Great kids' presents, for infants to teens: books, toys, games and more
Giving kids presents is one of the true unalloyed joys of Christmas time.
That said, picking a present for kids can feel a bit daunting - after all, there's a plethora of toys out there, and trends change all the time. Many people will be pointing you in the same direction - suggesting L.O.L Surprise dolls for girls, Mandalorian merchandise for boys, and PS5 games for those lucky enough to have a console.
We're not against any of those selections, but they're fairly easy choices.
Here, we've curated a selection of Christmas pressies designed to stay in fashion, spark imagination, and keep young people giggling.
We've stayed away from single-use plastics and only selected items we've seen children use and enjoy.
Carson The Lion From Birth Soft Toy, £15
Look, babies don't really need Christmas gifts. They'll play with wrapping paper and boxes for as long as you'll let them.
Nevertheless, if there's a baby in your life, it's impossible to resist the pull of spoiling them. This machine-washable lion soft toy is great for baby's bedside, but will stay in favour for years to come. Buy now, £15, Not on the High Street. Recommended for newborns+
Sophie La Giraffe Teether, £15
Above caveats about baby gifts notwithstanding, a gift for a baby is as much a gift for the parents. This teether is an absolute classic - great for bringing respite to bubs with aching gums. It will also hopefully stop them from sticking all and sundry in their mouths, instead. Buy now, £15, JoJo Maman Bebe
Fisher-Price Music Box Record Player, £35
Toddler to charm? This Fisher-Price Music Box will keep them delighted. Our own record player was received in the 80s, works to this day, and has played nursery rhymes to nephews and nieces in the intervening decades. A classic. Buy now, £35, Jo Jo Maman Bebe. Recommended for 2+
Design & Drill Robot, £13.99
This brightly coloured robot - pleasingly old-school in design - is brilliant for small kids. Wee ones can put the robot together, using the included 'screwdriver' to build it. We don't want to sully the fun by mentioning it will help children develop their fine motor skills - but that is an ancillary benefit. First and foremost, though, it's just fun. Buy now, £13.99, Bright Minds. Recommended for 3+
World Map Pillowcase Kit + 10 Pens, Colour In And Learn, £14.95
It's a curious, but irrefutable fact, that kids love drawing on any surface that feels like it shouldn't be drawn on. This pillowcase actively encourages children to draw on fabric- this image is a world map, featuring notable animals and landmarks from each region, though there are also space scenes, dinosaurs, or fairy tales depending on your child's fancy. Buy here, £14.99, Not on the High Street. Recommended for 3+
My First Cook Book: Bake, Make and Learn to Cook, £12.99
It's great fun getting into the kitchen with your kids, and a great way of ensuring they'll learn to cook for themselves (trust us - it's time well spent. Having your child take care of dinner is a joy). This brightly coloured, user friendly book is a charming introductory cookbook for children. Written by the winner of the 2019 Great British Bake Off. Buy now, £12.99, Waterstones.
Big Ideas for Curious Minds, £18
This book, from the School of Life, takes philosophical concepts from across cultures and decades and turns them into easily digestible essays for young ones. Thinkers include Buddha, Descartes, Hypatia, Simone de Beauvoir, Aristotle, Mary Wollstonecraft, and ideas consider jealousy, irrational anger, empathy, and even 'why do I get angry when I'm tired?'
If that sounds ponderous, it's anything but. We spent our first lockdown reading a chapter of this each day with our seven year old, and they delighted in the discussions it raised, and the whimsical illustrations. 'Philosophy time,' was declared their favourite time of day. Strongly recommended. Buy here, £18, Trouva. Recommended for 6-13 years.
LEGO® NASA Apollo Saturn V, £109.99
We're not daft enough to believe that suggesting LEGO for Christmas qualifies as 'unusual'. This LEGO replica of one of the most powerful and successful rockets in NASA's history, however, is a step outside the norm.
If you're shopping for a child who adores learning about space, this will bring a riveting part of astronautical history to life for them. The Saturn V was launched 13 times, successfully, without loss of crew or payload.
The LEGO set contains a metre-high replica of the rocket, as well as a lunar module, and lunar lander. There's also a booklet about manned Apollo moon missions. Buy now, £109.99, LEGO.com. Recommended for 6+
Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set, £49.99
Sales of Chess sets have soared in the wake of Netflix's terrific series, The Queen's Gambit. However, for a younger person, you may need to provide a little extra visual interest to keep them hooked.
Here, the wizard chess scene from Harry Potter is rendered in loving game form. Buy now, £49.99, Waterstones. Recommended for all ages: after all, if Beth Harmon can become an expert at 8...
(If you want a more traditional set, this portable set from Not on the High Street is stylish and winning, £22)
Lucky Voice Karaoke Set, £48 to £63
'Fun for the whole family' is a cliche that rarely turns out to be true (how many board games end with family arguments?) but for this, the Lucky Voice Karaoke Set, it genuinely is. From kids to people of advancing years, we've seen all sorts enjoy themselves belting out a tune with this ready-made karaoke kit. Microphone, tunes, and speaker included.
It's a doddle to work - just plug in, grab the mic and sign your heart out. There are 9000 tunes to chose from (you'll need a phone or computer to see the lyrics), and a choice of fabulously coloured mics to pick from. You can even organise karaoke zoom and enjoy a party with your distant friends. Buy the white set now, £48, Urban Outfitters, or buy the pink set now, £63, Hamleys. Recommended for 4+
Throw Throw Burrito, £24.99
'The world's first dodgeball card game' is the description for this game (from the creators of Exploding Kittens). To level with you, we don't understand fully how it works, but we have observed gaggles of children at parties hooting with laughter and hurling the squishy toy burritos included at one another for - no exaggeration - two hours.
Anything that brings that much joy (without resorting to a screen) is a true winner. Apparently the entire family can join in the card game - we just haven't been invited yet. Buy now, £24.99, Smyths Toys. Recommended for: 7+
Children's Interactive Green Glow T-shirt In Black, £15.95
This is just cool. The interactive tee allows wearers to draw their own design - which will then glow in the dark for 10 minutes, before fading away to allow a fresh drawing. Machine washable, too, which is useful, as it will likely not often leave your child's back. Buy now, £15.95, Not on the High Street. Recommended for 3+
Duel Battle, £35
Gladiators, ready! If you have multiple kids to keep entertained, this inflatable battle set will provide hours of fun. It allows siblings to wail on each other without any parties being hurt or injured. It's highly portable, and as much fun for adults as it is for kids. Buy now, £35, Menkind. Recommended for 5+
Fujifilm UO Exclusive Dusty Pink Instax Mini 11 Camera, £79
Looking to encourage a budding photographer? This slim instant camera will provide them plenty of opportunity to practice their craft. It's light and small enough for smaller hands to handle.
There's a built-in mirror for perfect selfies, and the instantly developed photos are ideal for child to decorate their room with. Buy now, £79, Urban Outfitters. Recommended for 6+
12 Space Fairy Lights, £9.99
Adorn your child's room in a string of these cheerful space-themed lights, to add a touch of magic. Buy now, £9.99, lights4you.