The Ultimate 2023 Gift Guide For Kids

It’s the holidays, and you’re on a mission to make some magic for the nicest (and, let’s be honest, even the naughtiest) kids on your list. But where do you start? Our annual roundup of the best toys of the season covers all the most important categories, like big-ticket ride-ons, building sets (like K’Nex and Legos), popular stuffies, coveted collectibles, and more. As long as you have the tiniest inkling of what your gift recipient is into, you can shop this list with confidence and hand over a present guaranteed to light up some eyes.

Gifts For Babies & Tots

The most important thing to consider when shopping for babies and toddlers is safety. Practicality helps too — to win brownie points from the parents, of course! These toys are great for babies and toddlers who may be too young to voice their opinion but will show you what they love by gravitating toward their new treasures (and hopefully away from the nearest set of car keys). Sensory jars filled with water-activated light-up cubes; lightweight colorful discs for stacking, balancing, and storing; and a DJ-themed activity table are just a few of the things we know will delight the youngest ones on your list.

Dolls & Dollhouses

If you’re shopping for a kid who loves dolls, fairies, and the places they call home, behold: We have a treasure trove of items right here. In terms of dollhouses, every scale and budget is represented, from a practically life-sized KidKraft mansion that’s four stories and nearly 4.5 feet tall, to a travel-friendly dollhouse briefcase from Hearthsong that’s the size of a child’s lunchbox. When it comes to the dolls to play with and love, there are more diverse options than ever, like newcomer Jilly, who actually portrays Asian features, and this year’s Little Mermaid doll based on Halle Bailey’s Ariel. For a bespoke option, customize an American Girl doll to a lucky child’s likeness.

Pretend Play

Perhaps your imaginative little one fancies themself a witch and needs a magic workshop set to craft the perfect potion for turning their younger brother into a frog. Maybe this Target cash register will help them recreate their favorite family activity: the Target run. And kids who dream of navigating the sky will love the mock pilot dashboard from Melissa & Doug. The toys in the pretend play category are simply just a prop to inspired the most engrossing kind of play — the kind where their imagination takes over.

Surprise & Reveal Toys

The craze for toys with an element of mystery hasn’t slowed down, and many of your child’s favorite collectibles come in “surprise” form. Fairies, Miniverse foods, Disney-themed Legos, and more all come in packaging that you have to tear open to find out what’s inside. If your kid has a collector’s mindset, they’ll want to acquire them all. (Lots of these are small and make ideal stocking stuffers.) Another popular genre takes the the surprise-and-reveal concept to a whole new level. These require a kid to follow a dozen engrossing steps to get to the toy itself. The hottest reveal toys of this year include a fluffy creature stuffed inside a magic lamp and an altered shark waiting to emerge from a green goo-filled beaker. Of course the elaborate step-by-step process is only half the appeal — the other is trying to collect them all.

Toys For Builders

There’s (at least) one in every family: Someone who’s obsessed with toys like Legos, where the building process is part of — or most of — its appeal. We have options for beginners, advanced builders, and everyone in between that will keep them happy and occupied for hours. Now’s a good time to add a meaningful new set to their Lego library, or if your kid’s brick collection is already quite extensive, perhaps it’s time to introduce them to something new, like Pokémon-themed brick sets from Mega. With all the gifts in this category, your recipient gets to build a project and then decide how they want to enjoy it — as something to interact with or to display.


A ride-on toy is often considered the primo gift of the holidays — impressive for its size and usually its price tag. (Who amongst us didn’t dream of seeing a ribbon-clad, kid-sized Barbie convertible or Power Wheels Jeep next to the tree?) These days though, there are tons of great options under $100, like Fisher-Price’s Farm-to-Market Tractor or Radio Flyer’s mini UPS truck, so you can still make a kid’s jaw drop at a much more affordable price.

Cuddly Stuffies

You swore you wouldn’t spend money on another plush lovey, but they’re at the top of your kid’s wishlist, and it’s not your fault that they just keep getting cuter and cuter. Foods of all kinds, Squishmallows, Hello Kitty (who’s celebrating her 50th birthday!) — these are only a small sample of popular themes in the plush category. Your options range from tiny to enormous, from $10 to $64, and from a classic teddy to new arrivals like a weighted sloth to help kids (neurodivergent or not) calm down. And if you can’t pick just one, why not consider a desktop claw machine filled with 10 small plush heads?

Pet Shop: Animals & Dinos

If the kid on your list is an animal (or dinosaur) lover, chances are it’s all they’ll talk about. If you’re not ready to get your kid a real dog yet, the Little Live Pets interactive pup is the next best thing. Furbies and Fingerlings are back and as creepy/cute as ever. And dinosaurs may be extinct, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating, so there are plenty of dino gifts here, from interactive to stuffed, to pique your little paleontologist’s interest.