The holiday season can be a nightmare for any parent. Holiday shopping is hard, with or without children. If your kids are anything like mine, they change their minds at least once a day when you ask them what they want for Christmas. OR they ask for one or two things, which is somehow worse, because grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins are all hounding you to find out what they can get them. There isn’t enough to go around!
The good news is, I’ve got your back. I’ve done a lot of browsing this year, and found some great games, toys and tech that will be perfect for your family.
Here are my holiday gift recommendations for your family this season!
Technology is usually a gift saved for the older kids, but the youngest in our family can really benefit from all that is out there too. This doesn’t always mean screen time, but if it does, make sure to check out a pair of kids blue light glasses while you’re at it—GUNNAR Youth makes for a great stocking stuffer! There are also plenty of great kids headphones that fit smaller ears perfectly and have volume control to protect their ears! Find some ONANOFF Buddyphones here. There are plenty of tech-related options out there for our children. Here are a few of my favourites!
Tablets are a challenge for every family. The real commitment you need to make is to an operating system, not to a specific device, especially when kids are involved. Every device comes loaded with parental controls, with the Amazon Fire HD 10 being the most kid-friendly, even coming in its own protective case. The tricky part about Amazon, is that their devices all work flawlessly together, but if you aren’t already a part of that ecosystem, it’s hard to dive in. You can find the Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet here.
Samsung also features a plethora of tablets, and these are usually our go-to, as we are an Android family at heart. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite is a recommendation from me for sure. Their higher-end tablets are great, but our kids just don’t need all the bells and whistles. The A7 Lite is a great size for little hands at 8.7”, does all they need, and the battery life is more than sufficient. I recommend this case here for kids tablets. It’s our absolute favourite and fits the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite, which you can get here!
For our Apple lovers out there, I didn’t forget you! We recently covered the iPad (9th generation), and our writer and dad, Chris de Hoog, gave it a whopping 9.5 out of 10! He says, “It’s the perfect compromise of features for the iPad range—not as bulky or expensive as the Pro, but full-sized unlike the Mini, and retaining the core features, power, and performance of both.” Sounds to me like if you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, the iPad (9th Generation) is a great solution for the whole family. Find it here!
This device is probably for kids a little bit older, maybe closer to 10. The Nibble STEM kit is a DIY game console. How cool is that? Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be playing the latest Xbox Series X titles on it, but there are some great options on there, and your kids get to learn a little something along the way. Teach your children to build and code their own system (or have a little fun yourself). Maybe there are some future game designers among us!
Toys are diving into a new space, which I’ve had some questions about before. LEGO is a great example. All the directions can be found online now, instead of in the box. When trying to get away from screen time, we are dragged right back in. It’s an adjustment for sure, but a very cool experience when you check out things like Wall Stories. These are wall decals, and with their augmented reality app on Android and iOS, you can bring the decals to life through Story, Game or Creation modes.
Our favourite version is Paw Patrol, but there is also Sesame Street, and more general options that cover colours, numbers, music and reading. The age range here is around three, but my 6-year-old, who is too cool for Paw Patrol now, often takes over from his little sister.
Obviously, toys are what every parent is looking for this holiday season. What is the latest and greatest gift of 2021? I can’t answer that, but I can absolutely tell you some of the toys we are most excited about as a family.
This is a brand I didn’t know off the top of my head, but they have jumped into some of the most popular brand names around, catering to almost any age range in the home. This doesn’t just mean kids either! Jazwares has a Halo line of action figures that plenty of Xbox fans are sure to love, maybe even Mom or Dad! On the younger side, they have toys for Roblox, Blippy, Peppa Pig and Micro Machines, but our favourite, of course, is the range of Fortnite toys available. The Rippley Vending Machine is probably the toy I’m most excited about giving my son this year!
This is a brand that just keeps on giving, it’s right out of my childhood. If you can think of a toy, or franchise, Mattel probably covers it in some way or form. If you are somehow unfamiliar with them, they are the ones behind Barbie and Hot Wheels, so you know they know what they’re doing! I got to test a few toys they have brought out this year, and I’m obsessed.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian The Child Real Moves Plush is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. If you or your kids are on team Grogu, this is the toy for you. The 12-inch plush is remote control operated, and comes loaded with The Force. You can even play hide-and-seek with it!
Our other favourite this year is Elsa’s Enchanted Lights Palace. My daughter is only about 2 and a half—still pretty young. Fisher Price is a good friend of ours for our youngest, and they hit the nail on the head with this Disney themed palace. It’s colourful, it’s musical and most importantly, it’s safe for our littles! Good luck listening to Let It Go on repeat though!
This is another brand I didn’t know right away! If you head over to their site though, you’ll realize right away that you’ve been using their stuff for years. Treasure X is a cherished—though messy—part of our lives. Scruff a Luvs and Shopkins are everywhere you look. They also have a cool series of toys called Akedo Warriors, you can check out here. They’re like Rock Em Sock Em Robots, but brought to the next level with lights and sounds! There are plenty of sets to collect, too!
What I was most excited to find, though, were toys for our most beloved series, Bluey. For many parents out there, kids programming is hard. But Bluey actually makes me laugh along with the kids, so I fully support the obsession, especially with Dora or Caillou. We have never seen toys for it though, so I can’t wait to show them to the kids! They have plush toys, games, action figures, vehicle packs and more to choose from, plenty of options!
Game night as a family is so important, but what that looks like to each family can be completely different. Is it a night of cards or board games? Maybe your family is more into the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. Even a nice walk with the family while playing Pokémon Go can count! Here are a few of my favourite holiday game options for our family this year!
Mario Party Superstars (Nintendo Switch)
Everyone knows the Mario Party series! A new version came out this year, and my kids adore it. You can never go wrong with a Mario Party title, but Mario Party Superstars brings something old and something new to the table. It’s like a “best of” version of all the past games, with mini-games from way back. A nice nostalgic touch for parents, and the kids will love it too. The best part is the new save feature. Long gone are the days of having to finish a board before bed!
My Singing Monsters Playground (Nintendo Switch)
This is another party-style game that you can play with up to 4 players in couch co-op mode. You get to play as an adorable little monster, and the kids love it. It’s mini-game based, and the rounds go pretty quickly, so you can cram in a lot of playtime after dinner with the family. There are plenty of outfits to collect in My Singing Monsters Playground, and around 30 mini-games to master!
This game is a neat concept because you can use just the base set, and add expansions as you go along! Funko has mastered this, bringing in new characters in extra sets, making us want to collect them all! It’s aimed at kids ages ten and up, but the younger ones can swing it with a little extra help. Rounds can take between 20 and 60 minutes, so make sure you have some time set aside depending on how many people are playing (two to four). The Funkoverse also expands over different franchises, like Harry Potter, if Marvel isn’t your thing, making it a versatile gift for the holidays!
Alright, we may be Marvel fans in this household, but hear me out! Marvel Battleworld is a really fun option for a lot of reasons. First off, it’s a fun game. You create a board from cards played, and you get to play as your favourite Marvel Heroes! My son’s favourite part is the blind-bag style expansions and collecting the figures, which is where this carrying case comes in handy.
That is a wrap for this year’s holiday guide, but make sure to check out our Holiday Gifts for Families for gift ideas for mom, dad and the grandparents too. This year has been a long one, but the staff here at CGM hope we have helped make this holiday season a little bit easier for you!