Putting out a super-popular kids’ gift guide that reviews over 450 toys naturally leads to the same question over and over…
But what are you buying your kids this year??
So today I thought I’d answer it (and pray like crazy that my kids don’t accidentally stumble upon my blog somehow!)
Not only am I listing what they’re getting from Santa and my husband and I, but also from my parents and sister.
They always enlist my help in shopping for my kids and I often even buy the gifts for my sister so she doesn’t have to pack them when she comes for Christmas.
Here we go…
C – age 8
The big thing this year for C, which he has no idea he is getting, is the Xbox. After a lot of feet-dragging on my part, I feel like I’ve stalled as long as I could and we’ve gotten to the point where his friends are kinda wondering what’s wrong with him for only having played video games a handful of times.
Plus, I really do think he’s mature enough now to handle the boundaries that will come with having a console at home.
So here’s his list:
Xbox One S 500GB Console – Minecraft Bundle
$299.99 On sale $249.00
We are taking the plunge and getting the Xbox One S Minecraft Bundle (and I’m sure the 6-year-old will get in on some of the fun too.)
I love the creativity that Minecraft on the tablet brings out in my kids and think this is a great place to start with a true video game system. We went with the Xbox because it’s what his friends have, and the One S because I really like the sleek small size and my hubby loves that it plays 4K HD Blu-Ray movies.
Note: We also got bought an extra controller (you know, so he can actually play with his friends when they’re over) and an older version of Madden NFL because it was significantly cheaper and he totally won’t care it’s not the latest version!
I bought this in person at Costco about a month ago (Note: It’s $5 cheaper there than online), and then my son discovered Roald Dahl on his own! He’s already flown through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Glass Elevator, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, and The Magic Finger.
I would be frustrated except this large set still has 10 books he hasn’t read yet plus Dahl is so good that I know my son will love owning the books and being able to read them again and again.
Plus, I have two younger kids who will also enjoy them eventually. My 6-year-old has already read and enjoyed Matilada with our nanny and this is actually a joint present to them both.
$17.19 On Sale $13.08 (8+ years)
My son is really into Soduku style logic puzzles right now so when I saw this game I knew it would be the perfect thing for keeping him occupied over his school break (hooray!). Confession, after years of unsolicited and glowing reviews of their games I have a relationship with ThinkFun. So I asked them to send this one to me this year.
It’s a fun logic game that develops the skill of deductive reasoning, a key ability in math, science, computer programming, and many other fields.
In this game, you may deduce information based on what must be true even though you can’t see it directly. The more you play, the more deductive tricks and strategies you’ll learn as you reason logically from the clues you’re given.
From Mom & Dad:
Balance Beans Game
$17.99 On Sale $13.99 (5 – 9 years)
I also asked Thinkfun to send me this one.
Confession #2: I totally couldn’t hold out until Christmas. We had a snow day off from school last week and I just couldn’t resist breaking this out to help fill the hours.
My instincts were spot on. My 8-year-old LOVED it and my 2 1/2-year-old delighted in tinkering around with it too.
From ThinkFun… Balance beans is a logic game and math game all in one. Set up the red beans according to the challenge card. Then carefully place the colorful beans on the seesaw to keep it from teetering. When you balance the seesaw, you are actually balancing an equation! As the challenges get harder, you’ll rely less on trial and error – and more on math and reasoning skills. This bean-filled logic game is a fun way to introduce young learners to elementary algebra.
As the challenges get harder, you’ll rely less on trial and error – and more on math and reasoning skills. This bean-filled logic game is a fun way to introduce young learners to elementary algebra.
From His Aunt:
It’s been my experience that you really can’t go wrong with a Nerf gun for an 8-year-old boy. I went with this particular version because I know my son will love the name as well as the super fun double flip barrels.
Another big factor, though, was that I got it on a great sale. This one isn’t on sale anymore but the equally cool Nerf Zombie Strike Hammershot Blaster is currently 40% off at
From His Grandparents:
Ticket to Ride $37.99 (8+ years)
I showed the Amazon video about this game to C and he immediately put it on his list for Santa, which really excited me because I know a few of his friends are also getting it for Christmas. Perfect because they’ll all know how to play when getting together!
