If there’s anything I love most about the holidays, it’s picking out a well-thought gift. My gift-giving search can border on obsessive at times, but over the years of mamahood, I’ve gotten better at picking out simple, thoughtful gifts for my kids that I don’t regret buying. I tend not to look at all the latest and greatest shiny toys, but every once in a while there’s something new that catches my eye. Here are my top picks for gifts for kids that have not only stood the test of time, but that my kids still actually play with and enjoy, too. For even more gifts that my kids have loved over the years check out my previous post, 24 Gifts My Kids Still Love.
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I’ve never been one for having Barbie-like dolls in my house, despite the fact that I grew up with them. And although they’re expensive, I haven’t regretted for a second buying my girls their own American Girl dolls. They are well-made, and my girls really connect with the stories about each one. And my favorite place for buying new clothes and accessories for them? Tar-jay.
For my boys, I can’t go wrong with anything and everything Legos. Oftentimes, they request the latest and greatest themed set, and I’m always looking out for great deals around the holidays. There’s even a Lego trading store here in town where they can buy and sell used Legos (a perfect way for them to spend any gift money).
I bought these partly because I had always loved playing with them at local library events and museums, and despite the fact that my kids were teetering on the edge of building block days.
I always wanted my own dollhouse as a kid, so when I picked one out for my girls years ago, I was super excited. I picked out this natural wood house from Plan Toys, and it’s still in our living room. My girls play with it a little less each year, but it’s definitely something I’ll be storing away for grandkids one day (man, that makes me sound old). For now, our cat, Muffin, takes up residence in it when it’s not in use.
Another favorite toy I’ll be keeping once my kids outgrow it, this Noah’s Ark set is both simple and detailed enough to leave room for your little one’s imagination to roam.
If you’re not quite ready for a larger dollhouse, this mini fold and go one is perfect. Plus your kids can carry it to their favorite room of the moment–or take it on the road to grandma’s.
I adored Nancy Drew books when I was a girl, so it was only natural that my book-loving Eleanor would enjoy them, too. I think she had already discovered them at the library, so I bought her a starter set as a gift last Christmas. I wish I still had mine–good, sturdy books are a great gift to pass down when you have them. And Nancy Drew is a great literary heroine for girls; I loved that she wasn’t afraid to get down to the truth of things.
I first discovered this book on the shelves of my local library. Written by Ethan Hawke (one of my favorite actors), I was initially attracted to the beauty of the book with its hardbound cloth cover. It’s a story of a father’s journey and his advice for his son. It’s an instant classic, with noble ideals about growing up. I bought this for my son when he turned 13, and he still reads it today.
My daughters are named Eleanor and Amelia, so when I discovered that Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart not only knew each other, but that Amelia actually took Eleanor up in her plane, I had to have this book. Maybe it’s not as appealing to someone who doesn’t also have girls with the same names, but I love the idea of two strong women of history coming together in friendship. And capturing that all in a beautifully illustrated children’s book? Golden.
I’m also a huge fan of audiobooks, especially on road trips. My kids listen to them non-stop year round. It’s a great alternative to screen time. And they don’t create clutter (hallelujah!). They may be a little harder to give in the traditional sense, but you could find a creative way to ‘wrap up’ an audiobook. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out my list of 7 Great Audiobooks for Kids (That Moms Will Love, Too).
I’ve raved to friends about Exploding Kittens time and time again, and our own deck has definitely seen some wear and tear. It’s just goofy and funny enough that my boys love it, but not inappropriate. Game play is pretty simple, but takes some getting used to at first. My youngest has played it since she was about 4 or 5 (initially with help but does well on her own now at 7).
I almost thought of starting a cat game collection after I found this one (I do have one more not listed in this post–still testing it out). Here Kitty Kitty is another fun game where you can pretend to be a crazy cat lady and collect all the cats (sans the real life hair balls). It’s a combo of a bajillion tiny cat figures and card game. My girls love it, and my boys play along, too.
Along with our love for books, my kids love writing and telling stories, so these story telling cards from eeBoo are a perfect match. They feature fun, whimsical illustrations and are a fun way to make up stories solo or together.
The entire line of Peaceable Kingdom games is focused on cooperative play, so it’s not about pitting people against each other–which can be a nice reprieve with four kids of varying ages and abilities. This game is a bit young for my older boys now, but my girls still enjoy playing it.
15. Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera
Like most of us, I grew up with film cameras, so sharing the joy of Polaroid-like photos with my kids always elicits joy. We typically bust our Instax cameras out at parties and special events, and have a bowl that we keep our treasure trove of photo memories in. In a world of digital memories, it’s fun to have these tangible moments to sift through.
16. Fujifilm Instax Mini Film Value Pack
If you already have an Instax, then more film makes a great stocking stuffer or small gift. My oldest daughter has her own camera, and loves having creative control over taking photos when she feels inspired.
I’ve written before about our love for origami, and I’ve found that having plenty of origami paper on hand is an inexpensive way to inspire a plethora of activities. I particularly love this stack of gold origami paper, and you can pair it with a how-to origami book, as well.
My kids love to paint, but I tend to hate the mess of craft paint. Watercolors, though, are way less mess that my kids can handle getting out and cleaning up on their own. A fresh set of their own watercolors is a great go-to gift for crafty kids.
Along with their own watercolors, sketchbooks are a great go-to gift. I don’t know about you, but my kids go through my printer paper like candy, but when they have their own sketchbooks, I feel like they appreciate the finite amount of quality paper a little more. Plus they can keep all their artwork in one collection for saving–or rip it all out. Unless your kids are older and serious artists, I wouldn’t invest too much on expensive sketchbooks.
My kids are slowly growing out of the dress up days, but I couldn’t resist these adorable peacock wings for my daughter last year.
And last, but not least, glitter lava lamps have become my go-to gift for any girl’s gift. We’ve bought them for friends and I’ve bought them for my girls. They make a great night light and they sparkle on the walls. Plus I think they look a little better than the old school lava lamps. You can order them online, or I usually swing by and pick one up at Target if I need a last-minute gift.
There you have it, 21 gifts I haven’t regretted buying my kids. What are your most beloved gifts you’ve given your kids?