50 gifts our ten kids loved! The 2023 list

SHOPPING TIME, INNIT? As you can see, graphic design continues to be my passion. My other passion is sharing gift ideas for kids, and so here I present the 2023 list. 
First, here is the master list compiling the previous eight years of recommended gifts, organized by kind. Hundreds of ideas! Many of these are from Amazon, some are from Etsy, and a few from other sources. 
Okay, here’s the  newest list! These are for kids aged 8 to Very Big Indeed; the monster list has ideas for babies on up.

The exact ones we got are sold out, but there are several other sellers offering custom earrings made with the album cover of your choice. as well as custom earrings of LPs and books. The album cover ones we ordered were a hit with the world’s foremost Ricky Montgomery fan, and they get a lot of wear. 

Use the little bitty Lego-like parts to build three different styles of robots, which you can then control. We did have a few missing pieces in our set, but the robots still worked without them. Good for a kid with patience! 

Eye-catching, elegant sturdy polished wooden hair sticks with shiny metal flowers dangling from the ends. They come in several colors and styles, and the shop also has jewelry and other items. Sophisticated and a little bit punk.
No broken ankles yet! Lots of compliments, though. These come in a few styles and colors. 
If you have to go to school, make it better by being Boba Fett. I was afraid this would be flimsy and rinky-dink, but it’s actually quite sturdy, bigger than I expected, and full of lots of little pockets and compartments. 
I honestly don’t know anything about Pathfinder, except that it’s the other role-playing game. This gift was well-received (because it was the exact item on a wish list).
If you are SURE someone really really likes Garfield (which we thought we were, but we were wrong) these are cute!
A set of three walkie talkies so your fates or musketeers or stooges whatever you have three of at your house can keep in touch. These are real walkie talkies, not toys, and they are easy to use and clear, and they don’t gobble batteries. Very handy for people without phones, or just for fun. 
I truly know nothing about banjos, but this one did the trick of helping a kid learn to play for the first time. Comes with a case and extra strings, pick, and polishing cloth. 
Little portable moon lamp. It’s a bit smaller than the pictures in the Amazon ad make it look, but it’s still cool (and it does come in larger sizes). The remote that controls the color and settings (flash, fade, etc.) is small and maybe loseable for a young kid. Comes with a little wooden stand so it doesn’t roll off your night table, or you can carry it with you.
Recharges with a USB cord.  
I was afraid these would be cheesy, but the (adult) kid who got them really enjoyed the calming, detailed activity of placing the little “diamonds” one by one with the provided tool. You stick on a corked back and they make nice coasters, or just decorations.
What it says on the box! 1,000 pieces, with more cryptids per square inch than any other puzzle I’ve seen.
Pretty, airy, detailed puzzle, 1,000 pieces. 
We’ve bought a couple of these. They really work. Gotta move your puzzle off the table for dinner time? Roll it up and put it away, and then pick up where you left off. 
We got this at Walmart for $5 and my eight-year-old LOVES it. She puts it together several times a day and . . . now she knows the states. I think the list price is more like $10, so there are probably higher-quality map floor puzzles out there, but I’m including it more as an inspiration. I also adored floor puzzles at this age. Very satisfying. 
Kind of a weird item, but neat. You turn it on and the satiny sand swirls around in the liquid inside the ball, making a mystical effect. You can set it so it goes continuously, or allegedly so it starts up in response to a sound, like a clap. We have not been able to get it to do the sound activation mode, but it’s still quite cool. Runs on batteries. 
Everything you need to get going with little resin projects. It’s not a huge kit, but it’s handy to have everything together for beginners, and then you can buy more of what you need and branch out if the kid likes to use resin. 
Pretty nonstick pan to make apple-shaped treats cakes, or you could use it for gummies or candies. I like how there are four different designs in one pan. Nordicware has tons and tons of designs. 
Ghibli Ghibli Ghibli! Bright, hardcover book with images from all 26 films, plus interviews and director’s commentary. 
“The name’s Plissken.” Why? We have no idea. It sounded cool to somebody, and now for some reason your kids are weirdly attached to this insane movie. 
These get tons of wear all year. For that one person who would really like shoes that look like this! 
Rings! Studs! Zippers! Chains! Little bitty silver handcuffs! Comes in several colors (including, of course, all black).
Weird and captivating. Lots of detail in the illustrations, lots of thought went into the descriptions. Caveat emptor, some of the fairies are a little topless, but they’re not sexy or anything, they’re just fairies. We like Brian Froud! Probably not for young kids, as some of the illustrations can be a little creepy. 
We did not actually get fifteen experiments out of this, but we got quite a few, and it really hit the spot for a kid who likes science. The seven-year-old did quite a few of them on her own, and she really cherishes the rock specimens. It has plenty of informational guides to explain what you’re doing with the experiments, but you can also just mess around with them. 
Really nice quality, very impressive. Fold-out Dungeon Master screen so you can make your nefarious plans in privacy. It comes with pre-printed cheat sheets that are decent, or you can use your own, and slide them into the four clear plastic pockets, and you can make notes on them with dry erase marker. 
Redrum. Redrum! Overlook Hotel carpet-patterned socks from The Shining for the horror film fan on your list. 
The exact one we got is sold out, but this is pretty close. Walk into a room and instantly find out who the other Lord of the Rings fans are. Comes in two styles of shirt and many different colors, from TeePublic. 
You’re gonna hate me, but your kid will love this thing. It gets tons of play. It’s basically Dance Dance Revolution in a self-contained mat you can unfold and start up, and there are three different modes of play: One where you follow the moves as they light up, a Simon Says-style game, or just free mode. You can use the preset tunes or use Bluetooth to play your own music. It does have a volume control and it’s not TOO loud, and it has held up really well under lots of use. Good for parties or just dancy kids. 
This is another one of those things that I don’t know if other people’s kids want, or if it’s just my kids. It comes in several colors and has held up well all year. A spring or fall jacket, so not super warm, but not flimsy. 
A little bundle I put together: Beginner chain mail jewelry
Six different diameters.
A mere 7,800 of them.
These are the three types of pliers Kyra Matsui, chain mail artist extraordinaire of Iron Lace Design, said would be most useful to start with. 
A neat little device that holds your project for you while you work on it, with the help of a magnifying glass. Not 100% necessary, but it’s not expensive and it really makes a kid feel like a serious artisan when they use it. Works as described once you figure out all the various joints and nuts. 

