Looking for that perfect gift for your favorite little (or not so little) one that might inspire them to explore the world (or maybe just be quiet en route to your next adventure)?
This year’s gift guide is packed with things that will entertain kids and help them dream big, because if you can build the Arc de Triomphe or assemble a paper rocket, what can’t you do?
Age range: 3 months-12 years
Each year, the kids clothing company Tea Collection chooses a country for inspiration. The fall/winter 2017 collection was inspired by Scotland and will be available through January 18th, when a new collection and country of inspiration will be announced. The Tour of Scotland set includes a trio of tees depicting the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive, an Edinburgh-inspired castle, and a Scottish strongman. There’s also the Nessie pajamas and various items–dresses, leggings, and long-sleeve t-shirts–with the thistle, Scotland’s national flower.
Sustainable Wooden Toys
Age range: 1-3 years
We can’t get enough of the retro-feel of the wooden toys from U.K.-based Indigo Jamm. Not only are the toys beautiful and fun to play with, they’re made from sustainable rubberwood from Thailand and each one has an educational element. Our favorites include Bernie’s Number London Bus, which allows kids to match the passengers to their seats by color or number, and Colin’s Camper Van, which also has color matching. The tops of the vehicles are removable, so little hands have more access. With the addition of the 50-piece London Building block set from fair trade toy company, Lanka Kade, your little one can explore iconic London tourist sites (Buckingham Palace, London Tower Bridge, the London Eye) without leaving their room.
Toddler-Friendly City Guides
Age range: 3-5 years
The My Little Cities series from Chronicle Books is a great gift for any transportation-loving kids. The four board books–New York, London, San Francisco, and Paris–feature text that’s suitable for a toddler’s attention with fun city-centric illustrations. Pair the New York book with the New York City Skyline Playset–you might end up keeping this one for yourself. The box turns into a stand where you can display cardboard city landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. There’s even a taxi!
The perfect present trifecta includes the Travel Matching Game, which includes 36 jumbo-size cards that feature delightful illustrations like suitcases, stop signs, planes, trains, and automobiles. All three will have kids packing their bags and ready to explore in no time.
Age range: 3-6 years
Want to get your kids motivated to go out and explore? Buy them the GeoSafari Jr. Kidnoculars from Educational Insights. The focus-free eyepieces mean kids won’t get frustrated with things out of focus and the weight (fewer than 5 ounces) means they won’t get tired of carrying them around. Plus, they are virtually impossible to break and the breakaway neck strap means no neck injuries.
Travel-Ready Art Supplies
Age range: 3-6 years
Budding artists will love the fun shapes–think t-rex, unicorn, ladybug, and pirate–and bright colors of the Mini Fuzzytown Die-cut Art Folios from The Piggy Story. It’s what drew (pun intended) us to these fun art totes. The sturdy handle and pockets that hold 6 crayons and a mini drawing pad are just icing on the cake. Another great option is the Fun on the Go Marker Art Case, which comes in a variety of designs with pirates, mermaids, and woodland creatures. This hardback case, which holds 6 washable markers and a 50 sheet art pad, fits perfectly on a child’s lap and makes drawing anywhere–airports, restaurants, or car rides–possible.
A Puzzle of the World
Age range: 3-7 years
Learning Resources’ Puzzle Globe puts a new spin (pun intended) on learning geography. The puzzle part comes in the shape of 6 chunky continent pieces–Antarctica is a stationary piece at the bottom–and 6 continent labels. Even the oceans are labeled. The continent pieces are easy to grab and have images of place appropriate animals and landmarks. Not only do kids have to figure out where each continent goes, but then they have to properly label them–adults might even learn a thing or two!
A Box Full of Things to Do
Age range: 3-10 years
Etsy-based The Idea Box Kids offers a line of 4-inch by 4-inch boxes that help parents entertain kids on airplane trips, long car rides, or even a quiet day at home (or your hotel). Perfect for ages 3-10, each box contains 30 natural wood coins that contain a simple activity on each side. The Airplane Box has activities like “toss wadded up tissues/paper into a cup” or “have a staring contest,” while the aptly named Adventure Box suggests kids do things like eat at an international restaurant, go fruit or veggie picking, or stop by a local museum. Granted, you could probably make something like this, but ways to entertain your kids on a long trip are invaluable. Also invaluable: getting your kids out of the house to explore what’s around you.
