2018 Gift Guides
The Best Gifts for Kids
When it comes to gifting kids, less is more. Too many gifts and you’ll see them tossing aside whatever the most recent thing is — no matter how good — in search of what might be under the next shiny wrapped box. The good news is that they’ll never question what isn’t there. So there’s that. A good rule of thumb: buy something they want, something they need, something to wear or something to read. And, while this gift guide is primarily made up of gifts specifically for kids, some of these are for parents, too — which also makes this a great guide for the new parent in your life.
Bus Stops by Taro Gomi
Japanese artist Taro Gomi’s books are beloved by both children (ages one to four) and adults (a tough achievement) for their beautiful illustrations, playful themes and simple concepts about daily life and nature. Bus Stops takes readers from place to place — the fair, hospital, home — showing who gets on and off the bus at each stop. It may sound boring but it’s surprisingly fun. Make it a bundle by adding Spring is Here and My Friends.
Kid Made Modern On-The-Go Coloring Kit
For all of the restaurants that don’t have crayons. For long car rides. For rainy days when television starts to feel excessive. And then every other occasion that involves waiting. This kit — made up of crayons, markers and a coloring pad neatly packed into a closable tote — will be a saving grace.
KiwiCo Craft Box Subscription
Most of us wish we were crafty. KiwiCo takes the wishing out of the equation and makes it easy to create with your kids. Themed boxes arrive each month with materials, easy and playful instructions and fun games (some of which you create yourself). No matter their age, your kids can get a craft box suited just for them. Subscriptions start at $17 per month for 12 months.
Black Forest Gummy Worms
Stuff their stockings this Christmas with more than candy canes and chocolate coins. Treats like gummy worms are a surprise worthy of wrapping (yay, one more present!) and, whether it’s better for them or not, it always feels better if it’s organic.
If your kids haven’t played with this before, it will blow their minds. It feels like wet beach sand but it’s totally dry, doesn’t stick to their fingers and is so easy to clean because it sticks to itself — much like playdough. And, they’ll have a blast molding shapes out of it, squashing them and remolding over and over again.
My First Orchard Board Game
Board games are fun for little kids — but most kids can’t or don’t want to follow the rules or take turns. My First Orchard pits the players, as a team, against the raven to try and pick the fruit off the tree before the raven gets across the path. Nearly 2.5 million copies of this board game have been sold in over 30 years, proving it’s a favorite among kids ages two and up.
National Parks of the USA
Just released in June, the National Parks of the USA takes a tour of the parks across the country, illustrating the plants and animals found in each park and along with interesting facts about them. Best case scenario: your kid begs you to go visit one of these parks (road trip!) or gets to revisit a place they’ve already been to within its pages.
My Outdoor Alphabet Poster
This might fall under this-is-more-for-the-parents-than-the-kids, but it’s easy on the eyes and can get a small child excited about the world outside. We dig the colors on the Paddler’s Alphabet, but there’s an alphabet poster for everyone from fly-fishermen to skiers to backpackers.
Uncle Goose American Sign Language Blocks
There are blocks — and then there are blocks that add an extra element into the mix, like these stackers from Uncle Goose. Kids will enjoy trying to create the signs with their hands and the knowledge (or muscle memory) they gain could round out their communication skills one day.
Few toys mesmerize children as deeply as STEM toys, like Magformers, a set of magnetic triangles and squares in a rainbow of colors that can literally be built into anything. It’s the limitless possibilities that keep kids entranced — and also help stretch their creativity, imagination and engineering skills.
Lands’ End Squall Waterproof Iron Knee Snow Bibs
Kids who live in places full of white stuff need good snow clothes, no question. What would childhood be without snowmen and sledding? But none of those things happen without the right prep work. It’s all about warmth, protection from the elements and durability. After testing many different snow pants, the Lands’ End bibs are some of the most kid- and weather-proof we’ve seen.
Honest Company Diaper Subscription
There is no more practical gift than good diapers. And also no more welcome one. No one wants to spend their money on something that’s going to be thrown away — and they’re expensive, to boot, which makes them the perfect gift. For $80, parents get seven packs of diapers (with adorable, and sometimes seasonal, prints) and four packs of wipes.
Gifts don’t always have to be things. And this one will make them jump for joy, even if it’s not the handmade wooden toys or art supplies you had in mind. Tickets run from $97 for off-peak days, which is when you want to go anyway.
Beyond 123 PlayMe Bells Station
Musical kids’ toys and the word “pleasant” usually don’t grace the same sentence or room. That’s not the case with the PlayMe Bells Station, because, the company says, “all five notes in a pentatonic scale has complete tonality.” We say: this toy simply sounds nice and is a joy to have around. A songbook teaches kids simple, pre-made rhythms.
L.L. Bean Kids’ Winter Walker Snowshoe Package
Kids love to play outside — even in the snow. Take them on a winter adventure with this snowshoe-and-pole bundle made specifically for kids starting as tiny as 25 pounds.
Sasha + Lucca Baby Alpaca Hooded Sweater
Keeping kids warm is the number one priority when it comes to making winter play a success. Sasha + Lucca’s apparel is top notch. Take this Pima cotton-lined Peruvian alpaca sweater, with its adorable elven-like hood, for example.
Patagonia Baby Hi-Loft Down Sweater Hoody
Of all the down jackets for kids, we haven’t found one that’s warmer and more comfortable than Patagonia’s Hi-Loft Down Sweater Hoody. It’s like throwing your kids in a wearable sleeping bag, which allows them to play and grow instead of fret and cry about the cold. Buy it one size big so you get two seasons out of it.
Splendid Double Stripe Knit Throw
Keep a cozy throw blanket on hand for snuggle sessions on the couch, cozy book-reading or an extra layer on frigid nights. Splendid — yes, the clothing company known for super-soft basics — recently came out with a bedding collection that’s equally as silky. Throw-size blankets are usually perfect for cribs (when your baby is old enough for blankets).
Elan Sky Kids Skis with EL 7.5 Bindings
Elan’s kids’ skis are 25 percent more flexible than most kids’ skis on the market, making them easier for kids to find balance and turn. Pair them with Elan’s Ezyy 2 Ski Boots, with removable, fuzzy liners for extra coziness.
Nook Sleep Systems 100% Organic LilyPad 2 Playmat
You’ll never get over how soft this non-toxic organic cotton-and-eucalyptus playmat is, which semi-redeems the high price tag. What we really love about it is how big it is at around 21 square feet — about four times the size of most playmats — and the fact that it’s machine washable.
Priority Start 16-Inch Bike
If you’re going to buy your kid their first bike this holiday season, opt for a 16-inch frame because it’s the most versatile and ergonomically-correct. The smallest two-wheelers, at 12-inch, which fit three-year-olds best, tend to have geometries that are too upright. A 16-inch frame should maximize the number of years your kid can ride, as they’ll still fit when they’re, say, six or seven. Priority Bikes — which got its start in adult frames — is known for top quality at an affordable price and with little maintenance. The Start is no different.
Monte Jackson Rocker
This may seem like a gift for yourself — it’s a sleek, modern take on a rocker — but it’s actually a gift for the baby. Just think of all the hours you’ll spend in this chair, humming and snuggling and reading when they’re ready. Those are moments your little one will internalize forever, no matter how young.
Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide.