We love the holiday season for that buzz of excitement, the fun holiday activities, and all the cozy cuddles with our kids. But there’s one thing we can do without: the overwhelming push to buy flashy, noisy toys that only get played with for a week.
If you’re tired of the toy box being filled with long-forgotten ghosts of Christmases past, get some gift ideas and inspiration for kids of any age from our 2020 kids holiday gift guide. We’ve filled it with some of KidKraft’s very best for creativity, development, and open-ended play. No fads and gimmicks here: just time-tested gift ideas for kids who love to play.
Those baby coos and giggles are the only holiday gift you need, right? For their gifts, aim for simple toys that let them develop their attention span (i.e. books) as well as their fine and gross motor skills. These toys will help with both!
For those would-be toddlers who want to walk so bad but don’t have it down quite yet. The Push Along Play Cart will help them cruise around the house as they work on those gross motor skills. When they inevitably plop back down, they’ll love the built-in mirrors, xylophone, and other activities on the cart.
It’s practically a rule of life that every daycare and pediatric waiting room will have a bead maze somewhere – and for good reason! These toys help with fine motor skills like pincer grasps and dexterity. Keep it simple and whimsical with this Very Hungry Caterpillar-inspired bead maze or upgrade to a full activity cube bead maze that will keep entertaining into the toddler years.
These wiggly, wonderful toddlers are learning new words and concepts by the day. Whereas they loved knocking things down and taking things apart in the months prior, now they’ll revel in the challenge of building, fitting, and putting things back together.
If they don’t have some already, add a set of wooden blocks high on your list! They’re a truly open-ended toy, so they’ll encourage creative play and stick around for years. At 18 months, toddlers attempt simple towers (and love knocking them down). In just a few more months, you’ll see them try to make more complex structures. From there, the sky is truly the limit, and you’ll love seeing how your child incorporates blocks into their worlds of pretend play.
There’s a reason shape sorters are a classic toy. Young toddlers are engaged by the fine motor challenge, while older toddlers love learning and matching shapes and colors.
Toddlers are constantly learning about the world and their own bodies and limitations! They love activities that challenge their fine motor skills, present them with problems to solve (How do those train tracks fit together?), and help them through developmental stages like schemas (more on that below!).
Have you ever noticed your little one run to the window to watch the garbage truck? Or seem absolutely mesmerized by passing trains? If so, then you know that toddlers and preschoolers are fascinated by “things that go.” Train sets are a great way to feed that interest and encourage creative, explorative play as they build tracks and engage in pretend play. Train sets are versatile enough that high-quality wooden sets like the Figure 8 Train Set will stay in the toy rotation well into the school-age years.
Fun fact: toddlers experience a developmental phenomena called the enclosure schema, and you’ve probably witnessed it yourself! In this schema, they’re driven to explore the concept of inside vs. outside and how many things they can enclose inside of something else. It’s part of the reason they are so obsessed with playing in tents and teepees. Even after the schema subsides, their deluxe play teepee will still be a favorite getaway for reading and pretend play.
Kids at this age are moving into the years of imaginative and pretend play (hooray!). Toys that let them role play, build, and create will always be winners!
Remember how we said train sets were versatile? Preschoolers (especially preschoolers who love dinosaurs) will love the added element of imaginative play in the Adventure Tracks: Dino World Volcano Escape or Adventure Tracks: Dino World Rumble & Roar. With the Rumble & Roar set kids get the ultimate Dino World experience bundled together for hours of prehistoric fun.
Your mini-Picasso already loved crayons and paints as a toddler, but now, you’ll see them move beyond scribbles and shapes and attempt real pictures. Their attention span for art projects increases around this age, so it’s a great age to invest in a dedicated art station or easel.
The Create N Play Art Easel is a great choice if you’re looking for an all-in-one easel that will grow with them well into elementary school. With a built-in chalkboard, dry erase board, storage bin, and drip-free paint cups, it has everything they’ll need to make their next masterpiece and keep messes to a minimum. For even more mess-free projects, the Ultimate Creation Station has room for two plus built-in storage and project trays that make great sensory bins.
From superheroes to princesses and everything in between, preschoolers love to dress up. A ballgown, a firefighter uniform, or a costume from their favorite character are guaranteed to be a hit. And to keep it all organized, the Pretend N Play Dress Up Unit will let them easily access all their favorite dress up clothes year round. Bring on the wardrobe changes!
Create and Cook pretend foods are an engaging, budget-friendly idea for pretend play. They work as a stand-alone present or as a fun addition to a play kitchen. This year, kid favorites are the Create and Cook Apple Pie and Create and Cook Avocado Toast!
Ahh those dreamy years of endless pretend play. This is when watching kids open presents gets really fun!
Pre-schoolers love play kitchens and the chance to mimic practical life skills too, but young school-age kids are especially imaginative with their play kitchens. In the hands of your five or six year old, play kitchens become much-loved props for playing everything from shopkeeper to Cinderella. And no, they don’t have to be a big plastic eye sore. KidKraft’s wide selection of quality wooden play kitchens are designed to last and look as chic as your decor. These are some of our favorites this year:
For a farmhouse aesthetic: Farm to Table Play Kitchen Wood-look countertops, a chalkboard for the menu-of-the-day, and veggie harvest fresh from the farm. This kitchen looks great and normalizes healthy eating. For a mid-century mod vibe: Uptown Elite White Play Kitchen You’ll love the sleek look of white cabinets with gold accents, and the kids will love the realistic features like an ice dispenser, light-up stove, and cooking sounds. For a cheerful, colorful look: Large Pastel Play Kitchen Finally – bright, cheerful colors that aren’t overwhelming. This happy little kitchen is built to last through years of pretend play.
Going big this holiday season? An outdoor playhouse is one gift you know will get used for years to come. The White Modern Outdoor Playhouse is a favorite for its style and simplicity. It’s the perfect blank slate for all of your personal touches.
Is anything more timeless than a dollhouse under the tree on Christmas morning? (Except maybe a puppy? Thanks but no thanks!) Dollhouses are another long-time kid favorite that works for multiple age ranges. Preschoolers are drawn to them too, but kids in the kindergarten-and-up range really engage in the type of immersive pretend play that makes dolls and dollhouses so fun. Customizable dollhouses like the Designed by Me: Color Decor Dollhouse and Designed by Me: Magnetic Makeover add an element of creativity, letting kids create their own personalized designs.
Large, open-concept dollhouses like the So Chic Dollhouse allow for 360° play, making it easy for multiple siblings and friends to play together. The KidKraft Disney Princess Dance & Dream brings a little extra magic and fantasy to the realm.
For the boys or girls who like a little more of a rough-and-tumble vibe for their pretend play, playsets like the Rocket Ship Play Set or Pirate’s Cove Pretend Play Set are perfect dollhouse alternatives.
For the car and truck lovers, go for the Super Vortex Racing Tower. Built-in storage for up to 50 cars and a realistic car wash are great features, but the real show-stoppers are the spiraling twin tracks perfect for racing their favorite cars. Hopefully, your head is now dancing with visions of sugar plum fairies and fun, engaging kids gift ideas for the kiddos in your life. If you need a little more guidance, our gift finder can help you find the perfect thing to put under the tree for kids from 8 months to 5+ years.