The hardest thing about Christmas and birthday shopping for kids, in my opinion, is finding a toy that they won’t just immediately lose interest in when they see the next “latest & greatest” toy.
I’ve had a hard time shopping for the kids this year because they already have so much and I don’t want to buy junk or buy something just for the sake of it.
A friend was struggling with this too so I rounded up a list of items that we have had for 2 years or more that the kids still love and play with regularly. I thought it might be helpful to put it all in a blog post in case anyone else is struggling too so here are some of our tried and true favorites along with other recommendations!
Jack absolutely LOVES this climbing and slide set and now Eleanor is enjoying it too! I love that you can buy other pieces to add on to it and it also folds up to tuck away when not in use.
Jack got a play kitchen for his first Christmas. He was only 10 months old but even at that age he loved it. He still plays with it almost daily and Eleanor is really loving it too! I personally love the ones from Potterybarn Kids. They are sturdy wood with non-toxic paint and definitely less of an eye sore than some. But if you are looking for a budget friendly option, this one and this one are great too!
Jack got this fort/ball pit set for his first Christmas and he got a teepee/tent for his first birthday. Both kids love them and play with them regularly. Yes, they can take up a lot of room but they also both easily fold up to store.
We have this small table top easel that Jack loves to use. Now that he is getting a little bigger he has asked for a “big boy easel” so he is getting this one for Christmas. Both are great and something the kids can use for several years. They can use it for creating artwork or as a pretend sign/menu for pretend play.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes I really hate Kinetic Sand (and play doh too) but the kids LOVE it. it can be a little messy but it’s a great activity for them. It keeps them busy and sparks creativity.
Both kids were signed up for the Lovevery subscription and they have loved it. Buying educational toys, especially for infants can be hard. But Lovevery does all of the research for you and perfectly age appropriate toys show up on your door step every 3 months. You can read my full review of Lovevery here.
Kitchen Helper Stool
Jack was so excited about his helper stool and we still use it often. Now that Eleanor is 18 months old she has started to enjoy using it too. It’s so much fun having them help in the kitchen and they have so much fun.
Experiences are GREAT gifts, whether it’s a family trip, an outing to a show or game, or a family pass to a local museum, zoo or activity center. It will be something to look forward to and a great way to eats memories. I would absolutely recommend getting a year pass to a nearby zoo, Children’s museum or indoor activity center. Even if you only go once a month that usually is more than enough to cover the cost of the pass.
If you are on a budget you can still get the kids things they need without them being disappointed. I know that getting clothes isn’t always exciting for kids but sometimes they just need pants, ya know? Get them what they need but put a fun spin on it. Find clothes, pajamas, shoes, etc that tie into their interests. Eleanor is super obsessed with leopard/cheetah print so she is getting some clothes with that pattern. And Jack desperately needs pants so I got him little sets that have trucks and dinosaurs on them which I know he will love.
Keep it Simple
I know it can be tempting to go overboard. We love our kids and want to spoil them, but what they will look back on and remember the most is the feeling of the season. So focus on the time you spend together and keep gifts simple.
My family does “Want, Need, Wear, Read” Christmas lists and now that’s what I do for my kids. Four gifts and as they get older it helps them really put thought into what is going onto their list.
Recommendations from Friends
There are a few pieces that I can’t speak to myself but have been recommended to me by friends.
- The Nugget Comfort Couch: This is SO popular and something I would really love to get the kids. I think it would be perfect for our basement playroom. I can see them building forts or lounging on it for movie night.
- Water Table: So many friends have told me how much there little ones love playing with a water table. Eleanor was obsessed with the water station at the Children’s Museum so I think she would really love having one at home.
- PlasmaCar: Our neighbors had these when we were growing up. We would race them around the unfinished basement and it was SO much fun, for all ages (my brothers were under 5 and I was in high school 😅)
I hope this list helps! Remember that you don’t have to go overboard. Just focus on the magic of the season and enjoy time together as a family! Happy holidays!