Between birthdays, holidays, and just-because days, there seems to always be a reason to shop for gifts. Everyone wants to be the giver of the greatest gift ever, but when facing shelves upon shelves of gizmos, games, and gadgets in the toy aisle, choosing the best present for your kid, nephew, or grandchild starts to feel like a lot of pressure. Having combed through reviews, interrogated parents and teachers, and using my own experience as a parent of three, I've narrowed down the huge array of choices to the best gifts for kids of all ages.
— Best for 2-Year-Olds: Strider Balance Bike
— Best for 5-Year Olds: Dig It Up! Dinosaur Eggs Excavation Kit
— Best for 10-Year-Olds: Geospace Walkaroo Xtreme Steel Balance Stilts
— Best for Teens: Kodak Dock Plus Photo Printer
— Best Educational: PopSci's The Giant Book of Who, What, When, Where, Why & How
— Best for Star Wars Fans: "Star Wars" (Power of the Dark Side) Villainous Board Game
— Best Sensory: Nickelodeon Slime
— Best STEM: ThinkFun Laser Maze
— Best for Adventurers: Ledlenser Kidled4R Headlamp
— Best for Kids Who Love Art: Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad
— Best Fidget Toy: iTechjoy Fidget Poppers
— Best for Active Kids: Razor RipStik Ripster
— Best Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8
Here are the Best Gifts for Kids
Best for 2-year-olds: Strider Balance Bike
Key Selling Point: Little ones learn to balance as they coast around on this pedal-free bike.
Active 2-year-olds won't be able to contain their excitement when they see their very first big kid bike. The Strider balance bike is a must-have for the toddler to 3-year-old set. These bikes are just like regular bicycles, but without pedals. Rather than pedal, tiny tots keep their feet on the ground and push off to get moving. They'll love coasting around, and you'll be amazed how quickly they figure out their center of balance. Many kids who use balance bikes skip over training wheels and go straight to riding a standard two-wheeler.
The Strider balance bike's adjustable seat and handlebars grow with the child from 18 months to three years. It's both lightweight and durable—the stainless steel frame and puncture-proof tires weigh in at less than seven pounds, so even little kids can move it around freely. The balance bike is the best purchase I made when my first child was a toddler, and it's been passed down to each kid since. Want to make the best gift for 2-year-olds a package deal? Add a fun helmet for safety.
Related: Start out riding early with one of the best ebikes.
Best for 5-Year-Olds: MindWare Dig It Up! Dinosaur Eggs Excavation Kit
Key Selling Point: Excavating dinos from these clay eggs is a fun, focused, and educational activity for your favorite kindergartener.
The MindWare Dig It Up! Dinosaur Eggs Excavation Kit is my pick for the best gift for 5-year-olds. The great thing about this kit is that it's fun for everyone—even adults. I bought one for my son and before I knew it, the entire family was happily chiseling away at clay eggs, excited to find what dinosaur hid inside.
This fun (and let's just say, delightfully messy) kit comes with 12 three-inch clay eggs and chisels. After softening the eggs in water for a few minutes, kids use their chisel to chip away until they've unearthed their dinosaur. The kit also includes an excavation guidebook that helps identify and classify each dinosaur based on its traits and characteristics, so kids can learn as they play. This is a fun and outside-the-box activity that will keep even the most energetic 5-year-olds engaged and focused.
Best for 10-Year-Olds: Geospace Walkaroo Xtreme Steel Balance Stilts
Key Selling Point: Kids will love the challenge of mastering these adjustable stilts at every level.
The challenge in finding the best gifts for 10-year-olds is discovering something new and exciting. Enter Geospace Walkaroo Xtreme Steel Balance Stilts. The unique task of walking on stilts keeps kids active and improves balance and coordination. Plus, what 10-year-old doesn't want to be a foot taller? Kids will love mastering the stilts and discovering new ways to challenge themselves on them (I'll just go ahead and suggest another helmet here).
The ergonomic handles on these stilts are designed to assist with balance. They're adjustable from 12 to 17 inches, so kids can start small and work their way up as they grow more comfortable. These stilts are made from tubular steel and their thick rubber feet won't mark up floors, so they're great for indoor and outdoor use.
Best for Teens: Kodak Dock Plus
Key Selling Point: This compact printer prints vibrant 4 x 6 photos straight from a smartphone.
