The Hottest Holiday Toys for 2023

published Nov 1, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Gifts sit under a christmas tree, while a platter of sweet rolls, fruit, and tea are on the floor ready for Christmas Breakfast.
Credit: Leela Cyd

If your kids have drawn big circles around every item in the toy catalogs and you’re wondering where to start with your shopping, you’ll want to check out these 20 picks that really deliver. Our list of top toys for the season focuses primarily on special, unique gifts — the kind that causes your child to cheer in delight when unwrapping (sorry in advance to your ears). Santa might deliver one of these, or maybe a grandparent or a cool aunt. They’re not stocking stuffers, is what we’re saying! Some of our picks are buzzy and trendy, especially the “reveal” toys, while others are this year’s new version of a toy classic that we love. All of them win for the “wow.” 

We’ve also arranged them by age, starting with babies and going up through toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids. The older the kid you are buying for, the further down you’ll want to scroll. If you need more ideas for holiday gifts, don’t miss our perennial favorite Top 25 Gifts for Kids of All Ages

1 / 20

Although this is labeled for infants, babies up to 12 months old will happily bite, shake, and explore these beautiful sensory toys. The set is packaged perfectly for gifting and comes with 10 premium toys such as nubby balls, a silicone teether, pretend keys, a pyramid, and a unique wobbler with a mirror, as well as a book and play guide for parents and caretakers. Lalo partners with Plan Toys, a company known for sustainable, non-toxic items, so rest assured that little ones will be safe playing with this set.

2 / 20

Simply adorable and perfect for toddlers, this cute camper can help a new walker stay steady because it’s also a push toy. Buttons set off songs and phrases to teach letters, numbers, and colors that get more sophisticated as you switch between levels 1, 2 and 3. There are more than 100 different mini lessons, so toddlers won’t get bored with this toy. It also includes pretend food (s’mores!), a cookout-style coffee pot, a fishing rod, and more. There’s lots of play value for a nice price!

3 / 20

Why wouldn’t you want to give your toddler their first ride-on toy that’s in the shape of a dragon? Jade the Magic Dragon has crinkly wings and spinning wheels that are easy for a little one to scoot around on, indoors or out (although you don’t want to store this outside). It will also light up and play sounds when you pet the dragon’s nose if you load in the 3 AAA batteries that are included. There’s a unicorn version, too!

4 / 20

If you’re looking for aesthetic toys with more of a Montessori vibe, the hot new brand is Stapelstein, out of Germany. The pieces come in sets of 3 or 6 and invite your toddler or preschooler to use them for completely open-ended play. They make for great stepping stones (if “the floor is lava”), stacking blocks, bowls when they are turned upside-down, or even a hat — your kid will know what to do, and there’s no wrong answer! Read our full review of these Stapelstein stones for more on why we love the brand.

5 / 20

LEGO has plenty of wonderful home builds for older kids, but we think this DUPLO set for toddlers is spectacular. Help your preschooler put the home together (truth: This is likely you following instructions while they watch) then let them play “house” with the bazillion accessories, including a family, car, indoor and outdoor furniture, and even garbage cans. There are 218 pieces altogether, and they work with other DUPLO bricks you might have.

6 / 20

Some toys, like this one, are so pretty you don’t mind them sitting on display in your living room. If your kid already loves classic Magna-Tiles, they’ll go bananas for this set. And if your child hasn’t tried this brand yet? Use this as an introduction. The pieces connect via magnets from all four sides, making them a pleasure to build with. This includes four magnetic animals with moving parts — a raccoon, owl, bear, and deer — and the green trees positively shimmer!

7 / 20
was $29.99

So many PAW Patrol vehicles and playsets only come with one character (usually Chase), so kids who love the show will flip for this special anniversary 10-pack of action figures that includes the whole gang. These will help your kid get more play out of their existing PAW Patrol toys — or simply watch your kid invent imaginative scenarios for these figures!

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Barnes & Noble

Guess what the Pigeon wants to do this Winter? Drive a sleigh! The “Pigeon” book series, by Mo Willems, involves a very persistent bird. Kids love their role, which is to keep telling the Pigeon “No!” This goofy plush rendition of the Pigeon wearing a holiday hat plus the brand-new book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh, make a great literary combo gift.

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When kids get into Frozen, they really get into it. Set them up with this set that has everything they need to act out plenty of scenes in both the original movie and Frozen 2. There are two versions of grown Anna and Elsa, plus their kid selves, Kristoff, Olaf, Sven, and even Marshmallow, totaling 20 figures altogether.

10 / 20
was $24.99

Mini-everything is a huge toy trend in 2023. This stocked mini fridge, while fun for pretend play, also offers educational opportunities. Use the cards to challenge your preschooler, or invent challenges of your own. Can they pack a basket with three items? Pick out all the purple food? Find bananas or lettuce? When playtime is done the 30 tiny food pieces stash in the fridge. Note that the pieces are choking hazards for babies and toddlers, so this is strictly for ages 3 and up.

