Last year, I made a list of fifty of the best presents our kids have gotten over the years. Here’s 26 more gifts we’ve tried and liked since then, all under $50, most under $30. This year’s list includes fewer toys and more ideas for older kids, including some books.
Our kids are ages 17 years to 9 months, and our budget is not sky high! These are all gifts that our kids actually used and enjoyed, and which we thought were worth the price.
Note: most of them are from Amazon. I’m an Amazon Associate, which means that I get a small percentage of whatever you spend at Amazon, no matter what you buy, as long as you got to the site through one of my links. This adds up, and is tremendously helpful for our family.
If you are shopping at Amazon for anything at any time, please consider using and bookmarking this link:
And now the gifts:
Flower Maidens Stamp Set – about $20
Djeco is my new favorite company. They’re a very nice antidote to all the chintzy, bug-eyed, sex-it-up weirdness you see in other products for kids, especially the craft line. My daughter got this stamp set for her sixth birthday, and she was enchanted. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the materials are well-made, beautiful, and original.
Appropriate for ages 6 to 11 (or higher)
Middle Ages Broad Sword & Matching Scabbard – about $20
We do like swords. My 11-year-old son actually chose this himself, and we were pretty skeptical because of the low price, but it is a surprisingly sturdy little sword. It would be best for display, costumes, and waving around, and not so much for heavy chopping or stabbing action; but it’s real (not sharp) steel and real leather, and looks very cool.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslightand the pretty-good-follow-up, Master of the Future (packaged together)
Spooky and stylish, one of those comic books that elevates the art form. The artist of the first one went on to do the Hellboy comics. It’s a Jack the Ripper story, so duh, it’s a bit violent and creepy, but doesn’t get sexy or cross any lines.
Appropriate for ages 13 and up.
Steampunk goggles with purple lenses – about $8
I dunno, my teenager daughter wanted them; maybe yours will, too. They are definitely purple-lensed steampunk goggles. They enabled some unwilling kids to chop onions at Thanksgiving, so there’s that.
Rainbow Dash Hoodie – about $20
If I admit that my kids watch My Little Pony, then you can, too. We have the Pinkie Pie hoodie, and it is cute cute cute, and is a pretty sturdy little garment. The zipper hasn’t crapped out at all. Trying to figure out if my teenagers actually want their own, or if they’re just kidding.
Castle building blocks – about $30
These were a huge hit with the kindergartener with a mania for building. This is a pretty good-sized kit (69 blocks) for the price, and includes a nice variety of shapes for lots of possibilities. You could easily paint or decorate these if you wanted to. The older kids like them, too.
Fairies Cookbook – about $12
My girls adore this spiral bound cookbook. The recipes aren’t too complicated or exotic to try, but they are out of the ordinary. I know you can find millions of ideas on Pinterest, but there’s something about having a book to leaf through.
Book Messenger Bag – $49.99
This is the only non-Amazon item I’m listing. It’s from ThinkGeek, which is offering free shipping for Cyber Monday. It’s not the most practical bag I’ve ever seen, because it’s big and the sides are rigid, but a book-loving kid like mine will find the impracticality worth while. It’s attention-getting and is holding up well so far.
Munchkin role playing card game
Howls and screams of laughter, just enough squabbling to keep it interesting — that’s what I hear when Munchkin is out. I haven’t played this game myself, but my kids love it, and it’s works well with kids of different ages playing together. It includes a few borderline inapwo-pwo elements (a little crass or gross, as I recall) but they seem fleeting, not central to the game. For ages 10 and up.
Army of Darkness “low on gas” T-shirt – about $15
Twirled Paper (quilling) book and kit – about $18
One of the better Klutz products. I’ve always tried to get my kids interested in quilling (winding flat strips of paper into spirals and then shaping them into various designs), but they just gave me the side-eye. The nicely-illustrated instruction book that comes with the quilling paper made it simple and inviting, and my nine-year-old turned out some nice projects. Told you quilling is fun! I told you!
