids scooter, which has fun flashing rainbow LED lights to brighten kids’ rides. An LED display shows the riding speed (the scooter can go 5, 8 or 10 miles per hour), battery level and scooting mode, and the 14-pound device easily folds and unfolds in two steps.
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