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Updated Feb 8, 2022 3:00 PM

The best gifts for kids appeal to lots of different interests: science, tech, reading, and … Squishmallows? Whatever their interests may be, you can find a gift that’s fun, useful, educational, or even a combination of the three. After all, at any age, playing is learning.

Fighting against the pull of screen time, it can be tough to find a present that grabs their attention, so I put together a list of the best toys and games for kids of all ages, from toddler to teen. Read on to find my picks for the best gifts for kids!

How We Selected These Products 

Methodology 

I’m a mom of three kids, ages two to six. After a birthday or holiday, our home becomes overrun with toys, books, and games — some of which never get touched or played with, and instead just take up space and add to the general clutter that comes with having a family of five. As such, I’m pretty discerning about what toys we keep in the house, and only the best of the best, the ones that get a lot of use, are allowed to stay. 

Many of the items on the list have been surefire hits with my own kids. Others were added based on intel I gathered from interrogating friends with kids and friends who are elementary, middle, or high school teachers. Some of the gifts are even fun for adults, while others might make you raise an eyebrow (Squishmallows? Don’t worry, I’ll explain). Most importantly, all the gifts on this list are a hit with the kids.

The Best Gifts for Kids: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Gift for Kids of Any Age: Squishmallows

Best Gift for Kids of Any Age

This latest fad is a supercute gift for any age. Squishmallow

Why It Made the Cut: Squishmallows are the latest fad to take classrooms by storm, and the variety of squishy characters means you can find a perfect match for any personality. 

OK, I know I said I would explain the love for Squishmallows, but I don’t know that an explanation really exists. I do know that my little kids love them, my middle school–aged nephew loves them, and my high school–aged niece loves them. And what’s not to love? They’re cuddly, cute, and collectible. The Squishmallow store offers dozens and dozens of different Squishes to choose from, including a line of Disney characters and seasonal stuffies that serve as great holiday gifts, like this plush Easter Bunny. With such a variety to choose from, there’s something for kids of any age. 

Best Gift for Harry Potter Fans: Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Smartwatch Band

Best Gift for Harry Potter Fans

An understated gift for a teenage witch, wizard, or Muggle. MobyFox

Why It Made the Cut: The durable watch band has a cool design and includes access to dozens of Harry Potter–themed watch faces. 

If you’re seeking a gift for a teenager who loves tech gear but you don’t want to drop a few hundred for the latest electronics, consider an accessory to jazz up a piece they already own, like this Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–themed smartwatch band. The band from MobyFox is compatible with every size and series of Apple Watch. Its high-quality silicon resists sweat and UV rays, making it durable enough to withstand anything from after-school sports to the Battle of Hogwarts. The purchase also includes a QR code that accesses more than 40 unique watch faces. The sleek, subtle design for this tech-themed gift is perfect for Harry Potter fans who like to play it cool. 

Best Gift for a Disney Princess: Disney Princess Vanity

Best Gift for a Disney Princess

A perfect gift for the kid who loves all the Disney Princesses equally. Disney Princess

Why It Made the Cut: This vanity set includes everything a little Disney lover needs to be a princess.

Calling all Disney Princesses! This princess vanity set is a magical gift for the kid who pretends (or truly believes) they’re a Disney Princess. The vanity comes with a mirror and table with spaces to hold a brush, comb, and tiara, plus a drawer where they can safely store the five included character rings. A gemstone button activates an Ultimate Princess Celebration song that your princess will love playing over and over again. Pro tip for parents: There’s a switch under the vanity table that allows you to change the song to a version with vocals, select the instrumental track, or turn the music off completely — the key to any perfect gift for kids. 

Best Gift for Little Scientists: GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope 

Best Gift for Little Scientists

This talking microscope promotes education and imagination. Educational Insights

Why It Made the Cut: This toy feels like you’re looking into a real microscope, and it includes an educational audio component to boot. 

The GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope is an engaging, educational toy that leaves room for kids to make believe. Mini scientists place one of the twenty slides under the microscope and peer into the lens to observe specimens while the voice of Bindi Irwin shares knowledge about the plants and animals. New learners can listen in Fact Mode, then switch to Quiz Mode once they’ve become experts. As a bonus, the standard version comes with English, French, Spanish, and German audio. The plastic microscope is safe and easy for the 4+ crowd, with high-quality images that’ll make kids feel like they’re really working in a lab. 

Best Train Set: Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set

Little ones will spend hours building tracks and chugging their trains around town. Melissa & Doug

Why It Made the Cut: Kids will adore this painted wooden train set that’s easy for even the youngest kids to set up on their own. 

