Cool Gifts for Kids
We all know the annual drill: Your kid writes a wish list of the presents she just HAS to receive this holiday season. It’s 101 lines long and includes everything she’s spotted at the toy store all year (plus all the items her, ahem, spoiled friend received for her birthday last month). Sure, maybe one or two of those items will find their way into your home, but chances are you want to avoid caving into her desire for one more jewelry-making kit, the full-size drum kit, or the Elsa costume you’ve been resisting for years now. Instead, you want to choose something more unique. Or less loud. Or something more creative. The gifts in this guide will fit all those requirements. There are challenging mind-benders for your favorite game fanatic, make-it-yourself craft kits for budding artists, beautiful sweets for your sweetie, enchantingly illustrated paper-dolls for your costume-obsessed kid, counting blocks for little learners, and so much more. We’ve found loads of gifts that are organic or eco-friendly and made by small artisans or little-known companies. The gifts are mostly aimed at school-aged children but we haven’t forgotten toddlers, babies, and even soon-to-be babies and their parents. Most of the gifts are under $50 and there are even quite a few that are under $20. Whatever the price, each gift is something special that you won’t find at every big-box store. So forget about trying to shop from her wish list and give these picks a try instead. We guarantee smiles all around this holiday season.
Wool Felt Night Sky Mobile
Why not teach them to reach for the stars when they’re still in the crib? This sweet mobile will please parents and baby alike.
To buy: $44; rhbabyandchild.com.
The next Buzz Aldrin or Mae Jemison will blast off to school thanks to this stellar backpack. This junior jetpack is a cool gift for any kid.
To buy: $50; sfmoma.org.
Princess Nesting Dolls
This set of hand painted nesting dolls depicts princesses from around the world wearing their traditional garb.
To buy: $26; gretelhome.com.
Yeti Tracker Snowshoe Package
Amuse your kids with these stabilizing snowshoes that leave Sasquatch-sized footprints in their wake. The quirky set also includes aluminum poles and a bag to stow away the shoes when it’s time to head inside.
To buy: $60; llbean.com.
My First Shaving Kit
This pint-size dopp kit comes outfitted with all the essentials a mini-me might need to copy Dad’s morning routine.
To buy: $30; lakeshorelearning.com.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
A sweet retelling of the 35-year-old film plot, stripped down to the story of a boy and his intergalactic friend.
To buy: $19; amazon.com.
Moonlite Story Projector Starter Pack
This update to the View Master clips over a phone’s flashlight to illuminate storybook images on the walls or ceiling for an immersive experience, anywhere.
To buy: $25; target.com.
This Book Is a Planetarium
Flip between six interactive, pop-up gadgets (like a perpetual calendar and an amplifying speaker) to learn about the science behind each. Place your phone’s flashlight in the planetarium to project constellations on the ceiling.
To buy: $28; amazon.com.
Kids’ Bike in Treasure
The uniquely designed frame makes for an easier-to-control bike. The 12 styles make it cool. Best of all, it won’t rust and the seat can be adjusted to accommodate your child as she grows.
To buy: From $320; electrabike.com.
DIY Excavator Toy
This set of 144 pieces lets your kid construct a cardboard replica of the monstrous machinery for display or for play. Add some flair by coloring in the parts.
To buy: $25; worldmarket.com.
Ice Cream Fur Pom-Pom Sweater
A triple-scoop of of pom poms (which detach before machine washing) guarantee this super-soft terry sweater will be her favorite treat. (Also available in adult sizes for a mommy-and-me photo op.)
To buy: $35 (kid) and $41 (adult); lolaandtheboys.com.
Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Toy Wood Tool Bench
The budding builder will get right to work with this TK-piece tool set and wooden bench—complete with Chip & Joanna Gaines’ stamp of approval.
To buy: $100; target.com.
Know a mom with a handbag obsession? Gift her little one this all-natural, stylish teether and get a giggle out of her mom.
To buy: $26; roseandrex.com.
Nursery Faux-Fur Plush Fawn Rocker
Fuzzy, fun, and able to be personalized, your kid will love this ride-on stuffed animal. A cool gift for kids that will make a fabulous photo op. Multiple styles available.
To buy: $189; potterybarn.com.
Mermaid Duvet and Pillowcase Set
Transform your tot as she sleep with this clever duvet and pillowcase set. A perfectly placed silhouette of a mermaid (or dinosaur, or princess, or astronaut) on the comforter and a topper on the pillowcase will leave her looking like her fantasy self. Sweet dreams, indeed!
To buy: $119; uncommongoods.com.
Rainbow Unicorn Horn Sidewalk Chalk
A whimsical writing instrument for your artistic kid and her creative pals to take to the streets. This trio includes two rainbow horns and one wrapped in gold (but writes white).
To buy: $13; tweemade.etsy.com.
This Book Isn’t Safe, by Colin Furze
For the daredevil kid in your life, this book from five-time Guinness World Record Holder Colin Furze will have them experimenting and inventing. In this book, the popular YouTube-r brings readers through his craziest inventions of all time, and even includes 10 inventions kids can try themselves at home.
To buy: $13; amazon.com.
Robots and Coding
Give your inquisitive kid a gift that will provide both entertainment and learning opportunities. This boxed set for children ages 5 to 8 comes complete with games that help teach computer programming and problem-solving skills.
To buy: from $17; kiwico.com.
OMY Artist Belt
Give your little Picasso the ultimate tool belt to keep all their pens right at their fingertips—plus, it’s a work of art in itself. Use OMY felt pens for easy removal in the washer so they can use over and over again.
To buy: $17; melijoe.com.
UncommonGoods Balloon Dog Nightlight
Bring a little bit of life—and light!—to your toddler’s bedroom with this playful nighttime accessory modeled after magician balloon animals. All it takes is a little squeeze of the hind legs to illuminate this precious pup (available in blue and green). There’s no need to worry about wasting energy—the light shuts off automatically after 30 minutes. And when it’s not in use, it still looks cute mixed in with other accents on a nightstand or bookshelf. You can even consider it as a sculptural objet to give to your (adult) Jeff Koons-loving pal.
To buy: $25 each, uncommongoods.com.
Hortensia Handmade Crown Headband
Need a special something for a favorite friend who is now a new parent? This blush-colored, heirloom-quality crown-slash-headband is hand knit by an artisan in Peru from super-soft baby Alpaca—it’s that lovely little luxury that new parents will totally appreciate. Mom and dad will use it to keep their little one’s ears covered and warm on cold, wintry days and for a shot of cuteness while taking the baby out for walks around the block. It’s fit for a prince or princess of any playgroup—and the neutral tone pairs well with any onesie or outerwear.
To buy: $30, elmercadoperu.com.
Anthropologie Flavia Flamingo
Does your little one have every stuffed animal on the toy store shelves? Are the standard cheetahs, gorillas, bears, and aardvarks all old news? We bet this pink fluffy number is one plush she doesn’t have yet. Flavia the flamingo is 19-inches high and has long, lanky legs just like the real bird after which she is modeled. She can sit up straight on her feathered bottom and cross her legs, all while batting her very long lashes. And Flavia looks just as good sitting on the shelf as she does tucked up in your kid’s bedroom.
To buy: $25, anthropologie.com.
Feejays Camo Footie Pajamas
Remember the days when you could cozy up in front of the fireplace or TV wearing footie pajamas? Always missing the second slipper in your pair? Or do you find yourself constantly out of clean, cushy socks? The solution to all of these scenarios lies in these innovative pajama pants. Part sweats, part sleepwear, these hybrid, camo-print loungers are lined with fleece and have a fold-up footie feature: the bottoms flip up if you’re feeling too toasty, freeing your feet. The seller offers them in kid and adult sizes, so the whole family can match. Now that’s a Christmas card photo op waiting to happen.
To buy: $30 (kids) and $40 (adults), feejays.com.
Fred & Friends “Lil’ Winner” Trophy Sippy Cup
Of course your little champ is number one to you, but now he can have proof of his winning toddling skills. This “gold” trophy is actually a sippy cup with a spill-proof lid made from BPA- and phthalate-free plastic. But you don’t need to tell him that it’s not a real trophy. Let him think he actually won first place in the “finish-your-vegetables” contest. His prize is a trophy filled with delicious, healthy water that he can’t spill all over the floor. Come to think of it, maybe it’s a trophy for you for being so clever.
To buy: $12, amazon.com.
Milk & Soda Patch Beanie
Winter wardrobes, filled with dark grey and black hues, can get drab and dull, especially after wearing them for a few months. Let your teen switch things up with this customizable beanie. Depending on their mood they can velcro on a lightning bolt, a winking smiley face emoji, or they can wear it plain as a classic black beanie. If they are feeling crafty, they could even pick up additional patches at the local fabric store and create their own unique look. To top it off, it looks equally awesome on teen girls and guys!
To buy: $32, designlifekids.com.
DIY Board Games Book
Does your family have game night every week? Here’s a chance for your kids to create their own games to play during your next session. The board games, pieces, and dice are ready to be personalized with stickers and colors. Love Chutes and Ladders? The kids can create snakes and ladders. Or they can try their hand at making their own versions of Parcheesi, backgammon, checkers, and more. And since J.Crew is selling it, you know the games will look good no matter how much creative license your kids take. And, of course, you can buy their holiday outfits at the same time you buy their present.
To buy: $30, jcrew.com.
Dove + Dovelet Titan Teether
“Chic” and “chewable” don’t often go hand in hand, but this beautifully crafted baby toy delivers on both. Made of eco-friendly maple wood and BPA-free silicone, this chunky beaded bracelet is a safe, natural teether for little ones. The sleek, Danish design—smooth spheres, subdued tones, faceted pieces—keeps it from becoming an eyesore when worn on the wrist. (On the contrary: It blends right in with baby’s boho blouse and leggings.) Available in black or white, and surprisingly simple to clean: Wash this pretty teething toy in warm, soapy water and let it air dry thoroughly.
To buy: $25, designlifekids.com.
Sunday In Color Dog Backpack
Everyone should be toting around a doggone cute carryall like this one. This drawstring cotton satchel measures just 12 inches by 12 inches, making it a manageable size for the kids in your life. It can store your toddler’s most precious travel toys and gear, so they can grab it and go whenever their heart desires. The floppy green ears and stitched face are so small and sweet you can’t help but smile when you see it. Not a dog person? Don’t worry—this pouch is also available in a cat version for those more fond of felines.
To buy: $24, sundayincolor.com.
The Land of Nod Mod Doll High Chair
If you have a toddler who totes his doll everywhere around the house, this gift is a must under the tree this season. Whether it’s your regular morning routine, after-school snacks, or holiday dinner, make sure that doll is included as a part of the family and has a seat at the table, too. Best of all, this poplar wood and painted white toy, sitting at 20-inches high, won’t be an eyesore amongst your stylish dÃ©cor. Perfect for make-believe mealtime or encouraging your little one to share. Exclusively designed by Royce Nelson for Land of Nod.
To buy: $49, landofnod.com.
Loungefly x Star Wars Galaxy Print Darth Vader 3D Backpack
The Force will certainly be awakened within the kid who sports this astronomical knapsack. The exterior is molded into the shape of Darth Vader’s mask, making it sturdy and protective—meaning lunch sacks and art projects may actually remain in one piece on trips to and from school. This stylish backpack will become the envy of the entire classroom, especially with its sparkly exterior that reminds one of a galaxy far, far away. (Though hopefully not so much that we’ll have another intergalactic enemy ton our hands). Made of 3D molded nylon. Comes in plain nylon, too.
To buy: $50, loungefly.com.
