There’s still time: 20 great Christmas gifts on Amazon

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Okay, so unlike other years, I’m going to START this annual post of mine with its disclaimer: Yes, I love shopping locally, and I love supporting mom-and-pop shops. It’s my preferred way to shop when everything lines up well. And I encourage you to do the same as much as you can.

BUT. Amazon truly is a godsend for busy parents who still have holiday shopping to finish and who curl up in the fetal position at the thought of bringing their kids to a store during Christmas. For this reason, among others, I’m glad Amazon exists.

It’s a week until Christmas, which means time’s running out to buy your gifts—but you have until today (December 18) to order with standard shipping; this Friday (December 21) to order with free shipping via Amazon Prime.

So if you don’t want to deal with in-store shopping but you still have stuff to get, here are some of my favorite gift ideas, all found on Amazon.

Note: I highly recommend getting Amazon Prime. Our family buys enough on Amazon for the $79 annual fee to be more than worth it—you get quick, free shipping on most items, and you have access to their Instant Video, which works like Netflix but is often more reliable.

1. Friendship bracelet making kit

This trend from our own youth is back—girls love making friendship bracelets and giving them to their friends. This kit from Alex Toys makes it easy even for my 8-year-old. I may or may not also want one.

Fun for: girls ages 8-12; anyone crafty on your list

2. Walkie-talkies

Bypass the made-for-kids versions of most gadgets: they break easier and they’re not as quality. Our kids love playing with walkie-talkies, and Motorola makes one of the best sets for not a ton of money. This is a great “group” gift for multiple children.

Fun for: kids ages 5 and up; a gadget lover; when you need to buy a group family gift

3. Razor scooter

I love how Razor scooters fold up nicely for travel and for minimal storage, and they’re made well for a decent price. They’ve got both the classic types and the three-wheeler for little kids. (Perfect for that youngest child who wants to keep up with the older kids!)

Fun for: kids of all ages

4. Mini-microscope

These little gems were in our kids’ stockings last year, and they STILL carry them everywhere. Pocket microscopes are perfect for travel, exploring the backyard, camping, or even just wandering the house. At under three bucks a pop, these things are WELL worth the price. Kyle and I have fun with them, too.

Fun for: curious minds of all sizes

5. Hexbugs

I personally don’t get the fascination with Hexbugs, but my boys love ‘em, and they’re well-made and a great price for a little robot. They’re small enough to carry around, but the crab isn’t so small that you’ll lose him (quite as easily). Plus, you’ve gotta give props to a toy that moves that DOESN’T ALSO MAKE NOISE.

Fun for: the robot or gadget-obsessed in your life, especially boys

6. Story Cubes

Story Cubes are such a simple toy, they almost seem pointless. But they provide unlimited ways to play, and they’re so inexpensive. You can play alone or with others, at a party or for literacy development. It builds speaking and listening skills, creativity, and problem solving, and yet it’s a game. Win!

Fun for: kids from 1 to 92

7. HedBanz

Another game that initially looks pointless (we used to tape paper on our backs with the same stuff), kids think it’s fun to wear the goofy headpieces with cards on their foreheads. It also strengthens deductive reasoning skills, but the kids don’t need to know that, because it’s really fun. Great price, too.

Fun for: kids ages 6 to around 10; another great group gift

8. Melissa & Doug floor puzzles

We have a lot of puzzles around the house, but some of our favorites are from Melissa & Doug. These floor puzzles are huge, so all the kids play together, and they hold up well. Great variety, too.

Fun for: kids ages 3 to around 8

9. Pillow Pets

We were late adopters to the Pillow Pet craze because I thought they were ridiculous, but I’m happy to eat my words now. These things are excellent for long bouts of travel, and each of our kids, ages 2 to almost 8, love theirs.

Fun for: kids ages 2 to about 10

10. Harry Potter books box set

You can check out these modern-day classics at the library, but in my opinion, the Harry Potter series deserves a permanent spot in our home for years of reading. I can’t wait to share these books with all my kids—they’re some of my favorites.

