Every parent of siblings knows about holiday math. If you spend basically the same amount of money on each child, but one has a bigger pile of presents, is it really even? Is one kid going to have a meltdown when their brother has nine presents, but they have eight? Are they going to think Santa is actually kind of a jerk? One way to get around the excruciatingly annoying task of making it “even” is to load up on gifts kids can share. And by share, I mean actually use at the same time, not something to take turns with, because I wouldn’t do that to you.
Oftentimes, shareable gifts come with a little sticker shock, but when you think about the fact that they can be used by two or more kids at once, and they’ll (hopefully) give you the gift of watching your kids
play peacefully together, the price may seem a bit more palatable. But, frugal moms unite— you’ll also be happy to hear that several of the gifts on this list are under $20, and many are under $100. And for you relatives with deep pockets, there are some really great pricier gifts too.
From forts to play structures, card games, and more, here are 14 gifts for kids to share. Now good luck negotiating who actually gets to unwrap the present.
1 Colorful stepping stones
These candy-colored stepping “stones” will inspire hours of active, imaginative play while helping kids work on balance and spatial awareness. They’re lightweight, so kids can quickly move them around (and you won’t need to set up their game of ‘don’t step in the lava’ 100 times), but they’re strong and can support nearly 400 pounds of weight. They’re also stackable, which means they won’t take up too much valuable real estate indoors or outdoors, and flip them upside down, and they become little bowls to sit and spin around in or bowls to organize a batch of toys.
2 A comfy play couch
Yes, it’s a couch, but it’s also a reading nook, a fort, a rocket ship, and so much more for. The Newton x Figgy Play Couch comes with four base cushions, two rectangles, and one wedge, which can be arranged into endless creations (and leaves plenty of pillows for each kid to play with). One of the things that separates this play couch from their competitors is that the cushions can be Velcro’d together which cuts down on frustration when trying to build a structure to interact with. And if you have the Newton crib mattress, there’s also an included cover that allows you to turn the mattress into a pillow for the couch.
3 An indoor climbing structure
Bring the playground inside with this fantastic indoor climbing structure. Designed for kids ages 2 to 6, the structure includes monkey bars, a ladder, a slide, a swing, and even a mini climbing wall. It’s made from high-quality natural pine wood coated in a BPA-free varnish, so splinters shouldn’t be an issue. You can choose to keep it natural with wood or opt for one that’s painted rainbow colors. There’s also a bigger version available for an additional $100.
4 A Bluey game
If your kid asks to watch
Bluey all day long, some Heeler family games are a good way to scratch the itch and keep the screens off. Designed for two to three players, the object of this game is to keep the balloon spinning without it hitting your “Pop!” token. Plus, the balloon doesn’t actually pop, so there are no loud surprises. 5 Hugging stuffed animals
Like siblings, this sweet sloth duo from Warmies can snuggle tight or separate when they’ve had enough time together. They offer a weighty comfort at one pound each that smells like French lavender and can be warmed in the microwave or chilled in the freezer. Their paws have velcro, so in addition to hugging each other, they can also attach securely to a suitcase or headboard.
6 An indoor trampoline
Rainy days call for indoor trampolines, and this one is big enough for two kids to share (as long as they’re under 180 pounds combined). The handle is adjustable, and the non-slip footies help it stay in place without scratching your floors. You may even be tempted to jump (and by all means, go ahead).
7 A Karaoke Machine
Look, I know your home is loud enough without a karaoke machine, but the plus side is that this will keep them busy for hours. It has six voice-changing effects, plus you can connect a phone or mp3 player via Bluetooth so kids can sing along with their favorite artists (Swifties will go nuts). There’s a fabulous light show that syncs with the sound of their voices, and best of all, it comes with two microphones, making it perfect for sibling or friend duets.
8 1450-Piece LEGO chess set
You get a lot of bang for your buck with the LEGO chess set. First, they get to build it (there are 1450 pieces), and then they can play chess repeatedly. It’s stable, as far as LEGOs go, so you don’t have to worry about pieces splintering off every time they move a rook. This can also be used to play checkers, and the board opens to store the pieces, so in theory, you shouldn’t have to worry about a frantic search for the queen when it’s time to play.
9 A beautiful play kitchen
Prepare to feel a touch of envy when you see how chic your kids’ modern and sleek play kitchen is — nothing
sad beige about it. The knobs on the stove really turn, and the ice maker on the refrigerator really dispenses three play cubes (expect to see your little one doing this over and over). One of the cool things about this play set is that it’s actually two pieces: the ‘fridge separates from the stove, so it’s easier to fit in tighter spaces, like an underutilized corner of your actual kitchen, too. 10 A rhyming game
It’s a puzzle and a game combined with words written on one side of the reversible pieces and corresponding images on the other. The idea is to connect two words that rhyme, and if one of your kids isn’t quite reading yet, they can play using the picture side of the cards. The pieces are over two inches, so they’re easy for little hands to hold. It’s a nice gift for kids who are drawn to reading, and is a great way for an older sibling to bond with their younger one.
11 A wooden dollhouse
It’s like the Barbie Dreamhouse, minus all the plastic. This three-level dollhouse is big enough for two kids to play side-by-side. Plus, it comes with 30 pieces of cute furniture like a bunk bed, pink refrigerator, rocking horse, and so much more, so you don’t have to spend money or time outfitting the house (because an empty dollhouse is no fun).
12 A Mushroom Fort
If you’ve ever wanted your family to be more like that cozy illustrated mushroom family circulating on social media, now’s your chance. This fort is perfect for reading, secret meetings, or hiding out from parents. Wondering where you’ll put this mushroom-roofed little dwelling? Well, lucky for you, it inflates using a simple box fan (which isn’t included), and when it’s not in use, it packs down into a small storage bag.
13 A giant puzzle
An undeniable truth about kids is that they like big toys (I’m talking huge plush giraffes, and giant block castles). This giant floor puzzle takes up space but is actually really easy to clean up. The hand-painted illustrations on each puzzle piece look right out of a storybook (so you won’t mind seeing them strewn across your floor), and they show A-through-Z scenes from India. The brand is from Singapore but ships to the United States for under $10.
14 A fun card game
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is like the card game version of patting your head and rubbing your tummy simultaneously (and don’t be surprised if your kid is way better at it than you are). This one’s ideal for ages 8 and up, though younger kids may like it too. The object is simple— all players say Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza in that order every round, regardless of which of those words shows up on the card (it’s surprisingly hard to say ‘taco’ when looking at a picture of a cat). If the word on the card matches the word being said, you slap the pile. The last player to slap has to take all the cards.
This article was originally published on
Dec. 1, 2023