The 40 Best Gifts for Kids of All Ages
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Birthdays are endlessly magical for children (and teens, even). Before my daughter recently turned 3, we made a paper-chain countdown so she could visually see how many days were left until her birthday. The paper chain managed to cut the “How long until my birthday?” questions from about 30 per day to maybe 25. I’ll consider it a win.
Arguably the most exciting part of a birthday for kids is the gifts. Most kids have that one gift they really, really want. For me in 1998, it was a Furby, those brightly colored, wide-eyed little pets. How exciting would it be to not only give them that gift they desperately want, but to also give them one of the coolest gifts they never even knew they needed?
To find the coolest birthday gifts, we spoke to teachers, parents with kids of all ages, and two toy industry experts: Jackie Cucco, senior editor of The Toy Insider, and Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives from The Toy Association.
Here are 40 of the coolest birthday gifts for kids of all ages, from babies to teenagers.
Gifts for babies and toddlers, ages 0-3
My 3-year-old has the purple version of this water table, and it’s a hit with both her and her 1-year-old cousin. The table has two levels and many interactive features, including a rain shower, a water maze, and a side flipper. It also comes with buckets, scoops, and toys. One of the best things about water tables is they’re great for year-round play — bring them inside and fill them with other sensory materials when it gets too cold outside.
It can be difficult to buy for babies and toddlers because they develop so quickly and at different paces. KiwiCo crates take the guesswork out and delivers a gift designed exactly for the child’s age and development. I tested a Panda Crate when my daughter was 18 months old, and the box was perfectly on point with her developmental needs. Our box was full of toys, games, activities, and tips for parents.
I had the opportunity to test the splash park along with its accessories, and the toy was also recommended by Cucco. Two of the best things about this set include how they’re fun for multiple ages and they encourage pretend play. This toy is an excellent option for families that don’t have room for a water table.
Their first slide: What an iconic birthday present! This one can be used indoors or outdoors and folds up neatly for storage. Slides provide much-needed vestibular input and gross motor skill practice for babies and toddlers. And of course, they’re just plain fun!
Boys and girls alike can enjoy dolls, and they’re excellent tools to help kids learn empathy, practice daily tasks, and just play. This doll is soft and cuddly, but just remember the following: No dolls or extra items on the sleep surface for babies under 12 months.
Crawl-through play tunnels invite kids to enter a magical world of play that is all their own. This toy is simple and folds up for easy storage; we keep our play tunnels and tents stored between the couch and the wall.
Pull the string on this toy and watch the submarine maneuver through the water. Push the toy to the bottom of the tub and watch it pop back up. Sometimes the simplest toys — like this one — are the most entertaining. The submarine would also be a fun pool toy.
Minimalist wooden toys like this rainbow stacker are all the rage, and they’re great gifts for eco-conscious families. Stack in different designs, create tunnels for cars, or build a ramp for dolls to climb. This toy is a welcome change from the aesthetic most plastic toys provide.
Gifts for preschoolers and little kids, ages 3–7
A step up from play rugs of yore, this 3D playmat brings the play world to life. Features on the mat include an airport, a lake, roads, stores, sidewalks, and more. I had the opportunity to test this rug, and it has held up well over the past year.
The Toniebox is a screen-free device that allows kids to listen to stories and music. What’s best is that parents can control the Toniebox from an app, so kids can only access approved content at approved volumes. This is a great toy for quiet time in the room, road trips, or everyday play.
This inflatable sports arena takes bounce houses to the next level. It includes soccer nets, basketball hoops, and plenty of room to just bounce. One parent we spoke to noted that she split an inflatable bounce house like this with other neighborhood families. For them, it gets used all year-round; they even take the action into the garage in the winter.
I’ve tested many dollhouses, and this was the one that had the best accessories and was the most gender-neutral. Interactive features include reversible rooftops, moveable stairs, and many manipulative accessories.
A play kitchen is the ultimate toy for preschoolers and young kids. This kitchen has adjustable legs to grow with the child. Other features include a light-up cooktop, a microwave, a sink, an oven, cabinets, and more.
Musical toys are in right now, as explained by Yudina: “Another trend we’re seeing is all about Mixing in Music, driven by social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok that have become incubators for viral music and dance crazes.” The Loog Mini Electric Guitar is a three-string guitar that has a built-in amp and speaker. It even comes with access to an app that provides free music lessons.
With only 30 minutes and some elbow grease, the birthday kid can have delicious homemade ice cream. The ball makes one pint of ice cream. Bonus: This gift encourages spending time with friends or family as you roll it around for 30 minutes before enjoying your treat.
How fun would this play tent be for sleepovers, family movie night, silent reading time, or a camping night in the living room? Add this rustic sleeping bag to complete the outdoorsy feel. The tent comes with an interior light and has a tie-back entrance.
Gifts for grade school kids, ages 7-10
A sewing machine was recommended by a parent of a 7-year-old, and we couldn’t agree more that it’s a unique and fun gift. The Brother XM2701 is lightweight and designed for beginners. It has 27 stitch options and provides kids an opportunity to learn to make their own clothes, crafts, gifts, and more.
