I thought I'd put together a list of our ten absolute favorite creative gift ideas for kids.  These are gifts that have withstood the test of time in our household and are toys that my kids, despite being 3 years apart in age, both love and can play with together.  Some are budget-friendly ideas and a few are big ticket items.  In our family, we generally like to have the grandparents join us in buying one big gift for the kids to play with together, and I've heard of a few other families that do the same, so I thought I'd include two ideas for any families looking for a BIG group gift.  Though I'm definitely writing this with the holidays in mind, these also make fantastic birthday gifts as well!  :)

10 ideas for unusual and unique gifts for children ages two to ten or older from Fun at Home with Kids
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Product photos courtesy of Amazon.

1.  Kinetic Sand

This stuff is just the COOLEST.  If you haven't touched it before, you probably won't quite get all the crazy surrounding Kinetic Sand, but I assure you it does not disappoint.  I tried for a full year to make a DIY version and have finally given in to the storebought kind.  The adults in our family have just as much fun playing with this stuff as the kids do!  It's nontoxic, but not really considered a safe thing to eat, so this gift is best for kiddos who are beyond the mouthing/tasting stage.

2.  Hanging Rings

Our indoor Hanging Rings get almost daily use at our house, even after 3 years.  As long as you have a ceiling stud, you can hang a set of these inside and it's super easy.  (If you're not sure how to find a stud or how to mount a swing, ask at a home improvement store or have a contractor mount it for you; always weight test it with your own weight before allowing kids to play).  Both kids enjoy practicing their acrobatic moves on our hanging rings.  (PS - To see more of our playroom, click here.)

3.  Playstix

These are like the Lincoln Logs we had growing up, but cooler and more colorful.  There are a few different sets you can buy.  We have the Deluxe Set and the Vehicles Set .  In addition to just being able to build structures by layering them, you can actually snap and lock them into place and build really neat things, like a flying airplane.  The wheels from the Vehicles Set really roll.  We love these things!!!

4.  TOOBs

We love our TOOBs creatures and have doooozens of them.  They are key figures in all of our baths and all of our small world play.  They are great for car trips, entertaining kiddos at restaurants (they fit in purses really easily), and for just generally inspiring imaginative play.

5.  DIY Ball Pit and Slide

We gave S her first ballpit and slide when she was just under 2.  When she turned 4, we upgraded to a larger set-up.  This is a consistent favorite not just among our kids, but is also a key player in just about every playdate we've ever had!

To make the larger set-up, you'll need:
a large inflatable pool
Step 2 Slide
lots and lots of play balls

To make the smaller set-up, you'll need:
around 200 play balls

5.  HABA Technic Blocks

These are some of my favorite blocks ever.  I love that they subtly teach children the concepts of physics through play.  They are incredibly open-ended and kids can construct just about any type of vehicle they can imagine with these!  A must have for any budding scientist or vehicle lover!

Stomp Rocket are so fun indoors and out and you just can't beat the price.  They are very lightweight and portable for any vacations you take.  This is another great toy for teaching physics through play!  

7.  DIY Climbing Wall

We have a blast with our DIY Indoor Climbing Wall.  It's pretty darn easy to build one, too.  We used a sheet of plywood and these great (and affordable) holds for kids.  If you know how to find and mount a plywood board onto a wall, this project won't take you long at all!

8.  Learning Tower

We have had our Learning Tower for over 4 years now and I can honestly say that my kids use it every day.  It does take up a bit of room in your kitchen, but it is SO MUCH SAFER than having kids stand on chairs that it is totally worth it.  It's also wide enough that both of my kids fit in one tower while we cook.  If you cook with your kids, or want to cook with your kids, I can't recommend this product enough!

9.  Bouncy House

I know, I know, you think I'm crazy.  But trust me when I say these things are beeeeyond cool.  As far as bouncy houses go, they're pretty affordable (as in it costs as much to rent a commercial one as it does to buy one of these).  We love all the Bounceland designs (I'd heard from several friends that the Little Tykes bouncy house falls over easily, so we don't recommend that one).  We all pitched in and bought one of these 3 years ago and it hasn't aged a day (we keep it inside now but for the first year we had it we kept it in our backyard - we'd bundle it up and store it in a shed between uses).  Though it can't support an adult's weight while bouncing (boo), it does support several kiddos at once, making it a favorite at all of our playdates.

10.  150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids DIY Gift Set

Because our book literally contains everything I've done to keep my kids entertained for the last three years, I had to include it!  The book alone is a great gift, but you could also put it together with a Sensory Starter Kit (which includes the necessary materials for about 50% of the activities in the book) or a DIY Slime Making Kit!

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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children.  As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family.  I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision.  Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies).  Observe caution and safety at all times.  The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.


  1. Great list - both this one and the game one in the other post. My 10-year-old has the kinetic sand on his Christmas list. I love that he is still such a kid. My almost 4-year-old will love those Technic blocks for sure! I've added those, and a few of the games, to my Christmas cart at Amazon!!! We have your book and can't wait to start on some of the things inside. Hopefully soon - just need to find our new normal with a newborn so I can find the best time to pull together some fun stuff for us :)

    1. Congrats on your new baby!!!! Thank you so much for buying the book and it sounds like you've got an awesome Christmas planned! So glad to hear both lists helped since these posts (the ones with lots of product links/photos) take foreeeever to write. :) :) :)

  2. These look great. I'm definitely going to check out the Haba blocks and Playstix :) We already have your AWESOME book but I have ordered a couple more copies for friends and family :)

    1. Yes - your boy and my girl are kindred spirits, so I know those will be a hit! And YAYYYYYY thank you so much! It means so much to me that you love it. :) :) :)

  3. Just found this - love this list. We need to try out some kinetic sand! Looks like fun. And, what better than screen-free activities...!

  4. How many balls did you need to purchase for the larger set up? Thank you!

    1. Hi Nina! It was so many I had to stop counting for my sanity, hahaha. It gets expensive quickly, so I recommend using blow up beach balls in addition or getting a smaller sized pool if you're looking to keep costs down. It was somewhere around 1400+ balls. Yikes!!!


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