Editor's note: Prices are approximate and will vary by retailer. Gifts are organized by category, and then by age.
Year after year, as the holiday rush ensues, we face the same conundrum: finding treasures that will satisfy our kids’ current interests yet won’t join the pile of castaway plastic junk at the bottom of the closet a mere few days later.
Good news: We have done the legwork for you! Our hard-working elves scoured the stores and grilled the experts to bring you a collection of the most sought-after and downright awesome toys of the season — and which also promise to engage kids all year long. Whether you have artsy souls, fashion mavens, Seahawks fans or Pokémon catchers, these funky finds will thrill your kids.
Bonus: We’ve focused on local toymakers and stores, green materials and toys that offer plenty of open-ended, creativity-sparking fun.
Tumbles and touchdowns
Spooner Pro Board, $65
Is this the year your kids discovered skateboarding? This simple-looking board is a triple threat, helping newbie shredders practice technique and develop balance, coordination and core strength for skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding. Ages 3–8
Two Bros Bow & Arrow, $24.99
This beautifully hand-painted bow and arrow set is a fantastic way to introduce kids to the classic sport of archery. A bonus is that it’s made by two Portland brothers. Ages 6–10
This personalized jersey, custom-printed with your kid’s name, goes above and beyond standard 12s garb. Prepare for jumps and shrieks from your Seahawk-crazy sports fan when he or she opens this. Sizes start at youth small.
Part of the award-winning biography series “Gymnstars,” this book chronicles the incredible story of Olympic medalist Simone Biles, starting with the day she first walked into a gymnastics studio in Houston at age 5. Ages 8–12
Dressing (up) to impress
Picture This Clothing, from $49
Over winter break one year, Jaimee Newberry sewed a dress for her daughter based on a drawing the girl had done. “I’m wearing my imagination!” Zia proclaimed. Newberry turned the idea into a business that turns children’s artwork into beautiful custom-made dresses. Ages 4 and older
Aspiring couturiers will adore honing their skills with this dressmaking tool kit, which includes everything from a sketchbook to sewing essentials, fabric and even a vintage-style dress form. Ages 8 and older
Girls don’t have dibs on cool fashion: Stylin’ dudes will appreciate these funky tees from Japanese retailer Uniqlo, a socially responsible company that emblazons T-shirts with hip graphics by up-and-coming artists (as well as franchises kids love such as Lego and Marvel). All ages
Arts, crafts and maker mania
Go beyond Crayola for your little artists. The perfect first tool, these chubby, honey-scented crayons are easy for small hands to grasp and are made of natural, safe-to-gnaw beeswax. Ages 12 months and older
Looking to drag your Pikachu hunter away from the phone? This origami set is a creative, screen-free way to indulge the Pokémon obsession while learning about the traditional Japanese art form and encouraging development of fine motor skills. Ages 6 and older
Making Minecraft movies — what could be cooler? This studio set taps into kids’ artistic side, providing everything they need to try their hand at animation and filmmaking, creating their very own Minecraft videos. Ages 6–12
Rocking, rolling and grooving
You want them to learn about music; they just want to wiggle. This giant piano dance mat lets tiny dancers have a blast getting their moves on while learning about the instrument, with a variety of play modes. Ages 2 and older
Tech- and music-loving kids will love these wristband speakers, a great way for kids to listen to music without headphones. Bonus: With interchangeable straps in cool colors, they double as funky accessories. Ages 8 and older
If your kid has been singing tunes from the Broadway hit Hamilton for months, this one-of-a-kind, beautifully illustrated edition will keep them (finally) quiet. The hardback book, packed with photos and stories, reveals the captivating story of Miranda’s musical from conception to stage. Ages 9 and older
Critters and going wild
Folkmanis Puppets, $9.99–$29.99
The 40-year-old craft puppet maker is well known in child development circles for its beautifully made puppet critters that are surprisingly lifelike, letting tots’ imaginations run wild while learning about curious new species through dramatic play. Ages 3 and older, but younger babes can enjoy with adult supervision.
My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage, $26.95
Kids get to turn their fairy obsession into a tiny, living garden with a kit that nurtures hands-on nature skills and comes complete with growing seeds, soil and whimsical woodland friends. Ages 4 and older
Spy Gear Video Walkie-Talkies, $40.89
Spies in training can turn the backyard or park into ground zero for top-secret missions with a pair of high-tech walkie-talkies that open up into sneaky spy cameras. Ages 6 and older
Robot training and code jammin’
Magformers My First Set, $49.95
These colorful magnetic shapes that click into 3-D forms are a fantastic introduction to building and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities. A new version offers brighter hues and never-rejecting neodymium magnets that will appeal to the younger engineer set. Ages 3 and older
This slick, award-winning chemistry set is made by a Portland company and is designed to get girls interested in STEM. It includes everything young scientists need to mix up their own experiments and reactions. Ages 8–12
Ozobot 2.0 Bit, $59.99
A friendly round robot serves as an ideal gateway into coding for kids. They will learn programming skills as they get the bot to move, dance, play and complete challenges. Ages 8 and older
Stories, spells and scribbles
Carle books continue to enchant young kids. Now, little bookworms (and caterpillars) can bring their favorite characters to life in hands-on imaginative play, with soft sensory pieces and a peekaboo apple that encourage tots’ spatial awareness and motor skills. Ages newborn–3
Write Brain Wordless Book Kit, $24.99
Have a budding author on your hands? This kit lets youngsters compose and write their story to accompany the imaginative illustrations, and then publish a real hardcover or softcover book of their very own. Ages 5 and older
It’s been a Harry Potter kind of year, with the release of a new book (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) and spin-off movie due for release in November (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). This cookbook will keep your wizards- and witches-in-training busy trying magical concoctions and Hogwarts favorites, from treacle tart to cauldron cake. Ages 9–12
Super stocking stuffers
These small gifts pack a big punch, unleashing imagination and fun for kids all year. (Organized by age, from tots to teens.)
Seahawks Champ Mini Figure: Lego lover or football fan? No need to choose with a miniature figure of your fave Seahawks champ!
NogginStik: This small light-up rattle will keep babies entertained and learning (the light encourages visual tracking).
Be Amazing! Toys Energy Stick: Zap and shock — safely! — while learning about the electric science of currents and conduction.
Cubebot Micro: Bend, build, fold and fidget — this flexible wooden bot makes an awesome car companion or desk buddy for kiddos and grown-ups.
Cheerson Mini RC Quadcopter: Doubting the drone on your big kid’s wish list? These micro palm-size flyers are an affordable, low-risk starter version.
Anti-stress Coloring Book for Teens: Coloring books are all the rage, and this chill teen version will help adolescents find their happy place.
Independent toy and gift shops: Eastside
- Bricks and Wheels (also in Kent)
- Fireworks (seven locations)
- KidsQuest Children’s Museum store
- Lakeshore Learning Materials
- Mox Boarding House
- Uncle’s Games (also in Redmond and Tacoma)
- Wee Tots