Nothing feels worse than spending lots of time, energy, and money picking out gifts for your kids....only to see those gifts forgotten after two days and never played with again. Agh!!
I love giving gifts! And I REALLY love giving gifts that are a huge hit with the recipient. So over the years I have been keeping a list of our FAVORITE things that our kids have loved and played with/used ENDLESSLY, to use as my own reference list when it comes time to buy birthday or Christmas presents for other little kids. I will happily report that all of these were really worth EVERY penny to us and are still favorites to this day. If you need ideas, consider the below! (In order of youngest to oldest, or 0-5years old)
Binky attached to small stuffed animal - we had a little doggy version of this amazing thing at it was an ESSENTIAL item for both of my boys for the first year! They loved it!
Board books - we love all books, but board books can really take all the tough love for the first three years! This is one of our all time favorites :)
Mega blocks - we got several sets of these blocks because they are so PERFECT for little hands and early STEM play/development. My boys started playing with them as babies and still play with them today!
Small inflatable balls - you just can't beat a ball for endless fun! These are soft and the perfect size for small hands!
Wood puzzles - another classic early stage toy, wood puzzles have been classics for decades and are so sturdy, they will probably make it to our grandchildren's playrooms too!
Hot wheels - something about these perfect pocket sized cars is magic. I recommend having a whole bucket of them, as inevitably some go missing out on adventures, or end up in the pockets of little friends! I always keep a tiny car in my purse for on the go meltdown distractions!
Hot wheels flexible track - this was a gift and is a GENIUS toy to go with all of your tiny cars! It's a flexible track that you can setup all over the house (over chairs, pillows, tables, etc) and bonus - it rolls up small for much easier storage than those plastic hot wheels hard track sets!
Brio/ikea wooden train set - our wooden train set is currently my one year old's favorite thing in the whole world - here's a money saving hack: get the tracks from IKEA! They are the same size and work with the cool Brio things - like motorized train cars, or cool bridges. Otherwise, here is a basic set!
Baby doll - dolls aren't just for girls! My boys love taking care of their baby doll that they named Jack - he comes along on all kinds of adventures!
Doll stroller - I'm not sure if there is a more coveted item in our house than the doll stroller. Warning: they may love this thing so much it might have to "disappear" for breaks!
Quadroplay - this is a company we discovered in 2020 covid quarantine in London and we are OBSESSED. It's a modular play structure! So you can design and redesign climbing structures/forts endlessly! It is so high quality and well made, this thing will DEFINITELY make it into our future grandkid basement play area! We have several sets including this slide, which we love. Worth every penny to us! It's active play, problem solving, and quality time designing and building new structures with Dad!
Magformers - these little magnet building toys are at the top of our all time favorite list. They are easy to bring along in a backpack for traveling (SAVED us on many a long international flight!), the perfect shape for little hands to figure out, and I'm convinced there is no maximum age limit. Our 4 year old loves them as much now as he did as an 18month old. The wheel additions are a must! Endless fun!
I spy/waldo/finding things books - in the tricky stage where little kids weren't interested in sitting still for books for a while, these "find this thing!" books are GOLDEN. We have the 1000 words book that I linked in English, French, and Chinese and the pages are worn from so much use and love!
Play dough with tools and shapes - Give a kid some tools, some playdough, and some little guys or animals, and they'll be set for at least 30 minutes! A classic favorite. Kinetic sand - my boys LOVE playing in the sand at the beach and building things, but alas, we can't always make it to the beach! So I got a container and filled it with a few bags of kinetic sand and they have almost as much fun at home with the same little playdough tools and beach moulds like castles and walls!
Tube connector toys - these were also a gift and became an instant hit. I am of the opinion that you really can't have too many STEM/building toys! The boys make robots, vaccums, cars, planes, drones, and all kinds of things out of this toy! These are great for any age!
Playmobil guys, vehicles and animals - what I love most about Playmobil? Their stuff is indestructible - seriously, all of these things have been thrown across the living room multiple times and are all fine! They pop apart on purpose and then you can just put them back together! This firetruck set is SO fun with the ladder and the guys and the compartments, this little airplane set is a great first option and still a hit, and we all love to play with this car/horse set!
