You ask and you shall receive! My first ever holiday gift guide is ready for your shopping pleasure! My husband and I thought long and hard about the gifts we’ve given the girls over the years that have had significant lasting power and brought us lots of open-ended joy… And, we came up with 30 gift ideas to share with you this year. From gifts to inspire creativity to outdoor play to subscription boxes, we’ve got you covered. We personally own and love (or have received before, in the case of subscription boxes) 29 of the 30 gifts on this list, so you can bet they’re vetted and worthwhile! The only gift on here we don’t have personal experience with is a subscription box that one of our girls will receive this year.
And remember, though I didn’t put any books on this list, we almost always give books for birthdays and holidays. Sometimes the book is the gift itself, and sometimes it goes along with a gift. Remember that I have LOADS of booklists and book recommendations here on my website, so you can find wonderful books to gift here, too.
Holiday Gift Guide 2020
*** Amazon and Bookroo affiliate links used. As an affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for considering making a purchase through my links! To read my full disclosure CLICK HERE. You can find links to and brief descriptions of each item underneath the respective collages!
- Light box — You can buy this beautiful one, or check out our directions to make your own!
- IKEA dollhouse — Yes, this one is smaller and much more plain than many other dollhouses, but that’s why we like it. It doesn’t take up much space and leaves plenty of room for creativity. I can’t tell you how many times our girls have redecorated this dollhouse over the years!
- Play scarves — Though we have a few dress-up costumes (mostly leftover from Halloweens), our play scarves get used way more than the costumes. We’ve had these exact scarves from Amazon for four years, and they’ve been dresses, skirts, baby blankets, tents, headdresses, and more. I highly recommend open-ended dress up materials like these!
- Markers and blank paper — This is usually top on our older daughter’s wishlist every Christmas. We go through markers and white paper incredibly quickly in our house, and it’s always a treat when our stash is restocked.
- Baby dolls — And our younger daughter has asked for a baby of some sort for the last few Christmases, too. We have a variety of brands of babies and all are fairly equally loved, so I just suggest getting what works for your kids (they may want soft over hard, for example) at the price point you need.
- A front-facing bookshelf — Check out my love letter to front-facing bookshelves here. While we love the one we have had for almost 5 years (similar to this one), I’ve got lots of options linked in that post!
- IKEA easel — At one point in time, we had a pretty, sturdy easel with plenty of storage, but I ditched it a few years ago for 2 IKEA easels and haven’t looked back. They’re small, light, and fold easily (so we can move them around our house and yard easily, which is key without a playroom for it), and come at a terrific price point!
- Blank notebooks — We get some of these for stocking stuffers every year, and the girls are thrilled every year!
- Fun pens and pencils — Why write with a standard wooden pencil when you could use a fun-colored pen or a sparkly mechanical pencil? These little things go so far in getting kids excited about writing!
- Sharpie markers — I wrote about Sharpie markers in this post about unique ways to get kids excited about writing. Kids get unbelievably excited to be able to make their mark with a permanent marker! I bought a pack that we’ll split between the girls’ stockings this year.
- Outdoor playhouse — We have had a wooden outdoor playhouse from Costco for about 4.5 years (ours appears to be an older version of this one), and it still gets used regularly (if you follow me on Instagram, you might remember our younger daughter spent HOURS repainting it during quarantine last spring). If you’re not ready to spring for (or assemble) a full wooden playhouse, check out our directions for the easiest DIY mud kitchen ever. Our mud kitchen gets used at least weekly, if not daily! Our favorite tools for our playhouse and mud kitchen are also linked here.
- Climbing dome — Santa brought this one to our girls 3 years ago and we love having it. Whenever we have friends over, this is one of the first things they run to to play with. It’s big, so make sure you’ve got space, and it’s hard to put together, so make sure you’ve got time. But, prepare for years of fun!
- Jungle JumpaRoo — We had all of the grandparents contribute to this one for our older daughter’s 7th birthday in May, and it’s been used almost every day since then. If you’ve been wanting a trampoline but want a smaller footprint, definitely check this out.
