What we’re actually giving our kids this Christmas

21 November 2023

Everyone’s favorite gift guide – what we’re actually giving our kids this Christmas! It’s been enjoyed since 2019, when we had a four-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy. Below, I’ve shared what each of our kiddos will be finding under the tree this year, along with a few suggestions I gave to relatives. I’ve also listed a few of the very favorite kid items we already own at the bottom if you’re looking for a few more suggestions!

First up, we’re giving a few family gifts this year. The kids will be receiving:
A Nugget play couch. A dear friend was gifted a gift card for a Nugget earlier this year, but since they already have several, she generously offered it to me (!!). I’d eyed them for years but hadn’t pulled the trigger. Instead of presenting such a momentous item to the kids on a random Tuesday, I’ve squirreled it away in a friend’s attic for the last few months and will go pick it up on Christmas Eve! :)
A copy of Little Pilgrim’s Progress. I have heard nothing but good things about this “lavishly illustrated” version and would love to kick off a family read-aloud by gifting a copy.

June (who is almost eight) will be receiving:
A ticket to The Lion King when it comes to the DPAC in the spring. She loves dressing up and going to shows and I know this will be thrilling!
A purple bed rest pillow and super-soft minky blanket. June is all about making cozy corners in her room where she can read for hours, so I know these will be well-loved.
A learn-to-knit kit. No yarn is safe in this house! She doesn’t know how to knit, but inspired (I think) by Hyacinth Vanderbeeker, she’s constantly pillaging my yarn and ribbon supply and coming up with braided creations.

June made an extensive wish list this year, so there were no shortage of gift options from which to select! I know relatives have already claimed a rainbow loom kit, a Squishmallow, a belt bag, and her American Girl doll’s dog. Other ideas from her list: a gift card to our local paint-your-own pottery place, No Stress Chess, a crochet kit, a tie-dye set, and the Land of Stories book set.

Shep (who is 5 1/2) will be receiving:
A ticket to The Lion King when it comes to the DPAC in June. This will be his first big show and I know he will be so excited!
A copy of The Wind in the Willows. He’s very into Frog and Toad, and I couldn’t resist when I saw this beautiful hardcover version at our local bookstore.
A fort builder set. Eep! I had two friends reach out and say this fort builder set was a bust at their houses – hard to put together for kids and hard to store. Bummer, because the reviews are great! We opted to return it and get a USA soccer jersey instead :)
A drum set. I didn’t really want to do it, but it’s stayed at the top of his list consistently and so we’re going to go for it. I like that this model has built-in speakers and a headphone jack.

Other ideas I gave to relatives: the Magic Tree House boxed set for numbers 16-29, Racko, a Nerf gun, a sword and shield set, a USA Soccer or Charlotte FC jersey, and a gift card for our local trampoline park.

Annie (who is 2 1/2) will be receiving:
A balance bike. We’ll pass down Shep’s, which has been waiting in the wings/attic for this moment. We’ve been really happy with this brand!
A jelly purse. I picked this up at my friend Maghon’s shop but it doesn’t look like she offers them online! Annie will love toting things around in this.
A wooden horse trailer. I snagged this at a consignment sale for $3 this fall and tucked it away – score. She’s into June’s horses, so I think she’ll enjoy loading them in and pushing them around.
The Brambly Hedge Complete Collection. She’s a tiny bit young for this gorgeously-illustrated classic, but I know we’ll love having it in the family collection!

As the third child and second girl, this gal needs almost nothing and is still young enough not to have much of an opinion! I have only a few suggestions for relatives, including Abbey Wedgeworth’s new board books, bongo drums (actually really proud of that one, ha! Will be perfect for family singalongs!), and a US map puzzle.


— A set of MagnaTiles, because yes, they’re as good as everyone says they are. Played with multiple times a week by all three kids. Definitely add the cars, and remember MagnaTiles and PicassoTiles are interchangeable!
— A big box of colorful Duplos (also played with almost daily).
— A wooden train track. We have a combo of the Hape and Ikea sets, which are interchangeable.
— This ice cream play set, which has provided hours and hours of entertainment. FIVE STARS.
— A Micro Kickboard scooter. These are hands-down the best scooters – we’ve gifted them to all of our kids around age 2, and 3-5 is the sweet spot.
— An art case coloring set. One of Shep’s most beloved items, used daily!
— A game you can play together: try Cover Your AssetsTicket to Ride, or Sushi Go Party, all family favorites. (More ideas here!)
— A Yoto, for a tech-free audio book player. The radio station is quite good, too! I’d recommend adding the Yoto Club subscription for a year to build up your card collection, and we also have the card binder. We’re all in, ha!
— The cutest personalized notepads. BIG favorite with June.
— A super hero cape and mask set. Honestly, relatively low-quality items but high-quality fun, ha! Our kids have gotten LOTS of enjoyment out of these for a few years now.
— A Priority Start bike. June started with the 16″ at age 4 3/4, and graduated to the 20″ at age 6 (and passed the 16″ to Shep for his 4th birthday!). She’ll get the 24″ for her birthday in January so Shep can get the 20″ on his 6th birthday. These bikes are SO well-made and look good, too! :)
— A photo memory game with all of the grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.
— Alice & Ames dresses, because they are the twirliest with the best patterns.
— A Kiwi Co subscription or Highlights magazine subscription.

