I hope you’re having a good week so far! Today I’m back with my baby and kids gift guide! This includes tons of gift ideas for many ages (though it definitely skews toward younger kids because that’s just the phase of life most of us are in right now) including some items on our personal Christmas list for June.
Truthfully, we’ve always said we wanted to keep Christmas gifts minimal with our kids. I know it’s easier said than done, but we really believe in the ‘fewer, better things’ mindset. This year, she still doesn’t know what Christmas or presents are–so our list is very minimal and we plan to keep it that way for years to come. It seems like a lot of parents out there feel the same way about stuff, so before we get into the physical gifts part of the guide, let’s touch on what else you can ask for/give in addition to physical presents:
Gift Guide: Baby & Kids
Experiences as gifts:
I have a whole gift guide coming on experiences, but as they pertain to kids, so many parents said museum passes, zoo memberships, water park passes, etc are truly the gifts that keep on giving! Or what about plane tickets for their next family vacation? Money for the Disneyworld fund? These kinds of experiences are so much more valuable than a toy, and often, cost about the same amount! Just ask parents for feedback first to ensure you’re not buying a duplicate membership or experience.
529 plan contributions:
Many of you mentioned this and I think it’s such a genius idea. Suggest something small, like a book or an ornament, and then in lieu of a big gift, suggest a contribution to the child’s 529 plan, if they have one. (If you don’t have one, I highly recommend looking into setting one up. The money can be used for any kind of post high school education, like college, vocational school, trade school, etc!) Some of you even said yours has the option to email a link out to contribute! That or a check, Venmo, etc so parents can deposit into their account. It might not be exciting for kids now, but they will thank you profusely when they’re older!
Gifts for older kids and teens:
A few requests for gift ideas for tweens and teens, and as someone with teenage nephews, I have the following thoughts: If you do not have a specific list FROM THEM to go off of–Money! I know, it’s not exciting for you to shop for, but it’s what they want! Every time I suggest this people say, “oh but that’s no fun!” but this is the same concept of refusing to buy something off of someone’s registry that they spent HOURS curating and is full of things they want and need. (Which drives me CRAZY.)
Money allows kids to buy whatever they wanted but didn’t get from their parents, it allows your niece to go to the movies with her friends, it allows your teenage nephew to treat his girlfriend to a first date, or to buy those super cool jeans their mom said were too expensive. Yes, it might not be fun to watch them open but it is really the one thing guaranteed to bring them joy. Not to mention, saving their own money and deciding how to spend it is a super valuable life skill they’re going to need when they get older.
IF you don’t want to give them money, get a very specific list from them so you’re guaranteed to get something they actually love! I gave up blindly shopping for my nephews long ago. It’s too hard to randomly choose something they might like. 😂 Ever since they started asking for “green dollars” (so cute) when they were about 7, they’ve gotten cash for gifts ever since.
Shop the Baby & Kids Gift Guide:
Now, onto the gift guide! Like all my gift guides, you’ll find each category broken out by budget–a mix of practical gifts, little surprise and delight, and more from both big retailers and small businesses. Just click on the budget that suits you and you’ll be taken to that section of the gift guide!
Under $50 Gifts
Personalized Quiet book:
Great for keeping them busy while out and about, traveling, etc! These sweet Montessori books are all over Etsy but I like this seller in particular because you can keep purchasing new pages to add or swap out of their book! You can choose from a bunch of different pages based on your kiddos interests, and they’re amazing for development, too! This is on June’s personal list!
June is starting to LOVE necklaces and bracelets (a random Mardi Gras beads necklace has been her favorite toy for a while 😂–which isn’t exactly toddler-safe) so I bought her this cute set from Etsy! It has a breakaway magnetic closure and is made from food-grade BPA free materials. (Of course, should only be used with adult supervision!)
Busy bee sorting set:
June really loves animals (anything with a face on it, really) AND sorting things–so I know this will be up her ally! A great toy for fine motor development and the cute little bees offer lots of creativity for pretend play.
Rainbow Acorn Sorting Set:
Another cute option for a sorting set! I love the acorns and toddlers will love sorting by color! A great toy for development.
Jungle magnetic play scene:
A great portable thing to bring to restaurants, in the car, etc to keep them busy! It says for ages 3+ but I know June would love it now! The little magnetic board pops up and then folds flat into the box for fun pretend play anywhere.
Cutting Board and Safe Wooden Knife for Kids:
I got June this little set when we bought her toddler tower (linked further down) and it’s been great! She’s still a little bit young for it, but she enjoys “helping” me (I place my hand over hers to help me cut veggies!) It’s surprisingly effective but very safe for little fingers and a great way to get your kids into cooking and food!
Learning Resources Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set:
One of my friends said this is her go-to gift for toddlers and it’s always a HUGE hit. June would LOVE this.
Flexible Flyer Baby Pull Sled:
We got this adorable little pull sled last year and June loved it. So excited to use it this year! It made for the cutest photos, too! ♥️
SmartMax My First Animal Train:
I bought this little set for June a month or so ago and she loves it! It’s magnetic and she loves the little animals that come with it.