One of the most popular strategy games of all time. This is the original that spawned multiple variations. The reviews of this one say more about the game than I ever could, “A really fun board game for the whole family – especially if they love trains. The goal is to build railroad lines across the USA and ratchet up more points than your opponent(s).”
“I don’t think I have ever seen a board game that pleases more consistently than this one. In my experience, board games are typically tedious to explain, and boring. Not this game. The beauty of it is its simplicity. It can be picked up very quickly, and the gameplay is quick, with no lulls. But, for all that simplicity in the gameplay, you do not sacrifice any complexity in the strategy.”
Anki Overdrive Starter Kit
$149.99 On Sale $119.99
This is the big present my son is asking for this year because, frankly, I’ve been such a downer about video games up until now that he doesn’t think an Xbox is even an option.
That Xbox means we’re not getting him another big gift this year but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is still what he wants when his birthday comes around. He saw the amazon video on it and was completely sold.
If your kids like hot wheels, they are going to lose their minds over this next generation high-tech racing toy. Players use smart phones to steer the cars on the extra large track which can be constructed into 8 different “battle fields”.
That’s all great, but here’s what’s ridiculously cool… The A.I. cars actually race on their own, meaning your kids can race against them and don’t need a friend to play with!
From the manufacturer… “Open the box and build your battle track. The Anki OVERDRIVE app automatically handles everything else, from getting you connected, to teaching you gameplay, so you can start playing immediately. It’s effortless by design… Duel friends or artificially intelligent opponents. 25+ different A.I. personalities know your every move and make split-second tactical decisions based on their environment and objectives. The more you play, the more upgrades and items you gain, and the better you fight back… These aren’t just cars. They’re robots programmed for battle. Control them with your smart device and take down opponents with an array of weapons, from plasma cannons to flame throwers. It’s pulse-pounding play, made possible through state-of-the-art tech and it’s an experience unlike anything else.”
LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack (6 years and up)
Xbox one $
Confession #3: Getting this AND the Xbox just felt like too much for us… However, from what his friends’ moms have told me, I just know that C is going to want it and soon. So I went ahead and grabbed it while it was on sale and am keeping it for him to save up for to buy himself, from me, at the sale price.
LEGO Dimensions is a kid-friendly video game that encourages creativity as well as game play by incorporating LEGO building into the process. I love that! I also love that one of the three characters in the starter pack is a girl, Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie.
Once kids have the starter pack, they put together the three minifigures (Batman, Wyldstyle and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings), then the game guides them on how to use the LEGOs included to build the “LEGO gateway” on top of the toy pad. Once that is done, kids can place the 3 included figurines and batmobile onto the gateway and they’ll actually show up in the game. So cool!
After that, there are all kinds of expansion packs kids can buy, build, and add into the game to create something completely unique like Harry Potter, Ghost Busters, and Batman all playing side by side.
As video games go, this one is incredibly hands on and creative and I love that the price of the expansion packs makes them the perfect thing for kids to do chores and save up for!
S – age 6
S was much more opinionated this year about exactly what she wanted. At that top of the list were Sophia the First items and the ridiculously hard-to-find Hatchimal.
Fortunately for me, she decided on the crazy bird robot months ago so I was able to scoop one up while they were still on the shelves- my sympathies to those of you who weren’t so lucky!
Hatchimals $59.99 (5 – 9 years)
These interactive, magical creatures that come (and eventually hatch out of) their own egg are The “It” Toy of the Year. Every elementary aged girl I know, including my kindergartener daughter, has one at the very top of her list and as of late October they’ve been sold out everywhere.
The magic in this toy is how kids are encouraged to nurture it both to come out of its egg (tap and it will tap back) and once it’s in the world (Give your Hatchimal a name and raise it through 3 stages: from baby, to toddler, to kid).