Shopping for a tightlipped teen can be tough, so if you're left playing a guessing game when trying to figure out the best gift for teens, the Kodak Dock Plus photo printer is a nice option for any personality. Even though teens have all their photo memories a swipe away on their smartphones, there's something fun (and, OK fine, maybe a little retro) about having printed photos for scrapbooking, framing, or sticking in a locker.
The small and portable printer is easy to travel with and easy to use. It's compatible with iOS and Android, and it connects with Bluetooth technology, so photos can print anytime and anywhere. The laminated 4 x 6 photos are fingerprint-proof and water-resistant, so prints are long-lasting. Even in the age of technology, this printer is a fun gift for teens who want to print their pics and have their memories in hand.
Best Educational: PopSci's The Giant Book of Who, What, When, Where, Why & How
Key Selling Point: With over 1,000 fun facts, kids can enjoy learning about everything from their favorite sea creatures to climate change.
This book from PopSci is ideal for both you and the kids in your life. Aimed at children ages eight and up, it contains 10 chapters dedicated to animals, space, the human body, and more. Little ones can learn about how scientists study dinosaurs and why Leonardo da Vinci is a celebrated inventor.
This gift is ideal for the young readers in your life. It presents complicated information—like explainers about climate change—in a way that’s digestible for kids while still taking them seriously. If the kid in your life is more interested in animals, you can check out PopSci's Weird, Wild & Wonderful: 275 Amazing Animals From Tiny to Tall, Furry to Feathered, Creepy to Cute.
Best for "Star Wars" Fans: "Star Wars" (Power of the Dark Side) Villainous Board Game
Key Selling Point: For “Star Wars” fanatics, fulfill your dark destiny in this strategic board game that’s perfect for game night.
Ravensburger is back with another installment of their “Villainous” board game franchise. In “Star Wars” (Power of the Dark Side) Villainous, play with your friends and family as Darth Vader, General Grievous, Asajj Ventress, Kylo Renn, or Moff Gideon. Face off against Jedi heroes like Luke Skywalker and The Manadlorian, deploy iconic ships like TIE fighters, and achieve your unique story-based objectives.
This board game is perfect for two to four players aged ten and up, and you can enjoy several versions of gameplay with sculpted villain movers, illustrated cards, tiles, tokens, and boards, to set obstacles, maneuver opponents, and use your abilities. Take a glimpse at how to play, and you’ll feel the dark side calling.
Best Sensory: Nickelodeon Slime
Key Selling Point: This slimy kit is ooey, gooey, fun to play with, and (surprise!) not as messy as you'd think.
I got invited to 12 kids' birthday parties this year, and I brought Nickelodeon Slime to every single one, because it's one of the best gifts for kids! The slime is fun to squish and squeeze, and the different mix-ins add a lot of fun looks and textures that make for a mesmerizing and oddly relaxing pastime.
This slime kit comes with 18 different colored slimes and eight different mix-ins, including pompoms, beads, sequins, glitter, and confetti. Kids can mix and blend the slimes and textures, create their own concoctions, and simply enjoy squishing it around. Another great feature: it peels easily off of hard surfaces, so playtime at the table makes for a simple cleanup (just don't stick it to fabric surfaces).
Best STEM: ThinkFun Laser Maze
Key Selling Point: The laser maze is an intriguing and addicting puzzle game that kids can play alone or with a friend.
ThinkFun offers a lot of cool and innovative games that promote logical and critical thinking. Their laser maze makes the list of best gifts for kids this year because it builds those important skills—and it's a lot of fun. The game includes cards with different challenge puzzles, along with a laser and a set of reflective pieces. The object of the game is to set up the reflective pieces so that the lasers bounce through the maze and hit the target.
This one is recommended for kids ages eight and up and includes an excellent instruction manual with clearly explained directions. It includes 60 different puzzles at varying degrees of difficulty, so kids can methodically work their way up to more challenging mazes. STEM lovers will quickly become immersed in the fun laser mazes—not to mention, parents will love an opportunity for their kid to work independently.
Best for Adventurers: Ledlenser Kidled4R Headlamp
Key Selling Point: This versatile gift will spark countless hours of fun and games in the dark.
For the little ones who love reading under the blankets, making forts, playing flashlight tag, and exploring the backyard at night, the Ledlenser Kidled4r Headlamp will make every activity more fun. This rechargeable light can be worn around your head with the included, adjustable headband, or attached to a coat or bag, depending on the adventure at hand. The headbands come in purple or green, and will automatically release under load in case of any emergencies.
