2019 Holiday Gift Guide with Discounts, a Giveaway, and Ideas for Kids of All Ages

This year we created two sections within our gift guide… Experience Gifts and The Best Toys and Games so you can get tons of ideas all in one place! There are discounts and even a giveaway, so make sure you check out all of our picks and reviews so you don’t miss anything. All of the members of the Kidlist Team have kids of different ages and interests so something is bound to catch your eye!

Scroll through or click the buttons below to jump down.

Experience Gift Guide: Ideas for the Holidays and How to Get a Deal!

by: Nicole Majewski

Is your play room exploding? My three kids have so many toys, we take all the toys they get from birthdays and holidays and put them away for rainy days throughout the next few months. When people ask what they could get my kids, my immediate response is to gift an experience for them. Making memories together lasts forever, while the five minute toy will just get tossed into the toy box. These experience gifts are not just for Moms and Dads, they are perfect for Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles, too. The memories you will make going on a special trip, taking a class, or watching a play bring magical feelings to the season of giving.

Families roast marshmallows around bonfires at the Morton Arboretum's Illumination event
Photo courtesy of The Morton Arboretum

Membership Gift Ideas

Memberships make great gifts because they give your family a cost-effective way to get out and have fun together all year round. After all, “Let’s go to the zoo!” makes a lot more sense when you know the tickets are already paid for. Check out our guide to which memberships are really worth it, as well as these ideas:

Deals on Activities and Parties

  • Oak Brook Park District: On Black Friday (November 29, 2019) you can receive $50 off any pool party package. Dates go quickly! Parties must be booked and coupon redeemed for a party on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, between January 6 – May 17, 2020. Offer expires May 17, 2020.
  • Sky Zone– Give the gift of PLAY this Holiday Season! Purchase a minimum $30 holiday gift card at Sky Zone Aurora or Sky Zone Joliet and receive a FREE 30 minute jump pass and a pair of SkySocks.  Offer valid through Dec. 31, 2019.  
  • Ball Factory– Get a free play pass ($12.95 VALUE) with a $50 gift card purchase. Book a birthday party and get free balls for all kids in the party. Both offers expire December 24, 2019.
  • Lilies & Spikes, Kids & Teens Hair Salon & Spa: Free Hair braid when  purchase a spa manicure and pedicure. Valid on weekdays only. Expires on January, 31, 2020.

Class Gift Ideas

If there’s a skill your child has talked about wanting to learn, a class is a great gift. A few ideas:

Local Discounts on Classes

  • Goldfish Swim School (Burr Ridge, Glen Ellyn, Elmhurst, Naperville, St. Charles): Various holiday gift packages that include three months of lessons, a snack gift card, towel, and toy
  • Gift the gift of coding! Codeverse is offering one month of membership and Codeverse: Explorer (at-home coding program) for kids ages 6-13. Cost: $175 Offer ends 1/15/2020
  • Bear Paddle Swim School: For every $50 purchased in gift cards, you receive a $5 bonus gift card. Expires December 22
  • Sing in the holiday season with a special discount on Ms. Clara’s Mini Musicians classes in Brookfield! Register online and receive a $30 discount using the promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout OR purchase a print-at-home gift certificate online and enter Kidlist in the “note to Ms. Clara” section to receive an additional 20%. (Example: Spend $100 and receive a $120 gift certificate). This is a great gift idea for grandparents!
  • Frankfort Fit4Mom– On Black Friday, between the hours of 12-5pm, all class passes are 35% off. The discount will be applied at checkout. Join for mommy and me (stroller fitness) classes or moms only fitness classes. All fitness levels welcome and encouraged at classes. Check the full schedule, sign up for a free class and learn more at frankfort.fit4mom.com

Theater and Dance Ticket Gift Ideas

Sports Gift Ideas

For sports-loving kids, outings to a game become lifelong memories. Actually, I don’t even like sports, but I loved seeing Blackhawks games with my family as a kid! A couple ideas:

