If you’re finalizing your shopping list for the holidays, you’re in the right place for children’s gift ideas. Featured today on Theresa’s Reviews are the best holiday gifts for children. Check out the must-have gifts that children will adore.

Best Kids Holiday Gifts For 2016

Each year, I try out the latest items that companies hope to get in front of amazing parents like you, who are scouring the internet in search of toys that will bring a grin to your child’s face on Christmas morning. As a side note, if you like a gift idea, please feel free to shop the links in the article. 


First, American Girl Dolls are a classic that any girl would love. For a traditional gift, give one of the BeForever dolls. These dolls each have a set of accompanying novels that will encourage your child to read.

This year, I unboxed a BeForever doll newly released in 2016, Melody Ellison, who comes with a rich backstory. Raised in Detroit, she wants to become a singer, and faces several setbacks before she finally gains the confidence to sing her first solo. Children will love the historical aspect of the book, as well as the fact that she overcomes all odds to pursue her passions.


From Wellie Wishers (which top my daughters’ lists) to the Truly Me line, American Girl has many options to choose from for Christmas gifts. Although my personal favorite is the BeForever dolls, my daughters circled pretty much everything in catalogue (including the beautiful Pretty City Carriage), and they certainly wouldn’t be disappointed to see anything from American Girl on Christmas morning.

Collectable Characters

Small collectible character figures are very popular with children. While Shopkins were (and still are) a major fad I learned about last year, the newest obsession in my household is Num Noms. Since these were a top item on the letter to Santa Claus, I made sure to buy one (the Lights Freezie Pop Maker). Then, Samantha explained at dinner that Num Noms are these awesome little toys that you can use to make lip gloss (not freezie pops). When Num Noms offered to send us the Lip Gloss Truck and Art Cart Playset, I knew these were exactly what she would want to open on Christmas morning.


STEM Gifts

If you want educational gifts, buy toys that teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math with hands on activities.

For a unique building experience, check out Magformers. Since the magnetic toys stick together easily, they are perfect for all ages. Magformers come in high-tech varieties and can turn into very sophisticated creations. With the Power Sound 59 piece set, children can use light, sound, and motion to make their own creations. 


To inspire pretend play along with engineering, buy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Half Shell Heroes 38 piece set and for a more girly, pink version, check out the Shimmer and Shine 22 piece set. Children can make creations inspired by their favorite television shows. Inside the magnetic pieces are cards with your favorite characters, ready to make play time even more fun and creative.


Another educational gift idea is the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 rails builder set from Mindware Toys. Since marble runs have a big appeal to children, this item is an interesting spin on a classic toy. With this creative engineering set, children can create however sophisticated or simple a maze they want. Then, they watch their marble zoom down the maze. With practice, children can learn how to make more complicated patterns and see what happens to the marble. 


For a creative science experience, check out the Science Academy Clean Chemistry Set of 3. You can create perfume, soap, and even lip balm. Children can appreciate that their experiment results in a product they can actually use. 


If your children love science, give gifts that make learning fun. Since the Science Academy kits combine different interests (science and beauty), they make an excellent gift.

Active Gear

For children who never seem to stop moving, give gifts that encourage them to get outside. With the Pulse Performance Disney Princess Electric Scooter, you get safety as well as performance. The scooter travels at a reasonable speed and stops as soon as you take your finger off the button. For convenience, the item runs on a battery that lasts through multiple days of play and is easily recharged by plugging it into the wall.


Roller skate safely with PlayWheels Frozen Quad Skates. Each skate is equipped with four wheels, safety straps, and a brake on the front. Since the skates are made from an impact resistant material, they are very sturdy. My daughter found them easy to get on and off (but she prefers to keep them on as much as possible). Since she already has the skates, I’m checking out the matching protective gear for her Christmas gift.


If your children love getting outside, roller skates and motorized scooters are excellent gift ideas. My children wanted active gear that would challenge them and teach them something new. They were very happy with these two items.


Fill the space under the tree with toys your children will love. From Once Kids, the Wanderlust play sets offer a unique design as well as a storytelling opportunity. If your children love the idea of visiting a major city but are too young to do so, these blocks help them imagine they are there. You can give a box set that shows key, iconic buildings in Paris, London, New York City, and more.


