#AD We were kindly gifted the products for inclusion in our guide. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Read our top tips for Christmas shopping for children.
Many parents are wanting to make Christmas extra special this year, because let’s face it 2020 has been hard on our children. We plan on decorating the house earlier, baking together, planning lots of Skype calls with family and receiving letters from Santa as Grottos will likely be closed. Let us try and be grateful for families and the time together.
That said, do not slip into ‘over-buy’ mode because you feel like you have to make up for Christmas being a little different this year. Ask your children to write a list but manage their expectations. Don’t go overboard. A friend said she sticks to the buying a gift they will want, need, wear, and read and I agree having a plan to buying helps. A lot of shopping this year will be online so search for the best deals. Remember they will also get presents from grandparents, uncles, neighbours etc!
Gifts like board games, art and craft supplies and Disney plus passes will come in useful if we end up spending more time at home.
Also, don’t think your hiding place is good enough, the kids will find them!
Now creating guides for children could be filled with endless lists of toys, you as parents know your children’s likes, their hobbies, the characters and tv shows they love- the activities your toddler enjoys, favourite ride-ons, a type of play mat a baby will enjoy. There are lots of tech gadgets and outdoor toys like drones that are perfect for older children. Always add in one gift that introduces something new.
Go with variety; a cuddly toy, a book, something educational, something they can create with, clothing, perhaps a DVD or two.
So, what are our favourite choices for this year?
# For getting babies off to sleep on Christmas Eve and all year through.
Nothing beats a good night’s rest, especially after a busy day of learning and exploring. The two-colour choice SNOObear helps to keep little ones comforted through the night. Retailing for £59.95 it is a gamechanger in sleep and your child’s new favourite cuddle buddy! This super soft teddy has a white noise sound machine in its tummy designed by America’s white-noise guru, Dr. Harvey Karp. It has 3 volume levels. SNOObear plays 6 shushing rhythms and 3 SNOO sounds for 30 or 60 minutes then ‘pays attention’ for 3 hours after the sound stops in case baby fusses. What I love about the SNOObear is that it is a really decent size compared to competitors (Height: 27 cm, Width: 25 cm, Depth: 15 cm) and has a couple of great practical features such as a built in strap for the pram and holes in the back to turn it into a puppet. The bear used 2 x AA batteries so we love that you do not need to use a whole box each time and you can remove the speaker box for washing or when your baby turns into a toddler and just wants to cuddle teddy.
NOTE: Never leave SNOObear in bed with infants under 1 year. Before 1 year, SNOObear should never be attached (to the cot, etc.) within your baby’s reach.
# For little minds and little hands, a puzzle is the perfect gift for all ages.
Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo! From early childhood right through to adulthood puzzles are great choices for a gift. Puzzles are an especially important educational learning tool for young children as they offer lots of cognitive learning benefits (encouraging problem solving, hand eye coordination, a self-confidence boost etc). They can be themed on numbers, letters, shapes and most commonly pictures. Ravensburger have produced a range of Julia Donaldson character puzzles for the perfect stocking filler featuring a different scene straight from the book pages. Choose the Gruffalo and Other stories first puzzle box (18 months plus) with 9×2 pieces with an RRP of £11.99. The pieces are sturdy and wipeable, perfect for a young child’s toy.
# For rainy days and simple fun, just add paper!
Another Eco-Friendly Gift with minimum plastic and maximum fun, is Build Your Own’s range – perfect for parents and kids who love a fun project they can work on together. The 47-piece Paper Plane Launcher (RRP £16.99) is made from sustainable cardboard and offers hours of fun building and constructing the launcher and planes. I love that older children can independently follow the instructions and press out the parts of heavy-duty cardboard, attach the elastic bands for the twin propulsion system, and feel pride at achieving the task! Alternatively bring the whole family together and see who can score higher – landing planes on the 4 different scoring targets. The planes can reach up to an incredible 10 metres! Children can also explore the natural world and starry night skies with the fabulous construct your own Telescope. We love this toy for going back to basics and keeping the kids for screens for a few hours.
# For eco conscious children who Santa has brought a new tablet or music player for.
Planet Buddies have created a range of children’s headphones, bluetooth speakers and holders for tablets based on a range of colourful characters who represent endangered, vulnerable, and threatened species from all over the world. This includes educating about issues such as loss of habitat, global warming, and harmful substances ending up in our oceans. The packaging for each Planet Buddies product is made from 100% recyclable cardboard, with NO plastic window, and is printed with soy-based inks. Young adults and children are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss because of the increasing use of headphones. Planet Buddies sell audio safe headphones volume limited to 85 decibels which make it safe to listen up to 8 hours a day. The headphones are lightweight, comfortably padded on the ears, and the fabric headphone cover is soft and I love the cute ear design. Selling for £19.99 Planet Buddies offer a 30% discount when purchasing through their website via voucher Code: THEPARENTINGJUNGLEPB30.
# For curious toddlers this is the perfect playhouse (+figurines) for both boys and girls.
Branch out to the Timber Tots Playset with carry handle (RRP: £39.99) for action-packed animal antics. This toy takes me back to my childhood, ideal for imaginative play, the treehouse has been reimagined with new colours, features, and accessories. I love that this set includes two-character figures with furniture, as often you have to buy this separate i.e. when purchasing dollhouses etc. The playset includes lots of activities to promote early motor skills, a movable lift, swing, garage, car and flip top bush hideaway. Press the button at the top of the tree and – POP! – the whole thing opens and closes for practical storage and for children to take their favourite playset wherever they go. Suitable for 2+ the toy is durable but lightweight (Length:29cm, Height:33cm Width:28.5cm).