  • Tickets to see a pro team play; check out the Chicago sports schedule for ideas
  • Homemade coupon to go to a local high school sports game
  • Tickets for a local batting cage
  • Harlem Globe Trotters are here for select days after Christmas. Groupon is selling discounted tickets
  • Paintball tickets (for the brave parents out there) would be a fun/wild day of fun for a teenager
  • A day at TopGolf. They even have heaters in the winter! Tuesdays are currently half price (subject to change)

Winter Fun Gift Ideas

Tickets or a homemade coupon for winter fun can help see your family through all the cold and snow! Here are a few ideas:

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Parent/Child Date Gift Ideas

A special outing together for one-on-one time makes a great gift. A few things you can do:

Plan a Vacation (or “Staycation”)

A winter break trip is a fun way to build memories together—even if you decide to stay put! You might want to:

Gift Guide: The Best Toys and Games This Year

We love scoping out all the new and fun toys and games for the season! This year we were happy to see that many of our favorites from last year saw success in the market and even expanded this year to offer more exciting fun for kids. The Chicago Toy and Game Fair is a great place to meet emerging companies as well as staples in the industry and we have also made great connections with toy and game companies through the years that we trust and love. Here are our picks for the best Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, divided by age group.

Our Top Pick for Babies

Discovery Toys

Discovery Toys makes quality toys for toddlers, including their Hide Inside Cottage, teething toys, measuring cups for water play and more. Check out their Amazon page for great gift ideas: Discovery Toys


BRIO

We have also been a long-time fan of BRIO. Their toys are made from quality materials and last forever! I still have the BRIO train my mom bought for me when I was a baby and the wood is in beautiful shape. My kids loved it for years, then I packed it away for my sister’s kids. Check out their full line of classic wooden toys on their Amazon page: BRIO


Our Top Picks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

My First Farm

Brio’s My First Farm is a great addition to a train table! The farm platform creates each animal’s noise as you link them together. The farm animals fit inside the train’s freight car, so they can go for a train ride! The set comes with two pieces of track, but it is meant to link to the Brio train tracks you might already have at home. My 18 month old loved the animal noises and my three years old added the farm station to his train tracks as a stop for his train. We have Thomas tracks and the tracks were compatible! Overall, this is a super sturdy addition to a train set. I would recommend this toy for a train enthusiast, especially in the 2-4 year old range. – Nicole
Click here to buy on Amazon:
My First Farm


Mickey Mouse Snuggle Time

In this simple game, you’ll work together to move all of the farm animals into the barn before night falls. The rules and goals are simple enough for young children to grasp (especially because it’s a team effort), and the soft board and squishy farm pieces work well for small hands. After the game is through, everything folds up into a nice, squishy package — a great alternative to boxes full of hard pieces. A great introduction to games for kids 3 and up. My 4-year-old had a great time and immediately wanted to play again. – Rachel
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Mickey Mouse Snuggle Time


Busy, Busy Airport Game

Busy, Busy Airport is a delightful game recommended for ages 3+. The characters in the game are based off the famous Richard Scarry’s Busytown. This game is an “I Can Do It!” game, so it is perfect for little ones just starting the get the idea of what “playing a game” is all about. The object of the game is to fly to the different places your passengers need to go, and pick up souvenirs at those places. The first airplane to drop off all your passengers and collect the most amount of souvenirs, wins! The game was perfect for my son, who just turned 4. He loved the movement of flying the airplane around to the different places. You can move the places around the room and make travel farther or closer. You could even add in some silly walks or movements in order to get to your destination. The box top flips to become the airport, and I enjoyed looking at the detail of the cute little passengers. One thing I will say, we have an 18 month old in our home, and the passengers and souvenirs are really tiny, so keep an eye on those around little ones. Overall, a great family game! – Kristen
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Wonder Forge Busy, Busy Airport Game


Kids Simple Wonder World Jars

Wonder Jars are a simple concept, yet provide hours of fun. Kathryn Heine, the creator and founder of Kids Simple, is a learning specialist and local mom of two who clearly understands the interaction between learning and playing and offers many different themes that your kids will love! Email hello@kidssimple.com to order.


