Gift Guide: 12 Awesome Toys Your Kids Will Actually Play With

I’m usually a big fan of giving my kids “experience” gifts like zoo memberships, museum passes, and amusement park tickets. Since many of these places are not ready to open safely, or make me nervous about crowds before COVID is under control, I decided to put together a gift guide for kids. What follows is a list of toys that my boys have actually played with over the long haul, in case you too are looking for toys to put under the Christmas tree that won’t end up lost and forgotten behind the couch.

My boys are 8 and 6, and so most of the toys I share here are appropriate for kids in the 3 to 9 year old range. We own every single one of these, so I feel confident recommending them to your family too! The links I share are from Amazon, where I’m an affiliate. This means if you happen to purchase through my link, I’ll earn a few pennies on the dollar at no extra cost to you.

12 Awesome Toys Your Kids Will Actually Play With

1.Stomp Rocket: Although this is best played outside, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t love this thing! Kids as young as three can stomp on the air pump and send foam rockets flying into the air!

2. Crayola Color Chemistry Set: We bought this for our five year old and instead of following the instructions for the experiments, he pretended to be a mad scientist and made all kinds of concoctions on his own! The solutions inside are harmless (except for the colors which have some dye in them!). They use this kit to make “perfume” and “potions” and really all sorts of things. They’re asking for another one this year!

3. Kids Create Absurdity: This is a favorite family card game that sends everyone into fits of giggles! It’s just like “Apples to Apples” but it’s all silly kid humor. Like “The monkeys at the zoo always throw ___ at me when I walk by” is a question and some possible answer cards would be “dirty wet socks” or “mac n’ cheese” or “poopy head.” Our boys howl with laughter!

4. Ready Set Draw: This has been great for my art-loving kiddo! It’s a cooperative game using a spinner and cards with prompts for what to draw and how to draw. Like draw “moons” “with lots of colors” or “trees” “with your eyes closed.” It’s such a fun way to unleash creativity!

5. Ribbon Wands: I was skeptical about these, but my boys enjoyed playing with them on and off for a long time! They are inexpensive enough to make a good stocking gift too.

6. Magna Tiles: The 100 piece set is definitely an investment, but if there’s been one toy that’s still been enjoyed over the course of YEARS, it’s this one! We’ve had this around since the boys were around 3 years old. If you have this set and are looking to freshen it up, consider the Magna Tiles Car expansion set.

7. No Stress Chess: We got this game for my five year old and he got the hang of it right away! There are a few different ways to play it with different levels of help from the cards. Now that he’s 8, my son beats me on the regular – and I’m not even holding back!

8. Melissa and Doug Cookie set: My six year old has just recently outgrown this one. When my boys were big into pretend play, this is the set that saw the most use over time, even more than the fancy play kitchen set!

9. Monopoly Deal: This is the card version of Monopoly and it is INFINITELY better than the board game. It’s quicker and way more fun. My seven year old picked it up easily and the grown-ups like to pull this out during game night, even when the kids aren’t there! This game is best suited for kids who can read. If you’re looking for a great game for the younger crown, Spot it is a sure bet. And my kids also LOVE Sleeping Queens (no reading for this one and more strategy is involved than for Spot it).

10. Coconuts: This was a gift from a friend of ours. You use the mechanical monkeys to fling coconuts into the plastic cups. This is such a fun one, it’s my friend’s go-to birthday gift for school aged kids!

11. Indoor tent: This is for sure a multi-purpose tent! My boys have used it in their imaginative play and as a reading nook. I love that it’s easily foldable to put away when not in use. (My six year old just peeked over my shoulder as I was writing this and went to go set our tent up in the living room. And now, I haven’t from him in a while, haha!)

12. Snap Circuits: We got this for my youngest when he was five, and it’s a great STEM toy! The instructions are easy to follow and you don’t need any extra tools. My boys have constructed flashing lights and things with sound. There’s 100 things you can build that vary in complexity. If you have a kid that loves to know how things work, or loves to build (or “invent”) stuff, this is for you!

Looking for toys to put under the Christmas tree that won’t end up lost and forgotten behind the couch? Check out this gift guide for kids 3 to 9!

Your turn

So tell me, what toys have your kids actually played with? Leave your answers in the comments below… let’s help each other out this Christmas season!

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*Feature Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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Sarah K. Butterfield is an author, speaker, and ministry leader who has a heart for empowering women to grow in their faith and be intentional with their time. She and her husband and two boys live in San Diego, where she writes about pursuing a deeper relationship with God in the midst of motherhood.

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