Not to freak you out or anything, but we’re under the 2 week mark until Christmas. Have you finished up your shopping yet? Most years stocking stuffers are one of the last things I get around to buying because I’m never quite sure what to get. I want items that are inexpensive but will still lead to engaged, quality play – not junk that will liter my house. This time around, though, I find myself with the opposite problem – I’ve found too many great options.
While I struggle to narrow down my list, I thought I’d share it with you all in case you’re still in need of a small item or two. You’ll find something for every kind of kid here – enjoy!
The Game Player
You already know from our “Top Picks for Family Game Night” gift guide that I’m a big proponent of games and puzzles – both those you can play as a family and those that can be played alone for quiet time or on-the-go. Here are a few compact selections that will fit nicely in a stocking.
- Eeboo Color Go Fish Playing Cards $8.00 (2+ years) – This beautiful card set uses colors instead of the traditional numbers for Go Fish. This was one of the very first games I started playing with my son. It was easy for him to understand since no numbers or reading were involved and helped him learn his colors. He still enjoys playing it 3 years later at age 5. Eboo doesn’t stop with Go Fish either, they also have lovely Old Maid, Crazy Faces (like crazy 8s), Animal Rummy, and Hearts playing sets for the littles.
P.S. for beginner card players, check out this little hands card holder too!
- IQ Twist $9.99 (6+ years) – This compact, award-winning multi-level logic game contains 100 challenges suitable for all ages. It’s ideal for building critical thinking skills during long car rides or quiet time.
- Crocodile Creek Travel Puzzles starting $4.66 (5+ years) – I especially love the look and easy storage/travel capabilities of these travel 100 piece puzzles and at the price they make great stocking stuffers.
- Rush Hour Jr. by Thinkfun $15.20 (5+ years) – This is going in my 5 year old’s stocking this year. It’s a unique kind of single-player logic game that received a national award from Mensa and is used in elementary school math classes. Plus my car-lover will think it’s flat-out fun. Also check out the regular version for older kids!
If you’ve got a little explorer at home with a taste for adventure and a thirst for knowledge, check out these fun picks.
- Toobs starting at $6.33 (3+ years) - After our Make Like a Montessori Mama: Animal Activities post a few years ago, I knew I needed to get C some small animal figurines as soon as possible. A quick Amazon search revealed exactly what I was looking for – Toobs. Not only is the handy container the perfect shape for a stocking, there are a million themes to choose from. Whether your little one are into the arctic, zoo babies, trains, pirates, dinosaurs, North American Wildlife, or the wonders of the world – there’s a Toob out there for them.
- Walkie Talkies starting at $14.99 (3+ years) – My 3 and 5 year olds have (thankfully) been engaging in quiet a bit of cooperative play lately. Some of their favorite games include hide-and-seek, joint flash light hunts, and back yard safaris so I figured a set of easy-to-use walkie talkies would be right up their alley. I’m thinking of buying a set and slipping one in each of their stockings.
- Robot Claw $9.87 (3+ years) – I picked one of these up on impulse while birthday shopping for my son’s 4th birthday. So glad I did – it was a HUGE hit. It seems to entice both my son and daughter to explore all kinds of things around the house in new ways and we need to get one for her as well this Christmas.
There are all kinds of kid creators – builders, artists, even mini-chefs – here are finds to keep all of their creative juices flowing.
- Automoblox Minis starting at $8.00 (3+ years – not for kids who may put small things in their mouths) – These are one of those rare toys that can hold children’s attention for long stretches of time. The fun is not only in pushing them around like regular cars, but also in taking them apart and switching around all their parts. To that end, it’s best to get 2 or 3 so you have lots of parts to play with – that’s what we did two Christmases ago. Luckily, kids prefer the more inexpensive mini versions (perfect for stockings) and there are a ton of models which you can purchase alone or in 3 packs. They have colors sure to be loved by both girls and boys.
- Curious Chef Kids’ Cooking Utensils starting at $6.61 (4+ years with adult supervision) – Curious Chef makes a great line of real yet safe kitchen tools for kids. My favorite are the nylon knives (that’s right, I’m advocating knives in the stocking this year) which allow kids to safely participate in their own food prep. I also really like the 6 Piece Fruit and Veggie Prep Kit. As an added bonus, at dinnertime you might even get them to eat some of those veggies they’ve been carefully chopping and peeling for the last hour.
- Crayola Oil Pastels $5.99 – With their creamy and vivid colors, kids can tell there’s something extra special about oil pastel crayons as soon as they start using them. They’re also fantastic for learning about color theory because they blend to create true secondary colors.
- Watercolor Set $7.99 (2+ years) – Watercolors are always a good less-mess choice for painting. So we picked this set up the last year when we were at Ikea and I was really impressed. The cakes are bigger making it easier for the kids to use them and they don’t seem to muddy up nearly as easily as the crayola version.
Young children have such a wonderful desire to learn, here are a couple of my favorite smaller toys for helping them do so.
- Leapfrog Mr. Pencil Stylus $11.24 (3 – 6 years) – This kid friendly stylus works along with iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches with a special app that teaches writing letters, numbers and shapes through interactive games and activities. It would be great for long car rides or waiting rooms and is an Oppenheim platinum toy award winner. Here’s what they have to say about it, “While we’re not big on most app-gear, this one makes sense. We also liked that the instruction for making letters was correct and included both upper and lower case letters. (Remember Joanne taught over 300 children how to write!) The app also includes instruction for numbers 1-20.”
- Kimochis Mini Bag of Mixed Feelings $18.95 (suitable for all ages) - I was first introduced to the Kimochi line at an emotional coaching workshop and I really love the concept. Basically, these little guys are a playful way to help kids recognize and express their feelings. Each bag includes one carabineer keychain and 12 mini feelings: Happy, Silly, Brave, Curious, Mad, Sad, Loved, Cranky, Sleepy, Hopeful, Sorry, Excited. There’s enough in this set to divvy them up between multiple kids’ stockings.
So that’s my list! Did I miss anything critical?
Question of the Day
What’s going in your stocking this year?
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P.S. If you’re really looking to have the holidays in the bag this year, we’ve got two more ways to help. First get the holiday shopping out of the way with all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here…
Second, check out our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, packed with low-prep and low-stress ideas for make memories crafting, cooking, reading and adventuring with the kids!
P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?