31 Toys And Gifts We Swear By As Parents *And* Shopping Editors
And by swear we mean "Heck yeah," these prezzies are all so "flippin'" awesome. Gosh, dang it all.
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What a year! The holidays are finally here! And while we’re doing our best to make sure the products we feature will arrive in time, shipping times are especially tricky this year, so we suggest shopping as early as you can.
Stock and shipping times can vary depending on where you live, which product you purchase, and more. So order earlier than you think you need to and be sure to double-check the retailers’ websites for shipping information to ensure that your gift will arrive in time for when you need it.
Between the two of us BuzzFeed editors, we've got four children under the age of 5! You could easily confuse our homes for toy stores. And that's why we'd like to share some of our favorites with you...
1. A Magna-Tiles set because studies have shown it'll hold any kid's attention wayyyy longer than most toys. JK, but seriously, this cool building set deserves a gold medal for being the most played-with toy in our house.
2. A 3-in-1 LED globe, constellation map, and night-light to illuminate kids about not only the world they live in but the stars in the heavens above. And if that gets way too scary (or deep) that night-light will sure come in handy too.
For ages 3+
I love turning this globe on when we're getting the kids ready for bed signaling that storytime is fast approaching. It's the last light we turn off before tuck-in time too! This is one of those items that will grow with your children and should stick around their rooms for years to come. —John Mihaly
Promising review: "This is a wonderful globe. I bought this for my nephew and this is a fun way to give him the basics. He enjoys learning countries and he loves the night-light. The constellations are pretty cool in the dark. The size is perfect and the quality is amazing. The countries and regions are clear and they are easy to read. The base is strong and stable. It doesn't tip when spinning. The guidebook has more detailed information about the constellations and it's location. This globe definitely captured my nephew's attention and he is learning with interest. Overall, this is a perfect globe and can't go wrong with it." —Lucky10z
Get it from Amazon for $49.95.
3. A Little Tikes Playhouse with two working doors, windows, and shutters that'll basically pay for itself (and then some) after your kids discover the magical powers of this hideaway.
5. A classic Melissa & Doug ice cream station, to *serve* up many delicious opportunities for pretend play. My daughter loves (...loves) the scooper to lift, stack, and release the scoops and the menu so she can take orders. *Oprah voice* You get a cone, you get a cone, you get a cone!
6. A "Silly Poopy's Hide & Seek" game (from the makers of What Do You Meme?) that actually involves hiding a fake plastic poo that talks and gives clues to its whereabouts.
7. A sturdy fort-building kit to *seriously upgrade* the forts the kiddos are currently fashioning out of living room throws, pillows and furniture. It will allow future architect's to use their imagination to construct forts, castles, tunnels, and even igloos — creativity is their ~forte~.
8. An Educational Insights "Design & Drill Bolt Buddies" rocket, because there's no better way to get kids into STEM than by building a spaceship for an astronaut and his puppy pal and using the eco-friendly packaging as a play set.
9. A "Speak & Spell" electronic game that can only be described as a "retro-tablet from the '80s" for teaching kids how to spell. The best part is the old-school speech synthesizer that's been used in quite a few song samples (looking at you, Beck!).
10. A necklace activity set (under $15) so mini style mavens can mix and match colorful beads, necklaces and character charms to create their own chic bling. It'll make any child feel like true royalty.
11. A Popdarts suction cup throwing game to encourage players young and old to put down the screens and engage with some good old-fashioned family fun (and competition). There's no more satisfying sound than hearing on of these darts stick to a surface!
13. A 3-in-1 rocket ship tunnel, and ball pit for transforming any room into an out-of-galaxy play zone, where little whirlwinds can have a blast crawling, exploring, and of course flinging balls all over the place *sigh*.
14. A Plus Plus Big construction building set packed with 15 "shapes" to construct the featured animal or anything minds can imagine and little hands can, well, handle. A big bonus to this gift? All the sets work together!
For 18+ months
First things first, there are two different sizes of Plus Plus out there and if you've got the toddler type of kid you're going to want to make sure you go with Plus Plus Big. We have one small 15-piece set of these and they are always in the rotation of toys. Plus, they're so satisfying to put together. They don't click, they just smoothly push together. Maybe it's time to buy some more! —John Mihaly
Promising review: "I got these for my 3-year-old for a seven-hour flight and two weeks of road tripping and she absolutely loved them! She played with them all the time and never got bored with them!" —Meetmow
Get it from Amazon for $10.99 (available in multiple styles from animals to figures to a Christmas tree).
