photo collage of 2021 holiday gift guide for kids

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A few days ago I asked Instagram if they were over gift guides yet (it’s only November, I know, but content creators have started super early this year because of supply chain issues) and the resounding answer was:

“We’re here for them!”

I was so excited because I couldn’t wait to share my Gift Guide for Children ages 3-8! We sent/currently send our children to a play-based preschool because we believe in the power of play. Yes, the boys have a Nintendo Switch that they love to use but, as I’m sure you can relate to, I can’t tell you how much fun they also have playing with like, a roll of tape.

Last week I literally broke up a fight over a roll of scotch tape.

That said, we love toys that invite open ended play. In my experience, they’re so much less likely to be played with for a few days then forgotten about. We’re even getting to that point with LEGOs. Lincoln loves to the act of putting them together but then they sit on the shelf!

As a Mom of three — 8 (boy), 5 (boy), and 3 (girl) — these are the toys that my crew love most. Like I said, they’re mostly open ended toys and can be played with by girls AND boys! And, while the age swing from 3-8 may seem large, truly all my children find a way to play with these items in one way or another. Maybe not in the way they’re intended, but isn’t that beautiful?!

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Without further ado here are my gift ideas for children ages 3-8!

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Children’s Holiday Gift Guide, Ages 3-8

01. Rubik’s Speed Cube: This one is top of mind because Lincoln is *obsessed* with Rubik’s Cubes! If you’ve got an analytical learner or LEGO lover, this is a great gift. According to Lincoln, this speed cube is the best of the best, though here’s a more inexpensive option with three pieces.

02. Turn and Learn Gears: I played with these gears endlessly as a child and my Mom saved them for the grandkids. Gwen loves playing with them when she’s over at Nana and Papa’s house! Bonus: they’re magnetic so they can stick to your fridge – great if you’re looking for a way to keep the kids entertained while you’re cooking dinner.

03. Pop Tubes Sensory Toys: We got these for Cam’s birthday and all three kids are obsessed with them. They can be used as a fidget toy, pretend jewelry – the possibilities are endless. I even enjoy crinkling them back into shape – so satisfying!

04. Magazine Subscription: Magazine subscriptions are the gifts that keep on giving. We’ve had Highlights, National Geographic, and LEGO subscriptions in the past/present. This is a great gift for Grandparents to give. Psst: The LEGO one is FREE!

05. Pop It Puzzle: If you have a school aged child then you probably know that Pop Its are ALL THE RAGE. I like this Pop It Puzzle because it’s fun and challenging. Got it for Lincoln to open this year.

06. Positive Pal with ABC Board Book: Something we’ve been mindful of over the past couple of years (thanks to our incredible summer Nanny who is an educator) is buying dolls and Barbies that look nothing like our kids. Different skin, different hair, different eyes, different circumstance. Just DIFFERENT. I challenge you to do the same for yours! These Positive Pal baby dolls are a great place to start, plus they come with a great board book. This Basket of Babies is also great!

07. Doll House: We got Gwen this dollhouse for Christmas last year and it has been a hit with everyone. Cam loves it, their cousins love it – definitely not just for little girls. Plus I love the size – it’s big but not enormous, and it’s affordable! I practically wept at the prices of dollhouses last year! Here are some family options to fill it with.

08. Mini Drone: A friend of ours showed us this drone this summer and our kids begged for one afterwards. We got one for Lincoln for his birthday and it was a HUGE hit. Easy to fly, does flips — slam dunk gift.

09. Leap Frog Scribble and Write: Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! We’ve had the Leap Frog Scribble and Write since Lincoln was maybe 3 or 4, and all three kids have/currently use it. Fun and easy to use, plus they feel very grown up with a tablet-looking device. ;)

10. Marble Run: The one, the only, marble run!! This is the perfect open ended toy – no creation will ever be alike, and it definitely encourages teamwork.

11. Books: You can never, ever go wrong with new books for the holidays. Some of our current favorites include: You Matter, The Colors of Us, Dragons Love Tacos, Do I Eat Donuts, Papa? (<<< that’s my Dad’s book!), and Eyes That Kiss in the Corners.

12. Kinetic Sand: We’ve had the same two buckets of Kinetic Sand for three years? Four? I don’t know if I should be admitting that, but I’ll do it to prove to you that this stuff lasts FOREVER. And again is totally open ended. Our kids never ever get sick of kinetic sand. I would definitely spring for the version I’ve linked here, if you’re able, which comes with a snapping carrying case. If you’ve got a construction crazy kid, here’s the Construction Toys version!

13. Large Tape Measure: Our kids use a similar large tape measure for everything from measuring things, to “fishing” for each other, to wrapping themselves up like a present. It’s so simple yet can be played with in a variety of ways.

14. Perler Beads Starter Kit: Your crafty kid will love perler beads (and you’ll love taking yourself back to your perler bead days too!) Pinterest/Google has tons of patterns to follow, so save your money on the speciality kits and just get this bucket of assorted colors. I would definitely buy a couple large square perler bead boards if you don’t have them already, too.

15. GAMES! I grew up playing all sorts of games, and hope my three do too. I made the mistake of getting too excited too early and buying them games when they were 2-3 –  spoiler alert, all the pieces are now gone. We’ve started over with Connect Four, Perfection, Guess Who, Don’t Break the Ice, Candy Land, UNO, Trouble, and Battleship.

16. Fort Building Kit: We got Cam a similar fort building kit for his birthday this past year and all the kids play with it! I’ve seen the one that blows up with a box fan, but I don’t trust my kids to not stick their fingers in the fan.

17. Doctor’s Kit: This is another oldie but goodie for our kids. It just never gets old. Pair it with Pete the Kitty Goes to the Doctor and you’re set!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!