The Lost House, by B.B. Cronin
If you know a little book lover who enjoys curling up in their bed or on the couch and reading a good story, you should think about adding this one to their home library. Filled with delightful drawings that are visually engaging and inspiring, this bedtime treat, written and artfully illustrated by B.B. Cronin, will take your tot on an imaginary treasure hunt through Grandad’s collections to find all they need before they are able to leave the house. This seek-and-find activity book will be a pleasure to read night after night for both kids and adults.
To buy: $15, amazon.com.
Garnet Hill Knight Cap
Imagine how easy it will be to get your stubborn little one to wear a winter hat on the way to school if it means he or she gets to “dress up” as a stately knight in shining armor? This warm, crocheted woolen hat has a fun fringe detail on top. On the bottom, a movable “shield” comes down in front to protect the face from freezing weather. Adds loads of personality to the ordinary puffy coat—and sparks imaginary play on the playground. This seller offers the hat in six styles, including a dragon version.
To buy: Available at garnethill.com on 10/25.
Briarpatch I SPY Eagle Eye Game
How many times do your kids beg to play I Spy on long road trips? Now you can take this version of the timeless game, based on the best-selling book series, indoors for family game night. Pick a card and hunt down an item from the card on the game board. There are eight different game boards so your family can play over and over without repetition (a great bonus for your own level of enjoyment). Children don’t need to be able to read to play this game, so it’s a good choice for young children or siblings of different ages.
To buy: $13, amazon.com.
A-Maze-Ball Maze Game
This is the ideal match for your puzzle-loving kid. The ball takes a regular 2-D maze and gives it a new spin (literally!). She’ll need to rotate the ball to let gravity help navigate the tiny ball from the starting point and along the path to the end of the maze. The ball comes in three different challenge levels (easy, medium, and hard) and will engross the most Nintendo 3DS-obsessed kid. We bet it will even capture the attention of other family members. Be prepared for your kid to once again love something that doesn’t require batteries.
To buy: $10, thinkgeek.com.
Tane Handmade X and O Rattles
You delight in covering your baby with hugs and kisses. Now you can give him hugs and kisses even when you aren’t with him, in the form of certified-organic cotton crocheted rattles. The 5-inch ‘X’ and ‘O’ shaped rattles are soft and eco-friendly so parents can rest assured that baby is teething safely. And they are easy to clean when they get dirty. When he gets too old for rattles you can repurpose these as Tic-Tac-Toe pieces. The hand-made rattles are a luxurious pick for your little one. But he’s worth it, isn’t he?
To buy: $48 each, elmercadoperu.com.
Have a child or tween obsessed with outer space? Each one of these handmade lollipops looks like a miniature planet ready to be licked away into oblivion. These candies are too far-out to be relegated to hiding inside a gift box. Tuck one under the ribbons on each of her gifts or stick a few in her Christmas stocking. Each set includes the sun and nine planets (yes, Pluto is once again a planet in this set). Each different planetary body comes in its own gourmet flavor—marshmallow for the sun, cotton candy for Earth, and key lime for Jupiter.
To buy: $30 for 10, uncommongoods.com.
Mo + Me ‘OOH NOO’ Alphabet Blocks
How to you spell P-R-E-S-E-N-T? With these beautiful, untreated natural wood blocks. They are a huge step up from the old-school alphabet blocks you had as a kid. The white letters and numbers on each side of the blocks are in a modern sans-serif font. Best of all, the blocks come in a linen drawstring bag, which makes clean up so easy that even a toddler can do it (with help, of course). These blocks are so pretty, though, you might not mind keeping them on display on the coffee table for some impromptu educational play.
To buy: $55 for 10 blocks in linen sack, momekids.com.
Manzanita Kids Counting Numbers Natural Wood Blocks Set
Toddlers everywhere will enjoy this twist on classic wooden blocks. Instead of letters, these eco-friendly blocks feature numbers. To make it easier for little learners to understand what concept a number represents, the blocks are illustrated with images of hands and fingers that match the numeral. After playing with these blocks your kid will surely be able to tell people she meets her age by holding up her fingers. And really, what is cuter than a 3-year-old holding up three fingers when asked her age?