Kidzlane Kids Karaoke Microphone

Toy microphones are not what they used to be! While the suggested age for the Kidzlane Kids Karaoke Microphone is 3+, I was surprised to see my 6-year old so excited to play with it. Performers can choose from either duet (you singing along with the vocals) or instrumental versions of 10 pre-programmed songs. The microphone even comes with a song booklet in case your child needs help with some of the words. While my girls enjoyed singing nursery rhymes for a bit, their favorite feature was the bluetooth connection. Once synced to my phone, they could sing any song we streamed. They were also able to record themselves singing for 100 seconds, and of course, playbacked it back for the whole family. The microphone even has a button that plays a round of applause! Perfect for a show-stopping performance! What could have been a 10-minute toy, turned into an afternoon of entertainment. – Katie
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Kidzlane Kids Karaoke Microphone


The Nugget

The Nugget is my family’s favorite gift they received last year. We have three kids (ages 5, 3, 1) and the Nugget is their favorite “toy”. The nugget is actually a modular play couch made up of four pieces. The base (a little smaller a twin mattress), the cushion, and two foam triangles. The Nugget can be reconfigured into a couch, a fort, a hammock, a slide, gymnastics mat, etc. Kids can use their creativity in building with the pieces and then get energy out using them. It can also be used as an extra kid bed for sleepovers! It is truly a unique gift! The Nugget cost $229 shipped. They are currently out of stock, but this is something we recommend you keep your eye on! – Nicole
Click here to buy on their website:
The Nugget

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Our Top Picks for Preschoolers and Young Elementary Schoolers

Fancy Nancy Find Your Fancy

Fancy Nancy Find Your Fancy was a great way to get the whole family involved in my 4-year old’s love for Fancy Nancy. Each person takes turns being Fancy Nancy, where you pick an item from her closet and your opponents have to guess the item based on clues you give them. The game is intended for children ages 3+, but I can see some 3-year olds getting confused by the rules. After we all got the hang of it, we had a lot of fun. We reasoned through our purple dress or yellow crown, and even got to practice counting bows at the end of the game. After a few rounds of the game, we talked about similarities and differences in the items, as well as which ones we’d actually like to wear. Ooo-la-la! – Katie
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Fancy Nancy Find Your Fancy


Fizzy Magic

I was really excited to find Fizzy Magic, a woman-owned business based out of Sugar Grove. These bath fizzies are all natural with pure ingredients, including essential oils (they smell amazing), safflower oil, and avocado oil. They are nut-free, gluten free, and don’t have any sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, formaldehyde, or synthetic fragrances. And yes, many bath bombs are made from these ingredients, which freaks me out. Not only are Fizzy Magic bath fizzies made from safe ingredients, but they are fun too! Pictured left is a bath fizzy that has a toy pig in it… this is how it works: as a parent, you know what is inside, but you read the enclosed clue to your children, they take a guess as to what toy is inside, and put it in the bath. As they enjoy the fizzy and calming fragrance the toy emerges as a great surprise! Pictured right is one of their best sellers (shhh, there’s a unicorn necklace inside!).
Click here to buy on their website:
Fizzy Magic Store


Friends of a Feather

This colorful game introduces kids to card games with a deck, simple cards shaped like feathers, and fun bird card holders that lets them try out having their own “hand.” The goal of the game is to collect as many of your color feathers as possible! It was a bit of a stretch for my son, who just turned 4; we played with our hands in the open to keep things simpler. Older 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, and up will enjoy the challenge and the chance to play a “real” card game. – Rachel
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Friends of a Feather


Kidzlane 6 Foot Piano Dance Mat

My kids can’t get enough of this piano mat! Both of my girls, ages 4 and 6, are able to make music with this giant piano. Younger children can stomp on it and experiment with sounds, while older kids can try and follow the provided cards that teach you how to play songs while you dance! I love that it rolled up nicely and can be stored away easily. – Jill K.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Kidzlane 6 Foot Piano Dance Mat


Little Experimenter Night Vision Binoculars

I highly recommend this toy that promotes exploration! If your child loves to explore the outdoors, this is the gift for them! The binoculars are easy for little ones to focus and offer 2x the magnification. The night vision aspect was really exciting for my daughter because she could turn off the lights in different parts of the house and walk around with the flashlight on and look at things in the dark. – Jill K.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Little Experimenter Night Vision Binoculars