Plush Toys

Another fun and festive gift idea is the Tinklink Santa Gnomlin. Standing tall at 16 inches, this plush toy is not only adorable, but he is also very soft and cuddly. Unlike other Christmas decorations, you’ll want to leave this toy out all year. Even when Christmas is long gone, your children will love cuddling this friendly-looking Santa.


Another plush toy worth checking out is the Sea Sparkle Crystal mermaid. At 10 inches, the plush toy is an ideal size for cuddling and make believe. All of the details give this plush a special look that will impress children on Christmas morning. With long, pink, silky hair, the toy has a beautiful shimmery tail and crown. If your children love pink sparkly toys and mermaids, this is an excellent gift idea.


Realistic stuffed animals offer an adorable playtime experience. If your child has a favorite type of animal, they will love the Miyoni collection from Aurora. Since dogs are a family favorite, the Yorkie Princess is an ideal gift. At 10 inches, the plush is a small representation of a real Yorkshire Terrier. To make the puppy even cuter, it comes with a hair accessory and outfit.


From Aurora, the Miyoni collection offers more than just house pets. You can even get wild animals, such as the Giraffe with Calf. Since this plush stands over a foot tall at 16 inches, it is a larger item for children to open on Christmas morning. Whether your children recently went on a safari at Animal Kingdom or simply love giraffes, this is a sweet gift children will adore.


Another fun idea would be the Masha and the Bear plush toys. These toys come from a hit Youtube series that originated in Russia, and it is currently available on Netflix. One of the show’s videos has over 1.81 Billion views! Since Masha is a mischievous and smart character, the transforming Masha doll can almost instantly change outfits. To add to the imaginative play experience, you can also get the helpful bear character.


Toy Figures

If your child likes toy figures, select items that go with their interests. From fantasy to farm life (and even Peanuts and Smurfs), Schleich offers a wide range of figures that appeal to children. For caring, nurturing children who enjoy taking care of animals, the Horse Wash Area is a nice gift idea. The set comes with a horse, the woman caring for the horse, and all horse accessories. 


For a more interactive experience, you can get the Mini Dinosaurs with Marshland Puzzle. With this gift, children can create the environment where the dinosaurs play by putting together a simple puzzle.




To introduce your child a new craft, check out the Mindware Pottery Wheel For Beginners. Since this pottery wheel is meant for children who have no prior experience with making pottery, it is ideal for young children interested in trying out pottery as a hobby. 


To expand on your child’s interest in painting, buy Kwik Stix Pencil Grip Paint Sets. Not only does the paint go on smoothly, but it also dries quickly. I tried the paint out on pumpkins, and I was surprised at how vibrant the colors showed up without multiple layers. Another useful feature is that you can easily wipe the paint off any surfaces (tables, floors, and more).


Children will love opening up art supplies they can immediately use in their creations. From pottery to painting, crafts are a fun gift idea.


Although clothes are a practical gift, a luxurious dress can bring a smile to a girl’s face. Feltman Brothers makes gorgeous dresses perfect for special occasions. My daughter tried out the Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress With A Floral Trim. Not only was the fit perfect, but it also looked spectacular. 


For festive holiday pajamas, check out Maison de Mini Pajamas. One of the cutest toddler styles for the holidays is the Xmas Snap Onesie. This item makes a great gift the night before Christmas. You can give it along with some hot chocolate and a new Blu Ray on Christmas Eve. With over-the-top bright holiday colors and a whimsical design, your child will look ready to snuggle up next to a warm fireplace and watch holiday movies. The design also comes in sizes for older children and even adults.


As one last clothing suggestion, check out Rockin’ Baby. On Christmas, I’m surprising my daughters with this adorable purple plaid shirt (a dress for my younger daughter in the same style) and a vest for each girl. Since my older daughter has a more edgy and girly look than my younger daughter does, I picked out the fun Faux Fur Gilet vest. I look forward to sharing photos of both of my girls in their new outfits!



My daughter loves her IFME shoes. This past summer, she wore the Venice style of IFME baby shoes. Now, she can fit into the Racer style, and she loves them! You can get the shoes in bright red, blue, or pink to wear with coordinating colors. For a more neutral look, check out the white sneakers. You can see the white sneakers peeking out from under her white dress in the above picture, and the red shoes in the below picture.


Share Your Suggestions!

