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Gifts for Little Kids, Big Kids, and the Whole Family

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Inside: Gifts for little kids, gifts for big kids, and gifts for the whole family based on what we use and love and have given as gifts, too.


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This is not your typical gift guide.


And I'm aware of what a gift guide typically looks like (as I worked on producing gift guides for a decade as an editor for Real Simple and Redbook magazines.) The super-sized roundups of products that are the newest, latest, shiniest of wish-you-could-have-its for every person in your life.

This is not that kind of gift guide.


Instead of more is better, I wanted to curate a gift guide that won't send you into choice paralysis.


Not new and shiny.

Not a long scroll of endless options.

More like tried and true. Just the highlights.


When I work with parents on a potty training issue, sometimes I see an obvious shift in energy. A sense of relief. It's easier when there's a clear plan.


Sometimes fewer options means less overwhelm.


That's why I wanted to take the time to pull together this small, simple gift guide. Gifts that have been a hit. I hope it helps with your holiday planning!



gift guide of our favorite things


To be clear, I think everyone should do this year's gift giving season however works for your family. I've had seasons of homemade-only gifts. One year we made beeswax shell candles using shells we found at the winter beach rental where we were living. And those homemade candles were a hit (plus the kids and I had a cool experience making them.)



child holding star garland
a few ideas to up your holiday magic!


Whatever feels right for you and your family, my only gift advice is try not to delay on the decision-making. Staying trapped in indecision only adds to the layers of stress we're all feeling as parents these days.


And because I had a lot of help from my kids on choosing the toys and creating this gift guide, I had them share their reasons for why they love the kid gift ideas below.


Let's start with gifts for little kids!


photos of a gift guide for little kids
gifts for little kids!


Gifts for Little Kids

*These ideas are meant for toddlers and little kids, but my school-age kids still use these toys, so we've gotten years of use with these ideas.


With a jingle drum, your kids can parade around your living room or yard. Simple joy.


Note from the kids: "It's really fun to see all the cars go down, but it doesn't work with other cars because they need to be able to flip over."


What the kids said:

I really like seeing the tops spin around. I like to pretend that they're dancing.
I like to see them spin around, and I pretend that they're ice-skating and they can even drop and spin. I stand up, flick the top, it goes down and it still spins.

I get hooked into playing with tops, too. We also found some flip-top wood spinning tops from a local shop, Starry Eyes, that flip-over when they spin. Super fun to watch!


Small reindeer (or other favorite animal)

We have a whole basket of small animals, like this reindeer. It's a collection that's slowly grown over the years with one or two given at each holiday. They're some of our most-used toys that the kids play together or on their own. We keep our stored in a big basket.


Jamie and I talk about the BIG ways that a little pocket stone can help a child in our Daycare/Preschool Blueprint. (Jamie has also shared more on her podcast about how a little stone or trinket can be used as a transitional object.) This could be a sweet stocking stuffer.


*Keep in mind safety if your toddler is in the phase of putting things in their mouths, as a smaller worry stone can be a safety hazard.


What the kids said:

it's really fun to play with superhero capes because you can become a superhero with any power and you can do anything.

My note: Be sure to get in a photo with your superhero to remember this phase of motherhood. ❤️


Next up, gifts for bigger kids (meaning school-age kids).



photos of gifts for big kids
gifts for the bigger kids!


Gifts for Bigger Kids


What the kids said:

The botanist kit helps you look at things that are very small with the magnifying glass (like ladybugs). It has cool little boxes that you can store stuff in (I put rocks and other things in nature). And I really like the flower press because I can save flowers and turn them into cool nature pictures.

What the kids said:

Peg people are really fun to play with because you can make towns and cities with them. Also I have baseball teams made up of peg people.
Peg people are really cool because they come in all shapes and sizes so you can make different ages. And you can name them whatever you want.


What the kids said:

It's fun to do it after it's folded and find out your fortune. Sometimes it even tells the right one!

My note: I brought this fortune teller book out when we had a friend over and the kids were making fortune tellers, and playing with them, for more than an hour!


What the kids said:

Watercolor crayons are really cool because you can make really bold colors. And the crayons look like normal crayons but if you dunk them in water and draw with them on paper it makes really cool pictures.
I like watercolor pastels because they look like paint mixed with crayon but they make cool pictures and you only need to dunk them in water and draw with them on paper.

My note: A friend of mine gifted us this set of watercolor pastels. They last a long time, and I've kept ours in the tin so I don't forget the brand (as I want to replace when they're gone.) Anytime the kids paint with these, the colors are so vivid. One of my favorite art supplies!


What my kids said:


I like how there are so many different activities and it's really fun to do it with mama. I especially like the secret code pages because I like writing messages in secret code.

My note: These books have been a gift for me, too! We do a couple pages here and there. Now I get special notes written to me in code. It's an easy, awesome way to connect with the kids (even when we're on the go).


What the kids said:

Jump ropes are fun to play with outside because you can try to do as many jumps as you can and it's funny if you fall over or do it for a long time.
I also really like playing a game we made up where someone is pulling the jump rope and the other person has to try to grab the jump rope.

My note: I learned from Jamie's podcast how beneficial jumping is for building healthy bones. So if you're a parent dealing with a dairy intolerance, as we are, (so you don't have the obvious go-tos with the calcium in dairy), this is another support on that end.


And finally, gifts for the whole family to appreciate!



gift guide for whole family
gift ideas for the whole family!


We own a couple of bingo games (there are so many creative bingo games out there now!), that are fun to pull out on a rainy day. Sure, I know a lot about poop, but sometimes I lose to my 7-year-old in Poop Bingo!


My mom actually bought us a potted tree to decorate the kid coop for the holidays, and we're going to plant it in the spring. It was such a sweet idea as this is one tree we get to keep and watch grow through the years. Inspired by the book Night Tree, I love the idea of starting a tradition of decorating a tree outdoors with treats for the forest animals.


Homemade Granola (or other favorite food)

One of my go-to family gifts is a yummy homemade food packaged in a pretty jar or container. You could use this granola recipe and this set of jars. Make the granola along with your little kitchen helpers on a slow afternoon for a win-win...connection time plus gifts checked off your list!


While we hole up for a long winter, bring in some magic for the whole family. This magic book has been a hit. And you'll get a front-row seat to your child's show!


I bought this projector thinking of all the summer movie nights where we could watch a movie out in the backyard, under the stars (you don't need wifi for it to work). The kids watched ET for the first time this way, it was so fun! We can create a new kind of movie night anywhere thanks to this little projector.


I keep a blanket in the back of the car ready to experience anything outdoors...picnic meals, staying warm when the weather turns chilly, or laying out on the grass for an impromptu cloud watch with the kids. These Mexican blankets are the best for any situation. Add a list of places to adventure in the coming year — or create a bucket list of ideas with your family.


Oh and if you're looking for a handmade gift idea, like our beeswax shell candles, here's some inspiration for the gift makers.


Illustrations by Citrus and Mint Designs.


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