Ultimate Gift Guide: Toys and Games


As a mother of two boys I am always on the lookout for quality toys which will work for more than one age and have multiple uses. I am drawn to battery-free, non-electronic toys for my own sanity. My kids are five and seven now but I have found some amazing toys we have loved through the years and I hope your kids will love them as well!


Dad playing games

  • Dr. Suess “I Can Do That” Game: This was my boys first official game. It’s a great introductory game to get them to start following rules and taking turns.  
  • Candyland: This classic sweet game has been a favorite in our family from the time my youngest was two and a half till now at age five.
  • Operation: Classic hand eye coordination game!
  • Guess Who: I really enjoy this game because it requires my boys to use critical thinking. They ask, “is your person wearing a hat?” I say no. And instead of eliminating all persons wearing a hat they have to do the opposite and it took a few games for them to understand how that works.
  • Who Pooped: What is there not to love about this game? It’s all about poop! For real though, it’s not your typical matching/memory game. They have to match the animal to they type of poop it produces so the cards don’t actually match. My husband is an avid hunter so he likes they are learning this info early on!
  • Pie Face: I will admit, this one can get messy.  But they LOVE it. You play a sort of “whip cream roulette” and the suspense just makes it that much better. They burst into laughter whenever one of us gets hit in the face. You can use the included sponge instead of whip cream if you just want to get wet instead of wet and sticky.
  • Pit: This game has been around since 1904 so you know it’s good! It’s a stock market trading game and things can get a little crazy. The goal is to get eight cards of the same commodity and everyone is trading cards at once which turns everything into a frenzy. The recommended age is seven and up, but I think five year olds understand this game just fine. Trust me – it’s crazy but super fun!
  • Uno Attack: This is a fun twist on the Classic UNO game. Instead of picking one card from the deck you press a button on the UNO Attack! Console and it spits out anywhere from 0-20 cards at once!  It definitely adds a layer of excitement to the game and also makes it last longer. This is a current favorite game for my boys and all the kids on our street.
  • Checkers and Chess Set: I never really played either growing up. But my kids are super into both. I was surprised when my then four year old asked to learn chess.  So we learned together! He will sit for hours playing chess with me and will legitimately beat me most times. It’s a great strategy and critical thinking game.
  • OSMO: I’m not a huge fan of tablet games but will make an exception for OSMO games. This interactive gaming system is impressive for learning! It uses your tablet to project and read the different game pieces, depending on which game is being played. It is one of the best STEM choices, in my opinion. I stumbled upon this system while feeding my addiction — shopping at Dirt Cheap. I bought one game at the Dirt Cheap price and was hooked. We own almost every OSMO game now and use them as rewards for the boys. They learn reading, writing, drawing, math, coding — you name it! And honestly? It’s fun for adults too! Just try to run the Pizza Shop game at the hardest level. It will make you sweat!
  • Yo Yo: We have brought the Yo Yo back! We all got into it and now have family talent shows. The boys will practice for hours, perfecting their new tricks. Tip: these auto return yo yos are wonderful for a first timer.
  • Kanoodle: I will admit, sometimes I get into this game more than the kids! It’s perfect restaurant toy that gets the whole family involved in solving the 2 and 3D puzzles while waiting to eat.


