Some kids may just want a boatload of Robux for the holidays, but honestly, it’s more satisfying to gift them something a tiny bit more tangible or that you can enjoy together. While not all of us here at The Verge are parents, all of us are undoubtedly kids at heart — so let us help you find the right gift for your little ones, whether they’re toddlers or hard-to-impress teens.
Gadgets like Apple’s entry-level iPad ($249) make for popular gifts, but it’s okay to pull back a little and opt for something a little more unplugged, such as a cooperative board game ($31.99) or a motorized Nerf blaster ($64.99). All of them are age-appropriate, and some ideas, like a subscription-based family photo book ($21), can even bring the entire fam together (if not physically, then at least in photographic form).
So take a look at the smorgasbord of Verge-sanctioned picks below, all of which should make shopping for your loved ones this holiday season that much simpler.
Poetry for Neanderthals
Good game is good. Fun time be had by all. Me think you enjoy. That may sound like word crimes, but it’s the gist of playing Poetry for Neanderthals. Up to six players are tasked with getting their team to guess a word or phrase using only single-syllable words. And if you don’t, be prepared to get whacked with an inflatable club.
Disney Illusion Island (Nintendo Switch)
Disney Illusion Island is a terrific intro to 2D side-scrolling “Metroidvania”-style games for kids. The art style is cute and fun, you can play with up to three others in co-op mode, and if anyone is ever struggling and gets dangerously low on health, you can give them an in-game hug to restore their vitality.
Magna-Tiles Jungle Animals (25-piece set)
It’s a proven fact that everything is more fun with magnets. Don’t believe us? Just ask any four-year-old child. Magna-Tiles’ jungle-themed set unites two things most kids love: animals and magnets. How do they work? Who knows? Nor do we think anyone is going to care when there’s a caiman and magnetic sloth this adorable involved.
Pokémon Matching Family Pajamas
The family that Thunder Shocks together stays together. If your little ones are engrossed in the Pokémon world, then a fun way to engage with their hobby is with a little dress-up. Who needs cheesy red flannel and holiday PJs when you can wear the many expressions of Pikachu? It’ll make for much cuter family photos, I assure you.
Custom Face Socks
Who doesn’t want to see their loved ones’ faces when looking at their feet? These eclectic socks from DivvyUp make for a silly gift for the kids or a fun one for an adult when featuring said children. You can choose up to three faces to plaster across a pair of socks in up to 14 colors, and all you need are some photos with decent resolution and good, consistent lighting.
Chatbooks Subscription Photo Book
Photo albums are a time-honored treasure, but having the actual time to make them is the hurdle that dooms most family photos to a life spent dormant in cloud storage. With a monthly Chatbooks subscription, you take photos from your phone and easily assemble them in a 30-page photo book, one you can have delivered straight to your door with minimal effort.
Giving a kid a watch once they’re able to tell time is a small acknowledgment that they’re starting to have some responsibility bestowed upon them. While many watches aimed at children are cheesy, cheap garbage, these waterproof timepieces from Parchie are fun, adequately sized for smaller wrists, and built to last without costing a small fortune.
Keith Haring Kids’ Chair
What’s cooler than Keith Haring’s playful and uplifting artwork? Well, for one, having it be a decorative yet functional part of your home. This kid-sized chair constructed of lacquered beech wood can add a touch of whimsy to any room and, frankly, would look absolutely adorable when pulled up to a small desk for a little arts and crafts.
Arteza Gel Ink Pens (60-pack)
Some kids will always complain about school and homework, but the right set of pens can make both just a teeny-tiny bit more enjoyable. These long-lasting gel pens from Arteza are great for writing, drawing, coloring, or just doodling. The metal-tipped pens come in a wide range of colors, too, with metallic, pastel, and glitter finishes.
We’re Not Really Strangers Kids Edition
Having deeper conversations with children is rarely easy, but the kids edition of We’re Not Really Strangers is an enjoyable exercise that gets both adults and children closer to the same wavelength. The thoughtful prompts are likely to elicit unexpected answers from both you and your kids, and the rainbow-colored pencils are a playful touch.
Kit Adam mechanical keyboard
Building a mechanical keyboard is a hobby oft-enjoyed by nerdy adults, but what if you could build one with Legos? The Kit Adam by KBDcraft is just that: a hot-swappable 60 percent board with a case constructed of Lego-style bricks. Not only does that make it simple and fun to build together but it also makes it infinitely customizable with your pieces.
BuddyPhones Cosmos Plus
Headphones built for kids are low key some of the best gadgets parents can own. They come in handy while doing homework and can go a long way in keeping things a little less hectic during screen time, especially in the car. The noise-canceling BuddyPhones Cosmos Plus feature both wireless and wired connectivity, an included case, shareable audio, and — most importantly — a volume limiter to protect young ears.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie – Van Playset
It’s been a big year for Mario. Nintendo’s lovable Italian has a new movie and a new Nintendo Switch game in Super Mario Bros. Wonder. If the tykes still can’t get enough of everyone’s favorite plumber, however, then the Super Mario Bros. Movie Van Playset may scratch that itch — that is, until it’s time to rewatch the movie for the 100th time.
Kindle Kids (2022)
The latest Kindle Kids offers young readers a sharp 6.2-inch display with adjustable front lighting, USB-C charging, and a battery that can last for weeks on a single charge. The best part of Amazon’s kid-ified ebook reader, however, is that it’s ad-free and comes with a two-year warranty against accidental damage, not to mention access to a ton of age-appropriate content.
