How to Choose the best Gifts for Kids

One Simple Strategy To Give Your Kids Presents They Love

I’ve done many internet searches for things like:

  • Best toy for 8 year old
  • Best birthday present for 5 year old girl
  • Educational toys for kids
  • Best gift for 6 year old boy

Choosing the right Present can be hard

These online searches brought up some pretty good ideas. The results looked like toys my kid would like, so I picked what looked best and made my purchase online. I felt good about the gift and was pretty sure my kid would be excited.

The day to give the gift came, the present was opened, and my kid was less than thrilled. The new toy kept their attention for a couple minutes, but it certainly wasn’t a new favorite. I was kind of bummed. I went to the effort of researching toys, but came up short. The toy was popular and lots of other people bought it. Why didn’t my kid love the gift?

There’s got to be a better way

Pretty soon it was another of my kids’ birthdays. This time I did some kid research. I asked a few of my nieces, nephews and kids in the neighborhood about their favorite presents.

They had lots of great answers, but they were all different. And their reasons for loving the presents were also different.

Some liked the gift because it was from a close family member. Other kids liked the toy because all of their friends had the same thing. And one kid said he loved every present he’s every gotten and is never disappointed.

Then it all clicked

A couple days later I was at the store with my kids. I still needed to buy a present and the birthday child was begging for a new toy they just HAD to have. Perfect!

They are telling me exactly what they want. This is going to be a great gift and they will love it. The day came, the present was opened, and the enthusiasm from the store was gone.

I didn’t understand. Just a few days ago they were so excited and they just HAD to have that exact toy. I asked – is there something wrong? You told me this is exactly what you wanted.

Then came the response – yeah, but that was the other day. That toy just isn’t interesting to me anymore.

That’s when I realized that my kids do tell me about presents they would love, but I’m not paying attention in the right way.

One simple strategy to Choosing a great gift

The simple strategy you can use to choose a great gift is to create a wish list for each kid.

What is a Wish List?

A wish list is very simple. It’s just a list of all of the toys and presents your kid wants. A wish list is a place to keep record of what your kid wants. The wish list also comes in handy when your kids are crying and begging for something at the store. You can simply say – add it to your wish list.

I’ve had other moms overhear me say – “add it to your list” in the store. They ask – what do you mean add it to your wish list? I explain it’s a list where my kid records everything they want. My kids know they will not get everything on their list, but it helps me know what they really want.

How Do You Create a wish list?

A wish list can be a piece of paper you keep in a central location. It can be a note you keep on your phone. And the easiest way I’ve found it to create a wish list on Amazon.

How do you Use a Wish List?

As your kids ask for things, you add them to the list. Over time you’ll start to see the same or similar items repeated on the list. Depending on how often your kids ask for things, you may realize it’s not worth buying a gift unless your kids have asked for the same thing more than 5 times.

With other kids, you’re going to know they love something because they mention it twice.

Does a Wish List only work for Toys?

A wish list can work for any type of kid present. I’ve used this strategy to narrow down and decide gifts such as: experiences, local season passes, clothes and even room organizers and decorations.

And wish lists aren’t just for kids. You can use them for your husband, parents, grandparents, coworkers and even yourself. Once you start a wish list you’ll be surprised at the little things you pick up on.

On a phone conversation my mom mentioned her garden hose needed to be replaced. I made a note of it in the wish list I keep for her. When her birthday came around I knew just what to get for her. And it turned out to be a big hit. She was surprised I remembered and was very touched.

how to buy kid toys

The go-To Lists for Kid Presents – Broken down by Age

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You won’t always have the ability to keep a wish list for everyone. When it comes to your kids’ friend or a relatives birthday you just need a go-to list for the perfect present.

I’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best kid presents that I’ve given over the years. These presents are gifts that have been given to more than one kid and were well received each time.

This list is a great resource if you need to find the right gift for that kid who seems to have everything.

The best Gifts for Babies

Sophie La Girafe Teether

Initially I didn’t understand all of the fuss about this giraffe. It seemed like an expensive teething toy, but I was so WRONG! All of my kids LOVED this teether and it is always a hit as a baby shower gift.

Buy it here on Amazon

Melissa & Doug Pop Blocs Farm Animals

This toy is a great introduction to animals. What I love most is the toy grows with the kid. They can enjoy it through different developmental stages and play with it for years.