15. A wooden Montessori carrot harvest toy that's super simple but actually pure genius because it puts my toddler's fine motor skills to the test while he figures out how to match the the carrots to the correct-sized holes.
16. A Playmobil Dino Rise T. rex: Battle of The Giants play set, because, honestly, what kid's brain won't explode like a comet hitting the Earth during the Cretaceous period as soon as they see the box!
17. A Buddha Board for painting rich, inky, water-based images onto a "canvas" that will slowly fade as the water evaporates. We don't know art but we know it's not that messy.
18. A Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes toy with over 30,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, highlighting how well it stimulates your baby with lights, sounds, and much needed distractions.
19. A Hape Quadrilla Super Spirals building blocks set for all the marble madness and Rube Goldberg goodness a kid could possibly enjoy.
20. A 100 Words Book to interact with budding scholars and help build their vocabulary in English and Spanish.
21. A set of handcrafted, nontoxic constellation blocks to learn the symbols, names, hemispheres, and scale of magnitude for 16 constellations in the night sky.
22. A five-stage folding tricycle Doona Liki Trike S3 that's small enough to fit in a trunk or airplane overhead bin, but a total lifesaver for entertaining a toddler around the home during inclement weather.
23. A two-sided, A-frame art easel with chalkboard, magnetic dry-erase board, storage, and paper feeder for aspiring artists who are still experimenting with their preferred mediums. Plus it's a great way to teach kids about writing "thank you" notes!
24. A Squeakee the Balloon Dino because every kiddo deserves a dino BFF that'll roar, bust out cool breakdancing moves, and even fart if you pull his tail 🦖 😂.
25. A Hand2mind Numberblocks MathLink Cubes activity set based on the award-winning BBC series that actually makes learning numbers and math fun (and musical) in the best possible way (kids learn, parents enjoy it too).
For ages 3+
"1-2-3-4-5-Numberblocks!" is a theme song that I hear multiple times a day and have still somehow not tired of. Why? Because my kid loves it and so do I. Maybe it's the catchy tunes, maybe its the British accents, but this show gives every number a personality (some of my favorites include 8, 13, and 15 but you'll have to watch to find out why). So it's no surprise that the toys based on this show are just as fun and educational. I wish I learned about numbers and math this way instead of through flash cards and times tables. Lucky kids! —John Mihaly
Get it from Amazon for $24.99.
26. A set of Blockaroo magnetic foam building blocks sure to "click" with the young builder in your life. Plus they'll take a beating but come back looking nice and clean after bathtime play or a run in the dishwasher.
27. A "magical" CMY cube (cyan, magenta, yellow) that can be an easy anxiety reliever for kids (and adults) as they twist and turn the geometry to create new color combos.
28. An Educational Insights Circuit Explorer Rover for exploring the world of simple circuitry through buildable space-based vehicles and play sets. if your kid shows any interest in engineering or NASA then this is a must-get toy for them.
For ages 6+
I had a chance to see this play set in all of its glory earlier this year at Toy Fair and I've been anxiously awaiting its release. It reminds me so much of space-related toys I grew up with like Robotix or Starcom. But these sets are next level and teach the very basics of building a circuit and, well, making things go! Can't wait until my son is old enough to play with these! —John Mihaly
Get it from Amazon for $21.33.
29. A 12-pack of durable and sustainable all-natural pure-beeswax crayons that are nearly unbreakable and even come with a money-back guarantee. You better bee-lieve it!
30. An Uno "Nothin’ But Paper" card game made from fully recyclable materials (for the first time ever). Now kids can get as much enjoyment from helping Mother Earth as they do from dropping a Wild Draw Four card whenever they play.
When you're given the option of buying anything that's made of recycled materials, go with that option! It's a good lesson for the kids. And now that you've helped the planet why don't you go Draw Two! —John Mihaly
Promising review: "Soy-based inks, recycled content paper, no harmful chemicals and no plastic (well, except the Amazon envelope it came in — sadly). Exactly what we wanted for our family to play with!" —Borys & Lindsay
Get it from Amazon for $6.49.
Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.