Ravensburger Toy Story 35 Piece Puzzle

My 4 year old daughter absolutely loves puzzles. I love buying her puzzles because they keep her busy for a long time. This puzzle is made of high quality cardboard and not easy to bend or destroy, which is important for little hands. Ravensburger makes the best puzzles! – Jill K.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Ravensburger Toy Story 35 Piece Puzzle


Playfoam

Playfoam has been a favorite in our house for a while. Made by Educational Insights, it comes in several different colors and can be rolled out and shaped like play dough, but isn’t nearly as messy. It’s a great way for the kids to get creative and I like to play with it too! The individual packages make great stocking stuffers or you can buy it in combo packs for multiple colors.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
PlayFoam Combo Pack
Playfoam Pals (stocking-stuffer sized)


Invasion of the Cow Snatchers

Invasion of the Cow Snatchers involved the perfect level of deductive reasoning for my precocious 6-year old. She loves problem-solving and sudoku puzzles, so I thought this would be a great fit. The game consists of varying levels of difficulty, ranging from easy to genius. She made it through quite a few levels independently, and it wasn’t until the genius level that she started asking for help. I really enjoyed that she was able to do this on her own, but that we could also reason through some of it together. If your child is one who enjoys logic games, this is a fun option. The suggested age range is 6 to adult, but I think it could even be difficult for some 6-7 year olds. Also, while the setups are easy, the magnet pull from the hovering UFO can be strong, so it’s important to carefully follow your intended path. Unintentional cow-snatching (I never thought I’d say that) can cause some frustration. 
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Invasion of the Cow Snatchers


SuperThings

SuperThings are the hottest new collectible! There are comic books that accompany tiny figures that have hero and villain pairs. Mr. C (the orange) vs Jack the Juicer is one of our favorites. If your kids are into collecting, super heroes, and/or mini figures, these would be right up their alley. The price point is also perfect for party favors and stocking stuffers. Please note that they are very tiny, so be careful if you have babies in the house.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
SuperThings Starter Pack
SuperThings Two Pack Hero and Villian
SuperThings Hideout + 1 SuperThing


Our Top Picks for Older Elementary School Kids and Tweens

Hellapagos

You can play Hellapagos so many different ways that it’s always entertaining and fun. Work together to make decisions to get off the island by building rafts, fishing for food, and saving water or play against each other to make sure you survive. Up to 12 people can play, which makes it a great game for large families and get togethers and we have also played with our family of four.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Hellapagos


Thinking Putty Puzzle

Thinking Putty Puzzle is a hot new game from ThinkFun that my 11 year old daughter absolutely loved! To play the game, you need to select a beginner to expert level challenge card, and attempt to solve it by connecting the dots of 6 different putty colors on a puzzle grid. The trick is to create thinking putty paths that connect the matching colored dots without intersecting! As a parent, I also loved this game as it was really unique! It was a great way to stretch my daughter’s mind, sharpen her logic skills and keep her engaged all at the same time. – Jill B.
Jill even did a Q&A with her daughter about the game! Click here to read her full review.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
ThinkFun Thinking Putty Puzzle

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Anomia

Think fast to say a word that matches the card of your opponent! This card game is great for 3-6 players and you have to pay attention to each card that is turned over. If your card matches another on the table, you face off with that player by spitting out whatever word comes to mind that you associate with the word on the card. It’s hilarious and fun!
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Everest Toys Anomia Card Game
Everest Toys Anomia Party Edition Card Game for larger groups


UGEARS

If your child likes to build things, they are going to love UGEARS. Made from laser cut wood, these pieces are sturdy and high quality! Follow illustrated directions to make amazing mechanical models that are beautiful and fully functional with moving parts. In the photo above, my son is making the Monowheel 3D Mechanical Wheel, which winds and travels across a surface with internal rubber bands and gears. A small piece of sandpaper and wax are included in the kit as some pieces need to be sanded and waxed for proper movement. He found it really satisfying to put together and I thought it was great for his patience, perseverance, and problem solving! UGEARS also has models for younger age groups (5+ years old), so you can buy kits for younger siblings too!
Click here to buy on Amazon:
UGEARS Monowheel 3D Mechanical Wheel
The entire UGEARS line
Buy directly from UGEARS: https://ugears.us


