2021 Gift Guide: Best Gifts for Preschoolers

best gifts

The very best gifts and toys provide enjoyment and excitement well beyond the holiday season. They unleash the imagination, spark creativity, invite shared laughter, foster connections with others, grow with your child through multiple phases, and create lasting memories of joy and fun. These gifts can be tangible items, single events, or access to opportunities and experiences throughout the year. Use this list to inspire gift ideas for your 2-5 year old this holiday season. 

2021 Best Gifts for Preschoolers

Toys, Activity Sets, & Pretend Play: Preschoolers love to unwrap gifts that they can immediately begin playing with. There are some great options that promote hands-on learning, imagination, and creativity and will be engaging for your child well beyond this holiday season (and oftentimes, for many years to come)! 

  • Dress-Up Clothes, Costumes, and Accessories: Children love to talk and dream about what they might be when they grow up. Consider gifting them a fire chief, astronaut, or veterinarian costume to encourage their pretend play. 
  • Tents, Mats, and Cushion Sets: Kids can spend hours building and playing in forts! To support this kind of play, you might add an AirFort, another type of easy-to-assemble tent, or tumbling and play mats to your collection. Though a little more costly, you might consider a Nugget set of cushions designed specifically for young children. These sets can support pretend play, safe climbing, or cozy quiet reading or naptime. 
  • Building Sets and Tools: Young children enjoy spending time building and creating. For inside play, consider adding a set of magnetic blocks or Lincoln Logs to your toy building supplies. Playing with these kinds of blocks helps young children develop fine motor skills and fuels their creativity and critical thinking skills as they work to create anything they can imagine! For outdoor play, children might have fun with a set of sand toys or snow toys. These types of toys are great for unstructured play time and often lead to fun collaborative play at a beach or playground.
  • Musical Instruments and Art Supplies: To fuel your child’s creative side, consider gifts that allow them to express themselves musically and artistically. A set of musical instruments can allow them to explore different kinds of sounds and beats. To help your child find their inner artist, this scratch art set provides a unique way to write and draw and even practice making shapes, letters, and numbers. Your child might also have fun with a drawing board that is portable and can be used again and again, whether at home, waiting for an appointment, or during a car ride. 

Subscriptions: Magazine and activity subscriptions are a great way to deliver fun throughout the year. Young children love checking the mail to see if there is something with their name on it. Subscriptions are some of the best gifts for young children–they  allow children to deeply explore topics of interest or engage in activities over time that are fun and interesting to them. Some ideas to consider:

  • Ranger Rick: This collection of magazines from the National Wildlife Federation has been a favorite of animal-loving kids for years. With options for a variety of ages (from babies through children in elementary school), kids can learn about different animals, view vivid pictures, and do activities with each issue. 
  • KiwiCo: KiwiCo offers a variety of subscription box options for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages. Families can choose kits that offer projects ranging from art to science and engineering to pretend play to cooking, depending upon your child’s interests and age. Each box comes with necessary materials and instructions. 
  • Little Passports: This monthly subscription box includes hands-on art and science learning about new ideas and places across the globe geared towards children ages 3-10. Early Explorer kits are specifically designed with the youngest children in mind and include activities, games, stickers, and travel-related treasures. 
  • Radish Kids: For your budding chef, each Radish Kids box provides age-appropriate, easy-to-use recipes, a list of groceries, and kitchen tools to use while making a delicious creation to enjoy.

Experiences: Creating opportunities for children to explore new places, connect with family members, and try something new for the very first time can be some of the very best gifts we give our children. To give the gift of an experience, you might wrap up a ticket, photo, brochure, or small toy representing the adventure.  

  • Day Passes: Young children might enjoy visiting a local botanical garden, water park, indoor adventure park, or a pottery or painting studio. Consider your child’s favorite activities and match the gift to their interests. 
  • Events: Tickets to a special event or sports game can be another great way to give the gift of a memory. Area high schools and colleges, local theaters, and parks and recreation departments often have concerts, performances, and games that are easily accessible for young kids. 
  • Memberships: Most communities have a children’s museum, science center, zoo, or aquarium nearby. Buying an annual membership can be one of the best gifts to give to your entire family as it can lead to year-long fun and learning. Memberships are especially valuable for families with young children because they can visit the special place in smaller time increments, and young children often enjoy going back to a familiar place over and over again. With a membership, families can take advantage of nice weather or a free afternoon to make a spontaneous trip. Or, families can plan to meet up with friends or bring out-of-town visitors. Many memberships offer additional perks throughout the year including special event access or discounts to other museums, science centers, zoos, or aquariums.