What have you already bought your children for Christmas this year? Share your gift ideas in the comments.

Read The Reviews

For full reviews of some of the products mentioned here, check out the following articles.

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Theresa's Reviews - Best Kids Holiday Gifts For 2016 - Shop holiday gifts that your children will truly love. From toys to crafts, you will find the best gifts of the season.


I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion!

About The Author


Theresa has been writing since 2010 in magazines and online. Her lifestyle and parenting expertise has been featured in publications, including ShopSmart and Scholastic. She earned an M.Ed in Elementary Education from Vanderbilt as well as a BA in History from Flagler College, and she is a certified teacher.

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109 Responses

  1. Heather

    These are perfect! I have a little girl on my list who would love that perfume lab and an adult who would even love the gnomlin!

  2. Mimi

    This is such a great list for kids! Why didn’t they have many of these when my kids were little? Those outfits are so sweet. I think the STEM toy would be the one my son would love at his age. He always has a hard time with Christmas lists. lol

  3. Stephanie

    These are great – some even made me wish I was a kid again! 10 year-old me wanted a pottery wheel so badly! Maybe I can buy it and SAY it’s for my 13 month old?? Lol

  4. Jennifer (JenuineMom)

    Oh, I love that you put STEM gifts on your list. Those are always my favorites to give, because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. My son is a wee bit old for them now, but he would have loved the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 rails builder set!!

  5. Taylor Mobley

    These are great gifts! I always got excited about the science toys. One year I got a chemistry set, another I got a rock tumbler (I was super obsessed with rocks) and another year I got a terrarium with a lizard. Considering I majored in Biochemistry in college, I guess that all made sense down the line. 🙂

  6. Jeanine

    So many great ideas. I love the STEM gifts. I am trying to get as many as I can for my kiddos this Christmas!

  7. Bex

    Interesting array of gifts to choose from for birthdays and Christmas. I wonder if a lot of these are available internationally (I am based in the UK) or is this tailor made to a U.S. audience?

  8. Kristin

    This is a great gift guide! My 3.5 year old keeps asking for a scooter, I’m going to have to check that out. American Girl’s will always and forever be my favorite. I’m so glad my nieces love theirs as much as I used to love it!

  9. Beth

    I love the blocks, they were a favorite for my kids when they were young! And, the pottery wheel looks like it would be fun for all ages! Great picks!

  10. Rose Sahetapy

    I love the fact that the choices that share here are so various, from the festive kind of toys to the scientic toys. Children will love these as their Christmast gifts.

  11. Naomi

    Sometimes I wish I was 8 again, just so I could get that awesome toys again for Christmas! I’d love the santa gnome! Cute

  12. karen

    That science academy of chemistry stuff looks SO perfect! I want it! haha – think I could make my own lip balm at home? Love it!

  13. Julie

    I’m almost finished with my Christmas shopping but this is a great list of suggestions! I love that you included STEM and active gifts as well to encourage those interests in kids!

  14. Breyona Sharpnack

    great choices! I ordered my oldest some of the STEM toys from Amazon. My daughter just turned 5 and she wanted an American Girl doll, but I didn’t feel she was ready for one yet because of how she took care of her other dolls. I was able to get her something similar made by My Generation so the deal will be if she takes care of that then we will go to American Girl here in Atlanta for her birthday and pick one out!

  15. Georgiana

    Great gift ideas! My youngest still enjoys her American Girl doll–mostly because she likes to sew outfits for her. I’d love them to get more into the STEM items.

  16. Debra

    I love the creative gifts like the lip balm lab that gives them something to do during Christmas break.

  17. Julie Syl Kalungi

    Aww bless them. We didnt have such lists and variety when mine were little, yet they did love what they got. Thanks for sharing with us, I am sure we all have a you g one in the family niece, nephew son, daughter, grandchild, friend etc!

  18. Jamie

    So many great ideas, I’m really loving the STEM items. I think my nephews (5 and 7) would really enjoy any of those building toys! Great picks!

  19. Heather

    We are all about the STEM gifts in our house! My son, who is 6, is learning to code now, and loves it – of course I can’t understand any of it…maybe I need one of those toys for myself!

