When it comes to gifts, kids can be just as picky as adults. Striking the appropriate balance between educational and entertaining is tough, especially when it seems like everyone on your list is clamoring for more and more screen time. Fortunately, we’ve solicited Verge staffers for a list of useful ideas designed to spark creativity and encourage discovery (while having fun).
Here, we’ve brought together an assortment of excellent — and age-appropriate — gifts for children of all ages, from toddlers and TikTok-obsessed preteens to those in the very throes of high school. Our gift guide includes a classic hoodie ($33) and the inexpensive Fitbit Ace 3 ($60) as well as a Kindle ($120) built to withstand the kind of abuse only a kid could muster. There are a number of educational gifts, too, such as Osmo’s Genius Starter Kit ($39) and a colorful ukulele ($79) that will have them ripping through timeless mainstays like Over the Rainbow and Here Comes the Sun in no time.
Throw Throw Burrito
Sometimes it is in the name. In Throw Throw Burrito, up to six players are charged with collecting sets of matching cards while simultaneously trying to dodge squishy airborne replicas of everyone's favorite Mexican dish. The premise is fairly simple and easy to follow, making it great for kids and adults alike, but there's still something innately satisfying about reducing your opponents' points via foam projectiles.
Nanoleaf Shapes Mini Triangles Smarter Kit
If you want to elevate your kid's night-light game, try the Nanoleaf Shapes Mini Triangles Smarter Kit. The bundle comes packaged with five individual touch-activated pieces that can be programmed to display specific themes or mirror the colors on your computer monitor, allowing for a more immersive gaming experience. Just like other Nanoleaf products, the modular light panels can also be controlled using either the Nanoleaf app or voice commands via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Dart Zone Max Stryker Ultimate Dart Blaster
As the Target-exclusive version of Dart Zone’s Adventure Force Nexus Pro, the Stryker can pummel foes from up to 125 feet away with the kind of accuracy that was unheard of at birthday parties in the late '90s. The comfortable blaster also comes with 24 darts and looks cooler than your average Nerf gun, whether you throw on the detachable scope or keep things basic.
Champion Reverse Weave Hoodie
Just because sweater weather calls for comfort doesn't mean you have to sacrifice style. Champion's heavyweight fleece hoodie is classically cool, comes in a rainbow of fun colors, and looks great whether your kid is glued to the couch or headed off to school. It's certainly more appropriate than whatever holiday sweater you've been holding onto through the years.
Apple iPad (2021)
Apple's latest iPad might tout a slightly bigger screen, support for USB-C, and some fun colors, but last year's ninth-gen model is a better value for most people. The last-gen device can handle pretty much everything the newer model can despite its older processor, and it comes with a headphone jack that makes it ideal for kids or anyone who doesn't want to fuss with a pair of wireless headphones.
Nintendo Switch OLED Model
You remember how stoked you were when you got your first Game Boy, right? Well, imagine if you had received a handheld with a seven-inch OLED display, console-level graphics, and the ability to dock to your TV. That's what the Nintendo Switch OLED offers along with an improved kickstand and better speakers than the OG Switch model from 2017.
Wooden Animal Blocks (150-piece set)
Classics never die, and it doesn't get any more classic when it comes to kids toys than a set of wooden blocks. These animal-themed blocks from Spark Create Imagine are cute, colorful, and durable — which is nearly a prerequisite for any toy intended for kids under five years old.
Anker 313 Power Bank
There are all kinds of portable chargers available at a variety of price points, but kids need something that is durable, dependable, and not too expensive to replace when they inevitably lose it. Fortunately, Anker's 313 Power Bank features a 10,000mAh battery for multiple top-ups, USB-C and Micro USB inputs, and a price tag that hovers around $18.
Monopoly: Animal Crossing New Horizons
What better way to teach kids the ruthlessness of capitalism than Monopoly? Thankfully, the Animal Crossing New Horizons edition of the iconic board game makes for a far cuter experience, one that uses art and gameplay mechanics inspired by the popular Nintendo Switch title for a more kid-friendly aesthetic. It's all about visiting islands, collecting resources, and selling them for bells to buy Nook Miles. Because what's the point of adventure if there isn't some profit to be made?
