20 New Gift Ideas for Teens, Kids and Tots
I’ve spent the past year scouting for great travel electronics, toys and even clothes for toddlers, preschoolers, kids, tweens and teens for this annual gift guide. These 20 items are ideal presents for the coming holiday season, but they’re also handy for your young traveler for birthday and spontaneous pre-trip surprises throughout the year.
Engaging kids while you are traveling from one place to another is a perennial challenge. But helping them engage with your destination once you arrive is important, too, especially as kids get older and their screens beckon. We chose these items with an eye on helping with both.
Keep in mind that kids develop at their own pace. The age recommendations for these gifts are our best estimate. Any of them could work for kids are bit older or younger, too.
20 Holiday Gifts For Kids of Every Age
This palm-sized nano drone that can take up to 4,000 photos, shoot video and take panoramic shots. With a price well under $200 and smartphone-based controls it’s an affordable, entry drone for older kids who want to experiment with getting awesome aerial shots of your next family destination.
Creative photographers and filmmakers will love this slim camera that shoots videos and surround panoramas, allowing kids to create simple VR media. It comes in four colors! For travel, consider the waterproof case, too.
This body board is light and fits in a carry-on or even a backpack. Perfect for any beach vacation where your kids might want to bodysurf. Don’t forget the leash, so you don’t lose the board in the surf.
Heading to a beach house or resort? Music-loving kids can color these speakers with crayons, pencils or markets along the way and then book a music player or phone to them when you arrive. The only caveat: you might have to listen to your kids’ music.
I normally don’t like using tablets for drawing and coloring—there’s so much to gain from kids using real paper and drawing tools. But this stylus looks versatile and cool for older kids who want to experiment with simple graphic design. And it’s certainly mess-free and compact for traveling. Use it with a free Android or Apple app.
12 colored pencils and stencils in a wide range of themes are all in one ready-to-go set is ideal for between 4 to 8YOs. Don’t forget to add a pad to the bag.
Build with Legos anywhere and from any direction. Stick it to an airplane seat back or tray table, a car ceiling, a restaurant table and more. Each pack comes with six three-foot rolls of 3M-backed tape in six colors.
Six to 8YOs were crowded around a bin of these at PlayFair, a New York City tour fair that gives kids a chance to try out tons of new toys. But my 10YO liked them, too. A travel kit comes with a slew of these that you stick together and build with, and stick-on accessories that will make you think of Mr. Potato head, but more colorful.
These bendable Magnetic tiles almost make me wish Tiny Traveler were still younger. The box says ages 3+ but I think 5-to-8YOs will find the most interesting things to do with these.
10. *Chalk Color-It Book
For those traveling with kids, Jaq Jaq Bird’s reusable coloring book was inspired by some of history’s great artists. The chalk is dust-free, making it mess-free as well as easy to pack.
Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
11. *Leapfrog My Pal plush toys
Like Mosaic stickers but smaller and less gendered, these art projects are ideal for little hands and 20-to-30 minutes of activity for each of 10 pictures in each pack. Two packs to choose from.
Interactive play figures for babies are not new, but these scored points with the judges at Playfair for being fun to look at, genuinely cuddly and easy for babies to play with. A new one of these before hopping on a plane goes a long way.
14. *Heat Holder Socks
If you’re an outdoor family in winter consider Heat Holder socks for everyone. Your youngest skiers and sledders can keep warm in slipper socks with non-skid soles and favorite characters including Elsa and Olaf, Minions, Spider Man and more. Older Kids and teens will find colors and styles to please them, too.
15. Magnets the Game
We saw this magnet game at Playfair and found it both simple and engrossing. You scatter 25 magnets inside a ring and then toss other magnets toward them to gather bunches together and win. It’s one of those games where you keep thinking, “let me try one more time,” which is exactly what you want on a long flight. It comes in a compact tin that’s perfect to drop on your travel tote, too. You can buy a similar game called *AttrAction without travel tin or belt to keep the game contained.
16. *The Card Caddy
If you buy anyone in your family a card game this year, buy this tray to go with it. Pack Uno, Exploding Kittens or any other card game in the case. When you’re ready to play it opens into a tray that keeps drawing deck and discards contained.
17. *Wacky Links
At Playfair this is the item Tiny Traveler had to bring home, and used her own money to buy. The pieces remind me of Wikki Stix but the spoke-and-hub pieces challenge kids more and you don’t have to worry about these melting all over the back seat of your car (ahem). Choose from a basic kit, themes like space and dinosaurs and sets that glow in the dark.
18. *Slap watch
As kids get older and start going off on their own a bit, they need to know when it’s time to rejoin the family. Kids are happy to wear these colorful slap-on watches (changing bands is a snap, too). They’re water-resistant and inexpensive enough that if your kids lose them you won’t feel too bad.
19. *Connects Chain Links
These take me back to plastic rings I strung into flowers, bracelets and necklaces when I was a kid. The 200-piece small can fits in a kid’s backpack and has more than enough rings for all kinds of crafts. I’d bring this in the car or to a resort or vacation house.
I love blocks with magnets. They stay together and don’t get lost and kids love what they do with them, building sideways or around as well as up. These small packs of triangles, squares or pentagons are perfect for a carry-on and for building in small spaces.
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