Choosing the best Christmas gifts for kids can be tricky. If you've got a young person in your life, it’s time to embark upon 'The Christmas Challenge'. This essentially means making sure your present outshines the large cardboard box it came in (tougher than expected if your target is under 10) or the smart device currently welded to your tween/teenager’s hand.
To help, we've come up with an array of brilliant Christmas gifts for children, all of which aim to ignite a creative flame for all ages and interests (and some of which come in a large cardboard box, just in case).
Budget-wise, we've catered for everyone from a distant second cousin to the small ones residing in your own homes. And if you're looking for consumer electronics for bigger kids or adults, take a look at the following articles: The best Wacom tablet deals, The best laptops for graphic design and The best cameraphones.
It's time to crank up the Christmas tunes, pour an eggnog and discover some of the most brilliantly creative Christmas gifts for kids this year.
Best Christmas gifts for kids under £20/$25
This versatile and beautifully made puppet theatre will delight your little ones as they realise just how much they can do with it. It comes with scenery, scripts and backdrops for two stories (Hansel and Gretel, and The Princess and the Pirate – an original fairytale) but the creative potential here is endless. Children could become writers, designers, directors and puppet masters by making all the components for their very own puppet show. This is a brilliant Christmas gift for children under £20/$25.
If you've got a kid with an abundance of superhero energy, the Write and Draw Your Own Comics book is the gift for you. Your little one can channel their energy into becoming author and illustrator of their own comic strip by following the tips in this awesome manual-cum-notebook. They can hone their writing and storytelling skills in an action-packed, fun way, while creating their own world to explore. The book has blank pages along with stickers to adorn you budding genius' work, so they'll be proud to share their comics once they've ignited their creative process. Plus comics are great for early writers due to the phonetic superhero noises – pow!
Infographics make learning easy and fun, and this series from Big Picture Press and Simon Rogers is no exception. Bright, colourful and full of information to keep enquiring minds occupied, these are a brilliant way to engage curious young adults – and you might even have some luck with older kids who aren't particularly excited by science and education. This one focuses on technology, but the series also looks at the human body, animal kingdom and space.
Scrapbooking is a brilliant way to keep tiny humans occupied. In 200 Scrapbooking Ideas, you'll find all the tools to help them get started with their own personal approach to scrapbooking, with basic techniques, detailed tutorials and inspirational tips. Plus there's also top scrapbooking themes featured, including Christmas, to help them preserve those most precious memories.
If your little one has an enquiring mind, a subscription to How it Works could be the perfect Christmas gift. This science and technology-themed magazine is bursting with exciting information about our universe, including amazing illustrations and cutaways that really bring the topics to life. There's something new to learn every month, plus exclusive competitions and interviews and experiments to try at home.
If you order How It Works as a gift subscription now, you can get the current issue at a lowered price. And it comes with a gift wrapped bag, so it's the perfect gift for under the tree.
Best Christmas gifts for kids under £50/$75
The apprentice photographers in your life will be captivated by the array of fun features included on this device. There are two lenses for easy switching between the world and that inevitable selfie, a hilarious voice changing mode, games, a photo editor and of course video recording. It also has auto flash and 4x digital zoom. You can record five minutes of film using the internal memory, or 10 minutes using a micro SD card. Images can be easily transferred to computer by plugging it in via USB if you want to store them, or view on a bigger screen. The Vtech Kiddizoom DUO is a fantastic Christmas gift for children aged three and older.
Imagine the practical skills you could empower your children to learn with this huge set of real tools from Leomark, which allows them to embark on design- and DIY-related challenges with (supervised!) independence. Each set has 50 tools including screwdrivers, spanners, a chisel, a mallet, wooden square, a clamp, a saw, a hammer, pliers and safety goggles – so give the elves a rest next year by putting your budding carpenter to work straight away, there will be no task out of reach! The tools are kept in a wooden case with functional racks and drawers – the perfect first workspace for a child to keep organised.
We couldn’t write a list of creative Christmas gifts for children without including LEGO – a toy that will no doubt be on top of many a kids' (er, and adults') wish list this Christmas. The popular little brick has exploded in recent years, with Lego sets available in pretty much every theme you could think of. It's hard to pick a favourite, but for this list we're going for Red Creatures, from LEGO's three-in-one Creator sets. Each of these sets comes with enough LEGO pieces to build not one but three models, which means more play time and great value for money. Prices vary depending on which set you choose, but our favourites include:
Lego: Mighty Dinosaurs Building Toy
Price: £9.99 / $24.99
Features: A 3-in-1 T-Rex with bright orange eyes, posable joints and head, large claws and an opening mouth with pointed teeth. Also includes the dinosaur's prey in the form of a "buildable rib cage".
Lego: Robo explorer
Lego: Space Shuttle Explorer Construction Toy
Price: £18.17 / $28.97
Features: An opening payload bay with a robotic arm, satellite with foldout wings, large engines and a mini-figure cockpit with tinted canopy, and includes an astronaut mini-figure with a removable jetpack.
