It’s almost Halloween! Which means that any day now, my parents will ask me what they should get the kids at holiday-time . . . and this year, I’m determined to be prepared with the ultimate holiday gift guide for boys. Usually, I say “I don’t know! I haven’t even thought about tomorrow, let alone the holiday season that is still a few months away!” But for all you early-planners, here’s some help. Whether your kids are crafty or into video games, enjoy solving puzzles or just need some good, old-fashioned fun, I’ve captured a list of sure-to-please presents for boys ages 4-12. It should be a helpful list, especially if you’re stuck thinking only of Lego (don’t get me wrong — we love Lego!, Hot Wheels (and we love Hot Wheels, too!) and sports stuff. Take it from a M.O.B. who knows!
Give them experiences:
A note on experiences: We love to give experiential gifts, especially because our house is already filled with toys!!! BUT, this tends to be more pleasing to kids 8 and up, in our experience, since they understand (though they may not always like!) delayed gratification.
- Movie passes to a local movie theater
- A favorite movie on DVD, with movie snacks and all the fixins for a family movie night [microwave popcorn, candy, bottled water, a cozy blanket]
- Gift certificate to a local doughnut shop or ice cream parlor
- Xbox gift certificates — yes, even for Fortnite, to let them get those coveted battle passes
- Ski lessons at a local mountain
- Skating lessons at a nearby rink
- Amusement park passes
Give them sensory play and games to solve:
- Slime kits! We love the Nickelodeon slime kits, or you could make your own slime kit with just a few simple ingredients: Glue, baking soda, a plastic container, food coloring, water …
- Pie in the Face game (with whipped cream, of course)
- Puzzles – we love Melissa and Doug, mostly for our youngest, but still fun for our older boys to join in on sometimes, too. Here is one of our favorites (that our newly-turned 5yo can do faster than I can!)
- Master Mind We used to play this during indoor recess when I was in second grade. I was HORRIBLE at it. But I bought it last year for R, and he got it right away and loves decoding the pattern.
- Maze Balls Same point as above. I’m horrible at this. R mastered it.
Let them build:
- Roller coaster building sets We love these! They are a great project to work on together, and then let the whole family can play (if the gift recipient lets them!)
- Duplo train sets! My boys love these and create more intricate tracks and trains as they get older. The version I linked to here is for younger kids — definitely preschool age — but is a great starter set, and all my boys still build and rebuild with these.
Give them science:
- Aside from the slime kits mentioned above, we also love science kits! My kids started using these as young as age 5, along with help from an adult.
- Quake! This game is great for building . . . and destruction!
- Snap Circuits! So much fun! And so exciting — even for me! — when I see the outcome of something I built . . . errr, I mean, the kids built. But really, creating something that does something is pretty cool and makes me feel accomplished. 🙂
- A mini planetarium experience! We have one of these and love it. It’s great to see the wonder in the kids’ eyes.
Give them good old-fashioned games & board games:
Some of our favorites, in order from youngest to oldest kids, include:
- Chutes and Ladders
- Candy Land
- Who Shook Hook
- Allowance Game
- Clue: Note: If your kids are like mine, you need an extreme amount of patience to teach and play this game.
Give them art projects:
- We love these rock-painting sets and have given them as gifts many times
- How about these craft-supply sets? Perfect in our house for a rainy day. Get out some glue and paper and this set of pom-poms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes and more, and make WHATEVER!
Give them books:
I admit my boys aren’t much into reading for pleasure. But if you find something they love, get them a special book about it, for them to keep forever! Here are some examples that have gone over well with our 7yo and 10yo, based on their passion points:
- Classic cars
- And some of my favorites by Shel Silverstein: The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A LIght in the Attic
Give them little-somethings:
- Bath bombs — yes, even for boys!
- Bath slime — finger paint or slime just for fun
- Flashlights — seriously, my boys love flashlights to play with as spotlights or lanterns in forts or weapons . . . of course light-zapping weapons . . .
- Magnifying glass
- Bug-catching kits
- Spy kits
- Parachute guys
And please don’t forget to spread kindness!
It’s so much fun to think of the ultimate holiday gift guide for boys among your family and friends. But please remember those who may have less than you. Every year, I run a Toys for Tots toy drive at our house, and we make a little event of it, filled with cupcakes and kindness. Let me know what your traditions are, or if you will start a cupcakes and kindness event of your own! I’d love to hear about it and see pictures!