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
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
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
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
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
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 books—here 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.