Lego: Double decker London bus
If music is your kid's jam, then this lovely little synth kit would make the perfect Christmas gift. It's a fun, hands-on kit that teaches children how circuits and electronics work. "I had to help my little boy build this – he's seven", says illustrator Ben O'Brien. "But there was enough for him to do in the building, and then it's just fun to play with. This company make lots of other things too, all of them are ace... Great packaging, too, for design-savvy parents," he adds.
Best Christmas gifts for children under £100/$125
Grimm’s Toys feels like a treasure trove full of resources that allow children’s imaginations to run wild as they construct, sort and explore. They seem like just the type of toy the elves would be hard at work creating in Santa’s workshop. It was hard to choose which product to include on this list because the range is so vibrant, but the Rainbow stackers won out because of their versatility. They can be stacked in seemingly unlimited combinations and positions, or used as tunnels, bridges or arches for a range of games. And they can also be combined with other products to further expand imaginative play using problem solving, reasoning and coordination skills, to name just a few. The Rainbow stackers are eco-friendly and stained with non-toxic, natural paint. The large rainbow is 14 inches long but there are various size options available. This is a great Christmas gift for kids aged above 18 months.
The Wacom Intuos is a brilliant tool for young people to get started with digital art. Designed for both right and left-handed users, budding artists can easily draw, paint and sketch on a computer with the ease of pen. Intuos Draw also comes with ArtRage Lite drawing and sketching software, and online tutorials to get your little ones off to a flying creative start.
Goldi Blox is a character dreamed up in response to the shortage of females within STEM. She’s a mechanical engineer whose storybook diary comes with the materials needed to build her inventions for real. Goldie's Diary of Inventions comes with 78 full-colour pages, 11 build ideas, sketch pages, and stickers sheet. You can also find hundreds of build ideas online.
With this bumper pack filled with various activities, your child will build a wide range of inventions alongside Goldie, including a doghouse, ice cream truck and a guitar. There are even more available, and the different stories can be bought separately if you would prefer to take them one at a time.
Giving a gift like the skill of sewing is something that will last a whole lifetime. Children’s sewing projects can include anything from puppets to clothing, and as ability increases, so does the scope for exploration. This sewing machine is lightweight, has 14 stitch options and can handle light to medium weight fabrics with ease. It has an LED light so your beginner won’t have to strain their eyes, and comes with a dust jacket, foot control darning plate, standard and buttonhole foot, seam ripper, spare bobbins and spare needles. Although you can purchase machines made specifically for children, we have it on good authority that it’s best to go for a lightweight adult model as they are vastly more capable and this one retains vital simplicity. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspiring a future career as a costume maker?
After a more traditional drawing and painting method? Look no further than this gorgeous, small person-sized art easel. Here, tiny fingers can experiment with paint, chalk, pens, crayons, markers, and more, all at one convenient station. It’s also designed to let children use several different art media: on one side is a chalkboard, on the other is a dry erase board, and in between the two easel sides is a dowel for holding a paper roll. The easy-to-clean design makes it very parent-friendly, and with not one but two available art stations, there will be no arguments about who gets to use it first. Winner.
It's impossible to ignore how tech-savvy kids are, with little ones often able to use digital devices more efficiently than their parents. If you're after a tablet for your kids this Christmas but can't – or don't – want to spend hundreds of pounds, then the Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet is an excellent choice. It comes complete with one year of Fire For Kids Unlimited, giving you access to over 5,000 popular apps and games, videos, books and educational content from Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street and many more. Built specifically for kids, this tablet has easy-to-use parental controls and a kid-safe browser that keeps them safe from inappropriate content. And the best bit? The Fire 7 comes with a two-year, worry-free guarantee that means if they break it, you can simply return it to Amazon and the company will replace it for free. No questions asked.
Best Christmas gifts for kids over £100/$125
We've already featured LEGO, we know. But this is educational LEGO, so it scores extra points and deserves its place in our list of the best Christmas gifts for children. These third generation robots can recognise colour levels, shoot red balls in the air and follow complex programming commands. In the box you get the Mindstorms EV3 Intelligent Brick (the robot’s brain), an infrared remote control, three servo motors, a colour and touch sensor, an infrared sensor and 550 LEGO Technic pieces. With Bluetooth connection to your smart device, the different robots can be controlled by the preset manual control pad or there is support for you to make your own control pads. The beauty of these LEGO Technic kits is that you can use any LEGO you already have to build around the robotic component. There is a huge Mindstorm online community with hundreds of new ideas and build support so the kit will never get boring.
This Electric Dough bundle includes three separate products – the award-winning Bright Creatures, and the popular products Techno Sounds and Electro Machines. Kids build with dough, make simple circuits and use controllers to add music, sound and movement! There is a motivational storybook app that keeps injecting new ideas and enthusiasm into the build process, and developing tech skills like coding and electronics. A bit more high-tech than when we used to push playdough through a garlic crusher, eh?
A playhouse with a difference, this house has textured panels, windows and doors that can be assembled and reassembled over and over again. The set comes with a child-sized battery powered drill, screwdriver and 20 screws that empower children to become house designers and builders whenever they fancy a change. All in all, it;s a brilliant Christmas gift for kids three and more.