Erica Card, Store Director and Toy Buyer from local toy store Child’s Play along with Washington, D.C. area parents, share some of their favorite picks for the season. From the tried-and-true to the brand new, see what’s popular this year. We have some great picks for hard-working parents, too!
Building toys help children develop skills in key areas including problem-solving, creativity and mathematics. Card recommends Magna-Tiles. They grow with kids and come in fun themes like dinosaurs and construction sites. Gratitrax, an interactive track system, and Zig & Go, an evolved marble run, are other great choices.
Classic toys are popular every year. Card says LEGO is always hot, and this year is no exception. Not only does LEGO help build STEM skills and encourage imaginative play, but there is something for everyone at all price points. Choose from huge Star Wars -themed sets like The Justifier, LEGO Art or Disney themes. Hot Wheels are another popular classic toy with a lot of versatility. Choose from single cars or big sets designed for “crashing.” Playmobil and Brio Trains are other popular, timeless options, says Card. Who doesn’t love a Care Bear? A 40th anniversary Care Bear is a great way for parents to share a piece of their own childhood with their children.
When it’s cold outside, parents in the DMV look for ways to keep kids active indoors. Some parents swear by Stairslide to turn any staircase into a slide. Kids get their exercise in running up and down the stairs while pretending they are at the playground. A Little Partners Pikler Triangle is perfect for little ones. Card recommends Stomp Rocket. Jumping launches indoor-safe foam rockets and kids run to find them to relaunch. Stomp Rocket comes in fun themes like glow-in-the-dark and cars.
Card recommends Magic Mountain, a cooperative game where families work together to defeat a villain and Sleeping Queens, a card game in which players need to wake royalty. Seven Wonders Duel is a great civilization-building game. Catan is a classic that is now a simplified dice game.
“Stay Curious and Keep Exploring” is a fantastic book of 50 science experiments families can do at home. Card says Thames & Kosmos products are very popular for STEM-themed gifts. Little engineers (who also love candy) will enjoy assembling a working Candy Vending Machine. Or, opt for a full lab set up with an Ooze Lab.
Art projects with a message are always in! Kids Crafts’ Brave Like Rosa needlepoint encourages kids to create a craft with a purpose. Introduce kids to a new art form with a Faber-Castell Do Art Pottery Studio or Quick Knit Loom. A fun and unique twist is the Lite Brite Art POP Wow Create and Display kit. It’s the biggest Lite Brite ever. Kids can create a light-up picture to hang on the wall or take their artwork apart and make something new.
Sometimes kids want the latest new thing! This year, the Zuru Smashers Dino Island Skull comes packed with more than 30 toys that are only revealed after smashing. Star Wars is always on trend, and this year small, plush Galactic Pals are popular. This is the winter of Black Panther, and the Fierce Collection of highly detailed dolls are a great choice. Miniland dolls come in a diverse range to look like almost anyone. From different skin colors to glasses to a child with Down Syndrome, their variations show that everyone is beautiful. Go big for the holidays. Really big. Seriously Supersized plush toys that look like hamburgers, sushi and more will be a “huge” hit, especially for growing kids who can never seem to eat enough.
Teens are notoriously hard to buy for. Tech is always a good bet. Upgrade how they listen to beats with a set of Arena 7 color-changing speakers that work just as well with gaming systems as they do for listening to tunes. Or, try a pair of Arctis 7 headphones that offer immersive sound and are adjustable so they grow with your teen. Active teens will love a set of Soundcore Sport Earbuds that are fast-charging and sweatproof.
Another can’t-miss gift is anything that allows them to stay charged. An Anker charger that can charge multiple devices at once is a great choice paired with Anker’s premium cables. Teens also need an upgrade from their “little kid” luggage. Paravel is a great choice with 360-degree, double-spinning wheels that make their suitcases easy for anyone to push, with a durable, sophisticated hard case that will take them into adulthood in style.
Creators will love selfie lights from Littil along with a JBL Quantum Stream mic to help them look and sound their best. An InfiintyLab Instant Go powerbank looks chic and keeps them going for creating hours of TikTok videos.
Puzzles are also always popular. Try Goodfit puzzles that create beautiful, teen-approved artwork that are a real step up from dinosaur puzzles. Besides puzzles, another thing teens like to do with their hands is fidget. PILPOC fidget cube has lots of different ways to fidget in one small square.
Jamie Davis Smith is a regular contributor to Washington FAMILY magazine. A mother of four, she loves exploring the D.C. area with her family. Reach her at [email protected].