Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids Under 12

For the last few years, I’ve been using this guide for some inspo when it comes to Christmas gift giving for my three boys.

Something to ReadSomething to Play WithSomething CreativeSomething for OutsideSomething to Share

Now that they are that little bit older – 10, 8 and 5 years old respectively – I’m still finding this approach really helpful, with the idea being not to buy them heaps of stuff but to think more broadly and creatively.

However, this year, I’ve also added Something Practical to my list of prompts.


Even though Lego is topping all of their Christmas wish lists once again (again!), I’m trying really hard to avoid giving the kids a whole lot of stuff they don’t really want or need which leads to mess, clutter and overwhelm.

For all of us.

I’m not a Grinch or anything – I’m not only up for the spirit of giving, I actually love it – but really, our kids don’t need much, if anything.

And while I’m all good with Lego despite the serious OH&S issues associated with Lego strewn underfoot all over the house of course, I’d like to think beyond that.

Even if they can’t.

So while there’s always a place for the plastic fantastic or the latest gizmo – even if it’s just in their stocking fillers – if possible, I’d really prefer to give them things they actually need or things that are useful, will entice them outside or to do something creative, active or restful.

So, if you too are looking for some fresh ideas for Christmas this year, I hope this post provides a good place to start.


ABOVE, TOP ROW, L-R:  Soccer Ball, $35 from Nike; Magic Tin Variety Tricks, $5 from Kmart; Hair ties, $4.95 from Cotton On Kids; Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, $16.99 from Dymocks;

BOTTOM ROW, L-R: Augie and Me: Three Wonder Stories, $10.99 from Dymocks; Sticker Stencil and Stamp Book, $19.95 from Smiggle;  Girls PJ set, $24.95 from Cotton On Kids; Family Feud boardgame, $25 from Kmart. 

Something to Read

I can’t get enough of books myself and I love LOVE giving them as gifts to the kids. Not only do they keep them occupied over the holidays, they provide some much needed downtime for my otherwise active boys. I also love that books don’t date and can be passed along to siblings, cousins and friends.

This year I’ve bought Mr 5 Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, a hilarious book our Principal read our school on Book Fun Day a few months ago (dressed as a piranha no less). I’m also giving him the beautiful book In My Heart which is all about identifying our different feelings.

For Mr 8, who is a big fan of the Goosebumps series, The Bad Guys series and Harry Potter, I’ve bought some books from The Horrible Histories series and new Richard Roxburgh book, Artie and The Grime Wave.

Mr 10 is the tricky one. He has requested Lego and books, so I’ve gone to town on the books.

He’s a voracious reader and has already read all the Harry Potter books. He really enjoyed Wonder earlier this year, so he’s requested the sequel, Augie and Me: Three Wonder Stories. I’m also giving him the new David Walliams book, The Midnight Gang, and two older books by Morris Gleitzman that tell the stories of asylum seeking from a child’s perspective – Boy Overboard and Girl Underground. I’ve also bought him the Secret Seven by Enid Blyton box set.

His grandparents are also buying him the latest Guinness Book of Records.

For younger children, board books and lift the flap books are great for babies and toddlers and I’d recommend anything by Oliver Jeffers (my boys loved Stuck) or Julia Donaldson (Gruffalo, Room on the Broom) for preschoolers.

Once they hit the chapter book stage, my boys have enjoyed Enid Blyton, Road Dahl,  The Hey Jack series, The Treehouse Series, Tom Gates series, The Map Maker Chronicles series, Ahn Do’s Wierdo series and The Kaboom Kid series. My eldest son has also devoured all the David Walliams books.

In addition to some of the above, girls of a similar age might enjoy Ivy & Bean, Alice Miranda, Clementine Rose or Billie B Brown books. I absolutely adored The Babysitter’s Club and Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers and St Clare’s series at this age. Other classics such as Anne of Green Gables, Mary Poppins and some Judy Blume books might be worth considering too.

As well as the usual fiction offerings, it’s worth remembering that Atlases, Adam Spencer’s Big Book of Numbers and science or fact books can also be a hit with some kids.

Something To Wear

I always give my boys PJs and some new summer clothes for Christmas.

This year they’re also getting a new pair of thongs and bathers and I’m led to believe Santa is throwing some undies and socks into their Santa sacks too.

My ten year old has requested Nike or Globe socks while the younger boys will be happy with Superman socks from H&M.

Other options could include hats, sunnies, goggles, runners, wetsuits, hair accessories, dresses, costumes or sports uniforms.

Something to Play With

For toddlers, it’s pretty simple. They often enjoy home corner toys such as saucepans, tongs and whisks. They don’t care or know how much things cost and are easy to please.

