If you’re a parent of young children, you know gift shopping can be a major undertaking. You shuffle through crowded shopping malls, monitor social media trends, and peruse online boutiques like Jizels in search of the toys that will make your kids’ faces light up on Christmas morning. In the midst of all the holiday madness, however, some companies deliver the goods year after year.
Here are five tried-and-true toy brands with something for every child.
A leader in educational toys since 1930, Fisher-Price sells a variety of items, from simple blocks to advanced electronics, designed to stimulate babies, toddlers, and preschoolers at different developmental stages. The brand’s patented Smart Stage technology allows you to adjust settings as your children grow and keep them occupied with new challenges rather than buy new toys every few months.
For example, the Laugh & Learn Smart Stage Crawl Around Car has an interactive dashboard that encourages babies to sit, crawl, stand, and cruise while also developing fine motor and language skills. The car itself is stationary, so you won’t have to worry about your kid getting underfoot.
The Dance and Groove Rockit features more than 100 songs, sounds, and phrases to help babies master letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and even Spanish vocabulary. Little ones push, slide, and flip buttons to hear different lessons, while the rocking motion encourages them to get their groove on. Best of all, Rockit’s microphone records and repeats your baby’s first words.
- Hot Wheels.
The ultimate source for multiple generations of car collectors, Hot Wheels is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of vintage vehicles from 1967 and 1968, including the Cougar, Camaro, Mustang, Volkswagon Beetle, and Hemi Barracuda. Matchbox-size cars and trucks make ideal stocking stuffers, while race tracks and playsets are perfect for putting under the tree.
For the youngest racers (ages five and up), the battery-free Super 6-Lane Raceway is easy to assemble and offers hours of competitive fun. More ambitious kids can construct their own raceways with the 15-foot-long Track Builder Straight Track or the 35-piece Track Builder Stunt Box.
The Criss Cross Crash Track Set is a four-loop extravaganza of hairpin turns, challenging intersections, continuous feeder ramps, speed boosters, and crash zones. The design is sure to rev up the excitement while developing kids’ planning and problem-solving skills.
- Melissa and Doug.
At a time when children tend to be overscheduled and overstimulated, this brand’s mission is to provide opportunities for free play and good, old-fashioned make-believe. From simple wooden play food to elaborate learning spaces, Melissa and Doug’s open-ended design provides multiple avenues for discovery.
Your toddler will have endless fun in a ball pit tucked inside a giant plush turtle, while your preschooler mixes and matches flavors and toppings behind the 28-piece Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter. Invite the neighbor kids over to shop at the Fresh Mart Grocery Store, a free-standing playspace complete with a hand-cranked conveyor belt, barcode scanner, credit card keypad, and cash drawer. Food sets to stock the shelves are sold separately.
Fill your kids’ stockings with activity pads full of puffy stickers, water-activated colors, and the brand’s trademark Mess-Free Glitter, which will keep the whole family occupied on the long drive to Grandma’s house.
- L.O.L Surprise.
Kids love ripping open their presents to find hidden treasures, but one brand has taken the element of surprise to a whole new level. L.O.L. Surprise sells a variety of dolls and accessories for ages six and up, and the opaque packaging makes the unboxing a big part of the fun.
Each chrome-coated doll in the Glam Glitter series, for example, comes with an outfit, shoes, a fashion accessory, a water bottle, stickers, and a poster. Kids add water to the doll to find out if she cries, tinkles, or changes color.
This year, the brand unveiled the Bigger Surprise, a sparkly, pink case containing more than 60 never-before-seen collectibles. Young sleuths use the spyglass to decode clues and reunite each doll with her missing pet. The set also includes plastic and brushable wigs to create 18 unique hairstyles.
No doll collection is complete without a dollhouse, and the L.O.L. Surprise House doesn’t disappoint. The three-foot-tall wood mansion has a working elevator, a flushable toilet, a functioning shower, and, of course, plenty of closet space for all those accessories. The adjoining patio has a fillable swimming pool, spa, and sandbox, along with day and night lighting modes.
There’s something about these colorful plastic bricks that awakens the builder in all of us. LEGO’s 2018 Holiday Toybook reveals the architectural wonders of the 6,000-piece Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle. From the intricate stonework on its colossal towers and spires to the whimsical lanterns and stained glass windows of the Great Hall to the fully-furnished Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, this model set for teenagers spares no detail.
If the castle’s price tag and difficulty level prove too daunting, try a LEGO 4+ set, such as Spider-man: Doc Oc Diamond Heist, or the Builder Box sets featuring Lucy and Emmett from The LEGO Movie 2. For tech-savvy youngsters, you can’t go wrong with the LEGO Movie Maker.
What toys will your kids receive this holiday season? Let us know in the comments.