Her Body Can:
A body positive book that every kid needs on their shelf. (Especially little girls! And let’s be honest–moms need to read it, too!)
Fisher-Price Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth:
My SIL got this for June last year and it’s been one of her favorite toys since–and still is! I’m not going to lie–our whole family always has the Sloth’s songs stick in our heads–they’re catchy! 😂 I wish I could bring it on the plane because it keeps her entertained for a LONG time.
Developed by Swiss childhood development experts–I love this funny little toy that encourages tons of creativity–they can sit in it, spin in it, climb on it, stack it, balance on it, put things in it, carry other toys in it–the opportunities are endless. It’s made of super sturdy nontoxic plastic and great for all ages. For $29, I think this is a really cool, unique gift they’ll play with for a long time. (This is on June’s personal Christmas list. 😉)
I have known about this adorable brand for a while now but we don’t own anything from them–I love the idea of their “snugglers” which are part stuffed animal, part blanket–the perfect thing to provide comfort to any little kid. This sloth comes with books that help children adapt to routines! (Another item on June’s personal Christmas list!)
Decorate and Personalize a Cardboard Fort:
Hear me out. Yes, it’s a cardboard play house. For $29. But the fact that kids can draw on it for hours, days, weeks, and then keep themselves busy for many more hours of imaginative play–and then you can recycle it when you’re sick of looking at it? PRICELESS. (This would also be a super cute activity for a kid’s birthday party–everyone can help “decorate” the birthday kid’s new house!)
Baby Balance Bike:
We got this for June on her 1st birthday and she is starting to love riding it more and more! Great for motor development and a great way to get all their energy out!
Melissa & Doug Water Wow!:
So many friends recommend these to me–I got one for June for our upcoming plane ride. A great little gift for any kid who loves to draw or color–parents will love that it’s mess-free!
LCD Writing Tablet:
My friends with slightly older kids (think age 2 all the way through 6+) LOVE these tablets for their kids. They’re super affordable and keep them busy for hours!
Kids’ Five-Minute Journal:
I LOVE the adult version of the 5 minute journal, and now they make one for kids! Encourages your kid to focus on gratitude, joy and self-confidence with this simply structured journal designed from positive psychology research. (Obviously this would be a gift for older kids!)
Color ‘N Plush Llama:
I got my niece one of these last year and she went NUTS for it. A fun, affordable gift for any kiddo who loves to draw and loves stuffed animals!
Original Activity Toy for Toddlers’ Sensory Development:
I recently got this for June as well with upcoming travel in mind–the little fidget toys keep little hands and minds busy!
Wonderbly personalized books:
Books are the most amazing gift, and with these, it’s guaranteed you’ll never gift a repeat! I LOVE Wonderbly books! I got Neal their “June loves Daddy THIS much” book for Christmas last year (before she was born) and my best friend’s parents (who are like my second parents) got June “Peek-a-Boo June!” and it’s SO sweet. Her favorite book! ♥️ The cutest gifts for both kids and relatives since you can personalize both!
A newborn baby MUST HAVE: Kyte double-zippered PJs (they zip from both the bottom and the top to make diaper changes super easy!) As a mom I don’t think I could ever be gifted too many pairs of KYTE jammies! They are the softest PJ’s you’ll ever find (and super breathable as they’re bamboo!). They come in so many cute colors, and they’re very stretchy, so they fit for a long time, too! This would make a cute AND incredibly practical gift for the littlest ones in your life (or a mom-to-be!) Another big hit are their sleep bags (for when baby gets a little older! We just transitioned June to hers and love it! So warm and soft!)
Arts + Crafts supplies:
Another popular submission: more arts and crafts supplies! Parents say their kids never have enough! (Plus, it keeps them busy while they’re home on winter break!) They’re also super affordable–you can buy an arts and crafts kit, or get a storage box and fill it it with a random assortment! One reader said her kids once received an old briefcase full of office supplies and it was their favorite present!
Melissa & Doug reusable sticker books:
Apparently kids go crazy for these, and they’re a fun activity to keep them occupied during the winter months!
Personalized Kids’ Rolling Pin:
How cute is this rolling pin for kids to make their own special cookies? Perfect for baking dough or play dough!
HIGHLIGHTS! Who knew this still existed!? I didn’t until many of you told me so! It says ages 6-12 but seeing as 12 year olds these days act like 16 year olds I’d guess it’s more appropriate for maybe 6-10 year olds. A year’s subscription is under $30 and is full of fun educational content they’ll look forward to every month!
Musical Llama Toy:
A crowd-pleasing option with reader moms! Plus, it’s SO cute!
Hanna Andersson Holiday PJ’s:
From the incredible quality to the sweet patterns, Hanna Andersson jammies are the best! These are definitely the ultimate hand-me-down pieces. (We were first introduced to them when Danielle handed down Margot and Kate’s Hannas to us!) SO many of you have messaged me saying you have saved your Hanna jammies throughout the years to pass onto your own littles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids! Warms my heart! I also LOVE my adult Hanna jammies and they’re my #1 recco for family holiday jams too!
Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Set:
I can’t tell you how many people have told me about this ice cream set. I don’t know what it is about it, but apparently its every kids favorite toy! Melissa and Doug is a really great brand that makes awesome imagination-sparking toys (that are also cute to look at!)
Under $100 Gifts
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn On-the-Go Camper:
One of June’s few 1st birthday presents and she has loved it ever since! It keeps her busy and it’s great for toddlers just learning to wash as you can push it as well!
Montessori Busy Board:
Not JUST a beautiful name puzzle, but a busy board too! Keeps them busy for way longer and is so great for fine motor development!
The #1 most popular gifting suggestion from you all (I can vouch for this too!)–this is such a great Montessori-style toy company that makes great gifts for babies through young kids. They also make June’s play gym which is probably the #1 baby thing we used every day until she could walk. They have gift boxes for every age range–my girlfriends gifted me several early on when June was born. I’m going to get one of their sets for June to open on Christmas this year!
Personalizable Children’s Apron & Mitt Set:
How cute is this French-themed apron and mitt set for little chefs who love to get creative in the kitchen?! It also comes with free personalization to make it extra special! Use code JESSGIFTS20 for 20% off!
Every little kid I know is obsessed with this scooter! I always see kids zooming around our neighborhood on them–my nephew was using his almost immediately after he started walking! Such a great gift for under $100–parents will also appreciate them for getting the zoomies out.
Rainbow Stacker: Great baby gift idea! These stackers are great for building skills during play and look beautiful displayed on a shelf when not in use. There are so many color options/sizes to choose from, too! Kelly and Shaheen got June one of these and she loves it! (Plus, it looks so cute in her nursery!)
Barefoot Dreams Baby Blanket:
I love my Barefoot Dreams blanket, I brought it to the hospital when June was born! One of my best friends Ally gifted June her own baby version and it’s our absolute favorite. So thick and cozy! Would make the BEST gift!
Activity Walker: For babies on the verge of walking or will be in the near future, an activity walker is a great gift idea! They can use it for support to walk around as well as play with the activities while seated.
For any kid who is interested in music, a ukulele is an awesome starter instrument, and this little starter set looks like a great one! (Also comes in more fun colors!) It’s a small soprano ukulele, good for little hands, and even comes with a strap, picks, and online lessons! (You’ll also want to make sure to get them a tuner to go with it!)
The Pioneer Play Kit:
I know these Lovevery kits are already on here BUT I wanted to call out this one specifically because it seems like a lot of you are shopping for 12-18 month olds, and this one is perfect! (Thinking of getting this for June!)
Minted Children’s Custom Art:
Custom art for a kid’s room (would especially be fun if they just transitioned to a “big kid room” or a “big kid bed”–they have so many different prints to choose from that can be customized with their name. So cute. Use code JESSGIFTS20 for 20% off site wide!
Skip Hop Baby Activity Center:
This thing was our LIFELINE for June for many months. Keeps them busy for so long and great for their motor skills!
Baby Activity Square Chair:
A comfy chair for your toddler with a detachable little busy board. They’ll love having their own seat in the living room and it’s actually cute to look at!
Gathre play mat:
A BEAUTIFUL play mat that both mom and kids will love and use for years. Great for playtime at home, on the beach, park, or on a picnic. Beautiful AND functional. Comes in multiple sizes, colors and patterns.
The Ultimate Music Storypod Bundle:
Similar to Tonies, but suitable for younger babies, too! Each little plush figure is fun to play with on its own, but when connected with the box, also plays songs! (But you don’t have to keep them connected to work, like Tonies–which is tough for little kids!) This is on June’s personal Christmas list 🙂
3in1 Kitchen tower Slide and Table:
One of our favorite things we’ve bought for June, hands down. It’s a tower that converts into little table AND comes with a slide attachment, which keeps her busy for HOURS. Plus, it’s so beautifully made–you can tell the Etsy seller takes so much pride in his product!
The play kitchen suggestion came up over and over again as your #1 favorite “big” gift item! Thankfully they have come a long way and they make so many cute, aesthetically pleasing versions you’ll be happy to have on display in your house! This one from Maisonette is a favorite–so stylish!
This would also be a great thing to gift in relation to the play kitchen! Converts from a doll stroller to a trolley with a simple flip of a lid. Perfect for pretend play, dolls or to push around /store toys. It’s hand-woven and looks beautiful when not in use, too!
Another show-stopper holiday gift idea is a balance bike! (Perfect for 3-5 year olds!) I love Banwood Bikes’ traditional designs and they come in the most beautiful colors!
Little rocker & climber:
A 2-in-1 Rocker and Climber for 18m+ is perfect for busy toddlers. (June would LOVE this!) Designed to help motor skill development, balance control, creativity, and so much more! Keeps littles busy climbing, rocking, resting, lounging, hiding, and encourages them to get creative with all the ways they can play. The optional memory foam pad has a removable washable cover for easy cleaning.
Museums, zoos, aquariums, movies–this was the #1 most requested gift by parents on Instagram stories were experiences they could do together! (Make sure to check with parents first to see what they already have!) This is definitely the gift that keeps on giving! If you’re local, the Chicago Children’s Museum is supposed to be amazing!