To buy: $20 for a set of 11 blocks in a cotton bag, manzanitakids.etsy.com.
Mermaid Paper Doll
Any child who likes to play dress-up with your old clothes will love this one-of-a-kind paper doll. This is no cartoonish mermaid. Instead, this enchanting girl is a print from an original full-color drawing. She comes with her requisite mermaid tail, along with several different outfits. The items require hand-cutting to get them ready for play, so a grownup might need to be on hand before starting on this project. But once you see the finished product you might decide she deserves to be framed for a bedroom wall instead of being handled by little fingers.
To buy: $20 for one doll with outfits, brittanirosepaper.etsy.com.
The Land Of Nod ‘Lydia Friend Indeed’ Doll
Your daughter is her own unique self: She wears a cape instead of a coat, she sketches instead of doing arts and crafts, and she longs for a pet squirrel instead of a dog. Finally, there’s a special doll just for her. These sweet plush cotton dolls each have their own kooky sense of style, which they express with fun accessories, like a comic book, laptop, or messenger bag. The 17-inch dolls fit with most standard doll furniture. Available in four different personalities, with one that will hopefully be a good match for your special girl.
To buy: $69 each, landofnod.com.
In2Green Eco Baby Hat & Sock Set
As much as you love to kiss those little baby toes, now is the time of year to keep them snug and warm. These recycled cotton-polyester blend socks and coordinating hat sets are a cute and eco-friendly way to keep baby warm. The hats are made to fit newborns and up to six months old, but the socks will fit up to 18 months of age. The stretchy socks are great for year-round use, and the hats will keep baby cozy through spring. The sets come in seven machine-washable stripe and color options.
To buy: $25 for the set, in2green.com.
3Doodler Start Kid-Safe 3D Printing Pen Essential Set
Future architects and visionaries will delight in this easy-to-use tool that makes models and monsters out of thin sticks of plastic. Melted inside the pen and cool to the touch within seconds, these sticks can be transformed into works of art by kids from ages 8 to 108! Trace an existing image to make it come to life in 3D, or build a freehand model of the Eiffel tower or an imaginary alien—the possibilities are endless. Prevent cabin fever on snow days by bringing out this fun tool to let your kids’ imaginations run wild. And it’s completely BPA free and eco friendly, to boot!
To buy: $45, target.com.
The Doll Kind Kindness Dolls
At first glance this doll might seem like an ordinary doll. It has a soft cotton body with yarn or fabric hair, a printed face, and embroidered details. But that’s where the ordinary part ends. It comes with a “kindness kit” to encourage your child to pass on random acts of love and gratitude. In addition, for every doll purchased another doll is donated to a less fortunate child in a hospital, shelter, or orphanage throughout the world. But your child will mostly like how good it feels to hug his new doll. Three doll styles are currently available.
To buy: $59, thedollkind.com.
Lovelane Flying Superhero Costume
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a super kid! Now every little superhero’s fantasy can come true with this powerful cape-and-winged-helmet set. The reversible, cotton canvas cape measures 19 inches long from the back of the neck and has a Velcro closure at the neck. The soft helmet is available in two different sizes to accommodate most superheroes’ heads. Unfortunately the set won’t give her the ability to fly, become invisible, or sneak cookies without being caught. But it will make her feel like she is invincible, which is perhaps the best superpower anyone can hope for.
To buy: $95, lovelane.etsy.com.
Silly Phillie ‘Original Baby Hoagie’ Baby Supply Kit
There’s a new twist on those diaper “cakes” that show up at so many baby showers: A baby-supply “hoagie.” This option, from the whimsical company Silly Phillie, is a clever gift for expectant parents (or even brand-new parents) who will appreciate a multi-layered “sandwich” full of necessary baby items. The cotton receiving blanket “bun” is filled with a cotton onesie, two burp cloths, three washcloths, and a pair of socks. Choose from pink, blue, or yellow theme. Not included: a jar of pickles and a pint of chocolate ice cream for parents experiencing serious cravings.