Backpack - is anything more fun that toting around your treasures as a kid? We have the boys pack their own backpacks full of toys for church on Sundays and they're happy to carry them around everywhere!
Scooter - this scooter is a best seller for a reason, it's incredibly well made and easy to use. My one year old got one for his birthday, stepped on, and literally zoomed away. I kid not! It was also a lifesaver in the city - we used it constantly for getting around London! Make sure you have helmets on all the time, tumbles are part of the process!
Learning to walk soft helmet - speaking of helmets, this thing is ugly but I LOVE IT. I had a fearless baby who walked at 10 months old, so having a little bit of a softer landing for the inevitable falls gave me so much peace of mind! He wore it constantly until he was steady on his feet!
Stickers - are a great toy for on the go and at home! Flights, car trips, church? Just whip out some stickers!
Maze books - my older son LOVES maze books and will blow through them - you can get them started really young and it's great holding a pencil/writing practice!
Duplos - dying to get into LEGOs but are the kids still a little young? Duplos are the BEST! Non choak-able size, sturdy, and fun to play with even later when they are old enough for the smaller pieces.
Easy legos - this is the first LEGO set we got my son when we was three and it was PERFECT - he followed the instructions so much better than I though he would and we had a great time! Since this first car, LEGOs have been a constant request!
Hex Bugs - you may not have heard of these, but they are little vibrating things that "run" around the floor - my kids LOVE them and spend hours making mazes, traps, and houses for their bugs!
Bigger legos - once they've gotten the hang of it, LEGO options are endless! This is a set we really like - anything with little holes, trunks, or compartments is always a hit.
Yoto player - learning to love to read is really important in our family, and I LOVED listening to audiobooks as a kid. But do I want to give my toddlers access to my iPhone? Hard pass. Enter the Yotoplayer - we use it EVERYDAY to listen to books, recordings from family, kids podcasts, and bedtime music. It's also a nightlight and sound machine! Truly a treasured resource for me!
Silver cups - we got one of these cups engraved with the name and birthdate of our first son as a gift and we love it so much I got a matching one for baby #2! Pricey, but an heirloom that also serves a fun daily function! The boys use their silver cups everyday for everything! "Medicine", juice, water, pretend play, tea parties, and beyond! It also helped them start learning to recognize letters and numbers! A classic gift for new babies and fun family tradition.
Stuffed animals - loving on a stuffed animal is an essential part of childhood! We love the Jellycat ones and got bunnies for my boys' easter baskets recently, I love the as much as my boys do!
“Science” stuff - vinegar, baking soda, food coloring, turkey baster, ice cube trays - no links for you here, just head to your kitchen! My 4 year old could play "science" all day long in the kitchen sink if I let him!
Savvy reading class (get $25 off) - not a toy per say, but my son looks forward to his online Savvy reading class everyday and says "BYE! LOVE YOU!" at the end to his teacher eachtime! Worth EVERY penny to me as a parent, I love seeing him learn how to read and also love that he gets to learn from someone else (not just me, constantly!)
Balance bikes - if they aren't scooter fans, try a balance bike! Bonus: no training wheels later!
Guardian bikes - bikes are a classic for a reason! We all love bikes! If you're going to pass the bike down to many younger siblings, it's worth getting a good quality one! I love the saftey braking features on the Guardian bikes - my son hops on his and zooms away!
Rain boots - I know, kids don't like clothes as presents, but they will LOVE a pair of rainboots! Somehow so much more fun than shoes and very practical for playing outside when it's messy or muddy!
Woodworking subscription - this woodworking subscription is super fun! Real hammers, paint, and nails, and real science! My boys are obsessed and love building the project each month.
Kiwi co crate - we're all about building over here, and Kiwi Co is one of the best subscriptions for STEM activities! Truthfully the box for the youngest kids I don't feel like is worth it as much, but the middle step and beyond is FANTASTIC when they get a bit older!
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