19 Cool Gift Ideas for Teens, Kids & Tots
All year long I keep my eye out for great travel electronics, toys, crafts and games for toddlers, preschoolers, kids, tweens and teens for our annual gift guide.
These 19 items are ideal presents for the coming holiday season. Engaging kids while you’re traveling from one place to another is always a challenge. But helping them engage with your destination once you arrive is important, too, especially as kids get older and their screens beckon.
I 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 my best estimate. Any of them could work for kids are bit older or younger, too.
19 Top Gifts For Kids of Every Age
Gifts for Teens
1.*Kudrone 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. 2. *Ricoh Theta SC Spherical Digital Camera 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. 3. *Slyde Hand Boards 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.
Gifts for Tweens
4. *Seedling Design Out Loud! Cardboard Speakers 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. 5. *Coco Color Stylus 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. It’s certainly mess-free and compact for traveling. Use it with a free Android or Apple app.
Gifts for Kids
6. *Creativ’ Craft Stencils Art Set 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. 7. *EcoPop Building Block Tape 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 removable tape in six colors. 8. *Bunchems Travel Easel 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. 9. *Magformer 12-piece Building Set 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. 10. *Magnaflex Construction Kit 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. 11. *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.
Gifts For Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
12. *Leapfrog My Pal plush toys I spent most of my daughter’s preschool years avoiding talking toys. But Violet and Scout are genuinely cuddly and they talk and sing enough to entertain kids without driving parents crazy. 13. *Paint by Sticker for kids 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. 14. *Dolce Activity Animals 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.
15. Magnet Games We saw this magnet game at a toy fair 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 (not that I would know about that…). Choose from a basic kit, themes like space and dinosaurs and sets that glow in the dark. 18. *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. 19. Playfoam Pals Tiny, sticky balls of foam that kids can mold and shape are popping up a lot at toy fairs. This item offers a unique twist by hiding an animal play figure inside an small dome of these pellets. If you don’t use it as a stocking stuffer, bring this on board a plane or in a car on your next trip as a surprise toy for younger school-age kids. They’ll have fun discovering which animal they have and then using the foam to create environments for it.
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