Holidays | Stuff We Love

Holiday gift guide: 16 great toys for this year's season

We've rounded up some of the greatest local toy gurus for their advice on the very best toys for this year's holiday season... and the results are in! See below for a wide variety of toys for both boys and girls that will be sure to make this year's holiday extra fun and memorable.

Dragon's Dungeon by Playmobil

Dragon's Dungeon (Playmobil). Hear ye, hear ye, Playmobil fans. This new playset includes a tower (with a so-cool LED “crystal” inside) perched on a rock, a knight, a green dragon and a missile to shoot at the bad guys. Ages 5 and older.  $78.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Big Bag of Science by Be Amazing Toys

Big Bag of Science (Be Amazing Toys). This giant kit (yes, it’s stored in a bag) contains more than 70 unique science activities – perfect for budding scientists who aren’t yet ready for more advanced kits. Ages 8 and older. $39.99. [THE TOY PLACE]

Artistics for Kids by Sentosphere

Artistics for Kids (Sentosphere). These cool ready-to-paint pictures are “magic” – brush watercolors over a wax-resist image and watch it expand to fill the entire area. The kits create really beautiful pictures for kids who don’t like to color inside the lines. Ages 10 and older. $19.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Sticky Mosaics by Orb Factory

Sticky Mosaics (Orb Factory). These mosaic kits are all about the fairies and sparkle and magic horses – perfect for that little girl in your life who lives in pink. Kids place sticky mosaic tiles on a template, creating a glittery work of art to display. Lots of different kits available. Ages 5 and older. $17.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Musical Treasure Boxes by Enchantmints

Musical Treasure Boxes (Enchantmints). Secret cubbies and a sweet little figure that pops up when you lift the lid – these treasure boxes are like your standard music boxes but way nicer. You can get a traditional pink/ballerina design, the brown/horse design for The Saddle Club fans, and many others. Ages 5 and older. $24.99 and up. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Deluxe Build-A-Road by International PlaythingsDeluxe Build-A-Road (International Playthings). The click-lock track is easy for kids to work with so kids can building roads and add ramps, tunnels and turnarounds. Includes 20 feet of flexible track and two battery-operated cars (AA batteries not included). The store’s display is a huge hit. Ages 5 and up. $49.99. [THE TOY PLACE]

Adventure Capes by Creative Education

Adventure Capes (Creative Education). These generic superhero capes come in bright colors (there’s even a pirate one for Johnny Depp fans) and are a fantastic jumping-off point for imaginative play. And trips to the grocery store. Ages 3 and older. $18 and up. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Imaginets by Mindware

Imaginets (Mindware). A wooden box fitted with a handle and latch contains a white magnetic board and magnetic geometric shapes. Kids can recreate designs included in the kit, or make up their own.  $25.99. Ages 3 and older. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Plastic Dinosaurs by Imex

Plastic Dinosaurs (Imex). They’re big, they’re ferocious, and they’ll go anywhere – from the bathtub to the beach. Good times! Ages 3 and older. $15.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Tea and Cookware Sets by Green ToysTea and Cookware Sets (Green Toys). Nicely packaged cookware sets – made in the U.S. out of recycled plastic – gives little kids a hit of the “I’m a grownup” pretend play they love at this age. They don’t need to know that open-ended imaginative play is good for them.  Ages 2 and older. $15-$30. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Tie-Dye Kit by Jacquard

Tie Dye Kit (Jacquard). The high-quality dye included in this kit = a beautiful, long-lasting T-shirt.  The kits makes 10-15 tie-dyed shirts and comes with a how-to DVD.  Ages 12 and older. $21.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Stanley Street Sweeper by Wow ToysStanley Street Sweeper (Wow Toys). Made out of PVC-free, high-grade plastic and stainless steel pins, this sweeper is “virtually indestructible.” Kids can push it to make the brushes rotate, and spin three panels to sort the garbage. Best of all: It’s quiet, without the built-in sounds that make other toys of this type so unbearable. Ages 18 months and older. $29.95. [TOP TEN TOYS]

Shopping Cart by Melissa & Doug

Shopping Cart (Melissa & Doug). A stainless steel mini shopping cart made by the same folks who manufacture real shopping carts. Kids can load it up and push it around the house, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can load it in the car for a trip to the grocery store. $49.99. Ages 3 and older.  [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Zolotopia Sculpture Game by Zolo

Zolotopia Sculpture Game (Zolo). This new game from Zolo contains 67 wacky foam and plastic shapes for building wild shapes and critters. Comes packed in a round vinyl carrying case. Ages 5 and older. $47.50. [TOP TEN TOYS]

Goblet Gobblers by Blue Orange

Goblet Gobblers (Blue Orange). Parents, you can play this one with the kids without getting bored. The strategy game is a form of Tic-Tac-Toe in which players “gobble up” their opponents’ pieces by placing a larger piece on top. Ages 5 and older. $19.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Jumbo Cardboard Boxes by Melissa & Doug

Jumbo Cardboard Blocks (Melissa & Doug). These cardboard blocks come in three primary colors and three sizes, and are folded flat so you can build them. Then stack ‘em. Then knock ‘em down. One of owner Scott’s favorite toys for its long-lasting play value. Ages 2 and older. $39.99. [TOYS THAT TEACH]

Looking for an independent toy store in your area?

Check out our extensive online directory with plenty of options for children's toys and gifts -- year-round! Here are some of our absolute favorites:

Izilla Toys in Seattle
Max and Quinn's Atomic Boys Shop-O-Rama in Seattle
Wind Up Here in Olympia
Clover Toys in Seattle
Tree Top Toys in Redmond
White Horse Toys in Issaquah
Blue Highway Games in Seattle
Katan Children in Mercer Island
ChildTrek Natural Toys in Tacoma
Curious Kid's Stuff in Seattle
Learning Sprout Toys in Tacoma
Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore

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