11 / 20

The hottest movie of the year for adults has produced one of the hottest toys for kids — namely, this sprawling three-story Barbie Dreamhouse. There’s an elevator, a slide, a pool, and dozens of pieces of furniture and accessories, including a dog and doghouse. No Barbie dolls are included (although we have lots of our favorite Barbie gifts here), and this build will take you about an hour, but it’s worth it for a Barbie-lover who can easily share this when friends come over. If you need any more convincing, be sure to read our full review of the Barbie Dreamhouse.

12 / 20
was $79.99

There is so much buzz about this toy among kids, so don’t be surprised if it goes on the top of your child’s wish list. It’s a fairly sophisticated surprise-reveal toy a la Magic Mixies, which made our 2022 Hottest Toys List (a list that’s worth another read because plenty of those toys are still hot). Kids mix potions, hit a button, and turn a dial all in service of “creating” a beast. Finally, when they throw a switch, the liquid in the beaker drains down to reveal their character (a variation on either a shark or tiger) in a cloud of cool smoke. Be ready with 6 AA batteries and watch the brand’s video for some hints on what to do.

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Our pick for a cheap thrill is any of the 2023 Fingerlings, updated from the original 2017 versions with fuzzy hair on their bodies, tufts of hair up top, and new personalities — different for each differently colored Fingerling. Each one can make more than 70 reactions while sitting on your kid’s finger or being rocked to sleep in their palm. They’ll also smooch against your kid’s cheek or giggle when their tummy is tickled. This is an easy one to take on holiday travels, too!

14 / 20

You’ll never go wrong giving a kid of any age a Squishmallow plush. The super-squishy round plush creatures are still popular from toddlers to teens (and adults, who collect them like mad). How cute is this just-released Rockhopper Penguin? He’s got a great mop of hair! For anyone else who can’t get enough, Five Below has a surprisingly large collection of Squishmallows.

15 / 20
was $34.99

This surprise-reveal toy is similar to last year’s best-selling Mama Surprise, which isn’t surprising, given they’re made by the same company. Kindergartners and early-elementary kids will love the magic behind this toy. There’s an exciting leadup that has kids mixing dough and pressing it into a mold; that mold clues them in to what pet (bunny, kitty, or puppy) they’ll be getting soon. Then they can decorate the dough, pop it into the toy oven, then set a timer. When it dings about 90 seconds later, it’s ready — and the dough has “cooked” into a plush friend! The plush smells sweet and warms when a child squeezes it. (The plush just switches places with the dough, so don’t let kids peek too closely into the oven or they might spy the pet hiding under a trap door.) You can reset the toy, and let your kids do it over — and over — again.

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Wall climbing, snowboarding, skiing, ice skating — the eight minifigures in this set get to do all that and more with this wintery playset, which also includes an adorable snowman and a squirrel. It’s for ages 7+ and is big enough for siblings, cousins, or friends to play together. The ski center itself has several rooms including an equipment rental desk and a cafe, plus there’s a working elevator. If you like it, definitely order soon — it’s already back ordered by a few weeks.

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Buzz around this sophisticated robot dog (named a Time Best Invention of 2023) is well-founded. Each Dog-E is unique and your child discovers its individual attributes (like eye color) and personality as they play. Something truly unique is that, if you use the Dog-E app, a sibling can “mint” their own dog using the same white toy. Then it can switch between being, for instance, a pink-eyed silly dog for one kid, then a purple-eyed mischievous dog for another. It runs around the house, barks playfully, and loves its toy bone — messages it gives through its tail tell kids when it's hungry and even when it has pooped. Best part with this robot? There’s no cleanup!

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Young kids who want to take a zillion selfies can do just that with this affordable camera toy. It works in both front- and back-facing mode, and images immediately thermally print in black and white without any ink or film needed. We’re not talking about high-quality sharp images here, but if your kid wants to print out 100 goofy photos of themselves, this will scratch that itch big time. It comes with a sticker sheet and markers for them to decorate the images, too, and the camera recharges with the included USB cable.

19 / 20
was $24.99

TikTok videos of people solving Kanoodle puzzles have helped drive the hype for this brand, and the new Kanoodle Pyramid delivers on giving kids (or adults!) 200 puzzles to cycle through. It’s large enough (6 inches wide) that people can collaborate, and this can be used for either 2D solving flat on the table or 3D solving with the pieces forming a pyramid. It’s a fun STEM toy for teaching problem-solving and physics — and persistence, too!

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Older kids who like to color for fun, relaxation, and artistry can make the black-and-white shaded pictures in this art set come alive. The images include animals, landscapes, and flowers. Whether kids use the expected colors or go for something surreal, like a blue llama, the results are super satisfying. If you’re looking for more ideas along this line, we have 24 Art Gifts for Every Age.