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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 the New Year) 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.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of the top holiday gifts for kids — yes, including some starring this year’s big and small screen characters. Check out our top picks below, and get more gifting ideas here.
Star Wars Cuutopia Grogu Plush
If they can’t get enough of The Mandalorian and that Baby Yoda song (you know the one) this 10-inch stuffed toy of Grogu is one of the best gifts for Star Wars fans of all ages.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Janie and Jack Après Ski Sweatshirt
Whether they’re 6 months or 12 years old, this stylish sweatshirt by Janie and Jack will keep little skiers looking chalet-chic.
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.
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.
Waffles + Mochi Cookbook
Got a future Michelin chef or Waffles + Mochi fan? The Neflix show’s 112-page cookbook will take kids 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.
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.
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.
Godzilla vs. Kong Supercharged Godzilla with Fighter Jet
It may be smaller than on the big screen, but consider this your warning that destruction and mayhem may follow when you give your favorite Godzilla vs. Kong fan this nine-inch tall figurine of the radioactive sea monster. If you really want to be the coolest aunt/uncle/grandparent, opt for this roaring set with both Godzilla and Kong.
Yoto Player with Disney Audio Cards
One of the coolest screen-free toys for kids, Yoto’s cool storytelling speaker 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.
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.
Singing Machine Karaoke System
For the kids who can’t stop singing their hearts out to Sing 2 or Vevo, encourage them to belt it out with this portable karaoke machine, which has LED lights that sync with the music and six voice-changing effects. (And for family members who prefer silence, may we suggest a great pair of noise-canceling earbuds?)
Skims Kids Cozy Knit Robe
Stylish kids will love unwrapping this comfy robe by Kim Kardashian West-founded loungewear label Skims. Perfect for snuggling, it’s available in tot and tween sizes and in a range of chic shades.
Coaa Coaa Kids Circus Pop-Up Tent
With space for up to three kids, Coaa Coaa’s whimsical pop-up play tent will transport little giftees to an imaginary backyard circus or an indoor animal wonderland.
Nook Galaxy Star Projector
Kids can use 10 light modes to create their own starry night, relaxing room or party zone with Nook’s 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 by acclaimed New York-based illustrator Robert Sabuda.
Milton & Goose Almond Butter and Jelly Play Food Set
Spotted in the playrooms of Jessica Alba’s and Kim Kardashian West’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.
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).
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.
Educational Insights Artie Max Coding and Drawing Robot
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.
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