Living in a climate where we can be outside playing all year long has filled our garage up with more movement toys than I’d like to admit. They really do improve balance and hand eye coordination though and it’s helped them both in sports.  
  • Adjustable Roller Skates: These are our starter skates. My youngest started wearing these around three. At five he’s more than ready to graduate to roller blades but doesn’t want to leave the comfort zone of these skates. I like how they grow with him and are adjustable.
  • Inline Roller Blades: My oldest has been in roller blades since he was five. He just took off from day one! The light up wheels add a little fun. One of our favorite pre COVID activities was to go to In The Zone and skate for hours. Now we head to Front Beach and skate all along the water.
  • Strider Knee and Elbow Pads: These, along with a helmet, are an absolute must!
  • Strider Bike: This balance bike is the sole reason both my boys started riding a bike with no training wheels by four years old!
  • Three Wheeled Scooter: These scooters will grow with your child as they have the option to have a seat on them and two different sets of handlebars. My kids received these at ages 1.5 and 2.5 and the 1.5 year old figured it out quicker than I thought he would! They still ride these scooters today. They are wonderful for balance.
  • Plasma Car: Before we put these under the Christmas tree, my husband I had a full on race through our house while the kids slept. I can truly say they are fun for both kids and parents! From Amazon: “The PlasmaCar is easy to operate, and helps your child develop coordination, balance, and motor skills while harnessing the natural forces of inertia, centrifugal force, gravity, and friction.”
  • Three Foot Trampoline with Balance Bar: We had this in our house and it was a well loved toy. They jumped their hearts out and kept their balance by hanging onto the bar. The bar gave me a little piece of mind in regards to safety!
  • Power Wheels Jeep: This was a gift from their “fun” uncle, my brother. We thought they would grow bored of this after a few rides but four years later it is still a favorite and the most popular toy when friends come over.
  • Bouncy House: As an indoor toy, this thing is an eyesore and takes up so much space. But it’s perfect as an outdoor toy! It saved our sanity during quarantine. On super hot days I’d squirt dish soap in and spray it down with the hose – instant foam party!


  • Baseball Tee (and needed baseball equipment): My kids have been obsessed with any sort of sports ball since they were babies. They would throw tennis balls and balloons back and forth at only a year old. The tee added some independence to their play and saved me from being asked to pitch to them constantly.
  • Basketball Hoop Little Tikes: When my youngest was a newborn, my two year old would keep himself busy with his new basketball hoop we placed in our living room. It’s since been moved outside and upgraded to a real hoop, but it really did save my sanity during those foggy newborn times for my big kid.
  • Chalk Stompers: My boys love sidewalk chalk and they love these even more. They strap to your feet and then stomp all over the sidewalk. The powdered chalk leaves shapes all around.
  • Gymboree Bubble Ooodles with Wand and Tray: Everyone loves bubbles but these bubbles are different. They float slower and don’t pop as easily. My kids love how they land on things and don’t pop right away. The wand creates a ton of bubbles at once and no kid can resist running through these. We used them at bath time as well for an added layer of fun.
  • Bug Catcher: My kids are aspiring entomologists and this bug catcher set has only fueled their love for all things insect and spider related. Added bonus: anytime I find a spider in the house they come and grab it for me with the grabbers!
  • Camping Lanterns – Set of Four: These lanterns are perfect for keeping next to the bed for those middle of the night bathroom trips or bedtime reading. The boys like to use them to find bugs to catch after sunset. We have them in our hurricane kit as well and they worked great during Hurricane Zeta!
  • Giant Bubble Wand Kit: Not only were these so fun to make, they made for some amazing pictures!
  • Bunch O Balloons: The ultimate water balloon set!  I can’t tell you how much I wish these were around when I was a kid! They are so easy to fill and make for an amazing water balloon fight.  I buy them whenever they go on sale and save them up for Christmas.


  • Rainbow Scratch Paper: This scratch paper has held my boys attention since they were toddlers. They like to find different things to scratch with besides the included wooden stick like coins, their nails, etc.
  • Tie Dye: This craft will test your patience but it’s worth it! The boys loved researching how to create different patterns and the resulting shirts are worn constantly and well loved.
  • Aquadoodle: This was a wonderful calm down activity when my boys were toddlers. They thought is was magic and loved watching their art slowly disappear.
  • Water Colors: We love all ways to paint and draw but watercolors just add a little extra. We looked up all the different ways to use watercolor paint and watercolor paper and have been having fun experimenting with our art. This Japanese watercolor set is a little extra with metallic paint, but we love it!
  • Paint Markers for Rocks: We started painting rocks during quarantine and placing them throughout our neighborhood. To keep things a little cleaner, these paint markers definitely did the job much neater than a paintbrush.


