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The Best Gifts for Kids Ages 2 to 12

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

It is now January, and Curious G is still playing with some of her holiday gifts from December on a daily basis. What are these gifts? Read on to find out, and see what’s been occupying C.G. on those cold, winter-ridden days when we become shut-ins, and barely leave the apartment. This list will also come in handy during birthday party season, and you can even bookmark it for next year when Cyber Monday rolls around again!



Silly Puppets

Curious G first caught wind of these cute hand puppets at the Bryant Park Winter Village. It was also the first thing she requested for the holidays. While they were available throughout the city at all of the Urban Space Holiday Markets, you can also order them online. C.G. selected the firehouse dalmatian and the bear with jeans and a tie. She loves to play pretend with them, and I sometimes use them to order her around. I'm totally kidding about ordering her around with a hand puppet. Although, I can't say that I haven't tried.




Guess Who

We have been playing this game every single day since she got it back in December. It is number one in our list of 5 Board and Card Games for Kids Ages 2 and Up That are Fun for the Whole Family for good reason. It’s entertaining for the both of us, and Curious G has gotten to the point where she has memorized every character’s name and is asking very good questions. I was chatting with TheSpottedCloth about this game, and she mentioned that it’s a hilarious game to play with adults. I can only imagine the descriptors that some of us adults can come up with.



Spot It

This game is excellent for its portability, and it is also a game that can be played solo! If your kids have outgrown basic memory/matching games this is the next step. Read more about it in our Board and Card Games for Kids Aged 2 and Up post.



Casio SA76 keyboard

This keyboard is the gift that keeps on giving because every night we get to watch The Curious G and the Magical Musical Medley Show when C.G. becomes DJ G, plays the pre-recorded music, and runs through her dance routine while narrating each song. It doesn’t get old. I also love how she plays with the keyboard by herself while experimenting with the different settings. She explores the different sounds and tones (there are 100 different tones) and she also tries out the different beats (there are 50 different rhythm patterns). The 44 keys are a great size for little hands, and are ample enough for practicing when we start piano lessons soon. Size-wise, it sits nicely on top of her waist height toy shelf so that she can stand while playing. This was Curious G’s request from Santa.



First Act Acoustic Guitar

After two years of baby music classes throughout the city (we’ve tried so many great ones: Moosiki, Music for Aardvarks, Little Maestros, Songs for Seeds, ABC DoReMe, Ramblin' Dan, Jam with Jamie), Curious G is well versed in the mannerisms of these talented music teachers when they’re strumming their guitars and singing fun songs. So when she opened this Christmas present from her grandparents, she immediately took to it. She now takes casual guitar lessons from Daddy, and puts on impromptu concerts while singing her own original songs including, “I Don’t Even Recognize You”, and “Come Here Louise” Don’t be surprised if she’s a Coachella headliner in the next decade or so.


Creative Kids Magic Bouncy Balls

*Ages 6+

This is a DIY kit that includes a variety of ball molds and colored crystals that you pour into the molds to make the glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls. It’s a quick and simple process, yet Curious G is somehow fascinated by the whole ordeal. She doesn’t even really play with the balls, so much as collect them as treasures. I have also been using this kit as a bribe to get her to behave. If she’s a good listener, she gets to watch me make a ball (she picks the colors and helps to pour the crystals into the mold). She also likes to play Guess Who while we are waiting for the balls to set in their molds, and then dry. All in all, this Christmas gift from grandma was a big hit.


Around the World with Mouk by Marc Boutavant

Curious G received a lot of books for the holidays because she is a bookworm, but this one is unique because it comes with reusable stickers that you can add to the different scenes as Mouk travels to different cities around the world. The illustrations are very cute to follow along with and each city brings a new set of fun facts for your kids to learn. I found this book during one of our trips to CAMP, but you can also get it here



Look by Fiona Woodcock

Look is a fun and whimsical book that follows a brother sister duo around their day at the zoo while they discover things that are all spelled with double o’s. This is a great book for early readers and toddlers who are learning the alphabet. We also loved Fiona Woodcock’s Hiding Heidi and Poppy and the Blooms, which also includes clever illustrations that Curious G loves to revisit again and again.



Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is about letting loose and taking the time to reset and just be you. We love the message, and the simple delivery. The characters and illustrations are all very cute as well.



What Would Danny Do by Ganit Levy

Remember Choose-your-own-adventure books? This is the toddler version! Follow along as Danny goes about his day making wise (or unwise; that’s your call) decisions. It’s a fun book that illustrates how making the “right” decision impacts your day, as well as how it impacts other people.



Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes by Eva Chen

Curious G made me read this to her about five times in a row after the first time that we read it. She also requested that I bring it to school to read to her class. It’s a fun book that introduces some groundbreaking women throughout history, including Frida Kahlo, Gloria Steinhem, Misty Copeland, Cleopatra, and Queen Elizabeth I via their shoes, which Juno gets to step into. The bold illustrations are very engaging and C.G. also loves to talk about the shoes throughout the book. The text is very easily digestible for young kids; and for us, have lead to discussions about the achievements of these women. The end of the book includes a brief mini-bio of each woman introduced in the book. A is for Awesome by Eva Chen, further explores these extraordinary women, and is available for pre-order here.


Joy by Corinne Averiss

I would love to bottle the joy that comes along with reading this book to Curious G. It would come in handy on a rainy day. And that is essentially what Joy attempts to do- bottle joy, when she senses that her Nanna has lost it. In the end, her great efforts bring the biggest smile to Nanna's face, and they go on a fabulous picnic in the park. This story is such a poignant illustration of a child's innocence and grit fueled by optimism.


This is How We Do It by It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe

This book follows seven real kids through their daily routines. While the book is illustrated, photos of the real kids, along with their real families, are shown at the very end of the book. The kids are from Japan, Italy, India, Russia, Iran, Uganda, and Peru. While reading this book, I often find myself craving the different dishes that the kids eat throughout the day. At the moment I have a recipe for coconut matoke bookmarked. Daphine, from Uganda, eats it with a variety of delicious ingredients for all three meals in this book.


Little Passports Early Explorers

Curious G’s aunt and uncle sent her this 6 month subscription for Hanukkah. She received her first delivery, which came with a little suitcase, a postcard, world map, activity book, “passport”, and stickers. Each month, C.G. will receive a new kit that follows Max, Mia, and Toby on their global adventure. The kits will guide C.G. as she learns about geography, culture, and other interesting topics. C.G. loves the concept and learned about the different continents from the first delivery. Early Explorers is recommended for kids ages 3-5, but there are four other subscriptions that are for kids ranging from ages 6 to 12.



Kiwi Co. Koala Crate

This gift is another subscription, which comes monthly; and is perfect for keeping your kids busy with arts and crafts. While some of the projects require adult help and supervision, Curious G was able to work on two of the projects independently for a good 20-30 minutes. The pillow in the photo above was a good independent project. She also made a “stainglass window”. She was so proud of her work that she requested tape to hang it in her room after completing it. G loved her first Kiwi Crate, which was rainbow-themed. There are 7 different subscriptions available for newborn to adults.


What did your kids love this year? Comment below!