To buy: $60, sillyphillie.com.
Kiwi Crate Pinball Machine Crate
This is a great non-electronic gift for mini gamers. The limited edition craft crate has everything your child needs to build a manual pinball machine. She will learn about angles, momentum, and patterns while she builds a fun game, and once it’s built she can continue to shift the parts around for endless variations. Since she has the ability to change around the parts, your child can also make the game easier or create more challenging courses to stump an older sibling (or mom and dad). This kit is best for children between five and eight years old.
To buy: $25, kiwicrate.com.
The Wishing Elephant Geek Onesie
Whether you wear a pocket protector or not, this handmade onesie is for anyone who loves nerd culture. The white cotton onesie is decorated with hand-made appliqués of glasses, a red pen, and a blue pen made out of eco-friendly fabric (felt made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled bottles). The shirt comes in six sizes from newborn to 24 months, so there should be one to fit your little geek-in-training until she’s big enough to have real pens sticking out of her shirt pocket. Each item is made to order, so it’s smart to purchase early.
To buy: $18, thewishingelephant.etsy.com.
Eat Sleep Doodle Backpack
Write on, wash off. Color in, wash off. Capture the heart of your budding cartoonist with this drawstring backpack that comes with 10 wash-out colored markers. Your child can draw his latest characters on the backpack and then use it to carry his books or gym clothes to school. When he’s tired of that drawing, just wash the 100 percent cotton bag in the machine on a warm setting. Once the backpack is dry, it’s ready for your kid to draw a new creation that he can show off to the world. The backpack measures 13 inches wide by 17 inches tall.
To buy: $20, eatsleepdoodle.com.
Little Auggie Girls Robot Pajamas
These pajamas are a study in contrasts. Robots don’t generally fall into the “cute” category, but the little pastel-colored baby bots sprinkled across these pink-trimmed PJs sure are. Unlike the clunky, clattering metal androids that they’re based on, these extra soft and snuggly cotton robots will not buzz, beep, whir or project hologram images in the middle of the night (although that would be pretty awesome). What they will do is keep small scientists and sci-fi fans warm and cozy as they are ferried to faraway galaxies in their dreams. Made in India from 100 percent cotton.
To buy: $50, domino.com.
Tutu du Monde Mermaid Tears Feather Headband
For the little kid who loves nothing more than dressing up in fancy dresses or elaborate costumes, this sparkly headband will make her heart skip a beat. It will go perfectly with a mermaid costume, of course, but she can also pair it with a dress for a New Year’s Eve party or the next fancy birthday party she attends. It’s also a nice accessory to brighten up any outfit on a gloomy weekday. Sea-green sequins embellish a thick elastic headband that’s finished off with a golden star, a glitter-dipped feather, and a pale, fluffy ostrich feather.
To buy: $35, tutudumonde.com.
Baby ‘Taco’ Booties
These adorable baby booties let your little one enjoy the fiesta until it’s time for her afternoon siesta. The booties are handmade by artisans in Kyrgyzstan out of sheep’s wool that is hand dyed in small batches. The wool is then spun and felted before being cut and sewn into itty-bitty food-themed booties that are sized to fit 6- to 12-month-old babies. Beside these tacos, the artisans make booties in the shape of bananas, strawberries, corn-on-the-cob, eggplants, hot dogs, and so much more. Whatever your favorite food, there’s something on the menu for even the pickiest of eaters.
To buy: $25, uncommongoods.com.
Discovery Kids Foldable Camping Tent
If your kids like to create “tents” from sheets and blankets draped over the furniture, here’s an easier-to-clean-up model, so you no longer have to be involved in the post-demolition mess. The wooden poles keep it sturdy for story time, tea parties, or playdates, and they are sure to love having a place all their own for imaginative play. When it’s time to clean up all you need to do is quickly fold up the tent and store it in a closet or under a bed. The zipper-free door makes the tent a good option for younger kids, too.
