It's getting closer to the most wonderful time of the year, according to singer Andy Williams. So cue the Christmas music, movies, decorations and hot chocolate. But we know gift-giving can present a conundrum. Is it better to give something useful, such as a recipe book, or something whimsical, such as a hamster-sized pool table? There is no right answer. But, when it comes time to plunk your money down, which ones are worth it? Which toys are perfectly suited to your little one's age, that they'll play with again and again and will stand the test of time?
Our 2022 Holiday Gift Guide, curated by the staff of ONANOFF who also happen to be parents, includes suggestions of gift ideas that focus on providing screen-free activities for kids. With a wide range of gift ideas, we're hoping this guide will make the process of finding your little one a great gift just a little bit easier.
GRAVITRAX for ages 5 and up.
GraviTrax is a modular STEM toy that challenges kids to create marble runs using a variety of different parts, including, but not limited to, magnetic cannons, scoops, hammers, and trampolines. You can do something as simple as having one marble roll down a ramp into a hex-shaped piece, or (through plenty of imagination and expansion sets) have 10 plus marbles weaving through an elaborate set-up comprised of several hundred pieces. You’ll need to put a lot of thought into more complex builds but investing the time will teach kids about cause and effect, kinetic energy, magnetization, and more. Although the instructions are simple to grasp and come in multiple languages, the system is user friendly enough that kids around the age of five or six should be able to figure out the basics on their own.
RAINBOCORN for ages 3 and up.
Rainbocorns from Zuru Toys are made for kids aged 3 and up. They are a collection of colorful plush animals blended with unicorns. Each comes in a pink plastic egg with a protruding unicorn horn. Kids don’t know exactly which of the Rainbocorns they’ll discover when they open the egg. It could be a unicorn, a puppycorn, a bunnycorn, a kittycorn, a monkicorn, or a hamstercorn. The reveals don’t stop with the type of Rainbocorn, though. Each Rainbocorn has a unique peel n' reveal heart which shows you what your Rainbocorn loves. Kids will also unbox seven layers of surprises inside, including a sticker pack and magical ooey gooey slime poop. Yes, we know, kind of gross but it's glittery and the kids love it. Lastly there is a smaller egg in the bottom of the pink eggshell. Inside that tiny egg, kids will find a “boo-boocorn,” a small, collectible, plastic baby Rainbocorn that is oh so adorable.
PLAY-DOH for ages 3 and up.
Toddlers and preschool kids thrive with sensory play, and this is ultimate sensory play material. Playdough modeling compound holds an endless array of creative possibilities. Little hands can roll, twist and shape the colored dough into any form that strikes their fancy, mash them up and start all over. If you don't want to buy it from a store you can also create your own right at home! It's surprisingly easy and can be done with only 6 ingredients: Flour, Cream of Tartar, Water, Oil, Food Coloring and Salt. It's also easy to store, drop it in a ziploc bag or an airtight container and it will last for months. Compare it to store bought dough and you can save quite a bit of money. You know exactly what goes into it and won’t worry if it gets on hands or if your child happens to lick their fingers while playing with it. We found a good recipe from here: https://tinkerlab.com/rainbow-play-dough/
WASHIMALS for ages 3 and up.
These are always a hit in our house. The Crayola Washimals playset comes with a few animals, felt tip pens and a little toy bathtub or shower. The idea here is that kids can colour, clean and colour again with Washimals. Using the felt tip pens they can colour and create beautiful patterns and designs on the little pets, turning them into superheros or wild animals before giving them a scrub in the bathtub or a wash in the shower to clean off and play again!
The concept is simple but engaging and allows kids to “care” for the little animals and get creative with their artwork. The only recommendation here is to pop the bath shower on a towel as kids will most likely manage to get the water from the little bathtub everywhere.
BOARDGAMES - BUNNY HOP for ages 5 and up.
We love a good board game. Really anything to get the family together and lessen screentime. A board game that my 5 year old loves is the Bunny Hop. The game involves getting your bunnies to the juicy carrot at the top of the hill. But the path is full of surprises along the way. Suddenly a hole could open up and one of your bunnies could take a tumble. Or a mischievous mole may push a bunny off the hill. As well as a moving drawbridge and a swinging gate, you need to avoid the obstacles and reach the carrot. A good board game will bring the family together, creating quality moments and teach kids to abide by rules and follow instructions.
BOARD GAMES - FIRST ORCHARD for ages 2 and up.
Another classic toddler board game we have enjoyed is the First Orchard. It's the perfect first board game for 1-4 players ages 2 years and up. This board game helps develop social skills such as taking turns and following directions while reinforcing color recognition, quantities and counting by ones. These cooperative board games allow players to work together as a team to roll the dice and pick the matching fruit from the orchard before the raven makes it down the path to steal it all. If the players harvest all the fruit before the raven reaches the orchard, they win together! If the raven gets there first, they lose together. Repetitive play helps teach winning and losing and nurtures little gamers.
MAGNATILES for ages 2 and up.
We have yet to meet a kid that doesn't love Magnatiles. It's a classic toy that gives children next-level building opportunities with magnetic tiles in bright, vivid colors for their most incredible creations ever. Larger-than-life animals, robots that run the world, and architectural wonders come to life while helping kids learn shapes, colors, strategy, and problem-solving skills. Designed for builders ages 3+ the tiles feature classic geometric shapes for endless open ended play. In addition to STEAM learning, the magnetic tiles and shapes are specially designed to help kiddos of all ages develop social, motor, cognitive, and emotional skills.
STORYPHONES for ages 3 and up.
We might be a tad bit biased here since this is our product, but we truly believe StoryPhones deserves a spot on our Christmas Wish List. StoryPhones are all about bringing families together and bridging the gap between generations through the simple act of storytelling. Plus, if a child has a pair of StoryPhones you can always use StoryShields for future gifts to expand their collection, or even better yet, record your own story for an extra personal gift.
The StoryPhones library is full of carefully curated content, suitable for children aged 3 and up, that entertains and educates with audio stories, music and more. StoryPhones can easily be operated by anyone, and work as a standard wireless headphone. By listening to stories, we encourage children to increase their learning capabilities. It‘s proven that audio promotes literacy and listening to audio can help tremendously when learning how to read.
Give the gift of magical audio stories, music and more with StoryPhones.