NOTE: Assembly required. The only thing I would suggest is before wrapping the gift, parents add the sticker décor which only takes ten minutes but best to do without an excitable toddler trying to help!
# For the perfect sweet stocking filler that is not a chocolate coin!
Why not fill your child’s stocking with tasty treats, like Haribo’s amazing hamper that features a merry mix of treats. Bursting with choice, this sweet gift includes something to suit all tastes with Giant Trees, Dummies Zing, Squidgy Strawbs, Jelly Beans, Chamallows and Strawberry Balla Stixx. I love that it comes in its own decorated box, though remember if your child is a vegetarian some sweets may not be suitable. I like that each of the packets is a child friendly size. RRP is £5.00 and the product is available from B&M.
# For the children that have a creative streak, choose activity toys that can be used again and again!
Be the king/queen of the catwalk! This set includes two mannequins for maximum design freedom. Encourage your children to style their own dresses with the Harumika fashion design kit RRP £19.99 which includes mannequins to dress with reusable fabrics, pins and accessories. Due to the fixings Smyths advises this gift is suitable for ages 6+. This means no gluing; no sewing and no cutting and kids can create new designs over and over again. The Harumika YouTube channel offers fashion inspiration, tutorials and more. Four styles are available: Frozen Fruits, Cosmic Kawaii, Yummy All Over, and Asian Dream.
#For the fashion designer in training that has plenty of puff!
The Blopens Fashion Studio RRP £24.99 offers budding fashion designers the chance to create fantastic pictures with amazing airbrush effects! The kit contains 20 colouring templates, 20 reusable stencils, 10 duo mini Blopens, 1 magic colour change mini Blopen, sticker sheet, sparkly gems and Instruction leaflet. Choose from different hair styles, tops, bottoms, shoes and purses to create 1,000 possible design combinations! The toy is suitable for children age 6 +, durable and easy to use. I suggest you spread some newspaper out beforehand, or better yet, do this outside. There’s a one-way valve in each pen which prevents your child from sucking on the end and inhaling the ink. If you want to get creative you can create designs on other things, like rocks! Just make sure you store the pens well or they will dry out.
#For children who love Power Rangers (and the parents that always forget to buy batteries).
If anyone else’s child loves Power Rangers then grab a Power Rangers Reactive Kata Sword. (You can get the chance to win your own by entering the competition through the link.) From the Beast Morphers back to the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Power Rangers have brought teamwork, action, and adventure to generations of fans. For ages 5 and over the sword features lights and reactive sound effects. On Christmas morning don’t get caught short with the many MANY electronic toys that will be needing batteries. For long-lasting charge choose Panasonic EVOLTA batteries which are designed to avoid battery leakage. They are also capable of storing energy for up to ten years and contain silver compounds that stabilise it in case of overcharging. For advice on how to choose the right batteries for your toys click here. So far after 2 weeks constant use in my sons remote control car there is no sign of the batteries tiring!
# For children who want a pet over lockdown that doesn’t eat dads’ slippers!
Welcome to the 90’s! Celebrating PAC-MAN’S 40th birthday, two world-famous brands PAC-MAN and the family-favourite electronic pet Tamagotchi have created the Nano and Deluxe version (RRP £19.99). Retro loving children can now raise and nurture their Tamagotchi character with the help of PAC-MAN, who helps save the Tamagotchi character from the ghosts and bugs. There are also two fun mini games: Pac Game and Catch Game. The yellow or black or PAC-MAN Tamagotchi Deluxe includes a yellow PAC-MAN case. Suitable for age 8+ the instructions are initially complicated, and the buttons are small but perfect for a child. Unlike a sit-down screen I like the idea of them having something in their pocket that they can play with. Using the device is not difficult, the menu options are limited and graphics basic, so it does make it easy for children to care for a pet. It is available from Amazon and Game.
#For children who want to spruce up their room after lockdown.
More and more I see parents for birthdays and Christmas, redecorating their children’s room as an alternative as a gift. Repainting, buying new furniture and accessorising is a great idea since our children have spend half a year at home in the same old space.
If you are not a fan of wallpaper, consider the unique trendy art poster prints from Ink & Drop to create a statement gallery wall. Styles range from street art, botanical art, customisable prints, to Scandinavian style minimal prints, they have something for every style of interior design. The altered art is a fun niche that is different from generic wall art companies and perfect for children’s rooms. Prices range from £13 – £45 (with 15% off first order) and you can also buy frames and bundles. The colours of the prints are bright and paper thick so don’t settle for boring prints & posters! Our favourite is the bright typographic ‘Let’s Stay Home’ print available in orange, pink and monochrome as a 2020 memento. Paper finishes can be matt or gloss, from size 21×30 – 100×150 cm (£13-£75) and the prints look good in any room in the house! CURRENT DEAL 20% OFF ALL ORDERS £50 OR MORE WITH CODE 20FROM50 *excludes bundles & frames.
#For the reluctant bathers or those that love a fizzy, sparkly bath!
The So Bomb Crystal Geode DIY factory (£19.99) lets you get ahead of the trend and transform bath time making your own unique Crystal Geode bath bombs. Choose your coloured powder, add water and let it set, add those finishing touches with luxury coloured geode crystals. Watch as the explosion of colour erupts when it hits the water and make your bath time a fabulous experience! I love that children not only get to create their own bath bombs which is exciting enough, but that they have the amazing crystal look, even my 9 year old son got involved. The pack has 10 bath bomb mixtures which means you get a lot of use out of one kit! Obviously younger children will have to be supervised and if your little ones have eczema etc then be cautious with trying new bath products.