I’ve generally opted for Duplo, trains, bubble bath, bath toys, Little People, toy food and domestic items (kitchens, tea sets, vacuum cleaners), musical instruments, cars, dolls and basic puzzles and games (Snap, memory games) for my toddlers. My youngest also went through a long Peppa Pig stage around this time.

For my preschoolers, I’d usually opt for games, puzzles, Duplo or Lego Juniors and trains. Little People and other figurines and costumes always go down well too.

This year I’ve bought my 3 year old nephew some Fireman Sam figurines and a helicopter following some requested guidance. Themed play dough, craft sets and sticker books can go down a treat too if it features their favourite show/movie.

Mr Potato Head, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, anything Octonauts and The Shopping List Game game were all popular with our preschoolers too.

This was also about the age my kids started playing UNO, Snakes and Ladders and Connect Four too, albeit creatively.

For my boys this year, Lego definitely stars in our household although this year Mr 5 has asked for a remote control car. Luckily I found a reasonably priced one on sale.

I also buy them a board game each year and this year, it’s The Family Feud board game as they are officially obsessed with Grant Denyer. Last year I gave them The Game of Life which they’ve enjoyed playing along with Junior Trivial Pursuit. Less expensive options like UNO and Pass the Pigs have been popular at our place too.

Rory’s Story Cubes, Rubix cubes, yoyos, whoopee cushions or anything joke related is always well received too.

Generally, my boys have also loved anything from The Australian Geographic shop, especially anything involving volcanoes, space, explosions, rockets, crystals or rocks.

Spy, detective and magic kits always go down a treat at our place and a new pair of binoculars or a magnifying glass are fun too and good for a range of ages. They also can make good stocking fillers. I’ve bought my older boys a kit each from Kmart, pictured above.

Something Creative

I’m up for anything which stirs the kids’ imaginations and keeps them occupied during the holidays and away from screens.

Creative gifts aren’t just for super crafty kids either.

There are loads of inexpensive options here from crayons, colouring books, stickers, fuzzy felt, play doh, chalk and paints for toddlers and preschoolers through to pencils, pens, pencil cases, diaries, calendars, journals, sketch books, highlighters and modelling clay for older kids.

Our older boys, who love drawing and animation, both received their first Derwent pencils this year for their birthdays. Other bigger ticket items include model, beading and card making kits.

My 8 and 5 year olds love playing with Quixels too, so Santa is including some refills in their Santa sacks this year. They’ve also both loved using their Smiggle stencil books from last Christmas too.

For more ideas, Kikki K, Typo, Riot Art & Craft, Kmart, Target, Lincraft, Spotlight and Smiggle all have great kids ranges and and are well worth checking out.

Something for Outside

I love that there are so many great outside toys at a range of price points.

In terms of what to buy, I reckon this depends on how you spend your summer holidays.

If you have access to a pool, pool toys and inflatables, kick boards and scuba gear can be a fun way to go.

If you’re spending the summer beach side, beach toys like a bucket and spade, beach cricket set, boogey boards, surf boards, kayaks, beach ball and scuba gear can be gifts that keep on giving all summer long.

If you spend a lot of time at home over summer, things like frisbees, water bombs, tennis and cricket balls, skipping ropes and hula hoops are all fun but inexpensive options.

Mid price range options could include slip n slides, basketballs, netballs, footballs, cricket stumps, wickets, pads and helmets.

At the higher end are bikes, scooters, trampolines, skate boards, boogie boards, surf boards, soccer nets, basketball and netball rings.

Some kids have an interest in gardening and plants too, so a DIY seed kit or garden tools can be a nice way to foster this interest.

Something Practical

Mr 5 surprised me recently when he asked me for knee and wrist pads for his scooter after admiring his kinder friend’s gear. Being prone to a stack here and there, this was a gift idea that made sense to me too!

My 8 year old has gone all practical this Christmas too, requesting a more grown up clock radio (he’s prepared to relinquish his Woody clock radio to Mr 5) and a watch. They are two gifts he not only wants but are actually useful.

Other techy but useful ideas for older kids may include an underwater or Instamax camera, some other tech accessory, speakers or headphones.

Overnight bags, sleeping bags, torches and other camp/sleepover gear may also go down well with older kids.

Things for their bedroom as they get older too – like new bedding, a lamp, light box, a bookshelf or storage, desks and desk accessories – can also be practical gifts that the kids actually like, especially as they move in to the tween zone.

Looking for More Ideas?

Sometimes we like to give our boys a gift to open together and share.

This has been anything from a board game, new release or classic DVD through to a cubby house or a trampoline.

Other years, we’ve given them an experience such as tickets to see a show. Movie tickets, a day out at a zoo or some other attraction are other options.

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What’s your approach gift buying for children? What are you planning to buy/have you bought this Christmas?