With red, white, or blue lights and a flashing function included, this fun headpiece doubles as a protective measure when walking at night, so your kids can see where they’re going (and you can see where they are). On full power, you’ll see two hours of light time, but on low power, these headlamps allow for up to 18 hours of use before a charge is needed. The optional energy-saver mode on the Kidled4r switches the light off after 20 minutes of usage to preserve battery life, and to allow for more play time later on. If there’s a birthday coming up for a dinosaur-loving child or rainbow-obsessed kiddo, this headlamp will be the perfect way to stay active and diminish screen time.
Best for Kids Who Love Art: Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad
Key Selling Point: The tracing pad is great for beginner artists, as well as for more advanced art projects.
Tracing is a fantastic way for younger kids to practice fine motor control, and this light up tracing pad from Crayola makes it incredibly easy. This gift is recommended for kids ages six and over, and it truly can work for budding artists at any stage. Younger artists can start tracing basic line drawings and attempt more complicated images as they become more skilled. It's even great for older kids who have moved on to different arts-and-crafts projects, like practicing calligraphy, making a cricut pattern, or designing a card for a friend.
The tracing pad has a paper-locking frame and illuminates images for easy tracing. The kit includes a graphite pencil, 12 small colored pencils. 10 tracing sheets, and 10 blank sheets. Kids can place the image of their choice on the drawing board and get started creating their first work of art. Plus, it weighs less than two pounds, making it easy to carry on car rides and airplane trips. Batteries are required.
Best Fidget Toy: iTechjoy Pop Fidget Toy
Key Selling Point: Fidget poppers are a fun toy to keep busy minds occupied.
A few years ago, fidget spinners were the big sensory gift of the holiday season—and in 2021, kids are still all about the fidget toys. When I asked teachers what their students are into this year, the answer was "fidget poppers" across the board, from elementary to high school. And what's not to love? The little pop is so satisfying every time.
This particular set from iTechjoy comes in a few fun, colorful sets (for example, burger and fries or fruit and popsicle) and are made from a durable rubber that won't crack or weaken. The bubbles offer a nice, sensory touch and the light pop helps relieve anxiety and stress. Fidget poppers are a simple toy for kids (and adults) of any age to enjoy.
Best for Active Kids: Razor RipStik Ripster
Key Selling Point: This board from Razor is a cool, modern twist on the traditional skateboard.
The Razor RipStik Ripster is a smaller version of the original RipStik, making this a perfect fit for kiddos. This take on the traditional skateboard has two twisting decks rather than the one solid deck you'd normally see on a skateboard. Instead of propelling forward by pushing off with your other foot, riders gain momentum by rocking and twisting (similar to another kid favorite, the PlasmaCar).
The compact and lightweight Ripster moves smoothly on high-grade urethane wheels, which can even be ridden inside without marking up floors. Its inclined 360-degree casters make for a carving ride reminiscent of a snowboard. Kids will grasp the physics of the ride and start picking up speed in no time.
Best Tablet: Amazon Fire HD 8
Key Selling Point: This intuitive tablet is easy for young kids to navigate and is packed with access to educational books, games, and videos.
If there's one thing parents have had to admit over the past couple years, it's that there's merit in a little bit of screen time. The Amazon Fire HD 8 is the best tablet for kids who are learning to navigate a touch screen. It comes with a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, providing access to thousands of games, books, apps, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more.
The tablet's kid-proof case is virtually indestructible and comes with a two-year worry-free guarantee, just in case. Kids can spend hours combing through the educational content. To keep screen time reasonable, it's also equipped with simple parental controls that can be tailored to individual preference—for example, you can set it so kids can't watch videos until they've spent 30 minutes reading a book. Kids will love exploring this great educational tool.
Related: Get the view from above with the best drones for kids.
The Final Word on the Best Gifts for Kids
The holidays can be stressful, but gift-giving doesn't have to be. This year's best gifts for kids promote hands-on activity, interaction, and movement, so this guide is a great starting point for finding the perfect presents for the kids in your life. Plus, a lot of the items on this list are fun for all ages, including adults. From the best drones for kids to STEM toys and more, it's all here. The holidays are fast upon us, so get that shopping done soon.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.