Whew! I hope that’s helpful! I’ve rounded up a bunch of ideas, but remember, kids don’t need much to be happy – in our family, we’ve actually found that too many gifts can be overwhelming and dull the whole experience. So choose wisely, and with joy – giving our kids good gifts is a really fun part of being a parent! :)

Below, tell me what you’re getting your kiddos this year — I love hearing your shopping lists!

2022: A 6-year-old girl, a 4.5-year-old boy, and a 1.5-year-old girl
2021: A 5-year-old girl, a 3.5-year-old boy, and a six-months girl
2020: A 4-year-old girl and a 2.5-year-old boy
2019: A 3-year-old girl and a 1.5-year-old boy

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November 21, 2023 10:58 am

Can you please help me understand Yoto? We’ve got Google products in every room, including my daughter’s. She has a simple nest speaker with no screen. And we regularly play audio books on it (she loves scream shouting to Llama Llama Red Pajama LOL). So what’s the difference between that and a Yoto?

November 21, 2023 11:10 am

You introduced me to yoto and I am so very grateful. I got it for my 5 year old (my youngest and last of 4, so I was so hesitant to buyi it) and it is hands down the best thing I bought in 2023. THANK YOU!

November 21, 2023 8:31 pm

Foster is getting a Nugget from his paternal grandparents! I can’t wait for this — one of their founders is a UNC alum I have met a few times, so I’m thrilled to support his company! Foster is also getting a Yoto Mini from us (heavily influenced by you)! I discovered today that they have cards for Caspar Babypants, who is on constant rotation in our house right now, so I’m hoping he’ll love it!

November 21, 2023 10:04 pm

We bought our Nugget when my son was 4, four years later, my now 5 and 8 year old still use it all the time and it’s just as good as the day we bought it. It was an investment, but for the use we get out of it, it’s been well worth the money. My husband and I have even used it as a sleep pallet when we have a sick kiddo that doesn’t want Momma or Daddy too far away.

This year, I’m finally giving my son Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I am SO excited 😄 A friend recommended the Minalima Illustrated version and I happened to find it at Costco for a great price. I’m trying not to get my hopes too high, but I really hope he loves it.

November 22, 2023 6:34 am

My 7.5 yo is getting the box set of 6 Mr. Lemoncello’s Library books, his first pair of shoes with tie laces (this was a slow skill to develop but we made it!!), and a “coupon” for tickets to the Bronx Zoo as part of his birthday trip to NYC in the spring. Stocking stuffers are TBD, and a Pokémon advent calendar arrived (as did our family Bon Maman jam one) earlier in November. As a family, we got ourselves a new Rifle Paper Christmas puzzle to enjoy over winter break. Various family members are getting him next size up soccer cleats for spring, a basketball for our first season of winter sports, and board games based on Em’s recs here.

For Shep— highly recommend Hardy Boys Clue Books after Magic Tree House gets a bit easy for him.

Catherine Marks
November 24, 2023 11:36 am

Well thanks, we have the same taste in kid gifts, so this list just completed my Christmas shopping. (For the things we didn’t already have!)

November 25, 2023 2:19 pm

So many good ideas here! I love your book recommendations as always. I have two boys (6 & 8). They are each getting a lego set, soccer jersey, a card game, a new outside toy (PSG soccer ball and a light up frisbee). We are doing a family gift of the 4th illustrated Harry Potter book, and tickets to the orchestra. I’m still working on stocking ideas but a bottle of Prime (we rarely buy Gatorade and Prime is all the rage at school) and swimming goggles are on my list!

November 25, 2023 11:12 pm

I always love reading your gift guides! Question for a potentially controversial post topic — I see that Shep is getting a Nerf gun for Christmas. What is your family position on gun play? My son is 2.5, and we are in Texas, so I know this is something we will have to address soon!