JBL Clip 4
JBL’s Clip 4 is a waterproof Bluetooth speaker that’s tiny enough to take anywhere and clips onto bikes, bags, and any strap or string that will accept a carabiner. Yet, despite its small stature, it still manages to kick out remarkable sound for its size for up to 10 hours, making the clever gadget the perfect companion for a study sesh at home or in the park.
Lego Art Project
The once-ubiquitous Lite-Brite may no longer be a cultural powerhouse, but its spirit lives on in the form of Lego's Art Project. The collaborative kit consists of nine individual canvas plates that fit together to create a 15.5-inch mosaic you can hang on your wall. It comes with more than 4,000 pieces, too, so if you don't like crafting ice cream cones and any of the 36 included image options, rest assured there are plenty of bricks to go around.
AirPods Pro (second-gen)
It doesn’t matter if their favorite pastime is gaming, watching TV, or listening to music, Apple’s latest pair of wireless earbuds will appeal to kids of all ages. The second-gen earbuds boast great sound and better noise cancellation than the previous model, along with a Find My-ready charging case, swipe-based controls, and a fourth set of ear tips designed for those with smaller ears.
There aren't many shoes that are appropriate for school, hanging out with friends, attending graduations, and visiting relatives for the holidays. Unless, of course, you're talking about a classic pair of Vans. The lace-up sneakers have been around since the mid-'60s and are now available in a wide array of colors and styles, not to mention sizes ranging from a boys' 3 1/2 all the way up to a men's 17.
Kindle Kids (2022)
An e-reader is a great present for budding bookworms, one that can house an entire library of books without taking up precious space in a school bag. The latest Kindle Kids is essentially the same as the ad-free base model; however, it comes packaged with a kid-friendly case, a year of Amazon Kids Plus, and a two-year "no questions asked" replacement guarantee, providing a bit of protection from whatever your child might (literally) throw at it.
Few instruments are as suitable for a child as the humble ukulele — after all, they're lightweight, nicely sized for kids, and relatively simple to get started with. This vibrant wooden model from Loog resembles popular guitar styles and comes bundled with a host of chord diagrams, which is perfect for the child who wants to play along with a musically inclined adult.
Fitbit Ace 3
If you're looking to gift your kid a wearable but don't want to shell out for a full-on smartwatch or one of Fitbit's more premium options, there's the Ace 3. The comfortable device provides basic sleep and activity tracking along with bedtime reminders and on-screen animations that get more lively the more time they spend exercising (or just bouncing on the trampoline next door).
RadRunner 2 electric utility bike
The moped-style RadRunner 2 is a serious e-bike for the big kids or just kids at heart. The electric utility bike can go up to 45 miles on a charge, and it carries up to 300 pounds between a rider, some cargo, or a rear passenger. Moreover, it's available with a range of optional accessories so you can outfit the bike with panniers, fenders, or a second seat for the brave soul who is forced to ride on the back.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
There’s something magical about holding a photo mere seconds after capturing it, which is one of the reasons why instant cameras like Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 11 are so fun to play with. The excellent kid-friendly camera is incredibly easy to use — just point and shoot — making it a great option for capturing card-size photos of family, friends, and anyone else your giftee wants to unwillingly subject to their artistic pursuits.
Osmo Genius Starter Kit
Screen time isn't always bad — at least not when it's combined with a bit of old-school analog fun. Osmo's clever Genius Starter Kit brings together a collection of educational games that rely on either an Amazon Fire tablet or an iPad along with an assortment of physical pieces that make for a more tactile learning experience. It's a great way for younger kids to explore everything from physics and math to spelling and general spatial awareness.
Herschel Supply Co. Classic Backpack Mini
Not every kid needs an enormous tote bag to lug around their laptop, textbooks, and... whatever else kids with extra-large backpacks carry around at school. Herschel's adorable Classic Backpack Mini is made to hold just the essentials and comes in an assortment of simple, attractive colors that will mesh well with any fall or winter wardrobe.