Smart Egg

The design of these labyrinth puzzles is genius. Your objective is to start with the wand at the top of the egg and work your way down until it comes out the bottom. Sounds easy, but it’s a wonderful challenge to use your dexterity, spacial skills, and patience to solve the puzzle. We met the European toy designer at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and so enjoyed sitting with him and playing his games!
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Smart Egg Labyrinth Puzzle


ThinkFun Domino Maze

Solve domino puzzles with this brain buster game. The domino maze is recommended for children 8 years and up. Children on the lower end of this range may need help from an adult. My oldest daughter loves setting up her dominoes and trying to solve the cards. It is not like any other game we have seen before and perfect for the child who loves these kind of brain activities! – Jill K.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
ThinkFun Domino Maze


Jewelsies

Kate Wharton from Glen Ellyn makes beautiful, fun, and unique jewelry with hand stamping. She loves to craft one-of-a-kind pieces and collaborates with customers to ensure your vision is realized. Kate sources many of Jewelsies’ raw materials from as many women owned, made in USA, and fair trade suppliers as possible. 
Click here to buy on Etsy:
Jewelsies


Q-bitz

We love Quirkle from MindWare, so we were excited to ty Q-bitz from the same great game company! It’s a visual dexterity game, which means that you are arranging the blocks to match patterns on the cards. 80 cards come with the game so you won’t have a shortage of possibilities and players race against each other in three rounds that bring different challenges to the table. Up to 4 people can play and the recommended age is 8+.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Q-bitz from MindWare


Marble Circuit

Start with a challenge card which dictates where a few of the colored channels should be placed, then figure out how the rest of the pieces need to be arranged in order to have the silver metal balls end up in the correct compartments in this single player game! For example, there are five landing spaces at the bottom of the board. The challenge card states that 0 balls should end up in the first compartment, 2 in the second, 3 in the third, etc. Figure out where to place the colored squares, then let the balls flow through the channels to see where they end up. Were you successful? Then move on to the next challenge! My daughter loved this mind game and found it to be just the right level of difficulty.
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Marble Circuit


Rummikub Large Numbers Edition

We are big fans of Rummikub, but did you know that there’s a large numbers edition? We like this version better because it’s much easier to see the numbers and colors of the tiles read better (the blue is lighter, so it doesn’t look so much like black). It makes it much easier to play, which is great for over the holidays and family get togethers. Rummikub is a classic and fun for all ages!
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Rummikub Large Numbers Edition


Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared

This is the newest installment in the series of Disney Villainous games, which put you in the role of a classic Disney villain with a dastardly objective to achieve. This time, you can play as Scar from The Lion King, Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective, or Ezma from The Emperor’s New Groove. If you have any of the other Villainous games, you can use this to expand them – but it’s also a standalone game for two or three players. (In fact, this is a great game for two players, which is hard to find.) This is a great choice for Disney-loving preteens and teens who love board games. – Rachel
Click here to buy on Amazon:
Disney Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared


Playmobil Giveaway

Want to win something great?! Playmobil gave us 3 Del’s Food Truck sets to give away from Playmobil: The Movie. Each set is worth $40 and they are almost sold out on Amazon! Simply fill out the form below to enter to win. Three winners will be chosen on Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 9pm. Only enter if you are able to come to Western Springs to pick up your prize. We will not be shipping these Playmobil sets. Thanks for understanding.


We did not receive any compensation from the toy and game companies for inclusion in this guide. In some cases we were sent product in exchange for a review with our honest opinions. We do not include any products that we don’t recommend.

Please note that this article contains affiliate links, which means that you are still paying the same price, but Kidlist receives a small percentage from Amazon to support the site.

gift-guide-for-kids-of-all-ages

Looking for things to do, the best holiday events, and more? Visit our Guide to Holiday Fun!

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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