To buy: $70, toysrus.com.
Pottery Barn Kids Play Sushi Set
For all future Master Chef wannabes, an international play kitchen is a must. You can’t just produce a masterfully made peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich or jelly bean-covered cake and expect to take top prize. Pshaw! For those who want to play sushi chef, imitate mom and dad, win future TV cooking shows, or just work on their motor skills, this realistic-looking BPA-, phthalate-, and lead-free play set includes three soft and pliable pieces of sushi (two fish and one egg), one roll, a flexible bamboo mat, blunt wood “knife,” and a wood chopping board. Bring on the chopsticks!
To buy: $29, potterybarnkids.com.
Owen the Fox
Owen is one of the most dapper stuffed animals we’ve seen in a long time. He would make a great companion for kids who like to have a pal join them on their adventures to story time at the library, playdates at the park, or just running errands to the grocery store with dad. Owen is 15-inches tall, which makes him the ideal size for carrying and cuddling. His organic fleece body and fiberfill insides are washable, so you don’t need to worry about him getting dirty. And his eyes and nose are made of cotton embroidery instead of plastic so Owen is safe for babies and toddlers.
To buy: $42, sproutsanfrancisco.com.
Handmade Wooden Mini Tattoo Machine
This is a clever gift for a child who is interested in tattoo art, whether it’s your own tats or the ones she imagines on pirates. The mini tattoo machine looks like a real one, but it’s small, child friendly, and there’s no permanent ink involved. Instead of a needle and ink, this wooden machine uses crayons or pencils. Your child can pretend to create tattoos on paper or coloring books. The set even comes with temporary tattoos so your kid can show off his or her ink. No batteries are required for sparking a little one’s creativity.
To buy: $25, thefamilystonetattoo.etsy.com.
J.Crew Canvas Overnight Bag
For your tween daughter who loves nothing more than sleepovers with her BFF, there’s finally an overnight bag that will meet her stylish requirements. The sparkly gilt heart makes this tote stand out in a crowd. The antique-brass hardware is well made and the cotton canvas is rugged enough to stand up to being tossed into the trunk of your car every weekend. The bag is roomy enough for her to fit in a couple of outfit choices, plus there’s an interior packet for her iPod Touch, favorite nail polish, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Zips up to ensure none of her valuables are lost on the way.
To buy: $40, jcrew.com.
J.Crew Glow-in-the-Dark Pizza Party Pajamas
Parents who have struggled to get their little sleep resisters into bed on time night after night may feel like they’ve run out of options in their toolbox of strategies. But these cotton jammies will help send pint-sized pepperoni-pie lovers scrambling for cover. After all, very few kids can resist a pizza party…with no napkins or manners required…in the dark…in bed! With glowing pizza slices covering the arms and legs, these machine-washable pajamas will make partygoers feel like they’re in a scene from the book “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” but without the gooey cheesy mess!
To buy: $48, jcrew.com.
The Land of Nod Toddler Desk and Chair Set
Anyone with toddlers knows the challenges of matching little legs and big tables for art projects and crafty creations. Either the chair is too short, the table too high, or both are too unstable. Out come the high chairs and boosters! Make life easier: This stout toddler-sized desk set eliminates all of those problems. With thick, widely splayed legs on both the table and chair, each piece is sturdy and durable enough to withstand everyday abuse by a typical 3- to 6-year-old child. There are also two storage compartments and a chalkboard cover for easy-to-clean doodles.
To buy: $149, landofnod.com.
World Market Campfire LED Night-Light
Sweet dreams are made of this. If a luminescent full moon can’t light your way to the bathroom, this aww-dorable little LED campfire night-light will (without the flying sparks and fire hazards!). A cozy glow instead of a bright, white light will keep your little camper feeling safe or sleepy, and remind him or her of happy memories under a blanket of bright stars or making s’mores with friends and family. After all, you can love camping but still be a little spooked by the dark. (Especially after ghost stories!) Outdoor sound effects and smoky campfire smell not included.
