This year I’m taking a totally new approach to Christmas gift buying for my girls. Being out of college I now have more time to spend with them; learning more about them and their wonderful personalities, preferences and just how amazingly creative they are. To continue encouraging their creativity, I’m shopping for gifts that do just that. Gifts with potential, open ended possibilities, no rules or prescribed ways. To do this, I’m skipping the ready-to-play toys like video games (though I’ve never allowed those), electronic toys, toys with flashing lights and lots of sounds, and other toys that don’t allow them the freedom and flexibility to create something from nothing. I’ll be honest, I’ve never liked the idea of “gifting experiences” either, as for most people I’ve talked with those gift certificates and promises more often than not go unfulfilled.
Another big concern of mine this year has been where the toys are being manufactured, and if they are being made with safe, non-toxic components. Luckily, I know of a few e-tailers who cater to moms like myself with sky-high standards, and have already been buying and testing a variety of gifts from them. I’m happy to report that a few of the gifts on this guide are tested and approved by my girls (ages 10 & 3), my husband and myself, and I know you will love them too! Shop by clicking the item descriptions below the collage, and sorry about the assault on the senses with this graphic but believe me this is the paired down version!
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1. Ring stacker – For the little one on your list, stacking toys are not only a fun way to learn but this non-toxic version of the classic toy is completely safe to teethe on too, which let’s face it, with babies and toddlers is inevitable!
2. Cake – My girls have a similar version to this one and have played with it almost every day since they got it 2 years ago. An open ended toy that allows for creative play that’s also cute and doubles as playroom decoration when it’s not in use!
3. Rainbow stacker – We bought this for Lilly’s birthday and I can’t wait to see what games she and her sister come up with using it! A tunnel, a track, a house for tiny dolls, a roller coaster for toy cars, and so many more possibilities for this open ended toy.
4. Play silk – Seems simple enough, but it’s the simplest toys that allow children’s imaginations to run wild! A canopy for a fort, a dress, a cape, waves for a toy boat to sail on and whatever else they come up with!
5. Play food – Eco-friendly, with non-toxic colors make this sliceable play food totally safe and fun for little aspiring chefs to practice with.
6. Train track set – Another tried and tested toy by my family – our train set has had plenty of love over the last 4 years we’ve had. Builds STEAM skills like engineering, problem solving, and allows for artistic expression.
7. Shape matching – For babies and toddlers; the sensory shapes – some filled with beads and other colorful things – matching game is a classic for little growing eyes, minds and working on fine motor skills.
8. Push cart with blocks – Skip the walkers with flashing lights and loud noises, and get this beautiful non-toxic version made of eco-friendly wood and filled with beautifully painted blocks. Two great toys in one that grows with your child while teaching cause and effect, motor skills, and building.
9. Play tent – A castle, a reading nook, a rocket ship, a gem mine cave; so many ideas for one simple yet beautiful gift.
10. Barn yard – My girls love sitting in our neighbor’s garage with their little girl and playing with her barn set. This toy keeps them entertained for hours with the animals, rearrangeable fence and barn, and the endless possibilities it comes with. I also like this one.
11. Doll stroller – Children love to imitate their parents, for better or for worse. My little one loves her doll strollers and finds all kinds of uses for it beyond simply carting around dolls.
12. Play kitchen – My girls have this exact kitchen but in dove gray. It’s not only a beautiful item to add to your playroom, but allows for creative play such as storefront, restaurant, and they’ve even used it for pretend school. This kitchen is not only sturdy and nice to look at but half the cost of other similar play kitchens.
13. Unicorn playdoh set – Clean, non-toxic playdoh with natural colors is a much safer alternative to the playdoh we knew as kids! This set comes with shape cutters and all the utensils your little girl will need to create and grow those fine motor skills, crafting skills, and appreciation for art.
14. Emotion builder – Both of my girls saw this on my computer and instantly exclaimed that they wanted it. Another super simple toy that teaches emotional intelligence, and is also really fun!
15. Princess dress – Dress up is not just for girly-girls. No, dressing up and role playing is like a superfood for a child’s imagination – it transports them to another world, and allows them to imagine themselves as someone/something extraordinary! It also teaches independence and problem solving skills.
16. American Girl doll – For an older girl – or a young girl who is just very good at taking care of her toys – the classic American Girl doll is a must for every girl’s toy collection! Dolls facilitate learning skills such as caring for something valuable, role playing after reading the corresponding stories, and these have the added bonus of teaching a little bit of history!
17. Bracelet kit – Another one for a big girl, this kit by female owned brand Pix Perfect makes three sequin bracelets and encourages creativity and problem solving skills.
18. Frozen Duplo set – We purchased this for Lilly’s birthday as she and her sister LOVE playing Legos together and you can never have too many! Another awesome open play toy that drives creative problem solving and engineering skills is the toddler version of Lego, the Duplo, and this Frozen set will make any little girl squeal with excitement. We also have Belle and Minnie!
19. Sparkly princess puzzle – We have this puzzle and all love it, especially on cold or rainy days indoors! It’s so pretty with the sparkle details, and is just the right level of difficulty for all of us to do together.
20. Air dry clay – A slightly more permanent version of playdoh, this air dry clay is perfect for the child who loves to create things with their hands.
21. Beginner embroidery kit – For older girls, this beginner embroidery kit is a great introduction to a wonderful skill! Skills are so undervalued these days, and who knows, maybe she will find this her new favorite hobby!?
22. Roller skates – Kids need sunlight just as much as they need food and water. Get them outdoors and moving their body with a pair of roller skates – I love this retro-looking pair!
23. Ice cream jewelry kit – For the girls who loves giving – gift her this cute kit so that she can make her and her friends all some sweet jewelry! Encourage her creativity, organizational, and problem solving skills with this.
24. Pony ride-on toy – I’ve wanted this for my girls for years! Your little one sits on it and pushes down on the pedals while lifting off the seat, sitting down and repeating the process to move this ride-on unicorn along. Lilly tried one of these out a few years ago and it was SO cute! She was easily able to maneuver it, and it’s a much better alternative to a ride-on car or something that requires no physical effort. For a boy, this classic brown is adorable. Use code HELLO10 for 10% off when buying through my link.
26. Globe – For all the homeschool families – upgrade your globe game with this day/night illuminated globe. Safely nestled between ‘need’ and ‘want’ this makes the perfect gift for the intellectual child, the aspiring astronomer, and hey, would probably make a sweet nightlight!
This is the perfect opportunity to stock up on new books (we’re getting these), craft supplies, blank paper (always a favorite in my house!), and necessities like socks and cute winter pajamas as stocking stuffers. Get rid of the fear of appearing “materialistic” for getting your children new brain building toys when they probably already have plenty; it can only benefit them, as through play is how they learn so many different things! My motto is always buy less but better quality – so skip the dollar bins full of toxic trinkets and give small businesses who stock USA made, or ethically made, non-toxic, eco-friendly toys a try! I guarantee a set of blocks will entertain your little (or big) one for so much longer than any video game or movie ever will. Another gift I always hope my kids get is cash, or gift cards to their favorite stores. Both get a bad rap for being “impersonal” and “thoughtless” but honestly, I love giving them to my kids when we walk into a store and letting them figure out how to budget out the amount they’ve been given, balancing necessities/needs/wants and overall just getting a small lesson in money management! For teens and young adults this is perfect when you just have no clue what else to get. I hope you’ve found a few things on this list to surprise your sweet child with this Christmas – let me know what you end up getting!