Pictures from top: Toys: c/o Lakeshore Learning; Balance Bikes: c/o Woom; Stuffed friends: c/o Apple Park Kids (City Pals, Woodland Pals)

It’s easy to get caught up in the gift buying spirit and buy all the things. I know. I get it. I’ve been there (I’m still there, if you need me I’ll be at Target returning all the toys Santa does not need to bring). I find focusing on things my kids really need or want to play with helps. What are those things? They are unique. Active. And, often include mommy and daddy time- let’s face it. Kids want to play with their parents. No ultimate paw patrol toy is going to change that!

I’ve gathered a list of unique, interactive, and well made gifts for this Christmas season. Now get your gift buying done early so you can focus on the Reason for the Season (and make magical memories that don’t involve browsing the aisles of target…though those are fun too).

Toys to play with Mom and Dad.

Rock Tumbler. My littles love rocks. When I was little I loved them and so did my husband. So, I know this must be a common love. A rock tumbler can be unique, educational and fun for mom, dad, and kids. Also, who wants to go hunting for rocks to tumble? Everyone that’s who. I chose this one from Lakeshore learning. Another favorite for the older crowd is this marble run that we enjoy building over and over.

Train Set. I like this one from Lakeshore Learning because it’s compact and travel ready. I hate having toys out on tables so anything that’s easy to put away is a plus in my book. But, if you need a bigger set, Lakeshore’s got you covered too.

Educational Toys. I love toys that incorporate school and play (can you tell I’m a homeschool mama?). Lakeshore Learning has a huge selection. This year, I got my littles this ABC lock set. It incorporates letters, sounds, matching, and coordination with something that kids want to do anyway (are mine the only ones who fight over unlocking then front door?). Last year, we chose some building sets: snap robots and magnetic crazy shapes, and they’re still played with on the daily.

Games. I had to add this section after finding the brand Vertellis, which means “tell me more” in Dutch. They’re a new crowdfunded brand that features games that inspire conversation. It’s not your typical board game. Instead, it’s a set of cards with questions on them that spark conversation. I’m looking forward to using the family edition to expand our nightly conversation around the dinner table. This would also be good for road trips, icebreakers, date nights, and holidays (stay tuned for my couples gift guide to learn more). Can you tell I’m really excited about this brand? Check them out on Instagram to find out more!

Toys that Move.

First Bike. A kid’s first bike is special. Finding it under the Christmas tree makes it memorable. My second girl learned to ride this year. It is something she’ll never forget (her grandparents taught her and she was so proud). She hasn’t asked for a bike yet but she does mention how big sister’s is so much nicer (and also big sister sized). We love our Schwinn banana bike so much that we’re going big this Christmas. You can find them all over but we got our new bikes here (20 inch tires for the new rider) and here (24 inch tires for the advanced rider) gifted by Schwinn.

Balance Bike. I love the idea of introducing bikes at a young age because they do so much more than just encourage movement and fresh air. Learning to ride a bike is great for gross motor skills and coordination and may be as developmentally important as crawling (it’s not necessary, but a good milestone none the less). Woom is leading the way in encouraging balance to free riding with their line of innovative bikes for littles (they fit kids from about 1.5 to 14). Whether your little is barely toddling and just starting to balance or ready to put the foot to the pedal, Woom has the perfect bike just waiting.

Ride on. Every kid should have a ride on. Okay maybe it’s not a need but I’m living my dreams through my little loves and they’re living the dream life in style with Kid Trax (available at Amazon, Target, Walmart, and more).

Toys that Encourage Imaginative Play.

Pony Playset. My littles dream of all things equine. I love that this Playset from Lakeshore Learning is a beautiful mix of fantasy and realism. We also enjoyed this fairy set and have our eyes on this tree house set– an investment in years of “let’s pretend.”

Royal Kingdom Playset. What little boy doesn’t dream of slaying the dragon? This castle sets the scene for many a battle and my little boys can’t wait to save the princess (and I’m just glad we’re not talking about Princess Peach for once!!). This Rocket is amazing too and we love the look of my first shave kit– all little boys want to be like daddy!

Dolls and friends. A doll is a classic toy that never gets old. Playing house is an imaginative game that transcends the decades. I love dolls that can be handed down so when my 10 year old asked for a doll for Christmas I knew just where to look. Apple Park Kids has the cutest baby girl, boy, toddler, and kid dolls. Santa won’t disappoint when he has a cute baby in his sleigh for a little girl or boy who loves to play family (and, yes even my rambunctious boys love that game). Do your kids want to tea with piggies and alligators? APK has a whole section of organic friends for your littles to love.