My suspicion is that this toy isn’t quite as cool once it hatches, but it does do a lot (walk, talk, dance, play games, and more) and though you can’t put it back in the egg, you can start it over as a baby whenever you want.
My daughter has become a prolific writer since starting kindergarten and as she learns how to read. So I know she’s going to adore this diary, especially the lock. Plus it glows-in-the dark!
From Mom & Dad:
I was really excited to score this set during an Amazon Lighting Deal for a stellar price (one of the perks of having to look at Amazon sales all day long to put on our sales page as part of my job!).
Once it came I was really pleased by the size of the set and I know my daughter will spend hours playing with the many characters included.
From Her Aunt:
My daughter got a Frozen backpack that lights up for school this year and, who would have guessed, the lights broke after about a month. Since the backpack itself was still totally useable, mean mom that I am, I told S if she wanted a new backpack she’d have to ask for it for Christmas.
So that’s just what she did. She requested a Sophia the First backpack and I think she’ll love that this one is super sparkley and also comes with a little handbag to play with at home.
From Her Grandparents:
Lil Lockitz Best Friend Party Pack (5 – 12 years)
$39.99 On Sale $16.62
My 6-year-old daughter loves, loves making rainbow loom bracelets for her friends and trading them with her friends. So, I’ve been looking around to see if there were any other jewelry-making kits that would equally capture her interest. I think Lil Lockitz is definitely it.
Last month my husband purchased this rainbow loom rubber band refill set and she absolutely loved the charms that came with it… The Lil Lockitz sets are all about charms. The sets supply kids with gems, backgrounds and charms to fill and personalize each locket. Kids love the ability to customize the locket to fit their personality (and if boys aren’t into the necklaces, there are bracelets and keychains to be made too).
Plus they’re large and easy to manipulate. And, like any good toy, there are a million different themed sets available. This Christmas I’m starting her off with the Best Friend Party Pack, which comes with a photo puncher to use your own photos in the lockets.
DC Super Hero Girls Collection starting at $11.99 (5 – 10 years)
I SO wanted to buy a couple of these dolls for S but, alas, they just didn’t quite make the cut. But I was super stoked that she asked for these dolls that send a great message of empowerment.
I also really appreciate the articulating limbs so kids (both girls and boys) can use them for acting out all sorts of super hero moves. You can buy the larger 12″ dolls individually or go in for the 6″ versions in a three pack or six pack.
MegaBloks American Girl Building Sets Up to 40% off (4 – 12 years)
I’m so impressed with this line of LEGO-like building sets for girls. First of all, it’s American Girl brand, so that’s guaranteed to attract a lot of girls, even those who don’t gravitate towards building.
Second, each set has a lot to it for girls to not only build, but also use as props during imaginary play- something girls are known to love to engage in.
There are a large variety of sets to choose from. Currently on sale is Saige’s Art Studio
$19.99 Now $10.83
M – age 2 1/2
My youngest son is just coming into that stage where he truly plays on his own for a good chunk of time and that means there are so many high-quality quiet time toys I wanted to get him for Christmas!
Just Play Mickey Mouse Kadoer Tool Box
$14.99 On Sale $12.99
This is also the first year M really gets what Santa is and it’s been so fun talking to him about it. When I asked him what he wanted Santa to bring, he said “Mousekatools!” (If your kids watch Micky Mouse Clubhouse, this will totally make sense.)
So I was delighted to find this adorable set that he can use for both dramatic and fine-motor play and you can’t beat the price!
Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game $19.99 (18 months – 3 years)
This is the first board game made specifically with young toddlers in mind. Toss the big plush cube and identify which colored side faces up. Choose a matching color card and perform the simple activity shown, such as “Make a happy face”, “Moo like a cow” or “Find something blue”. Designed for parent and child to play together, Roll & Play strengthens bonds and builds confidence while encouraging creativity, active play and gross motor skills.
This seems like a great option if you have a preschooler who wants to play a family game with his or her younger sibling too. So this was the third game I requested from Thinkfun this year. (I love them and so do my kids, what can I say?)
