I see a lot of holiday gift guides out there. They can be super useful, but sometimes I wonder how many of them are simply sponsored items that haven’t been tested out by actual kids. How can Toys R’Us or Target have a list of the “hottest toys that kids want” when the items literally just came out?! I decided to do a REAL holiday gift guide based on the toys my kids (& nephews, nieces and friend’s kids) have gone to again and again. I’m talking about toys kids enjoy playing with for YEARS.
Now I am using affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase something using my link I get a small portion of the sale, but it doesn’t cost you anything additional and these are all toys that we have, use and love. No sponsored items here!
Magna-Tiles: This is the best toy we have. My son received these as a gift when he was 3 and has been playing with them every since. We added another set and I believe Santa will be bringing more this year. 😉 These are expensive, but totally worth it. They are so easy for kids to put together and they really STAY together. We have not had a single issue with these breaking or falling apart and my kids are rough with them. They love making huge towers and then knocking them down. My nephews love theirs as well and play with them all the time. Whenever kids come over these always end up being brought out. I know they make cheaper versions of this toy, which I have never tried since I love the quality of MagnaTiles so much. If you have a cheaper option and love them, let me know in the comments section. (since Santa is always down to save some cash)
Plasma Car: If you follow me on social media, there is a good chance you have seen my kids riding through the house on this. Yes, we keep these inside. They are really easy to ride and so much fun. My daughter has been riding since she was 2 and my son got his at around the same age. (and STILL rides it) We have never had an issue with these.. they have worked great for all these years. I can even ride them. Right now these are around $50 bucks on Amazon, but they usually drop to $39 as we get closer to Christmas and I think one year I even saw it for $29 on there.
Leap Frog Musical Rainbow Tea Set: My daughter got this when she was not even a year old and she still plays with it all the time. We have had to change out the batteries a few times but it always works great. Mila loves the changing colors and the pouring sounds and effects.
Melissa & Doug Sticker Books: If my kids are being quiet in their rooms, there is a good chance they are playing with one of these books. Mila usually starts and then once Hudson sees her playing with it, he can’t help but join in! The faces one and dessert maker have both been huge hits with my kids. I will be ordering more soon. (and these are way cheaper on Amazon compared to what they cost in stores)
Army Toy Soldiers: Donnie’s mom has these at her house and my son and nephews would play with them for hours. I finally got Hudson a set and I am always surprised by how often I find him playing with them. They can fit into almost any toy he already has, Lego ships, plastic helicopters, etc. He also creates scenes for them using whatever he has on hand: boxes, dirty clothes piles… etc. These are truly a classic and very underrated toy that all kids seem to love.
Pretend and Play Cash Register: Hudson got this for Christmas years ago and both kids still love playing with it. They bring it out every time they play “store,” which is a lot! This has a lot of fun features and sounds. It even teaches math using activities but to be honest, my kids rarely use that feature. They love the scale and the credit card slot, too. This is another one that goes on sale all the time, so I wouldn’t pay more than $30 for it, since it goes for around $24 during the holidays.
Lego-esque Minifigures: I wrote all about these as a recent family favorite, but I felt they deserved a spot here since they are SO popular with my kids. These are NOT real Lego minifigures, but no one would ever know, especially not a group of 8 year olds. If your kids love these, I would advice you order them now, since they take a few weeks to arrive. The superhero sets and Star Wars sets are always a huge hit.
Frozen MP3 Microphone: We have gone through 3 of these, so I can’t say they are built to last… but my daughter LOVES this thing. Anytime we have girls over they always end up sharing it and begging their mom for one once we leave. It only plays short snippets of two songs from the movie and you can amplify your own voice if you push down a button. She has carried this around with her for a good 2 years now.
Walkie Talkies: What kid isn’t obsessed with walkie talkies? My kids use these at the park, when they hang out with their cousins, Hudson has given one to a neighbor to talk to him from home… I can go on and on. No matter what kid you get they all work fairly well and don’t cost too much. I was actually impressed with how well this SpyGear version works. Hudson let a friend borrow one for them to talk to each other at aftercare and it never made its way home… so I have a feeling Santa will be bringing a new one of these too… since I hear about how much the kids miss them all the time.
Play-Doh: I know this might be a controversial one, since I know many moms who have a strict no playdoh policy. Yes, it does get everywhere and I have cut dried playdoh out of the carpet more than I would like to admit. However, my kids freaking LOVE playing it. They will sit in the playroom forever making play doh creations. Lately, they have been playing coffee shop, where they make play doh cakes, donuts and munchkins. I am their loyal customer and they always have exactly what I need. I should note, that they always ring up my purchases with the previously mentioned cash register.. and my coffee is poured from the magical tea pot I talked about in number 3.
There you go! My kids very favorite toys that are always in heavy rotation. You will notice they all encourage open-ended play, which means there is no set rules on how to play with them. They mostly work for all ages and encourage hundreds of different games and uses. For more Play-Based learning toy ideas, you have to check out this post from my friend Alana over at Parenting from the Heart. She is super knowledgeable about play-based toys & learning in general. Check her out! 🙂 Leave me a comment with a few of your kids all-time favorite toys!