Fun for: kids about ages 8 and up; avid readers of any age

11. Harry Potter DVD collection

You can get all eight films in one set, which also includes hours of extra footage. The books are better (aren’t they always?), but the movies are a lot of fun, too. Great price. If you can handle the shipping cost or if you’re in Europe, supposedly the British-version box set has a lot more extra footage, and it’s only £20 on Amazon.co.uk.

Fun for: Harry Potter fans; movie fans

12. Point-and-shoot camera

Forget kid cameras, too—kids love taking pics, and once they’re old enough to take care of things, it’s worth the money to buy a lower-priced point-and-shoot camera. Heck, we’ve had this Canon PowerShot for years, and it still takes great photos. Great for adults, too.

Fun for: kids who love taking photos; tweens and teens; adults

13. Skullcandy earbuds

These headphones are great quality at a stellar price. I use them at coffee shops when I work, I can plug them into my phone for hands-free conversations (there’s a built-in mic in the cord), and they don’t move when I jog. Nice and small for travel, too. Pair it with a phone armband for the runner in your life.

Fun for: music lovers; runners; tweens and teens; adults

14. SwissGear laptop backpack

Kyle has had this backpack for several years now, and it’s stood the test of time. We’ve taken it all over the world (it was my main luggage to the Philippines), and we’ve had absolutely zero issues with our laptops and gadgets. You know how when you own something, you start seeing it everywhere? That’s what’s happened with this backpack—we see it all over airports.

Fun for: travelers; work-from-home types

15. Doinkit dart board

A magnetic dart board is a great “toy” for the hard-to-buy-for grownup in your life. Solid, hard-core magnets means it’s both family-friendly and a quality product, and it provides safe fun for everyone. Brothers will most likely still try to peg each other.

Fun for: kids ages 6 and up; grownups who still like to play

16. DeWalt drill

Kyle used to be a contractor, and his favorite tool brand remains DeWalt. He uses this drill near daily (home renovation, remember?), and it does the job well. A solid, heavy tool that’ll stay in your home’s long-term arsenal.

Fun for: tool lovers; new homeowners

17. Fingerless texting mittens

Two years ago, I’d laugh at this product. Now I find them incredibly useful during the cold winters when I depend so much on my smartphone throughout the day. 3M Thinsulate means these mittens (they call them “gloves,” but to me, they’re mittens) keep your hands really warm, and they hold up really well. Great price, too.

Fun for: tweens and teens; gadget-connected adults

18. Moleskine journals

Nothing beats a well-made journal (remember writing on paper?), and Moleskine makes the best ones around. I travel frequently with my Moleskines, and they last forever. I prefer the lined journals, but the drawing-types love the plain notebook. Pair it with a cheap-but-nice pen.

Fun for: tweens and teens; writers; adults

19. Magazine subscriptions

Quality magazines are really fun to have around the house, and they make for a useful gift for that person on your list you’re just not sure about. Our kids love Highlights (and their various age-range publications), and National Geographic Little Kids (the one for older kids has a lot of ads, though). Kyle likes National Geographic (a classic!), This Old House (I like it, too, actually), Macworld, and Wired. I love Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Country Living (and I’m not a country person), Cooking Light, Fast Company, and I’m starting to get into Make. We both like Relevant. Subscriptions are usually cheap on Amazon!

Fun for: toddlers and up—almost everybody

20. Gift cards

I actually LOVE getting gift cards, and I’m pretty sure a lot of you do, too. So don’t sweat giving one—it means the recipient can get what they want. Amazon sells gift cards to just about anything you can imagine, and many come with gift boxes. Options are endless: Starbucks, restaurants, movie tickets, and just straight-up Amazon.

Fun for: that hard-to-buy-for or has-everything person on your gift list

And of course, I love giving bookshere are some of my favorite.

Here are the shipping dates for Amazon this year—buy this week and you’re still golden.

What’s your favorite easy-to-buy, go-to gift?

Note: Affiliate links were used.