A Ready-to-Go Treasure Hunt
Age range: 4-9 years
These fantastic wood boxes from Maine-based Moss and Grove will ignite a sense of adventure and encourage imagination in most little ones. The Treasure Hunter’s Combo Pack has everything you need for a treasure hunt including a treasure map, a treasure hunter’s notebook, a magnifying glass, and a bag for collecting small treasures. Plus, the wood case can double as a carrying case while you’re out on a hunt! If finding fairies is more your thing, check out the Fairy House Kit complete with fairy dust, feathers, acorn caps, shells, and moss (sustainably harvested, of course). Include the Fairy House Handbook for added advice on how to build a fairy house and fairy dos and don’ts (among other things) and some fairy lore.
A Playmobil Tiki Bar
Age range: 6-10 years
There’s something so nostalgic about Playmobil’s figures and sets, which hit the shelves in 1974. Maybe it’s the figure’s pleasant smile or their brightly colored plastic clothing, or maybe it’s the whimsical sets. Whatever it is, these sets are sure to get children excited about visiting new places. Our favorite might be the Island Juice Bar, because who doesn’t want to imagine themselves sipping a fruity drink on a tropical beach? More appropriate for the kids though might be the Pharaoh’s Pyramid, complete with hidden chambers, booby traps, and a mummy, or the 29-inch long Cruise ship that comes equipped with a fillable pool, separate rescue raft, and a family of 5. There’s also a whole line of sets that come in their own travel cases.
A Kiddie Version of Cards Against Humanity
Age range: 7 and up
“A Card Game for People Who Are Into Kittens and Explosions and Sometimes Goats.” That pretty much sums up the new Exploding Kittens Party Pack. The pack, which plays party music when you open the box (think mariachi with cat meows), is good for groups up to 10 people. There are Bearded Cat and Hairy Potato Cat cards, which do nothing, but there are also Diffuse Cards–which let you put your last drawn card back into the deck–and Alter the Future cards–which let you see and rearrange the top three cards in the deck. The card you don’t want is the Exploding Kitten card because then you lose. In our opinion, there’s nothing better than sitting around the table with your family playing cards at the holidays, except if those cards explode kittens. Bonus: There’s an app that’s free with the purchase of the cards.
A Paper Rocket Kit
Age range: 8-12 years
To infinity and beyond! Your favorite astronaut will spend hours making their own paper rockets with the Space Racers kit from Laurence King. Each box includes step-by-step instructions for building 8 historically accurate rockets–Vostok K and Saturn V among them–and 2 rockets that your space kid can give their own name and designs to. The enclosed booklet also contains information about rocket science and space exploration, as well as a few fun facts. Pair it with the GeoSafari Motorized Solar System for a truly space-tastic gift. The motorized solar system has an LED sun dome with a night-light feature and the ability to project constellations onto walls and the ceiling. Plus, the planets rotate just as they do in space, giving kids a realistic idea of how things really work. The only downside? It needs batteries.
A Gen Z Gameboy
Age range: 10 and up
If you’re planning a trip, or just want to be the best [insert here] ever, the compact, lightweight, fits-in-your-pocket New Nintendo 2DS XL is the perfect gift for the 10-year-old (or older) kid in your life. Not only can it play almost all of the Nintendo DS and 3DS games, you can also take pictures and videos, surf the web, watch YouTube videos, or stream Netflix or HuluPlus. The device also has parental controls and the battery can last up to 5 hours, depending on the games you’re playing. It’s really a no-brainer.
Age range: 12 and up
Three new Lego architecture sets–London, Sydney, and the Arc de Triomphe–are available for 2017, and your kids won’t be able to resist them. Perfect for children of all ages–although the sets say best for those 12 years and older–these creations encourage kids to dream big and dream the impossible. If you can assemble the 386 piece Arc de Triomphe, what can’t you do? Oh, did we mention there’s also a bright red Double Decker Bus? London is definitely calling. Need a stocking stuffer? Don’t forget the Minifigures. Kids just love them.