Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide

November 18, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday Gift Guide
Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday gift shopping can be overwhelming. We all want to make the holidays the most magical and happy time of the year for the children in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we want to completely spoil them!

I recently discovered “Want, Need, Wear, Read”, a handy guideline to help you choose better, more useful gifts and limit the amount of unnecessary extras that make their way into your home during December. The plan is easy to implement with babies who don’t know any better, and as the years go by becomes a useful way to manage what can become outrageous expectations for holiday gifts. The idea is for you to give just one item your child wants, one thing they need, something to wear and new material to read. I’m adding a fifth category to the list, which is “Give.” Find gifts that encourage giving back.


When children have to pick the one thing they really want the most, you know it’s something they’re really gonna love. As children get older you may have increasingly limited power to steer their choices in the right direction, but while they are little, what they want is open your interpretation!

A beautiful set of blocks is a must-have in my book. They’re fun, open-ended playthings that encourage imagination and creativity, and a good set will last for years or even for generations.

I recommend a colorful set of Tegu blocks this holiday season. The 42-piece set of these magnetic wooden blocks is a great starter pack ($110), but even the Pocket Pouch sets of 8 blocks ($25) are fun. Is it wrong that I want a Classroom Kit?

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What toddler wouldn’t be floored to find Santa left a perfect little playhouse under the tree just for them? There are playhouses of all kinds from teepees to cabins, castles to pirate ships, even campers and ice cream trucks.

The Land of Nod always has a beautiful selection of quality playhouses and tents like Suzy’s Playhouse, which includes cutout windows with roll up curtains and a mailslot. It’s the perfect, precious hideaway for your littles. ($180)

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A great dollhouse is a showstopping gift on many holiday wish lists. Getting just the right one is an investment in hundreds of hours of imaginative play.

While there are dollhouses that cost many hundreds of dollars, the Flisat doll house from Ikea is affordable ($30), spacious, and the Huset bedroom and living room furniture featuring miniature versions of your Ikea favorites fit inside perfectly.

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Needs come in all shapes and sizes, but this is your opportunity to make a gift out of something you’ve got to purchase anyway.

Going on a trip this winter? Maybe you’ll need a travel bed. The Indoor Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed from The Shrunks is perfect for hotels or grandma’s house. Kids will love their personal inflatable bed and feel cozy using their own bedding from home. ($70)

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Another thing you might find necessary at bedtime is a nightlight. As baby becomes more aware of being left alone to fall asleep, they may be happier with a comforting glow in their room or even a soothing tune. Bringing the nightlight that your child uses at home with you when you travel can also make falling asleep in a strange place easier. The Skip Hop Nightlight Soother Moonlight Melodies Owl is an adorable night light that is full of features. It can even project stars on the wall or ceiling. ($40)

Skip Hop Nightlight Soother and Melodies

Some babies “need” a pacifier to help soothe themselves and fortunately there are holiday versions that can turn these into adorable gifts. The MeaMagic Christmas Personalized Pacifier Set makes a sweet gift out of something so simple. ($18)

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Something to wear might sound boring, but you can make this category much more fun than a pack of underwear.

In my family, shoes are a favorite gift to receive so this category is always easy for us to cover, but even newborns can enjoy a special pair of footwear like the trendy moccasins from Freshly Picked. These come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, but this Gold pair will dress up their Christmas outfit and shine through New Year’s Eve.

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Winter time is an opportunity to have fun with layering and cozy accessories. You might think of a cozy scarf or gloves for your mother or grandmother, but they make practical and adorable gifts for babies as well. From the Gap, you’ll love dressing a little someone in a Bear Knit Beanie, Bear Sweater Hoodie and Knit Booties.

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Holiday pajamas are an annual classic in many families and a fun way to prepare for Christmas morning, but fun pajamas make a great gift at any time.

The Books to Bed pajamas fit in the “read” category as well, but they’re a great way to make both bedtime and reading fun. And this one’s about dragons eating tacos. Kids will love the pajamas printed with their favorite storybook illustrations, and you can purchase most of the pajamas with or without the book.

Dragons love tacos


My husband loves repeating the quote “a book is a gift you can open again and again,” but it’s true! It’s just one of the reasons books are always a perfect gift.

A fun way to enhance children’s love of reading and entice them with their favorite character is to snap up a book and toy set. These become easier to find during the holidays and have always been one of my favorite go-to gifts. Kiss Good Night is a favorite bedtime story at our house, and with the gift set, tots will be able to tuck in their very own baby bear while you’re kissing them goodnight. ($16)

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Your tot might not be ready to read the classics just yet, but BabyLit has board book versions of all their future favorite titles. ($10 each) You can put together a beautiful bundle of books that pass your love of literature and reading forward.

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Of course, your favorite Christmas title can be the perfect book to to give this year and then share with your child every December. The Night Before Christmas is beautifully illustrated by Charles Santore in this modern version of this classic poem.

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I enjoy giving gifts even more than receiving them. Your children might enjoy that same feeling, and it might be something they remember more fondly than the gifts they receive.

You and your kids can enjoy making special gifts for friends and family members. Even the youngest among us can “help” make a special keepsake ornament like the Babyprints Ornament from pearhead. The air-drying clay is a no-mess, no-bake way to create a treasured keepsake.

Hand present (Holiday Gift Guide)

Most kids I know love animals of one type or another, and the gift of a WWF symbolic animal adoption (along with an adorable plush toy, photo, adoption certificate, animal information card and gift bag for $55) can be a really fun way to nurture a love for nature while supporting the efforts of the World Wildlife Fund.

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Finally, an easy way to teach the lesson of giving is to buy or collect unopened toys for kids to donate to an organization like Toys for Tots. Shopping for these gifts is a total no-pressure situation because you know that whatever you buy will find its way to a grateful home and the feeling of sharing what we have with others is priceless.

For more toy suggestions, you can check out our Best Toys of 2017 guide.

Esther Garfield started her obsession with modern baby furnishings and decor while expecting her first child. In 2005, this obsession turned into the Buy Modern Baby product guide, and she launched the corresponding blog in 2010. From her base in South Florida, Esther keeps a close eye on the world of baby products and modern design while keeping an even closer eye on her two growing boys. When she’s not blogging or keeping up with social media, you can find Esther at the pool, reading to the kids, or traveling with her family.

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