holiday gifts for toddlers and children

Holiday Gifts for Toddlers and Young Children.

Below, my top picks for children roughly between the ages of 2-5, though some might work for younger children or slightly older ones. I’ve organized by price-point as I imagine many of us have budgets or at least a general sense of what we want to spend depending on our relationship with the recipient. I will have separate posts for babies and older children soon!

Big-Ticket Gifts for Toddlers and Young Children ($100+).

C&B NOD CHAIR OR PBK HARPER CHAIR — PERFECT FOR CREATING A READING NOOK FOR A LITTLE ONE

TEAMSON KIDS PLAY KITCHEN

OSMO STARTER SET (PEOPLE LOVE THIS — READ REVIEWS)

WOODEN NAME STOOL (MY MOTHER HAS GIVEN THESE TO ALL HER GRANDCHILDREN — SO USEFUL AND WELL-LOVED IN OUR HOME)

RADIO FLYER CLASSIC RED WAGON

POLISH ROCKING HORSE (SHIPPING IS PRICEY BUT ISN’T IT GORGEOUS?!)

OUR BIG GIFT FOR MINI THIS YEAR WILL BE A BALANCE BIKE — I’M DYING OVER THIS ONE FROM BANWOOD, ALTHOUGH THIS VERY SIMILAR STYLE IS HALF THE PRICE (AND THERE ARE OTHERS IN THE NEXT CATEGORY DOWN FOR LESS)

SPACE SHIP TENT

MAILEG HOUSE

Gifts for Toddlers and Young Children (Under $100).

ROSALINA BABY DOLLS (THIS BRAND SELLS OUT)

YBIKE BALANCE BIKE (APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS ONE!), OR RADIO FLYER BALANCE BIKE (FOR 1.5+), OR THIS CUTE SCHWINN

BRUDER TRUCKS (THIS GERMAN BRAND MAKES EXCEPTIONALLY REALISTIC VEHICLES)

JANOD DRUM

PLAYSKOOL TRANSFORMERS

YOUNG, WILD, AND FRIEDMAN SENSORY KITS

WAY TO PLAY STREET SET AND WOODEN CARS

MAILEG MICE (MINI HAS BEEN COLLECTING THESE SINCE BEFORE SHE WAS BORN — WE ADD TO HER COLLECTION EVERY HOLIDAY AND I ADORE THIS ONE IN PARTICULAR)

CRANE AND TRUCK SET (I CAN TELL THAT THE REMOTE CONTROL FUNCTIONALITY WOULD BE A HUGE HIT IN OUR HOUSE)

MAGNATAB (HILL ESPECIALLY LOVES THIS — OFTEN PLAYS WITH IT)

SIT AND SPIN

KIWI CO STEM SUBSCRIPTION KITS

DUPLOS (<<MINI WOULD LOVE THIS ONE! SHE’S VERY INTO SUPERHEROES RIGHT NOW)

LINCOLN LOGS

SUPER SMALLS PLAY JEWELRY

Smaller Gifts for Toddlers and Young Children (Under $25).

JANOD DIY TRUCK (ARE YOU KIDDING? ANY TODDLER WILL FLIP OVER THE SCREWS AND TOOLS — A MUST-HAVE FOR HILL)

OOLY BRUSH MARKERS OR OOLY CHUNKIES PAINT STICKS (THE LATTER KEEP SELLING OUT EVERYWHERE…I PAID A PREMIUM TO GET THEM! THEY ARE VERY POPULAR) WITH A 3D COLORING KIT

SPIDERMAN DRESS UP

BALLERINA JEWELRY BOX (I HAD THIS EXACT STYLE WHEN I WAS LITTLE — I MUST BUY IT FOR MINI!)

TIMEX TODDLER WATCH (MINI HAS ALREADY ASKED FOR A WATCH BECAUSE A CLASSMATE HAS ONE)

PAPER DOLLS

COLOR-CHANGING UMBRELLA (CHILDREN ARE OBSESSED WITH UMBRELLAS, FYI)

MELISSA & DOUG HORSE STABLE (SOMETHING ABOUT THIS MAKES MY CHILDHOOD HEART SWELL…DID ANYONE ELSE READ THE THOROUGHBRED SERIES?

P.S. Some more of my absolute favorite toys for children.

P.P.S. Tips on promoting literacy at home during this pandemic.

P.P.P.S. I can’t read this without tearing up: “When I pluck you out of your crib after a nap, you settle into my arms and rest your head on my shoulder, and we sway in the still-dark quiet of the nursery for a few minutes before easing open the blinds and hushing the sound machine, deferring the real world and its routines and cacophonies in favor of a quiet embrace, just the two of us. I have wiped away many happy tears in this posture over the past few weeks, your cheek against mine, your chubby fingers clutching my shirt, the world outside your door immaterial.”

22 Comments

  1. Love the discussion on the balance bike vs training wheels…I’ve been going back and forth on this purchase for my almost 3 y.o. too. Another reminder that all kids are so different! That’s a great point from Jennifer about the Strider which can do both.

    I’m always hoping to be able to borrow/inherit from a friend first to see what works…

    Jen, I’m wondering if you have a “small business/Etsy shop” gift guide in the works? (I feel like I’ve asked more than a few requests/questions already… oops)

    1. “Another reminder that all kids are so different!” — yes!! Now how to make the decision for mine…? Haha.

