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When buying gifts for my kids, I don’t want the toys to end up on a shelf or on the bottom of a box one week later.

I don’t want my kids to play with them just a few times and then lose interest completely. 

I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted money on something that created more clutter than joy. 

(Because unfortunately, this happened to me more than once.)

The truth is that many of the popular, “fancy” toys we find in stores are not the best options for encouraging creative play. And even if the kids are excited when they first open the gifts, they quickly end up getting bored of them.

That’s why I decided to create a gift guide that focuses on toys and materials that can actually keep kids busy for hours!

If you are looking for gifts that encourage open-ended play, spark your kids’ creativity, or help you connect with your kids, this guide includes plenty of ideas to inspire you!

The ideas are organized into 4 categories and are suitable for kids ages 3-10. To skip to a specific category, click one of the links below:

Many of the gifts have big discounts today for Black Friday. I marked them with a ⭐ on the list, so you can easily find them.

Gift ideas for open-ended play

Open-ended toys are great because kids can use them in multiple ways as they grow up, so they withstand the test of time.

They can be used by kids of multiple ages, so they are perfect for siblings to use together. Also, you can use them in many ways to create play prompts for your kids.

1. Wooden Pretend Play Doctor’s Medical Kit

2. ⭐ Melissa & Doug Wooden Train Cars

3. Fold & Go Wooden Dollhouse

4. ⭐ Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Clear Colors Set

5. ⭐ LEGO Classic Large Creative Brick Box

6. ⭐ Brew & Serve Wooden Coffee Maker Set

7. ⭐ Checkout Register Wooden Pretend Play Set

8. ⭐ Melissa & Doug Wooden Construction Site Vehicles

9. ⭐ Take-Along Show-Horse Stable Play Set

10. ⭐ Slice and Bake Wooden Cookie Play Food Set

11. ⭐ 7-Piece Poseable Wooden Doll Family for Dollhouse

12. ⭐ 20-Piece Steep and Serve Wooden Tea Set

13. ⭐ Melissa & Doug Food Groups

14. ⭐ Deluxe Folding Medieval Wooden Castle

(more ideas below)

15. ⭐ Top & Bake Wooden Pizza Counter Play Set

16. Basket of 8″ Plush Diversity Dolls

17. ⭐ Fold and Go Wooden Barn With 7 Animal Play Figures

18. ⭐ Wooden Dollhouse with Furniture

19. ⭐ Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter

20. ⭐ African American Wooden Dollhouse Family

21. ⭐ Examine and Treat Pet Vet Play Set

22. ⭐ 20 Piece Durable Wooden Rocket and Spaceship Toy

23. ⭐ Playmobil Adventure Playground

24. ⭐ Wild Republic Penguin Polybag

25. Schleich Farm World 4-Piece Farm Animals Set

26. ⭐ Wooden Pretend Play Kitchen Set

27. Wooden Play Kitchen Starter Accessories

28. Rainbow Blocks

Gift ideas for school-aged kids

This list includes ideas that are suitable for lower elementary school kids.

1. ⭐ National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit

2. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run

3. ⭐ LEGO Classic Creative Suitcase

4. ⭐ Magnetic Mini Tile Art

5. Mudpuppy Amazing Insects Glow in The Dark Puzzle

6. ⭐ Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot

7. ⭐ LEGO Creator 3in1 Safari Wildlife Tree House

8. ⭐ National Geographic Mega Gemstone Dig Kit

9. ⭐ Snap Circuits Electronics Exploration Kit

10. ⭐ Osmo – Coding Starter Kit

11.Ticket to Ride – First Journey

12. ⭐ Magna-Tiles Glow In The Dark Set

13.Catan Junior

(more ideas below)

Gift ideas: Games and puzzles

This list includes fun games and puzzles that are suitable for elementary school kids.

gift ideas for kids

1 – Shifting Stones – A Visual, Decision-Making Family Strategy Game of Tiles (8+ years)

2 – Mudpuppy Animal Kingdom Double-Sided Puzzle (6+ years)

3 – Carcassonne Board Game (7+ years)

4 – Spot It! Junior Animals Card Game (4+ years)

5 – ⭐ Gamewright Qwixx – A Fast Family Dice Game (8+ years)

6 – Sleeping Queens 2 – The Rescue! (8+ years)

7 – Mudpuppy Space Illuminated – 500 Piece Glow in the Dark Jigsaw Puzzle

8 – ⭐ Azul – Strategy Board Game (8+ years)

9 – ⭐ Dixit – Storytelling Game for Kids (8+ years)

10 – Kingdomino – Award Winning Family Strategy Board Game (8+ years)

11 – ⭐ Ravensburger Labyrinth (7+ years)

Gifts that will bring you closer to your kids

This list includes gifts that you can enjoy with your kids to have fun together, build a closer relationship, and spend more quality family time.

1. Atlas Crate

2. STEAM boxes from Kiwi Co

3. ⭐ Green Kids Crafts boxes

Bonus idea: ⭐ Bookroo

4. ⭐ Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find?

5. Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Families

6. Songbirds Family Jigsaw Puzzle

7. Cats and Dogs Double-Sided Puzzle

8. ⭐ Ticket to Ride – First Journey

9. Rat-A-Tat-Cat

10. Kingdomino

11. Sleeping Queens

12. ⭐ Catan Junior

Bonus idea: ⭐ Sequence for Kids

13. Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal (for girls)

14. Q&A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal

15. Between Mom and Me: Mother Son Journal (for boys)

16. The 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids

17. ⭐ The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You’ll Love to Cook and Eat

Bonus ideas:

⭐ You can get more ideas about these gifts and some additional inspiration here: 20+ wonderful gift ideas that will bring you closer to your kids.

Gifts for creative kids

This list includes gifts that are great for sparking your kids’ creativity.

1. ⭐ Kid Made Modern Arts and Crafts Supply Library

2. Faber-Castell Neon Gel Crayon Set

3. Faber-Castell Blendable Oil Pastels

4. Faber-Castell World Colors Ecopencils

5. Spirograph Jr.

6. ⭐ Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stamp Set: Animals

7. Faber-Castell Beeswax Crayons

8. ⭐ Melissa & Doug Easel Companion Accessory Set

9. DJECO Create Animals Sticker Kit

10. Faber-Castell Gel Sticks

11. Chunkies Paint Sticks

12. ⭐ Faber-Castell Watercolor Crayons with Brush

13. ⭐ Faber-Castell Learn to Watercolor Set

14. ⭐ Crayola Inspiration Art Case

15. Hape All-in-One Wooden Kid’s Art Easel

I hope that you found some good inspiration on this list and that your kids will love the gifts!

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