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Comments

  1. avatar
    Robin from Frugal Family Times says:

    Pocket Microscopes! I had no idea those even existed! Thanks, Tsh, my kids’ stockings just got way cooler. :)

  2. We ordered one of those pocket microscopes for Max’s stocking, and now I’m wondering if we shouldn’t have picked up another one or two? :-)
    Second the pillow pet recommendation – I was skeptical, too but for travel alone they are worth it! And my kids cuddle with them and use them for naps, etc. all the time. Who knew? ;-)

  3. I just bought the Story Cube game for an 8-year old family friend. Glad to hear it recommended.

  4. Texting gloves @ Target for $3. They have special conductive thread in the pointer and thumb fingers so you can text with them on. They are AWESOME.

  5. Thanks for the recs for the laptop backpack and the headphones, particularly!

  6. SmartWool socks!

  7. I’m buying the pocket microscopes RIGHT NOW! Love that idea…

  8. Amazon is also great for mom’s who travel with their kids at the holidays to see family – that way I don’t have to carry on all those presents with me!

  9. Great ideas! Finished shopping already, but pinned a couple of these for bdays. One thing to note (I just discovered this): DVDs and players are region specific. They are each coded for your specific country (or region…a lot of countries are grouped into one region). Anyway, that means, if you buy a DVD from overseas, unless you have a “region free” DVD player (or a DVD player from that particular region), that DVD won’t play in your machine. Maybe most folks already know this, but if you are like me (and didn’t know), make sure your machine is compatible before you purchase overseas! There are ways to (legally…don’t worry!) change most DVD players to be region free. Just search “DVD region hack” and it’ll give you all the info. You can even search for hacks for your particular machine. Thought I’d mention it since you recommended the British Harry Potter box set DVD :-).

    • Yep, totally. We have that issue because we’ve got DVDs from all over the world, so we specifically bought a region-free DVD player. Thanks for the reminder, though – I forget that’s not common knowledge. ;)

  10. I just bought the microscope, too. Only $2.30 and free shipping, though it won’t come by Christmas at that shipping rate. Thanks for posting these!

  11. I love those Moleskine journals. I picked one up at the art store years ago and have been using them since. There are a handful of famous artists that have used “similar” ones in their day. Picasso and Matisse to name a few. Makes a great gift. Thanks for the list!

  12. These are great. I am trying to find an appropriate magazine for a teen girl, but it is truly not easy.

    Thank for sharing,
    Pam

  13. Great ideas! I’ve been trying to figure out what else to get my daughter, and she’d love several things on here.

  14. avatar
    Sandy White says:

    I love Amazon prime as well. I also love the fact that you can share the benfits of it with 4 other people! That makes it an even bigger bargain!

  15. Thanks, Tsh! This is the best gift list I have seen this year. But I am not surprised. Everything you put out is incredibly relevant. You blow my mind sometimes… like today! I am knocking stuff off my list left and right, thanks to *your* list. Yay, Tsh!

  16. Yea! Thank you for this. We have been trying to figure out a gift for my 5-year old – Oh, he has LOTS of things on his list, but we needed to figure out something he wanted that we actually want to have in our house…
    Hexbugs to the rescue!
    I think I’ll snag some mini microscopes as well.
    I think my Amazon Prime membership was one of the best purchases we made this year. We make a point of going to local stores when we can, but I’m just not going to drive (or drag my kids) all over town hunting for that one specific gift.

  17. Thanks for the recommendations, some of those products are awesome, but I’ll be buying elsewhere this year as using Amazon is quite controversial in the UK right now due to their participation in (legal) tax avoidance schemes.

  18. Thank you! Such great ideas – I’ve got a few more kids to shop for that will love some of these ideas!

  19. avatar
    Keri Misawa says:

    Wow, I love the pocket microscopes! Great list!

  20. My absolute favorite Amazon find this year was “Touchabubbles,” which are bubbles that don’t pop when they hit the floor. I put them in my son’s stocking and they kept the entire family amused for an entire afternoon because you could actually pick them up without popping them. And it’s definitely not too early to start shopping for next year!

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