Any parent who loved Mario Kart growing up will not be able to resist playing Mario Kart Live Home Circuit with their kids. This is Mario Kart like never before, where your home becomes the course. Note that kids will need a Nintendo Switch to play the game. Recommended by Cucco, this game is sure to be a hit.
The birthday kid will need to dissect their way through goo and alien guts to get through the 26 levels of this alien. Once inside, they’ll find surprises and maybe even a real gem. They’ll be left with a toy to play with after, but the real fun in this one is the dissection journey.
Botley the Coding Robot is a screen-free educational toy. With this toy, kids learn the beginnings of coding, making Botley move, light up, carry objects, and detect obstacles.
Budding scientists will make their own lip balm with this kit that includes various colors, flavors, and applicators. The kit also includes manuals and information about dermatology and the science behind making lip balm.
Recommended by just about every parent and teacher we spoke to, pop sensory toys are huge for kids of all ages. This set comes with two rainbow toys. These toys are particularly wonderful for kids with sensory needs or attention deficit disorders.
Grade-school kids will enjoy this card game where they get to change the rules as they play. “People are also looking for activities that the whole family can enjoy together at home,” Cucco said. What better way to do that than with this fun card game themed around some of the most popular characters today?
Harry Potter is another big hit with many kids today, and they’ll get to recreate Hogsmeade with this new Lego set. It includes two main buildings and seven Lego figures. Lego kits are fun for this age because they are an attainable challenge, and then kids have a fun toy to play with after it’s built.
Gifts for tweens, ages 10-14
Recommended by Cucco, Jenga Giant is another game to play with the whole family. They can bring it to parties, set it up in the backyard, or just play at home. Jenga is a classic game that never goes out of style.
This marble track comes with glow-in-the-dark marbles and a UV light to recharge the marbles quickly. Marble tracks like this were recommended by a parent of a 14-year-old. You can also add on an expansion pack full of extra action pieces, tubes, base pieces, and marbles.
Recommended by multiple parents of tweens, Bluetooth microphones are currently very popular and are sure to be a springboard for a good time. The microphone works as a speaker as well and is compatible with karaoke apps on Android and Apple.
Seemingly simple, this puzzle actually includes 48 different puzzle challenges and was recommended by the parent of a 10-year-old. A similar puzzle, Cat Stax will be a sure hit with feline fanatics.
What kid doesn’t like Nerf dart blasters? Combine it with one of the most popular games today — Fortnite — and you’ve got a seriously fun gift. Many parents of tweens recommended Nerf blasters. This one comes with six darts and a detachable barrel.
Tweens will learn how we used to look at photos when they make this reel viewer with their own photos. Yudina explained that a big toy trend is a rise in toys that promote togetherness. Part of this trend: nostalgic brands and toys.
Puzzles are fun for tweens, and even more fun are puzzles that become an LED centerpiece for their room. Each light-up puzzle can be made into at least four different pre-designed configurations. Tweens and teens are all about the aesthetic of LED lights in their rooms, making this puzzle a perfect addition.
Slides are all over social media right now and are predicted to be a huge trend throughout the remainder of 2021. These slides are available in over 10 colors, and the cushy, soft sole might actually feel like walking on pillows.
Gifts for teenagers, ages 14-18
Everyone will want to come visit to try out the backyard zipline! The 70-foot line holds up to 250 pounds and would be the ultimate birthday present for the thrill-seeker.
This drone would be an excellent present for the teenager who is into tech. It’s a smart drone that is also VR compatible, and it’s known for being easy to fly. They can bring it on vacation, see what their house looks like from above, or even join a local flying club.
Paint-by-number kits were recommended by parents of teenagers, and it’s a wonderful relaxing craft for the whole family or for a teen to unwind alone. From beautiful landscapes to animals to flowers, there are plenty of picture options to choose from.
This popular game is another one that can bring the whole family together. Throughout the game, players collect train cards to create railway routes across North America. It’s a fun game of strategy that will challenge both teens and adults.
One of the biggest advantages of this VR headset is that it’s all-in-one. You don’t need to buy an expensive gaming system or computer. In addition to playing games, they’ll be able to watch live concerts and exclusive events as well.
Teenagers are all about music, and they can enjoy it with their friends anywhere with this portable speaker. At a party, during practice, at the pool (yes, it’s waterproof!) … virtually anywhere they go, this speaker can go with them.
Have an adventurous teen itching for a tattoo? Let them experiment with this temporary tattoo henna kit. The kit has enough ink to make 20 to 30 designs, and tattoos last for seven to 10 days.
Teenagers might not love waking up at 6 a.m. for school every day, but with MasterClass, they can take the classes that really interest them. A subscription grants access to all sorts of classes in categories from sports to food to music. Some popular instructors include Stephen Curry, Simone Biles, and Gordon Ramsey.
Please note that the Kiwi Co. Box, Playmobil Water Park, IVI Playmat, and Hape House were gifted. All of the opinions stated in this article are our own, and we will only recommend products we truly believe in.