SwearBy Gift Guide December 4, 2017

Better than a Lump of Coal: The Kids’ Gift Guide

We created our first-ever, definitive guide for kid holiday gifts by going directly to the source. We asked kids (and their parents) what toys and other kiddo favorites they swear by. We couldn’t have asked for more! Our little (and bigger) friends gave us adorable, HONEST feedback for awesome things. While retailers are hawking the newest thing, we got kids to tell us about their favorite things…the toys, books, and such they love enough to share with a friend this holiday. We compiled a list of 25 items, spanning ages 0 to 13. Check out the list below, ordered in chronological age from wee to little, middle, and big…and vetted by parents as something that won’t annoy the crap out of them. Because kids shouldn’t have all the fun.

1. Lewis Limited-Edition Baby Quilt

Our friends Liz and Lizzy, the creators of stylish nursery brand Lewis, design their quilts to look precious, but function like durable essentials that go everywhere, including the washer/dryer. Made from organic cotton remnants from Lewis crib sheets and featuring illustrations drawn by Liz,  these quilts are absolutely charming keepsakes. Because they are limited-edition, they sell out quickly. Alas, this stingray print is no longer available, but they have adorable radishes, octopuses (octopi?) and more to suit the whimsical whims of any wee one. Suggested age: 0+

More Lewis Baby Quilts

2. Magnatiles

Get these early in your toy repertoire and your kids will grow with them. Kate swears that these are the best gift because, even though they are an investment, 6 years later, both of her kids are still playing with them. “Because my son and daughter love them equally, this toy is constantly in play. Archie [3] and Ryan [6] will actually play (somewhat nicely) together, adding little cars to make garages or little animals to build pretend zoos.” Suggested age: 1ish+

View on Amazon

3. Green Toys Play House

Kim says that her little one, 2, loves to play pretend, and this petite play house makes it easy on everyone. “It’s a compact-size dollhouse that doesn’t take up a lot of space, but it offers a ton of imaginative play. I love how Green Toys are made from recycled plastic, are well-designed, and are durable and can take a beating.” Suggested age: 2+

View on Amazon

4. Butler Macaroni 3-in-1 Boot

OK, so this gift is really for the parents, but imagine a simpler world in which your kids can keep their sneakers on and just slip into a rain/snow boot. Our friend Liz A. turned us on to these boots, which are designed to be worn over your kid’s shoes. Plus, the cozy inner liner is an option for sock-in-boot wearing, or removed and worn indoors as a slipper! So darn cute, too. Suggested age: 2+

Shop Butler Boots

5. Zingo

Here’s why Zingo will be your kid’s first board game: “It’s not easy playing a board game with a child under a certain age, but this bingo-like game is the first one that my child has been able to legitimately follow the rules and happily play along. The slider dispenses the chips – which is a fun activity itself – but then she gets excited about seeing her favorite images pop up and matching them on the card. It’s cute…and it’s actually fun for the adult to play along.” -Julie   Suggested age: 3+

Z-I-N-G-O

6. CAT Machine Maker

“Archie got this for his third birthday and he’s obsessed. Now that he has a bit of dexterity, he likes to screw and unscrew the bolts with the screwdriver. It’s a rugged little truck and they have dump trucks, excavators, and bulldozer versions. Sometimes the wheels pop off when he throws it hard off the jungle gym, but that’s half the fun…putting them back on.” -Roger  Suggested age: 3+

View on Amazon

7. Lightstax

“These are essentially light-up Duplos. When a block is connected to another block that’s connected to the base, it will illuminate. A little strategy is involved in making structures, and it generally jazzes up block-building activities. Works with other building blocks you already have, too. Keeps them occupied for hoooouuurs.” – Sarah   Suggested age: 3+

Illuminating Toys This Way

8. Mad Matter

The secret to a well-behaved child? Going anywhere well-prepared and armed with the best toys to keep little hands and minds busy. Exhibit A: our friend Jessica, who keeps outings drama-free with Mad Matter, squishy kinetic sand that comes in a variety of colors and can be molded with this addictive little brick-maker.  Suggested age: 4+

Shop Mad Matter

9. Pirasta Really Big Coloring Poster

Also file under “Well-Behaved Children.” Our creative friend, Cricket, brings these to family gatherings to keep kids of all ages entertained and working together harmoniously on a single project. Available in a variety of themes but in always-stylish illustrations. With the ability to roll it up and unroll again later,  it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Suggested age: 4+

Really Big Posters This Way

10. Spot It

Vicki swears by this “awesome family game” because it’s fun for both kids and adults. It’s like the fast-paced card game “War” but with pictures…the objective is to be the first to find a match when the center card is flipped and win the most cards. Because it’s small and compact, it’s “great for traveling” and easy to entertain kids at a restaurant before dinner.  Suggested age: 5+

Grab it Here

11. Toilet Trouble

Yes, we are showing you a toilet game. But seriously, when you combine potty humor with counting, turn-taking, and fun, everybody wins. This flush-in-the-face roulette requires kids to roll the “toilet paper” to see how many flushes they get before somebody gets sprayed in the face…with “toilet water.” Michelle says “The kids can’t decide if getting sprayed means winning or losing, but it’s always met with exuberant squealing. I don’t mind because it keeps the kids engaged, screen-free. And I love watching the pupils dilate of every kid that comes over when they set eyes on this thing!”  Suggested age: 5+

For Potty Humorists

12. The Book with No Pictures

“I got this book when I was 4 or 5,” says Ryan, 6. “It’s my favorite and the funniest book I have. The book says silly things and it sounds really funny when the parent has to read it out loud. My brother and I make my mom do it and we laugh like crazy.”