Buy it here on Amazon

Any Lamaze Animal Toys

There are so many different animals to choose from – firefly, llama, peacock, and moose to name a few. With my first baby I kind of went overboard and had at least three of these toys hooked to her car seat.

Babies love these toys. They crinkle, squeak and rattle. I love that theses toys are so colorful and keep a baby’s attention.

Buy it here on Amazon

Best Gifts for Toddlers

Discovery Toys – Peg Board with Stacking Shapes

This is another great toy that grows with your kid. As a toddler, kids love to sort the colors and shapes.

And as a preschool and school aged child, kids can practice all types of math concepts. This toy is truly a great investment and kids LOVE it!

Buy it here on Amazon

Wooden Toddler Bike

This is the best beginner bike I have found for young toddlers. It helps kids learn to balance and helps develop muscle strength.

The bike is well made and is great for kids to ride around the house.

Buy it here on Amazon

Any Fisher-Price Little People Set

Kids love to play pretend and the Little People sets are always a hit. The sets are colorful, come with a variety of pieces and will keep your kids entertained.

It’s fun to watch your kids act out a scene and play different characters. You really can’t go wrong with this gift.

Buy it here on Amazon

Best Gifts for School Age Kids (ages 5-11)


Another toy brand that wins over kids is Playmobil. There are so many sets to choose from that it’s easy to customize this gift.

Playmobil has play sets full of dinosaurs, princesses, police, hospitals, animals and more.

Buy it here on Amazon


Playmobil may not be a brand that all kids are familiar with, but I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t know about Legos.

Legos are the go to gift in our family. If we don’t know exactly what a friend would want as a gift, a Lego set is a very safe default present.

Buy it here on Amazon

Paint by Sticker

School age kids love these sticker activity books. They are similar to paint by number or the cell phone app Sandbox.

Going sticker by sticker, your kid will craft an assortment of pictures. In the Under the Sea book there are animals like a octopus, dolphin and shark.

There are a variety of activity books to choose from including zoo animals, birds, and their most recent book – unicorns.

Buy it here on Amazon

Best Gifts for Tweens

Tweens can be a difficult age to gift. They have such a wide range of interests. Some of the best tween gifts my kids have given to their friends have been experiences. Here are a few experiences my kids have gifted to their tween friends.

Going to the movies and ice cream – This experience is always fun. My kids write a little message in the card for their friends. They ask the friend to pick a movie and a date they are available to hang out for the evening. We take a few pictures during the evening to remember the fun and share the pictures with the friend.

Indoor Go Karts – We had a couple friends rave about ""” target=”_blank”>Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, so we had to try it out for ourselves. Everyone in our family loved it! We have given gift cards for a few friend birthdays and everyone agrees. It’s a really fun activity.

Homemade Pizza Night – Again, a message is written in the card for the friend. They are told to get ready for a night full of fun and pizza. The friend comes over to our house where we make homemade pizza. It’s a really fun experience for tween friends.

Best Gifts for Teens

Biodegradable cell phone case

Pela is a brand I love and trust. Their mission is to save the environment one case at a time. Even if your teen isn’t interested in an eco-friendly phone case, they will love all of the color options.

The case does an amazing job at protecting cell phones too! Several of my family members LOVE their Pela case.

Buy it here on Amazon

Bluetooth Headphones

These bluetooth headphones are perfect for teens. They are lightweight, waterproof and a great value for a quality product.

My almost teen son has smaller ears and these fit him really well.

Buy it here on Amazon

Portable Power Bank

Teens love their devices. Their phone will always be charged and ready to take mom’s call.

If you want to compare different options, read the best portable chargers of 2019.

Buy it here on Amazon

Final Thoughts on the Best Gifts for Kids

Too often we buy a gift for our kid only to see it end up buried at the bottom of the toy bin or left on a shelf to collect dust. A wish list is a great way to keep track of what your kids really want. A great way to create a wish list in directly on Amazon.

When your kids ask for something or mention they REALLY want a specific toy, you simply add the item to their wish list. Some “must have” requests from your kids are just fleeting thoughts. It’s something flashy that catches their eye or looks cool for a minute. Don’t get sucked into buying something your kid will never play with.

Over the course of a couple weeks or even months you’ll hear the same toy, game or item repeated a couple times. It’s these repeat items that are what your kids are really after. And if you need my go-to list for the perfect present, I have a whole list of presents my kids have given with great success.

This list is also a great resource if you need to find the right gift for that kid who seems to have everything.

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