  • Grimm Rainbow: I know this one is pricey and may not be for everyone. This German made rainbow is all over Instagram and for good reason — it not only looks gorgeous but has unlimited play potential! My kids have played with this for years along with the other Grimm products such as the blocks, balls, and people.  It really does draw you in and it has entertained both visiting kids and adults in our house!
  • Melissa and Doug Bricks: We have played with these large building bricks in all areas of our house… on the stairs as a ramp for the slinky, making tunnels for cars, building a wall to knock down… you name it!
  • River Rocks: Bring the hit TV Show, “The Floor is Lava” to your home with these rocks. My kids love to see how far apart they can put these so they can jump between them. They line them up all over the house and make up all kinds of rock jumping scenarios.
  • Magnatiles: Is there any kid that doesn’t love Magnatiles?! I love to watch what the boys come up with when they play with these. Added bonus: they stick to your garage door!
  • Magnetic People: A super fun addition to Magnatiles
  • Magformers: In my opinion, these are as good as Magnatiles and they work wonderfully together.
  • Snowballs: Growing up in Ohio, I loved snowball fights and wanted to share a little of that magic with my kids. These are soft enough they *shouldn’t* break anything!
  • Rocket Balloons: We went through a time period where my oldest only wanted these flying rocket balloons for Christmas… three years in a row! He was obsessed. While they are meant to be used outside, we only use these whistling flying balloons inside due to not wanting to litter the environment with balloons we couldn’t find after launching. They are especially fun if you have high ceilings!
  • Superhero Capes and Masks: My boys never have been into characters or superheroes but they do love dressing up in these masks and capes and flying all over the house.
  • Bowling Set: If your kids love bowling as much as my kids, this gift is for you! My boys have a love for bowling like no other. No hallway is safe in my house!
  • Ball Pit and Balls: This was another gift from the “fun” Uncle. Lots and lots of balls. The kids love it. I couldn’t stand having them all over my house so I found this beach tent which zips up and keeps every ball contained. Happy mom, happy kids! And now I have a shade tent for the beach!


Photo credit: Bruder Toys
  • Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles (soft sided): These were the boys first introduction to cars and they were obsessed! I love how they won’t damage my walls when thrown, because you know they will be! They are pull back and babies are so confused by this feature. It keeps them playing for a long time.
  • Ikea Cars: We received these as a gift and they were one of the most played with toys while my boys were toddlers. They come apart and can mix and match pieces. I love how sturdy they are and also how battery free they are!
  • Matchbox Color Shifters: These serve a dual purpose as bath toys! They love to watch the colors change with the temperature of the water.
  • Bruder Side Loading Garbage Truck: You can’t go wrong with this brand. The quality is excellent and the attention to detail is amazing! The boys love to load the garbage cans up with trinkets and dump them into the truck.


Photo credit: Tegu Magnetic Blocks
  • Koosh Balls: I LOVED these as a kid and my kids do too!
  • Tegu Magnetic Blocks: These are a perfect restaurant toy! I always keep them in my purse and they have been used in hundreds of different ways while keeping busy at restaurants.
  • Pop Up Washclothes: My boys know they will each get a pop up wash cloth in their stocking every year and they talk endlessly with one another about what design they think each will get.
  • Dental Goodies: I’m a dental hygienist so these are a must! My kids roll their eyes but secretly enjoy getting dental goodies every year. Or if you’d like to get real fancy… these are our everyday toothbrushes and they definitely get the dental seal of approval in our house!
  • Bath Bombs: Who doesn’t love bath bombs?! These are extra special because they have trinkets inside.
  • Snakes and Spiders of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: My boys are really into snakes and spiders. Way more into them than I’m comfortable with so I wanted to make sure they knew which ones were dangerous. Many times we read these guides as bedtime books. I wish I was kidding.