We get a ton of emails asking about gift ideas for families this time of year, so we're whipping up a helpful guide!
This will be pinned on the homepage for the duration of the season and updated when we see good deals or cool gadgets that fill a need for active families. If you have an idea for something we should add or a question about anything you see here, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that some of these items have been purchase by us individually, and some have been sent by brands throughout the years. We try out A LOT of stuff, we do not charge brands for consideration or allow paid placement in our gift ideas for families, and nothing lands in our guides that we don't truly love!
Gift Ideas for Families who Have ALL the Things
A Cookbook for Disney Lovers
Man, I'm missing the parks right about now. If you're feeling the same, the Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook from my pal Ashley Craft will have you mixing up Mickey magic in no time! This is the perfect way to cook up some great family memories together, right at home. This year, she's added the Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book to the mix, too.
If you've followed this blog for long, you know how much we love Osmo Learning. Osmo kits come with a stand to make your tablet (Kindle Fire or iPad) compatible with the Osmo system, as well as a mat and pieces that kids can place on it for game play and learning. The Osmo system can read what's being placed on the mat, and guide kids through various hands-on learning. Our favorite for free play is the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit. For more structured learning, we love the BYJU's Magic Workbooks kits featuring familiar Pixar and Disney characters. It comes with a stand, as well as a set of workbooks and pens that the Osmo system can detect. Your child can get hands-on practice in a paper format as well as access to an extremely educational app that works both with the books and as a standalone for on-the-go play.
It's a pillow. It's a pal! These absurdly-adorable pillow buddies made with recycled water bottles are soft, cuddly, and easy to care for. They're perfect for fostering curiosity and taking along on your next road trip!
Zephyr Flyer from Tupelo Goods
Did you have a tree swing when you were a kid? I did, and the memories I made on that thing were EPIC. Recreate the experience for your own kids – and maybe yourself, if you're feeling adventurous – with the Zephyr Flyer from Tupelo Goods (you can score 15% off with discount code SOMEDAYILLLEARN).
A Sentimental Scarf
One of my favorite gift ideas for families, the McGovern & Co Map Scarf lets families take their memories along with them in the form of a beautiful piece of cloth. This surprisingly durable fabric is cool enough to act as a shawl on a summer day, warm enough to serve as a winter scarf when bulked up around a sweater collar on chilly evenings. It's even large enough to spread out as a makeshift picnic cloth. It's packable and light and seems to always wind up in my bag or draped around the shoulders of one of my kids.
The company makes this along with tons of other location prints to fit any family's destination preference and turn that road trip into a forever piece of memorabilia.
A Weighted Blanket
Okay so folks who have ALL the things may already have this. The thing is that you can never have too many weighted blankets because they rapidly become the favorite of everyone in the house and they are in constant use. That makes it STILL one of the best gift ideas for families who have everything! Weighted blankets are exactly what they sound like: blankets with beads inside to add extra weight. That pressure across your body helps impart a sense of calm and reduce anxiety. Weighted blanket should be between 10-12% of your body weight, give or take. Our favorite is from Tranquility, because it has a washable cover!
The Ultimate Chicken Coop
The aptly-named Ultimate Chicken Coop by Hampel is made of molded plastic for an easy-to construct and easy-to-clean home that's the perfect size for a backyard flock. It's simple to move with the add-on wheel accessory, so you can provide your chickens with fresh grass often. Flaps on the sides lift up for easy egg access and it's totally predator-proof, as proven by our cats who spent the better part of a week trying to gain access into this curious new contraption.
Our former chicken run – that monstrosity of wire and metal in the background – is getting demolished to make room for a playground, making this one of the best gift ideas for families who have chickens and are short on space. If owning chickens is on your bucket list, this is the easiest way to do it.
An Upscale Play Area
We got this Activity Table from Skip Hop a couple years ago, and we love how it converts from a bouncer to a play area and even a sleek homework table for our older kids. The things that have really stood the test of time, though, are the Reversible Waterproof Play Mat and the Kids Chairs.
MPowerd Luci Core
This solar OR battery powered light has cool white LEDs, a bendy arm to wrap it around anything, and it lasts 12 hours on a single charge. The Luci Core has rapidly become our family's favorite light, being put to use in the shop, for reading, for photography, and all around camp.
Green Toys Sets
Our boys have gone through zillions of car toys. Most have died a sad destructive death in mud or their wheels have simply fallen off after weeks of abuse. That's not the case with Green Toys, which have landed on our list of gift ideas for families for several years in a row. This is one family gift that stands the test of time. Their plastic – made from 100% recycled milk jugs – is some sort of magic. During the holidays, we clean them all up and setup a little holiday display inside, our own funny version of those old Lenox displays. Our beloved tugboat and cargo plane set are just the ticket for families looking for long-lasting toys. This year, we also added the RV camper set to our collection.
A Portable Noise Machine
Sure, a lot of families have a noise machine. But a simple, portable one that can double as a bluetooth speaker? That's a win for any crew – especially one on the go. The Sound Oasis is multi-purpose for the whole family. When we're at home, I even use this speaker on my desk to drown out the household noise.
Snack in the Box
The concept is simple: a divided box for snacks and a box for drinks. It doesn't SOUND particularly earth-shattering, but these little snack boxes are far more functional than plactic baggies. We keep them filled with high-protein food like nuts and crackers, and stash them in the car whenever we head out. They've saved us about a kajillion drive-through trips, making Snack in the Box one of our favorite functional gift ideas for families.