Modern Classics

13. Splash of Color Painting and Coloring Book

“My daughter is obsessed with art, and we were so fortunate to be gifted this beautiful book from the very talented illustrator and author, Liz Libre. It’s a book of Liz’s super-chic and playful black-and-white illustrations…from fun sea animals to quirky patterns and pretty botanicals. Just add color and it really turns every person into a genius artist…everything my daughter has made from this book looks frame-worthy.” – Kate   Suggested age: 5+

View on Amazon

14. Q-Ba-Maze

“Our 6 year-old son loves building and rebuilding complex marble runs and towers. He’ll often incorporate them into other structures such as Magnatiles. We set up races to see which sides go fastest. And when we feel really bananas, we dump all the marbles in and call it ‘rush hour’!” -Alexandra   Suggested age: 6+

View on Amazon

15. WhatchamaDRAWit

Clever. Creative. Fun. Our friend Amie and her spawn are all of these things, so it makes sense that they swear by this game that provides crazy / silly / absurd drawing challenges. It promotes creativity – and better yet, a sense of humor – in kids and adults of all ages.  Suggested age: 6+

Draw a chicken playing the piano

16. SenseBall Soccer Ball

Did your mom ever tell you to stop playing ball in the house? With this toy, you might actually play indoors, with a string attached that prevents the soccer ball from getting out of reach. Griffin, 9, swears by this SenseBall because it’s an addictive and fun way to build soccer skills, perfecting footwork and finessing touch with both feet. For players of all skill levels and all ages.  Suggested age 7+

Kick it Here

17. Chibi Lights

This kit includes a notebook that leads the child through different circuit-building activities. Our friend Alexandra swears by these because it’s a STEM starter toy that is both scientific and artistic. The LED stickers, batteries, and copper tape work together to create little lights that get kids thinking about electricity and “how things work.” Alexandra says that “as a photographer, my passion is blending art and science, and I love how this activity integrates creative expression and formulaic scientific principles.”  Suggested age: 8+ (or super smarty-pants 6+ with parental guidance)

View on Amazon

18. Aviator Nation Hoodie

“If you are a child of the ’80s and have children of the millennium, you’ll have a gooey spot for this retro, CA beach-inspired apparel collection. Before you balk at the price, note that the super-soft cotton blend gives these sweatshirts a lived-in, heirloom quality, while gender-neutral designs make them truly pieces that can be passed down from kid-to-kid. I order them a few sizes larger than my kids’ current age, roll up the sleeves, and then they can grow into them. With these, my kids don’t fight me when I suggest they wear a sweatshirt.” – Kate    Sizes 2 – 12

Shop Aviator Nation

19. Monopoly Deal

Stocking stuffer alert. Cricket is going to add this to her nephews’ stockings because she can’t stop playing it with her boys. It’s a quick, 15-minute card game, which makes it fun and fast-paced for kids and parents, alike. It’s also like $5 on Amazon.

Suggested age: 8+

Let's Make a Deal

20. My Audio Pet

These adorable, itty-bitty speakers have SwearBy user Heather saying they are “super durable” and give off “incredible sound” despite their tiny frames. What’s better? They’re cute enough to delight any burgeoning lover of music or picky pre-teen. Comes in cat, panda, bear, pig, mouse, etc.   Suggested age: 10+

Get One Right Meow

21. Unicorn/Rainbow Zip and Flip Pillow

Our friend, Annie, the gifting guru and proprietor of ever-popular Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn, says that this unicorn pillow is flying off the shelves for the tween and teen set. What’s so special? The squishy pillow fully unzips to transform into a rainbow neck pillow, making it the perfect companion for a holiday trip or a dreamy bedroom accessory.   Suggested age: tween/teen

Shop at Blue Ribbon General Store

22. Spintastics Diablo Chinese Yo-Yo

Malcolm, 11, spends hours of screen-free time playing and learning the many tricks that are possible with this Chinese yo-yo. Malcom and his mom say it’s “good, clean fun!” The objective: hold the sticks in hand and spin the little weighted yo-yo back and forth, creating awesome maneuvers and tricks. It requires some practice to master, but becomes truly addictive and rewarding.   Suggested age: 11+

View on Amazon

23. Sushi Go Party Game

Sebastian, 13, says that Sushi-Go is “quick, fun, not-too-easy and not-too-hard, and who doesn’t love sushi?!” His brother, Jasper, 12, says that “there are no games like it. You have multiple options of what type of game you want to play, and it’s a fun, fast-moving game to play with friends and family.” Their mom, Monica, says “I have no idea what it’s about. But they love it. Really.” A great gift for the kid who has everything, because they don’t usually have Sushi Go.   Suggested age: 8+

View on Amazon

24. Ninetendo Switch

Newsflash: teenagers like video games. And the Ninetendo Switch is the virtual cat’s pajamas. Already have a Switch? Sebastian, 13, opts for games like Mario Cart, Zelda, and fun accessories like this Zelda carrying case, which has game storage all inside. It’s like a chic little fashion clutch. But for video games, of course.  Suggested age: teenz.

View on Amazon

25. Coal

JK.

(But really, you can buy this.)

For kids old enough to take a joke
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