      Great idea on Etsy/small business gift ideas! I have a bunch of items from these retailers to share especially on the “stocking stuffer” end of the spectrum — and also the ornaments front (a post on that coming up soon). More to come!

      xx

  2. So many good ideas here! I have two nieces in this rough age bracket and so I always appreciate your recommendations. My stepdaughter (10) also loves all things Ooly — such a great brand!

    xx

    1. Yay!! I’m new to the Ooly brand and VERY impressed. I have some of their other products in my cart right now!

      xx

  3. Both my boys have used our strider balance bike and loved it. However my 5 year old when he graduated to a big bike still wanted training wheels much to our surprise! We can take them off and he can balance and bike but because they use their feet so much with the balance bike it scares him! Curious what my 3 year old will do when he outgrows it’s.

    1. So interesting!! Wow! I had no idea how many different perspectives/thoughts there would be on the balance bike! Thanks for weighing in.

      xx

  4. I didn’t realize the balance bike was polarizing! It does take time getting used to and I admit my son was not at all into it at first. I think he was frustrated because he couldn’t go very fast — you have to learn to balance, hence the “balance bike“ and even then it’s not the same technique as a bike with training wheels. But because we continued with it, he started riding a two wheel bike with no training wheels this summer — at age 3! So we definitely plan to only use the balance bike with the next little one!

    1. More interesting feedback! Thanks for this alternative perspective. I guess we have some thinking to do…

  5. So fun! Just today I wrote a review on my blog of the “big-kid” bike we bought for my daughter (age 4.5). We got her the Banwood balance bike for her third birthday, and while I LOOOOOVE the look, we found the quality to be a little suspect. It did prove to be a good step to a “real” bike, as she transitioned to a 16″ bike with no training wheels and ease! HIGHLY recommend Priority bikes! http://www.emformarvelous.com/our-review-of-junes-big-kid-bike-the-priority-start-16/

    P.S. I was an AVID Thoroughbred reader – one of my favorite childhood series! I find you don’t come across another fan too often 🙂

    1. Yay fellow Thoroughbred series fan!! Thanks for the feedback on the Banwood Bike and the Priority bike too!! xx

  6. Note on the banwood bike — it is SO attractive and well made but! It’s not that fun to ride, at least for a scooter-savvy toddler. I wish we’d gone straight to a regular bike with training wheels.
    More of a gift to myself but I will be getting one of those kitchen container stands (blanking on the name), because my children will climb up to counter level during dinner prep by hook or by crook and I could stomach a few fewer tumbles.

    1. !! Love that idea – I know exactly what you’re talking about. Emory would dig that.

      Interesting feedback on the bike! Making me think twice. I think some of them can be converted into bikes with training wheels; maybe I should start there?!

      xx

    2. We got a Strider balance bike for my daughter when she was about 2.5 and she hated it and refused to ride it. Finally got her a regular bike with training wheels and she likes it a lot more. I think it really depends on the kid as I’ve seen some kids zip around on a balance bike. If there’s a balance bike that also can have training wheels/pedals (I think the Strider actually can, but we’d already bought the new bike) so she can see what she prefers, that covers all your bases!

    3. Hi Claire! Do you mean a “kitchen helper”/”learning tower”? (There might be other names for it?). I was in the same boat as you, we started out with a 2-step ladder with my daughter and she was just so fidgety one time that she lost her balance. We got one from a company named Guidecraft and it is so sturdy and well-made, and it folds up (somewhat) flat! Etsy seems to have a lot of options too, but I’ve been very happy with ours.

  7. I was just looking at jewelry boxes last night for my daughter! Do you have the one you featured? It looks so cute, but I saw on some reviews that it’s rather flimsy and so wasn’t sure. I need something that can withstand my daughter’s “tinkering” when she’s supposed to be “napping”. I saw that Pottery Barn has some nice ones – more expensive, but maybe worth it.

    A play kitchen is worth it! We have the one from IKEA that we jazzed up a bit (got real cabinet handles from Home Depot, added some additional knobs and hooks) for my daughter’s second Christmas and she still plays with it all the time. A plus is that it doesn’t take up *too* much room and is taller than some of the other play kitchens on the market. Also, if you need smaller items to go on a holiday/birthday list for relatives, play food fits the bill.

    1. Wow – what a clever idea on jazzing up the Ikea kitchen! So cute!

      I haven’t yet bought Emory the jewelry box but based on price/style I am guessing it’s not too precious/well-made. (Though I am taking the opposite tack — I know it will probably get bent and ruined (especially with curious little brother always around) and am therefore preferring something less expensive…) I can say though that I own a Pottery Barn jewelry box myself and it is exceptionally well-made…so if you are looking for a better investment, that’d be a great route!

      xx

  8. I’ve been looking forward to this list! So many good ideas. I want to get a play kitchen as a big ticket toddler item this year, but struggling with where to put it…

    1. I so hear you! Mr. Magpie and I are already feeling like we’re jockeying for space! The good news is that we’ve had occasion to donate a couple of bulky items that Hill has outgrown — his activity center, his walker, etc. I would LOVE to give them a play kitchen this year, but it would need to come at the removal of one other item in mini’s bedroom…

      xx

    1. Hi! Thank you so much — yay! I am going to be putting together my first gift guide for older children / teens, and right now it looks like it will be published early next week. More to come, including a gift guide for babies and a gift guide for gentlemen!

      xx

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