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.
Gift Ideas for Families who Have ALL the Things
If you have a Nintendo Switch, Just Dance is what you need. The 2021 version can handle up to six players, AND you can even use your cell phone as a remote (no extra accessories needed!). Nate and I COULD join in with our four kids, but I think we may just kick back, relax and enjoy the squabble-free fun.
By FAR our best pick this season for keeping all of the kids occupied and entertained has been this Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit. It comes with a stand to make your tablet (Kindle Fire or iPad) compatible with the Osmo system, with 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 them through various creations. Our favorite game so far is an ABC game that teaches our preschooler how to make ABCs with manipulatable sticks and other shapes that come in the kit.
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!
Movie Night Subscription Box
Make movie night, any night! We always try to prioritize movie night as a family, incorporating classic snacks, popcorn, licorice, chocolate, quick snacks and all the fixins for a perfect night snuggled on the couch. Having an ongoing Movie Night Subscription Box will ensure that you carve out time to spend with the family every month.
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!
Sustainability is ALL the rage right now, and Panda takes that trend to the TOP with their stylish shades that match just about any outfit.
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.
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 so you can provide your chickens with fresh grass often. The company is planning to sell add-on wheels and a door timer that can be set to open and close at specific intervals to let your ladies free range daily. 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.
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're 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!
An Upscale Play Area
We got this Activity Table from Skip Hop earlier in the year, 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. Every single toy we've gotten from this brand has stood 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. This tugboat and cargo plane set are just the ticket for families looking for long-lasting toys.
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.
Got a sommelier in the mix? Knock their socks off with a specialty wine gift. Scout & Cellar sources, curates and distributes clean-crafted wines from the best vineyards and producers from around the world. These are the folks who sparked the clean-crafted revolution, encouraging wine makers to create wines free of artificial toxins and added sugars. So there'll be no more wine headache! They have monthly subscriptions and holiday sets with themes like “Journey” and “Tradition.” My fave is their Cabernet box: you can never go wrong with a good, clean Cab. This is a can't fail pick for families that like a good pairing – or a good party.
As long as you're busting out the wine, pull out an iconic game for some classic adult fun – and tons of laughs! M.A.S.H. will take you right back to high school, in the very best of ways.
Speaking of games, some of our slightly unconventional favorites for the whole family that you may not already have include Suspend, Mancala, Things I Know Dominoes and this Space Exploration Memory Game.
A High-Achieving Travel Blanket
The world's biggest towel – aptly named the Monster Towel – is ten feet by ten feet. It's thin and lightweight with a convenient carry strap for beach-goers. It has pockets in all four corners to weigh it down with sand or rocks on windy days, and it has a zipper to safely stash loose keys or money.
The STEM at Play kits from ETA Hand 2 Mind are our fave for getting hands-on activities going without the need for a bunch of prep.
This 3D Pen for Kids
The 3Doodler Start lets kids write their name in 3D or create cool keepsake gifts without the threat of burns. The eco-plastic comes out of the wireless pen in a warm state that's soft, pliable, and totally safe for children.
GUND Rainbow Plush
Welp, this is the cutest dang teddy bear I have EVER seen. I need one for the kids. Okay I'm totally lying. It's for me.
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 $10 off your phone purchase with this link and code DAY10.
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.
LEGO Toys and Stuff
You can never go wrong with LEGOs! We've been using the Teebee with a built-in brick plate to tote our creations around, and finding inspiration in books like How to Build Brick Airplanes. LEGO Chain Reactions is another huge hit around here, along with the LEGO Animation Book.
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.
Like a Giant Erector Set Toy
Antsy Pants sets feature snap and click poles and connectors that can be built into any design your kiddo can think of. Their imagination is the limit! Each set comes with inspirational instructions, and they also have add-on covers in case you want to follow their directions to create things like pirate ships, play houses and lemonade stands.
Britannica Kids' Encyclopedia
Every family needs a good encyclopedia. The classic, newly-updated Britannica Kids' Encyclopedia is perfectly accessible for both kids AND adults!
Toy Cats you can Draw On
Okay, normally this kind of thing isn't my jam. I don't generally like little trinkets that are inclined to get lost. But I've always had a thing for Fuzzikins' cute kitty friends that can be draw on and rinsed off and redesigned over and over again. I have a kitten-obsessed kiddo who geeks out over them. And this one is in a self-contained, totable CAMPER VAN. It's adorable. I'm sold on this definitely being one of the cutest gift ideas for families who have everything.
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
- The Melissa & Doug Tape Book
- Klutz Paper Airplanes
Our favorite sets are:
- Magnetic Mighty Mind
- Lite Brite
- Just For Boys Bracelets
- National Geographic's Mega Fossil Dig Kit and Mega Gemstone Kit
Pair a Book with a Plush Pal
Shore Buddies stuffed animals emit authentic sounds when squeezed, and they help educate kids about marine science while making a real difference in the world! Made from recycled bottles, a portion of proceeds goes to conservation and the accompanying book makes an amazing set for any kid who loves the ocean.
If you have a preschooler or kindergartener, you know that StoryBots are ALL THE RAGE right now, and they're an awesome educational tool. The talking mini plush set and songbook from Fisher-Price are getting a lot of playtime with our 4- and 6-year-olds lately.
This multisensory phonics playset guides kids through the process of creating words, helping bring letter-learning back to basics for parents (and their kiddos) who may be struggling with fluency during this unconventional time.
Looking to keep little ones entertained at home? This preschool learning toy is one of the best we've seen! It includes 12 interactive games with LED lights activated by touch, incorporating learning opportunities with old-school interactive methods that are totally reminiscent of my own childhood.
I just got a beautiful 1000-piece puzzle from eBoo featuring flowers charted throughout the calendar year. Best of all, it's in 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!
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 bits (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.
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
What gift ideas for families are making it into your shopping cart this year?