8BitDo SN30 Pro (Special Edition)
The 8BitDo SN30 is more than a small controller best suited for tiny hands. It also oozes nostalgic vibes to make you feel a bit of what mom and dad did while playing the original SNES — albeit, with modern games on PC or the Nintendo Switch. What’s more, its see-through color schemes are sure to entice just about everyone, regardless of what year you were born.
Nintendo Switch Lite (Isabelle’s Aloha Edition)
The Steam Deck may have ushered in a new era of handheld gaming, but it’s a bit pricey and overbearing for a child. That said, there’s still no substitute for the simplicity of Nintendo’s Switch Lite and its travel-friendly 5.5-inch display. Now add in the cuteness factor of this Animal Crossing-inspired design, which comes with a digital copy of New Horizons, and there’s not much topping this kid-friendly console.
Skullcandy Jib True 2
With the 3.5mm headphone jack quickly going extinct — thanks, Apple — wireless headphones have become the main mode of listening to music. If you’re anxious about giving your children a pricey pair of earbuds, however, Skullcandy’s Jib True 2 are here to save your budget. The inexpensive pair sound just fine, and they have built-in Tile tracking so you can find them should your kid misplace them.
Amazmic Kids Karaoke Microphone
If you were a ’90s kid, you might remember those terrible echo mics. The Amazmic Kids Karaoke Microphone is essentially an evolution of that concept, only instead of your child only hearing their own voice, they get the backing track of whatever song you choose to play via Bluetooth. Just try not to give them too much stage fright, okay?
Samba de Amigo: Party Central (Nintendo Switch)
Samba de Amigo: Party Central may not have maracas controllers like the original Dreamcast games, but on the flip side, all you need to get shaking are your Joy-Con controllers. The music rhythm game is loaded with modern pop songs from the likes of Ariana Grande and Charli XCX — not to mention classics like Ricky Martin’s “The Cup of Life” — and there are even Sonic the Hedgehog cameos to marvel at.
The ninth-gen iPad isn’t just the final holdout in Apple’s tablet lineup to have a 3.5mm headphone jack; it’s also a great device despite its age. The entry-level slate features a sharp 10.2-inch screen, a 12MP camera, and the ability to smoothly run all kinds of apps, unlike cheaper tablets that are often relegated to Netflix and little else.
Mark-my-time digital bookmark
Mark-my-time’s colorful bookmark features a helpful timer built into its top that allows you to easily track your child’s daily reading sessions. You can set a countdown timer with an alarm so children know when they’re done, or you can set cumulative time to track multiple reading sessions if you’re curious about how long it takes them to finish a particular book or assignment.
Echo Dot Kids (fifth-gen)
The animal-themed kids version of Amazon’s latest Echo Dot boasts all the same features as the regular model but comes equipped with a selection of age-appropriate games. The Alexa speaker also comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids Plus (which houses a large assortment of audiobooks) and a two-year accident protection plan.
Shadows in the Forest
Shadows in the Forest is a cute tabletop game you can play in the dark, a la flashlight tag. Anywhere from two to seven players can join in on this asymmetrical game, which is easy enough to play for the whole family. One player uses the lantern to search for the other players’ Shadowling characters, encouraging the group to work together.
A Very Spidey Christmas
Remember that brief gag from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse about Spider-Man having a Christmas album? No? Well, it doesn’t matter. The important part is you can actually buy a five-song EP on vinyl of Spidey’s real-life holiday album, one that features songs from Shameik Moore, Chris Pine, and Jake Johnson. Yes, there’s even that Xmas classic, “Spidey-Bells.”
Pokémon Carry Case Playset
Backpacks for children are universally cute, sure, but each and every one of them would be infinitely cooler if they opened into a pokémon playset. This plastic backpack does just that, unfolding to reveal a hidden cave oasis and field for small two-inch plastic pokémon to play or battle in.
Hurry Up Chicken Butt
The best children’s games are the ones that get them learning or doing something positive without even realizing it. In the case of Hurry Up Chicken Butt, kids get to play a silly game of hot potato with their parents while getting a bit of exercise and physical activity in the process. The fast-paced game is easy to learn, yet it gets both kids and parents playing and laughing together.
Furby is back, baby! The new version of the voice-activated animatronic plushie features all kinds of responses, dances, and songs built into it. Most importantly, though, the resurrected ’90s toy is a completely offline experience with no “smart” functionality to speak of, meaning your kid won’t be pinging a cloud server every time they speak.
Original Bazooka Bubble Gun
Holy crap, kids love bubbles! Like, wow, the sheer joy on a child’s face every time they see those soapy floating spheres is unmatched. So why not go full-tilt with a bubble bazooka? This beastly battery-powered blaster pumps out a rate of fire of over 5,000 BPM (that’s bubbles per minute). It’s like bringing a bubble gun to a bubble knife fight.
Nerf Perses MXIX-5000 Motorized Blaster
Say hello to my little foam friend. The Nerf Perses MXIX-5000 is that next-level upgrade from playing with standard foam darts. The motorized blaster shoots soft foam balls as fast as eight pellets per second, with a top-loading hopper that’s equally fast and frantic to reload. Just don’t forget to outfit your kids with some proper eye protection. You’ve been warned.