For another great young-toddler-friendly game, check out Thinkfun’s Hello Sunshine Game $15.20 (18 months – 3 years) as well!
I’ve written a lot about how I think the 100 piece Magnatile set is pretty much the best toy on the planet and how much all three of my kids have loved and used them over the years.
These two little train cars will allow my son to use our set to make trains along with everything else, which he’ll love.
Numbers Colors Shapes $3.99 (9 months – 3 years)
First 100 Words, the quintessential first book for babies, is uber popular- and with good reason. It’s a sturdy board book with a lightly padded cover that’s easy for baby to hold (and, let’s be honest, to mouth) and it’s full of bold, beautiful pictures.
Words are grouped together into categories making this a great tool for vocabulary building and shared reading time between mom/dad and baby (who pediatricians now recommend reading to at least 15 minutes a day from birth.)
We already have it and M loves it. So for his stocking, we’re going with the next book in the series, Numbers Colors Shapes.
From Mom & Dad:
Tot Tube Playset – Toy Car and Ball Tunnel Ramp Race Track $19.95 (1 – 10 years)
This deceptively simple toy is so much more than it appears. Parents and teachers rave about how the hours and hours their kids spend shooting things through this heavy duty tunnel.
This is a great toy to get kids hypothesizing about, “what will happen when I… (put something heaver in, tilt it higher, put more than one thing in it, etc…)
When my friend first introduced me to the tot tube, I really liked the idea but wondered if it was worth the money (couldn’t we essentially do the same thing with a cardboard wrapping paper tube?).
What I like about this, though, is that it’s a lot more durable than a cardboard tube, it’s wider shape accommodates bigger sized cars and balls, it can break apart for easy storage or you can attach more than one for a super long tunnel, and the kids can see through it- making it so much more engaging.
Read the reviews on this one and I think you’ll be sold.
From His Aunt:
ALEX Toys – Early Learning Button Art $14.46 (no longer mouthing toys – 3 years)
Finding engaging toys that build fine motor skills and concentration skills for this age group is HARD. They aren’t interested in the baby toys anymore but a lot of the more advanced toys are still too hard.
This pegboard set seems to be specially designed for the curious two-year-old. The pieces are the right size for them to easily manipulate and the colorful puzzles are interesting enough to keep their attention but not so hard that they become frustrating.
This one gets great reviews from parents of two-year-olds looking for that elusive perfect toy.
From His Grandparents:
Little Tykes Trampoline $64.59 (2 – 7 years)
Every day around 4:30 PM, when things get real, I wonder why we haven’t bought one of these yet. Such a great tool for getting kids’ energy out!
Two of my kids’ buddies have one and they each love to jump and jump and jump on it.
So this year I put my parents on it and recommended this one due to the great reviews.
Confession #693: I also bought this for Christmas and then just couldn’t wait when I was having a particularly hard day and just needed an activity M would like… It’s now a new favorite!
Learning Resources toys very rarely disappoint and this is a classic fine-motor skills activity that’s been around forever. My son loves stacking, poking, sorting and stringing for a long time with these.
Melissa & Doug Spray, Squirt and Squeegee Set
$15.99 $13.99 (walking – 6 years)
One of the most surprising things about having toddlers and preschoolers is seeing how much they absolutely LOVE to clean!
We’ve had a broom and dust pan set for years. The kids really enjoy breaking it out to help with clean up when the opportunity arises or just using it to play pretend.
This year, though, I’m totally eyeing this set- it comes with so much amazing stuff!!
With this set your toddler will get to spray, wipe, scrub, and even squeegee. Do you KNOW how much toddlers love, love, love to spray and wipe down windows, cabinets and anything else they can get their hands on?
This one is a sure slam dunk for any toddler on your list- guaranteed.
Whew!! So that’s it, that’s my list. Is it weird that I feel a little exposed sharing it? Never-the-less, I really hope it helps you finish up your shopping this year!
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