Christmas Gift Ideas for Gifted Kids

If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas for bright children and teens, I’ve got an updated list for you, as well as free Christmas resources for your family to enjoy this year.

I’ve got the ideas organized into age ranges. Be sure to look at categories that are age-adjacent to your child’s age. There is overlap, and you know your child.

{Note: If I link to Amazon, those are affiliate links.}

Christmas Toys & Gifts

I choose toys based on four factors:

  • Quality and longevity: I suggest toys that will stand the test of time. My 33-year-old son’s children are still playing with many of the toys he had as a child, and I want that opportunity for you, too.
  • Storage: Storing toys can turn any parent into a Grinch. I try to suggest toys that are easy to store or have extension/expansions so you can add to a toy as opposed to getting more and more different toys.
  • Flexibility: Toys that can be used in multiple ways are value-added, so I tend to recommend those types of toys.
  • Purpose: Play is developmental, so I like toys that encourage that. I don’t mean “educational” toys. I mean toys that grow psycho-social skills or encourage brain or physical development that are also fun.

I’ve included some gift ideas here that aren’t toys, too!

If you’d like to explore my general list of toys, you can find that on my Toys & Other Goodness Page on Amazon.

Toys and Gifts for Children Under 2

  • For babies and toddlers, fine motor toys are my go-to. Find my entire list of those here.
  • I also recommend toys that develop hand-eye coordination.
  • A third consideration is language development. That means I *never* recommend screens or electronic toys for toddlers. Research shows they actually delay language development, not promote it.
  • In addition to toys, donations to college savings accounts make great gifts for very young children. Grandparents can open 529 accounts and contribute to them.

Here are my specific toy recommendations for toddlers:


Puzzles are a perfect gift! They check all the boxes, and they store easily.

For toddlers, look for chunky pieces that fit into defined spaces. Here’s one I’m buying for my toddler granddaughter this year. It’s the Melissa and Doug Vehicles Chunky Puzzle.

You don’t need to get this exact one, but here’s why I like it so you know what to look for in a puzzle for toddlers:

  • Vocabulary: I can share the words for the different vehicles, as well as the three separate parts of the train (coal car, anyone?).
  • Attention Span: With only nine pieces, it’s aligned with toddler attention spans.
  • Chunky Pieces: The pieces are lifted above the plane of the puzzle, meaning they’re easier for little hands to grab.
  • Spaces, Not Interlocking: Interlocking puzzles begin to be perfect at my next age-level band. For toddlers, we want the pieces to fit into specific spaces.

Snap Together Toys

Toys that snap together confirm the match the child is trying to make, so it’s an affirming feeling of a win. They also have multiple purposes.

For example, these snap-n-learn alphabet alligators from Learning Resources are a great fine motor toy, they teach colors, they teach letter forms (notice both upper-case and lower-case letters), and they are easy to have several kids play together at once.


The old-style building blocks are truly excellent toys for toddlers. They have so many advantages, including:

  • Colors: The bold, limited colors (usually the primary colors plus green) are terrific for teaching color.
  • Togetherness: They are perfect for adult/child play.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: They develop hand-eye coordination as children reach and place.

I love this set from Melissa and Doug, but any will do.

Little People

I’m putting this gift last because it’s a bridge gift. It works for this age, but also into the 3-4 year range as well.

I loved the old-style Fisher-Price Little People sets of my youth that are no longer available, but the new sets are amazing as well.


  • Fine Motor Skills: There are so many little things to do. Ring the bell! Open the door! Place the hay!
  • Multiple Children: They are great for cooperative play because there are several people and pieces to move around. You can buy extra people, which is always a good idea.
  • Sturdiness: We have Little People sets that have been going strong for 30 years. That’s not a typo.

Last year, I purchased this farmhouse, and this year, I’m buying Noah’s Ark.

Toys and Gifts for Children Ages 3 – 5

For preschoolers, I want similar things as I want for toddler toys. Here are some suggestions!

Handy Scoopers from Learning Resources:

I love these Handy Scoopers. I’ve purchased them myself, and they’re great for both fine motor AND hand-eye coordination. They can pick up almost anything.

This grip motion is almost as important as the use of scissors.

Lacing Bead Toys

I’m a huge fan of lacing bead toys.

They teach fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as well as all the specific things in the particular set. This set of Melissa & Doug lacing beads is the one I bought this year.

It’s got numbers, lots of colors, different shapes, and those domino-like dots are really cool.

Lincoln Logs

I can’t get enough Lincoln Logs. I love that you can add to the sets of them, making them easy to store and also making it possible to make a huge village of them!

My granddaughters pretend they are chocolate cake batter, so apparently the encourage creative play as well.

They’re sturdy and durable. This is another toy we’ve had for 30+ years.

Design and Drill

This is a series of toys (like Little People), so if your child likes one, there are more to add to the set. The crane is a fun one to start with, but explore the choices to find just the right one.

This is a great STEM toy. The kids actually make the crane. It’s fun, even for adults.

Rock ‘n Gem Surprise

Learning Resources is one of my favorite toy companies, and this Rock ‘n’ Gem Surprise toy is one perfect example of why. Kids crack open the geode to discover the gems.

They can match the shapes and colors, and you can see that it comes with this easy-to-identify storage bag. #love

Bristle Blocks

These check all my boxes for perfect toys. They are in that sweet spot of fun with purpose. They can be played simultaneously by several children (or children with adults).

They’re also something that can be added to (ease of storing!).

This is a basic set, but they have other sets, so poke around before deciding.