All seasoned parents are familiar with the ubiquitous Melissa & Doug Wooden Railway Set. Kids love this set and stay busy setting up new routes on the tracks and chugging their choo-choos over hills and bridges. Melissa & Doug is a favorite among parents for beautifully painted wooden toys that last entire childhoods. We received this as a Christmas gift when my first kid was a toddler, and it’s still in perfect condition after surviving being the go-to toy for three destructive kiddos. The set is compatible with other wooden train sets, and Melissa & Doug offer other sets and train tables for when you’re ready to expand. 

Best Gift for New Readers: Laugh Your Socks Off Joke Book

Best Gift for New Readers

Funny, age-appropriate jokes to keep kids reading. Laughing Lion

Why It Made the Cut: This joke book is easy enough for new readers to sound out on their own — they won’t want to stop reading the quick, funny jokes. 

Have a new reader who drags their heels at the idea of sitting down to read? A joke book is a fun way to keep them turning the page. Laugh Your Socks Off is geared toward 5- to 7-year-olds who are just learning to read. Jokes full of puns and wordplay will have kids howling (and have Mom and Dad rolling their eyes … but in a good way). The jokes are age-appropriate and simple enough for beginner-level readers to sound out. The quick joke format is easier for kids to face than a block of text, while the bright illustrations guide and entertain. Even the most reluctant readers won’t want to put this book down.

Best Gift for Toddlers: Radio Flyer Steer and Stroll Trike

Best Gift for Toddlers

A tricycle that can grow with your toddler and preschooler. Radio Flyer

Why It Made the Cut: I chose this trike over others like it because of the key feature of the handle: no more backbreaking pushing for parents while little ones are learning to ride. 

The Radio Flyer Deluxe Steer and Stroll Trike is an adjustable tricycle for kids aged 2–5 years. A removable handle converts the trike into a push stroller so Mom and Dad can help the little one practice their pedaling in the driveway or take them out for a walk. As their legs get longer and stronger, do away with the handle so the kiddo can zoom around on their own. The plastic seat has three different levels that can be adjusted as the child grows. The bike frame is made of steel, so it’s durable enough to survive those destructive toddler and preschool years. Kids love the independence of riding their very own bike!

Best Gift for Kids Who Love Experiments: National Geographic Crystal Growing Lab

Best Gift for Kids Who Love Experiments

The light-up base in this crystal-growing kit provides magical, luminous results. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Why It Made the Cut: The crystal-growing lab is a favorite among National Geographic’s excellent science kits because watching the simple experiment is truly fascinating and ends with a stunning final product. 

I love recommending National Geographic kits as gifts because they have so many different hands-on activities to truly engage kids. Their crystal-growing lab is a longer experiment, with full results taking about a week. It’s simple, too: Just add water, and then check the progress every day as the crystals grow in their container. The lab includes a light-up base to luminate the fully grown rose quartz, blue calcite, fluorite, and quartz geodes for a mystical final product. The full-color learning guide makes this a perfect gift for kids who love the thrill of experiments.

Best Gift for Parties: BONAOK Wireless Karaoke Microphone

Best Gift for Parties

All the perks of a karaoke machine in one handheld microphone. BONAOK

Why It Made the Cut: This karaoke mic is easy to store, easy to charge, and a lot of fun — plus kids love the playback feature!

What’s the number one thing kids love? The sound of their own voices! Rather than give a big, bulky karaoke machine to the budding chanteurs in your life, gift this wireless karaoke microphone. The mic is Bluetooth-compatible for easy connection to a singing app on your phone. The high-quality module works as a player and recorder, so both voice and music are amplified from the speaker — plus, they can record it for playback. For all the fun of a karaoke machine without the bulk, this microphone is a blast for singers of all ages. 

Best Board Game: Ticket to Ride

Best Board Game

This board game is simple enough for kids to learn but challenging enough to keep game night exciting. Again Products

Why It Made the Cut: Parents will get into this fast-paced board game as much as the kids will, and the expansion packs mean you can play for hours. 

Finding a board game that keeps the whole family engaged can be a challenge, but Ticket to Ride is it! This board game is intended for players ages 8 and up and includes simple-to-follow instructions. The object of the game is to draw colored cards and use them to build train routes across a map of the United States. The game can be played with 2–5 players, but what makes this a great gift for kids is that if the household has a compatible Echo device, they can play against Alexa if everyone else is busy. Once the family has mastered the game, check out the expansion packs and Europe edition. 

Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Gifts for Kids

It’s been a tough couple years for the kiddos, so the best gifts for kids are the ones that keep them busy and make them smile. Board games, train sets, and weeklong science experiments will engage kids of all different ages and stave off boredom, especially during the winter months. The items on this list have delighted my kids and, as an added benefit, given me a respite from having to entertain them. Indulge a future scientist, a mini princess, or a budding singer with one of these great gifts. And if they just want something cute to snuggle? You can’t go wrong with the Squishmallow

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