- Scooter — Our girls both had the standard Micro Mini scooters, which don’t have adjustable handlebars, but if these Deluxe versions had existed when we got our first scooters, we would have gone for these. They’ve been going strong for 5 years in our house! Our older daughter upgraded to this 2-wheeled scooter when she turned 7.
- Bike — We love this Royal Baby brand for a first bike. Most bikes only come in 12, 16, or 20 inch sizes, but Royal Baby makes 14 and 18 as well, perfect for kiddos who are trying to learn but are either too small or too big for a standard size.
If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you might remember that our girls really don’t love to play board games… But, these games have been hits with our reluctant players (and have many educational benefits!), so you can’t go wrong with these! Many of these also make terrific stocking stuffers.
- Sleeping Queens — If you’re only going to buy one game, then get this one. It’s fun and creative and full of wonderful mathematical and strategic thinking! It says ages 8 and up, but we’ve been playing it since our girls were 3 and 5 (with help from us on some of the math…), and they’ve loved it the whole time.
- Pattern Play — This is one of my favorite games. It’s beautiful, spans a large age range, and it wonderful for building spatial and geometrical skills. Added bonus if your kids are game-averse like ours — there’s no winner or loser!
- My Family Builders Happy Family Game — You can read my full review of My Family Builders products here. Both of our girls adore this “Go Fish”-style game, and we love the diversity of families and people represented.
- Tiny Polka Dot — The best math game out there! In this one box, you can play 16 different games, and numerous math skills can be strengthened (including the all-important understanding of quantity and the ability to quickly “count” or “see” numbers). Ages 3 and up.
- Checkers — You can’t go wrong with this game of strategy! And, when you’re done, these jumbo pieces are terrifically fun to play with.
- Magnetic tiles — We have 3 or 4 different brands of magnetic tiles in our collection, but in my experience, the Playmags brand has been the best deal for the cost. We build with them on their own, but also love the look of them combined with our DIY light table (in fact, when we gifted the light table to our younger daughter, we also gifted her a new set of neon magnetic tiles!).
- Unit blocks — We have this Melissa and Doug set and it’s plenty for our space. If we had a proper playroom, I’d buy a second set to have more blocks. Every kid should have some of these solid wooden blocks, and they’ll last forever!
- Legos — Though our girls love receiving specific Lego building kits, once they’ve built something once, we throw the directions way and put the Legos altogether in a big bin. I greatly prefer the open-ended building that this encourages, rather than having to feel like they have to stick with a certain build or look.
- Rainbow stackers — We have a large Grimm’s rainbow and a smaller rainbow from Etsy, but these Amazon rainbows get terrific reviews, too.
- Grimm’s village pieces — I couldn’t find this one on Amazon, but you can get it here or here. They’re a beautiful addition to a collection of standard unit blocks.
- KiwiCo — We’ve gotten these STEAM Kiwi Crates for a few years, and this past year both girls received boxes. We learned this year that you can easily change the shipping address AND the “level” of box you’re receiving, if you need to do that. Both girls will get these again this year from grandparents.
- Raddish Kids — Our younger daughter got this cooking box over the last year and was thrilled every month when it arrived! This might be the best designed and thought-out box that we have ever received. You get SO MUCH in every single box, from apron badges to cooking tools to recipes to dinner dialogue prompts and more!
- Bookroo — Though it’s been a few years since we had a subscription to Bookroo, we did receive both the board book and picture book boxes for about a year and a half (and only stopped because we were drowning in books!). As you can guess, we own a lot of books, but Bookroo only sent us one or two that we already had; their selections tend to be lesser-known but absolutely wonderful. I worked with Bookroo this year on their new book platform and love the work the company is doing. You can use the code “JOLLYCHILDRENSLITLOVE” for 15% off of any subscription!
- The Clay Box — Our older daughter got this box over the last year, and both girls loved it. Added bonus — she includes enough clay and materials for two children to create each time!
- We Craft Box — This is the only gift on this list that we haven’t actually experienced yet, but our younger daughter is going to receive it this year from grandparents. It gets RAVE reviews online, so I’m optimistic that it will be a big hit in our house, too!
Whew! So, what’s on your children’s wishlists this year? What items do you have your eyes on that we might need to check out?