Pro Santa Tip: Use boots as stockings instead of buying new ones each year. They’re cute and economical, plus you don’t have to figure out where to store them for the rest of the year. Love these red ones from London Littles.

Rain boots: c/o London Littles – reasonably priced little shoes to keep Littles dry and stylish at the same time. Go ahead, take those puddles head on!

Stuffed friends: c/o Apple Park Kids

Things kids need.

Shoes. I’m just going to drop a few of my favorite snuggly warm kid boot brands here: Bearpaw (use code BPAMBJF for 20% off) keeping little feet warm and cozy. London Littles– I love this brand because they’re small and specialize in rain boots and do them well. I like the classic designs that appeal to kids and mom. Ikiki squeaky shoes (use code Mommyinflats10 for 10% off) are also a favorite and the on off squeakers are good for development and for little feet. You’ve also seen Jambu all over my blog (and Instagram) recently, but did you realize they make shoes for babes too? Check them out and use my code MOMMY18 and add a little adventure to your whole family!

Books. Has anyone read the Wonky Donkey? (Or at least seen this hilarious reading of it?) That’s as far as I’ve gotten this year but our book shelves are overflowing from christmases past. If you need a good book to read, check out Journey to Constellation Station by my good friend Lindsay. It’s such a creative book with amazing text, pictures, and educational value to boot.

Hats, mittens, coats. Anything with an animal or character on it is a hit in our house. Toys are fun but my kids at least get just as much enjoyment out of dress up they can wear everyday. We buy our Halloween hats from Brazikat and she never disappoints.

Stocking Stuffers.

Stuffed friends. Last year I talked about the importance of filling your stockings in one go instead of a ton of little toys. This year, I am filling little’s stockings with one of my favorite brands: Apple Park Kids. These woodland pals are so cute and the perfect size to greet littles on Christmas morning. We already have the city pals and some organic farm buddies– heck just go check out all their plush lovies here (they have baby dolls and tons of bunnies too!).

I also stocked up on mini beanie boo paw patrol dolls. Only the littlest will get these but they’re super cute and don’t take up a whole lot of room.

Animal Bracelets. These pop and click strands might be the coolest thing I’ve seen this year. They transform from unicorn to wearable friends with a couple easy twists: genius. You can find them in the Target and Walmart aisles but I found six for $18 on amazon.

Skincare. Beauty products aren’t just for adults and when you can make cleaning yourself fun, all the better. I like Soapen because they make washing hands (and bodies) fun. Plus, kids need soap anyway so- two birds, one stone! I also love for my kids to have all natural lip balm (like this one from Lila Naturals, use code MOMMYINFLATS for 15% off your entire order) and AVJorden (another brand I use regularly, they have lip balm too!) has an amazing cheek balm for those rosy wind touched baby cheeks (use code MOMMY15 for 15% off).

PJs. My kids are obsessed with one piece pjs. We give ours out on Christmas Eve but you could easily use them to fill a stocking (quick!). Other fun options are Disney character night gowns or pjs (we have princesses, monsters, and buzz light year over here). Or, super heroes. This is a practical gift and you’ll be surprised at how much your kids love them! We got these sweet Apple Park Kids jammies for the boys- I just wish they went all the way up to the girls sizes (layette and little ones sizes available up to 4t).

Still not sure what to buy? Check out last year’s blog for more gift ideas.

Are you ready for Christmas yet? I feel like I blinked and we went from sunny days to lots of grey. But, tomorrow we give thanks and soon the lights will be twinkling. ‘Tis the season of giving. Whether you’re buying for your own or to share your abundance, I hope you have a wonderful season.

General blogger disclaimer. I included a lot of brands I work with in this blog but most did not send me items for this post. The brands that did are Lakeshore Learning, Schwinn, Soapen, Apple Park Kids, London Littles, Vertellis, and Woom. A huge thank you to all of these fabulous brands for making our Christmas a little more interesting this year! Whenever I receive an item for review, I mark it “c/o” or “care/of” but I never post things I don’t love. I like to support brands that are good for me, my family, and are a joy to work with. Hope this helps you find brands you love too!