These holiday gift ideas for kids ages 5 and up include nifty things to play, do, read, and wear (NO video games or electronics!).
Have you heard the four-gift holiday tradition of giving “something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read”? I love the simplicity of that advice, and it inspired this gift list. While video games and electronics may qualify as their “something they want”, hopefully this guide will help you fill in some of the other blanks.
A few notes about this gift guide:
- I have two boys, and this list probably reflects that–though these items can be enjoyed by all kids.
- With the exception of Kazoo (a magazine for girls) and Mel Science (which I just ordered), these are all games, subscriptions, books, and items that we have and that my kids truly like.
- Most of these are geared toward mid-elementary to middle school, though Kazoo Magazine is ideal for children as young as 5.
- Approximate cost is based on prices listed at the time I wrote this post.
GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS: TO PLAY
Forbidden Island Ages 10-15 (my younger son played when he was 8). If you’ve got sore losers in your family or intense sibling competition, co-operative games are the answer! This is a card game where you work together to collect treasures and keep the island from sinking. You choose from different characters with special abilities, and there are multiple levels of difficulty. 2-4 players. $16.47
Castle Panic Ages 10 and up (again, my younger son played this at age 8). This is another co-operative game where work together to defend the castle against orcs, trolls, and other monsters who come out of the forest to attack. Sounds scary but isn’t! 1-6 players. $22.99
Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set Both of my kids got into D&D this past year, and I couldn’t be happier that it involves playing with friends and NOT in front of a screen! My younger son even started his own D&D group in the role of “dungeon master” and this set helped make that happen. $39.95Gift Ideas For Kids: Things to Play, Do, Read, and Wear
GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS: TO DO
Mel Chemistry Ages 9-14. I just ordered this for my impossible-to-buy-for younger son. Your child gets a starter kit with chemistry supplies like beakers, flasks, and safety glasses, than 2-6 experiments a month. Starts at $34.90/month (you can cancel anytime). Update: We found these kits too challenging for my 9 year old, but older kids may enjoy them!
Mail Order Mystery Ages 8-13. Pick from adventures like “Treasure Hunt!” and “The Enchanted Slumber” and your child will receive a mystery that unfolds in the mail, including letters, top-secret files, codes to crack, and maps. Check their FAQ section to find out which mysteries are geared toward which ages. We ordered “Spies, Lies, and Serious Bad Guys” last Christmas for my then-9-year-old, and it was a little too challenging for him (but the 13 year old enjoyed it!). $72-$84 for six weeks of mystery.
Highlights Top Secret Adventures Ages 7 and up. Every adventure takes kids to a different country, where they need to solve a mystery, break codes, and even capture a villain (while learning about world geography and culture!). Each kit includes a world travel guide, puzzles, games, facts, and photographs. We got these for my teen when he was in elementary school and he loved them. $18.93 for adventures every three weeks (first one is free and you can cancel anytime).
GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS: TO READ
Kazoo Magazine Ages 5-12. A magazine for girls that “celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and, above all, true to themselves”. It includes puzzles to do, stories to read, issues to ponder, recipes to make–and it’s 100% ad-free! An annual subscription is 4 issues for $39.99 (you can also buy back issues).
When on Earth? History As You’ve Never Seen It Before! Ages 8-12. My husband got this book for my younger son on a whim a few years ago and I think he has looked at it every single day since then (no exaggeration). And he now knows more about history than anyone in the house. With fantastic illustrated maps, this book teaches “where, when, and how history happened.” $13.99
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Lafayette Ages 8-12. This is the newest in a series of graphic novels that tells the true stories of history (with a lot of silly stuff along the way too). This one centers around general Marquis de Lafayette, who helps fight for American independence, but my kids have read and re-read ALL the books in this series. $9.79
GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS: TO WEAR
Swiss Gear Backpack This is the backpack my older son got when he wanted a more “older kid” pack for middle and high school. It’s held up well for three years and fits everything. $59.99
Sherpa Lined Hoodie Both of my boys have one of these, and they say they’re super cozy and warm, even on cold days. These come in both boys and girls sizes. Lands End, $39.95
Soft Jeans with Fantastiflex Got kids who think jeans are stiff and uncomfortable? Mine did, but these jeans changed their minds! Gap, $39.95
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