To buy: $9, worldmarket.com.
Crayola Air Marker Sprayer
Artistic kids can express their inner Banksy with this awesome new tool. Now you can insert any “broad-line” (thick, not thin) Crayola marker into their spray machine to create a graffiti effect. Future Keith Harings can simply insert a marker into the spray nozzle and press or pull the handle to dispense the color (no batteries required!). Get close for a darker, more defined line or pull back for a fuzzier effect. The kit includes the airbrush unit, 5 Pip-Squeaks Washable Markers, two stencil sheets (both letters and fun shapes), 10 sheets of paper, and instructions.
To buy: $30, amazon.com.
Maileg Princess and the Pea Mouse
For the imaginative kindergartener, this box set will help her create even more whimsical scenarios. A princess mouse lies atop layers of mattresses with a little knit secret tucked away beneath her—all enclosed within a castle-shaped box. If she hasn’t yet heard the story of the Princess and the Pea, include a copy of the book with your gift to round it out. There are also a variety of other mice friends (like a ballerina and a boxcar racer) from the “Mouse in Box” collection that would pair well with the princess. And for those averse to mice, there are sweet bunnies on the site, too.
To buy: $50, mailegusa.com.
Boden Mr. Fox Gloves
Despite freezing temperatures, we know that kids will sometimes simply refuse to bundle up. But, when their winter gloves double as a prop for pretend play, getting your little one to dress appropriately is an easier sell. These fun, cozy (they’re made mostly of soft wool) gloves feature a faux-fur topper and little claw detailing that makes them look just like a fox’s paw. Ribbed wrists help to keep whipping wind and snow at bay. Complete the set by pairing the mittens with the contrasting Mr. Fox hat (who could resist those adorable ears?).
To buy: $19.50, bodenusa.com.
First Hockey Stick
For living room scrimmages between dad and daughter or all the cousins on Christmas morning, an 18-inch, toddler-proof version of the real gear with a hand-knit cover and felt ball that won’t leave any nicks or scratches on your walls. No rink required! Made in Montreal, you can be sure it's suitable for the sport—that city knows their hockey. Available in a variety of color combinations, so you can get each kid their own unique stick. Because the items are handmade and ship from another country, be sure to leave a little extra time for shipping—just in case!
To buy: $26, etsy.com.
This isn’t your typical alphabet lesson, that’s for sure. When B is for Bike, N is for Narwhal and M is for Mustache, you can be absolutely positive your child is learning the right terms for their modern environment. Pre-readers will love to match each lettered wooden tile to its illustrated partner piece. Graphic backgrounds and sometimes-silly icons really nail home the hipster aesthetic. The set, which is suitable for ages three and up, includes 26 letters and 26 unique patterns for a total of 52 pieces—all packaged in a printed drawstring bag for easy storage.
To buy: $50, shopspring.com.
Gold Crown and Wand Set
She loves to play dress up—and the more heroines in her pretend world, the better. Make your own little princess’s day with these royal hand-sewn necessities. A gold faux-leather crown with a perfect fit (thanks to an elastic band that fits kids ages two to 10) pairs with a star-tipped wand with a wooden, glittery handle makes for one magical set. The duo comes wrapped in cellophane with a gift tag for easy gift giving (just put it right under the tree!). Vegan leather ensures this set is animal-friendly, too. Also available in fuchsia.
To buy: $25, heidiandfinnstudio.etsy.com.
Wooden Ship Puzzle
The whole family will circle around to solve this spectacular wooden mind game. Sixteen pieces are laser cut from European birch plywood and then hand-printed with non-toxic waterproof paint to create a nautical-inspired puzzle that’s so pretty it will most likely never move from the coffee table once it’s been completed. All of the bits and pieces come packaged neatly in a cotton drawstring bag for easy transport and storage. Once complete, the circular masterpiece measures 9.5 inches in diameter. Handcrafted at a completely wind-powered facility, this puzzle should be cleaned with a damp cloth.
To buy: $15, landofnod.com.