Other gifts for Young Children

I have a page on Amazon where I curate the things I like for this age. You can access that page to see more ideas.

Toys and Gifts for Children Ages 6 – 10

These are the toys I love for the 1st – 5th graders. Keep in mind that the secret sauce for every gift is time with adults. Every game and toy benefits from adult interaction with the child.

For this age, I’m focusing on imaginative play that develops creative thinking.

I’m also focused on toys that have some flexibility to grow with them. This age band can have spurts of development that make toys obsolete quickly, so I try to choose ones that avoid being discarded ten minutes after opening.


I love Folkmanis puppets as a gift. They are fabulous, and they make a great gift for kids and teachers alike.

  • They are museum quality at a blue-collar price. You’ll be amazed at their value.
  • The hand workings are intricate, yet easy to do.
  • The puppets are generously-sized, and the materials used to make them are super tactile.

I have an owl that keeps me occupied for long periods of time, actually. All puppets are creative toys, and I like that, but these are something very, very special.

As a teacher, if I have a student hesitant to speak in front of the class, I often have them hold a puppet.

Amazon tells me I’ve purchased this three-headed dragon twice, and I’m surprised it’s only two times. It’s a favorite of my students.

Rock Tumbler

This is something they can have all their lives. I like sets like this that have rocks in the kit ready to tumble. This is a mid-range tumbler. If you think the child will be serious about it, you may want a higher grade (more expensive) version.

It does take some space to store, so be careful if that’s a consideration.

Perler Fuse Beads

So this is an example of a type of toys I recommend: crafts.

They’re a powerful tool for developing creativity, but they also help kids get that feeling of satisfaction that comes when you create something.

These Perler fuse beads are what I bought my 5 1/2 year old granddaughter this year.

This weaving loom is another example. This is a craft toy that has stood the test of time. I got one when I was ten, and they’re still popular!


If you have a child who is interested in the natural world, you’ve got two big choices: go big (binoculars) or go small (microscope. Here are great options for both.

These binoculars are perfect for kids because they are simple to use and they fit small faces. If you know my colleague Ian Byrd, this is what I’m giving his son Henry this year.

The next option is to go small with a microscope. This one is from National Geographic. There are more sophisticated ones, and if you have a child at the higher end of this age range, you might want to invest in a more sophisticated version.

Paper Airplanes

Crafts don’t have to be super crafty! The same advantages are in toys like this paper airplane book. This is another toy that deeply benefits from shared enjoyment.


While smartphones have cameras, for this age, I recommend cameras (and not phones). I like cameras like this one that are specifically designed for kids.

Add a photography class and a trip to take pictures together (maybe even a photography book), and you have a major gift.

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Car

This remote control car climbs walls. I think that’s all you really need to know.

Go Analog!

I’ve got two ideas for this age group that are revenge of the analog in a techy-tech world.

First, a typewriter. They are back, and they’re more fun than ever. They’re not cheap, so this a major gift. This one is purple because purple, but they come in lots of colors. Go ahead and get one with extra ribbon.

The next analog idea is a record player. For records. Amazon has a solid one for just $60 at the time I’m writing this.

Other Ideas for this Age Group:

Toys for Ages 11 – 17

This can be the hardest group to buy for, as they are outgrowing toys and moving into more specific (read “expensive” gift wishes).

Experience Gifts

This age group is old enough to appreciate experience gifts. Consider:

  • Tickets to sporting events or concerts
  • Trips to special destinations
  • Memberships or season passes to local venues

Tech Gifts

This group loves tech-y gifts, and a few that are worth investing in include:

Noise-cancelling headphones are a great investment. This includes airpods, but I love these myself. These are the exact ones I have. Pricey, but excellent.

Mini-Fridges make great gifts for teens. Girls keep makeup in them, too, so they’re not just for beverages. Of course, at our house, they store weird science experiments…

Electronic Drum Set This electronic drum set is super fun. The technology is astonishing. My dad was a professional drummer and my daughter-in-law is a percussionist, so I’m biased, but this is a fave.

This Mini-Sticker Printer is so handy, so cute, and so affordable! Stickers are fun and popular, but there’s also some educational opportunity here. This is a nice gift kids might not think of, but will really like.

Other Gifts for 11 – 17 year olds

  • Monthly subscription boxes
  • Gear for hobbies, like camping, or accessories for cars or bikes
  • Unusual sets for Lego builders, like this Lego Icons Succulent set
  • Small photo album full of gift cards to fave places
  • LED light sets for their rooms (like this one that syncs to music)


If you are looking for books specifically about Christmas, I curate a list on my Amazon page.

I make videos with book recommendations, so check out this video with loads of suggestions.

More Books

I also have recommendation lists for non-Christmas books for different topics/age ranges.

You can see all my recommendations for books and toys here.

Free Christmas Resources

I’ve got three free resources I offer that I hope will help your family enjoy this Christmas season.

First, I’ve got a set of Christmas bookmarks with Christmas-y quotes from books you can print out and put in the books you give for Christmas!

Next, 8 years ago I recorded audio versions of some of my favorite Christmas stories. You can listen to them for free, and I hope you love them.

I recorded them for the children of a friend who loved to listen to stories as they fell asleep. She mentioned that another mom had asked for them, so I put them up where others could access them. Thousands of people have listened to them over the years, and I hope you like them, too.

Third, I have two short story classes I livestreamed about The Gift of the Magi and Pearl S. Buck’s On Christmas Day in the Morning.

If you’re a teacher or homeschooler, they’re gold.

Previous Year’s Recommendation Lists

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