Some of our slightly unconventional favorites for the whole family that you may not already have include Suspend, Mancala, Throw Throw Avocado, and this Space Exploration Memory Game. If you're a game loving groups, you absolutely have to give these a go!
Our oldest kiddo is reaching that age where he needs a phone (SOB!). For $20 a month, Gabb offers unlimited talk, text and GPS with no web browsing capabilities (something we only allow on their computers at home with monitored access, and one of the things that caused the most hesitancy when it was time to get a phone). I'm SO relieved to have a safe option for getting the kids a cell! Get $30 off your phone purchase with this link and code DAY30.
An Indoor Garden
My 6-year-old begged for his own garden space for his birthday. Only problem? It's winter. Not exactly high season for planting…and if I do manage to get some seedlings sprouting, I always worry about killing plants over the busy Christmas holiday. We got the Click & Grow system to let us “set it and forget it.” This herb garden features a timed grow light, pre-seeded capsules in properly-balanced soil pods, and a reservoir that lasts weeks with easy indication for refill time. The light above the plants can extend up and down as the plant grows.
Kindle Kids Edition
I've told you guys how we use a Kids Fire as the main educational tablet for our kids. A few parents have asked if there's a way to make it more of a traditional e-reader with JUST the book part of Amazon FreeTime. No games or videos or other apps. If that's what you're looking for, the Kindle Kids Edition is just the ticket! It's purpose-built for reading, with a black and white glare-free screen, weeks of battery life and Bluetooth capability so you can listen to Audible books. It even includes a year of access to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited with books like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, and it has a 2-year no-questions-asked warranty.
If you have a Nintendo Switch, Mario Party Superstars is the hit game this season! The classic game boards and 100 mini games are perfect for family gatherings. In our house, this game managers to engage ALL FOUR BOYS AT ONCE, including the youngest who's actually beating his brothers on occasion.
This robot vacuum is the ultimate gift for anyone who's tired of cleaning up after messy kids. Hint: that's pretty much every parent on the planet.
A Giant Erector Set
Several brands now make these snap and click poles and connectors that can be built into any design your kiddo can think of. Their imagination is the limit! Most sets come with inspirational instructions and add-on covers in case you want to follow their directions to create things like pirate ships, play houses and lemonade stands. The best one on Amazon right now is made by Tiny Land Store.
Britannica Kids' Encyclopedia
Every family needs a good encyclopedia. The classic, newly-updated Britannica Kids' Encyclopedia is perfectly accessible for both kids AND adults! If you're looking to spend time immersing yourself in learning together, this is the pick for you.
Activity Books and Sets
Our kids spend SO much time at their activity table, we have a full closet of activity set options for them. Friends always ooh and aah over it when they come over.
Our favorite books are:
- Highlights Write-on Wipe-Off books
- Highlights Activity books for grades kindergarten through 2nd
- Zentangle for Kids
- Easy Origami
- Klutz Paper Airplanes
Our favorite hands-on sets are:
For kids interested in science, National Geographic kits are super informative, and we have a TON:
eBoo puzzles are my go-to for gifts, since they make the most gorgeous ones I've seen and many include inspirational sayings, iconic travel destinations, or fascinating lessons. Best of all, a lot of them are in the shape of a circle so that the whole family can work on it and nobody has to be looking at pieces “upside down.” Work on it together throughout the year and frame it for a lifelong memory!
Oogi Family Pack
If you're not familiar with Oogi, you should be. My toddler discovered these in a library play space awhile back, and he's been obsessed with them ever since. These bendable little buddies suction onto any flat surface – and each other! They roam around our home now, with any given family member fiddling around with them and sticking them to mirrors and windows.
Our family has been LONG-time fans of HEXBUG, and their new Junkbots are a huge hit with the whole crew. They come in little trash bitn (adorable!) with all sorts of bits and pieces that can be mix-and-matched into cute, semi-creepy yet somehow totally-lovable robots.
A Neat-Looking Chair
“I think, therefore I am.” Since we're getting all deep with art and the state of the world, this chair by ErgoErgo provides the perfect opportunity to sit and contemplate. A practical spin on the classic balance ball, this innovative seat has been as big of a hit with the parents in our house as it has been with the kids. Its active shift seat lets you move through a wide range of positions with a super-small footprint.
A Really Cool Stroller Situation
The Wonderfold W4 Quad Stroller Wagon folds and unfolds easily, fits up to four kiddos, and also makes one heck of a pumpkin or Christmas tree-puller with up to 300 pounds of capacity. This thing is a game-changer for fairs, as well as cabin trips and mini weekend escapes for those of us who are planning a lot of road trips this year.
A Power Tool Gift
Every household needs these, and constant tech updates mean that there's always a fun way to upgrade that tool closet. Or maybe I'm just a big sucker…I feel like Nate finds an excuse to get a new STIHL chainsaw every other year.
More Holiday Gift Guides
Looking for more? Check out some of our other popular gift guides:
- For practical moms
- The best gifts for coffee drinkers
- My favorite camping gifts
- Clever gifts for new dads
You may also be interested in our most clever ideas for giving a gift card to family members, winter movies the whole family can enjoy for movie night, or how to make a festive holiday season ice cream bar (have you ever tried honey or maple syrup on vanilla?). And if you're looking for clever family photo ideas for the season, check out our annual holiday pajama photoshoot!
What gift ideas for families are making it into your shopping cart this year?