Peter Pauper hardcover journals – about $12
Oh, do I like these Peter Pauper journals. Nice paper, gorgeous covers. My daughter has the spectacular shiny one above, called “Cosmology” (“adapted from the celebrated Catalan Atlas (1375), attributed to master map-maker Abraham Cresques of Majorca, Spain. This cosmological diagram places earth in the center, personified by an astronomer holding an astrolabe. Around the earth, the elements, planets, signs of the zodiac, and moon phases are displayed within concentric circles, and the four seasons are portrayed in the corners. “Cosmology” is enhanced with subtle iridescent highlights and embossed for a dimensional effect”)
but there are dozens of different styles to suit every taste.
Flower Crowns Kit – about $15
I thought this was just another crummy stick-fake-flowers-together-and-watch-them-fall-apart,-then-wander-around-sadly-with-bits-of-glue-in-your-hair kits, but it’s not! My kids used this kit on a day when we were unexpectedly stuck at home and had a little guest, and they all had fun, did fine without much help, and turned out some really lovely crowns that still haven’t fallen apart.
The Creativity for Kids line is another new find for us recently, and we’re pretty impressed. Even the paracord wristband kit turned out to be fun for my sons, who usually consider themselves above craft kits.
Enough perler beads to subsume your entire household (22,000) – about $16
I didn’t know what Perler beads were until this year. So now I know! They are all the rage in the 1/2 and 3/4 classrooms at our school. (What you do is carefully arrange plastic beads on a pegboard, put some wax paper over it, and run it over with an iron, and they melt together and form a little flat plastic toy.) Honestly, it’s not so bad. The kids take their Perler beading really, really seriously, and the beads have miraculously not escaped from the jar. The appeal escapes me, but I never got understood why all my friends were doing Shrinky Dinks when I was that age, either.
Doctor Who Madlibs – about $4
Aw yisss! Madlibs. Doctor Who. Say no more.
Build-a-Bouquet Playset – about $25
Okay, we don’t actually own these, but aren’t they sweet? They’ve been in my shopping cart forever. Maybe it’s just late November talking, but I have a desperate need to see my little ones sitting in a beam of sunshine on the living room rug and building some flowers.
Julia’s House for Lost Creaturesby Ben Hatke
A picture book by the author of the justifiably beloved Zita the Spacegirl series, this is a sweet, quirky little story about a hospitable girl and her weird friends. Written and illustrated by a guy who clearly spends a lot of time with actual kids. We haven’t read Hatke’s latest, Little Robot, yet, but it’s on the list.
Connectagons – about $30
I’d seen these in catalogs for years and years and years, and finally ordered a set. They are slick and nice, cheerful, easy to use, almost impossible to break, and the set is huge. I can see why they are so popular. They come in many different styles (butterfly, glow-in-the-dark, etc.).
Godzilla action figure – about $18
It’s strangely hard to find a Godzilla action figure whose tail doesn’t fall off, and it’s almost impossible to re-attach a Godzilla tail that has fallen off. This Godzilla’s tail doesn’t fall off. Worth. Every. Penny.
Samurai Sword with Stand– about $23
The coolest thing in the world. Again, not designed for heavy combat, but you can definitely whack stuff with this sword, and it looks awesome on its stand.
Tree of Gondor T-shirt – about $18
Lovely. Runs a little bit small, so order a size up.
Solar System Bracelet – about $30
We don’t have this exact bracelet – I can’t find the exact one for sale. But isn’t it pretty? Maybe you could find a cheaper one on Etsy. We don’t spoil our kids, but I liked putting the planets in a little ring around her little wrist.
Zelda Triforce Wallet with Chain – about $15
Hoop de doo! Just the thing for the kid who likes Zelda, likes feeling just slightly dangerous with chains and stuff, and also tends to lose wallets.
The best collection of Hobbit recipes I’ve seen, meticulously researched (it’s based on recipes from rural Victorian England), and written in a cozy, engaging, humorous style by someone who clearly loves The Hobbit and loves eating. I could live off the stuffed, braided mushroom, onion, and cheese bread for the rest of my life. It also includes variations for people on special diets, and makes suggestions about how to use leftovers. Nicely done all around.
That’s it for this year! Happy shopping. Don’t forget to check out last year’s list, which has fifty items for all ages in a very wide price range.