Yard games are a great way to get everyone in on the fun, but old-fashioned mainstays like horseshoes and darts can be a little... dull. Spikeball, on the other hand, is kind of like foursquare meets two-on-two volleyball in that you can play anywhere — the backyard, the park, the beach, etc. It's easy enough for even young kids to understand, but once you have it down, it's as casual or as competitive as you want it to be.
Yes, Tamagotchi lives. This version of the ubiquitous egg-shaped virtual pet is essentially identical to what any child of the '90s will remember, except it now comes in a variety of Lisa Frank-like designs. Ranging from transparent blues to tie-dye and sparkly nebula prints, the Tamagotchi is now the perfect accent to any bag or keychain — that is, provided you can keep it alive for more than a few days.
Chalk City Sidewalk Chalk
It's a fact: kids love sidewalk chalk as much as they love making a mess. Chalk City's 20-piece set is great to bust out during a family outing at the park or a backyard cookout, especially since the jumbo sticks are nontoxic and easy to wash away when the kids run out of cement canvas and begin playing tic-tac-toe on your dining room floor.
Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Pro (2022)
If you're looking to knock a tablet off your list, Amazon’s budget-friendly Fire HD 8 Kids Pro might be a good fit. It's not as powerful or feature-rich as an iPad, though it's still plenty capable when it comes to accessing age-appropriate apps, ebooks, and shows. The Pro edition touts a sleeker case and a few more privileges than the standard Kids model as well, which renders it a better fit for kids who want a "grown-up" tablet that doesn't look like it was made by Hasbro.
Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter
There are few things with as much cross-generational appeal as Star Wars or ships iconic as the X-Wing. If you're looking to share an activity with your kid that still appeals to your inner nerd, we can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than building a Lego X-Wing while watching A New Hope. This X-Wing is the slickest iteration of the ship to date, with 474 pieces and minifigs of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, and *checks notes* General Dodonna?
Toniebox Starter Set
The Toniebox is an adorable child-size speaker with simple controls that ditches the display in favor of an assortment of miniature figurines called Tonies. Each one triggers a different set of songs or bedtime stories when placed on top of the box, giving your kid quick access to recent staples like Let It Go as well as bonafide classics such as The Wheels on the Bus.
BuddyPhones Cosmos Plus
Kid-centric headphones are pretty common these days, but many of them leave much to be desired. The BuddyPhones Cosmos Plus, however, have premium features like active noise cancellation and up to 24 hours of battery life. Plus, they have a built-in volume limit to prevent developing ears from getting blasted with too much sound, and they can be daisy-chained with another pair of headphones to share the audio experience.
Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke
Motivate your kid to write with this unique journal / activity book designed to get them thinking outside the box. Rip the Page features a variety of writing prompts and creative thought experiments to keep them engaged, along with letters of encouragement from famous authors such as Lemony Snicket and Lucille Clifton. They won't even realize you just bought them homework.
Want to blow your child's mind? A personalized holiday greeting from one of their favorite celebrities or characters might do exactly that. Cameo features a ton of celebs, sports stars, and streamers you can buy a custom message from, though, obviously, you'll want to be wary that you're not stoking some parasocial relationship a little too early in your kid's life. No one wants that.
Victrola Journey Plus turntable
Victrola's budget-based record player isn't going to win any awards in the sound quality department, but it's good enough for the kid who just wants to singalong to the latest wax from Harry Styles. The portable, all-in-one device features three speeds and Bluetooth support, too, meaning they can play music from their phone or stream vinyl to a larger sound system when the turntable's built-in stereo speakers simply won't cut it.
Amazon Echo Dot Kids (fifth-gen)
What's the difference between the standard Echo Dot and the kid-friendly model? Not much, really. It offers the same Alexa-based functionality as the base model but ditches the subtle fabric on top in favor of animal skins. The adorable smart speaker also offers parental controls and provides access to Amazon Kids Plus, so your son or daughter can tap into a trove of kid-friendly audiobooks, games, and various educational skills.
Magna-Tiles (32-piece set)
A learning toy with dimension, Magna-Tiles are a great way to introduce concepts like geometry and spatial skills. These vibrant tiles come in a variety of shapes and snap together with strong (but not too strong) magnets. They're remarkably durable, too, and can easily withstand being stepped on or dumped on the floor.