  20. Megan Z

    I have been seeing those Magformers everywhere, I think I might need to get some this year. They look way cooler than legos 🙂

  21. Crystal

    Hi Theresa! I think my favorite thing on here is the dolls that come with the books. I love encouraging my children to read so what a perfect combination. My ten year old still loves dolls, which kinda surprises me in this tweenish stage she’s in, but I’m glad she does.

  22. Reesa Lewandowski

    My kids are 5 & 8 and they both love magformers. What a great guide for kids, I love your included activewear.

  23. Allison

    These are great ideas! Our little one is 11 months old so I’m struggling with what to get him that will be useful and he will enjoy for awhile. These are wonderful!

  24. Stephanie Jeannot

    What a thorough list of great ideas. Glad you listed all kids of different options for people to choose from. I love the STEM products and yes, dolls are always great for little girls.

  25. Sharon

    My nieces will LOVE the lip balm and perfume lab kits. They are 10 and 13 so they are in the perfect age range for that gift. Thanks for the idea!

  26. Brown Rhonda

    Great ideas!! I LOVE the smocked dress! My youngest so needs one of those!!!

  27. Michelle Catallo

    Spot-on covering all different age groups! My 10 yr old twins are really into STEM so I got them a coding book and Magformers plus, I won a STEM-based toy last night (excited). My 7 yr old son is into dinosaurs and Magformers too, slowly inching into the STEM world.

  28. Debra

    These are great gifts, the hardest part though is outside gifts when there is snow on the ground. I guess my boys always go and play with them anyway!

  29. Taylor Mobley

    No kiddos here — but thanks for the ideas for my nieces and nephews! I have definitely checked a few of these out and I will be ordering some in the next few weeks. 🙂 Thanks for the help!!

  30. Julie Durfee

    What I love about this list of ideas is that they are so much different than most gift lists I’ve seen lately! I really like the chemistry sets that you shared and might just add one of those to my shopping list!

  31. Stephanie

    There are some great toys in here! I will definitely keep an eye on all the STEM toys. Playing and learning at the same time, perfect.

  32. Christina Aliperti

    My nieces would want everything on this list! These are some really cool choices for kids.

  33. Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh

    These are all wonderful ideas for kids Christmas gifts! We actually picked up a BeForever doll for my niece this year because she loves my daughters American Girl Dolls. And stem toys are always a win in our house!

  34. Brittany

    I love them all especially the little kids pottery wheel! That would be so fun to do with my kids!

  35. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    These are all Great Idea! My daughter is a huge fan of American Girl dolls and she really likes Melody. I may get her a Wellie Wisher too 🙂

  36. Blythe Alpern

    Your tiny model is adorable. This is a great list of gifts. I’m always trying to find something new and different to give my nieces and nephew.

  37. Kristie

    My daughter loves her Melody doll! Definitely a good pick of the season. This is a great guide! I’m going to try my best not to go overboard this year.

  38. Amanda

    So many wonderful gift ideas! Makes me wish I was a kid again! I still feel like a big kid as I still love plushies, puzzles, and crafts – that pottery wheel for beginners looks so fun!

  39. Emily

    Lots of awesome ideas! I’m a big fan of the “STEM” Gift ideas. I’m going to be looking into some of these. I don’t think I’ve heard of half of them. Haha. So kudos for that too!!😄

  40. CourtneyLynne

    Omg so many awesome gift suggestions!!! Dolls are always a huge hit with my daughter

  41. Kari

    I don’t have kids but I looked at this to remember the nostalgia of circling Christmas items that I wanted as a kid. The marble runner is just like a game my friends and I used to play with all the time in the early 90’s!

  42. Kiwi

    Great gift guides for kids this year. When I was a child American Girl dolls were on my Christmas list and so happy little girls still love them like I did.

  43. Lauren

    This was a great post. I’ve been needing something like this. How cool that there is a doll from Detroit (I’m from Michigan). I like the ninja turtles magformers. Bookmarking this list! Thank you!



  44. Tessa

    STEM gifts is my FAVORITE on this list! I’m trying so hard to get my daughter, especially, (but both kids) involved in STEM. It’s so important! Awesome list 🙂

  45. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place

    I love seeing all the latest and greatest toys for the Christmas season, it helps me choose what my kids will love best. I got my son a new bike as his bog gift this year. I think my daughter would love an American Girl Doll or that Crystal Mermaid, she loves mermaids!


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