Clear, straightforward, copiously illustrated instructions for the beginner. My 11-year-old opened it up and went right to work without help. 

Tackle box organizer I highly recommend some kind of bin to keep everything together! We got one at Walmart, and I think it had more compartments than this, but it did have the fold-up trays, which my kid was very impressed by. 
A decently well-made little sweater vest. 
Everything you need to start making buttons right away. There are a few different sizes available. Works like it’s supposed to!
The famous portable water filter, for the person who is always wandering off into the hills and maybe forgot a water bottle. Just a little present, but thoughtful for the right person. Currently on sale for $9.99.
We usually buy costume dresses from The Little Dress-Up Shop, which has very well-made, non-itchy, machine-washable dresses with sparkles that don’t shed; but we had a hard time finding a Merida dress in a big enough size. Or maybe it was just that we needed the fast Prime shipping? Anyway this one did the trick and the kid was delighted. A decent quality costume. 
The black one we got is sold out, but they still have this lovely little blue leather bat to gallantly hold your hair in place, or many other beautifully crafted leather items — barrettes, masks, key fobs, and more — from River Gypsy Arts, very reasonably priced for the workmanship.
This is more than I ever expected to spend on a beanbag chair, to be honest, (we got the four-foot one for $85) but the cheaper ones from other brands are really garbagy, so you get what you pay for. It’s huge and comfortable and hasn’t gone flat in a year, and it has a comfy microsuede cover and is filled with memory foam beads. It’s big enough for a teenage boy. They come in bigger and smaller sizes, and many colors, as well as sacks in other shapes and configurations. 
Another movie fandom that I am not responsible for! Sheesh. 
Pretty cool. This is from Hot Topic, which is still doing that thing they do!
Also from Hot Topic. 
Sadly these wooden parakeet earrings we got are sold out, but there are many, many other animal and other cute and beautifully-crafted wooden earring designs at The Odd Giraffe. Truly outstanding customer service, and the earrings are light and comfortable. 
A jolly, ridiculous card game that truly takes about ninety seconds to play one round. It’s a truly family-friendly game designed to be played by people of all ages and/or a people of assorted ages, that just about anyone can learn instantly, and that doesn’t have a lot of pieces to lose. It would make a great cheerer-upper if people are gloomy, or an ice breaker at a party of shy folks. The actions are silly but not humiliating. It really strikes the perfect balance of simplicity and entertainment value. 

And that’s it! I’ll add to this if I remember more stuff. Don’t forget to check out the monster list for hundreds of other present ideas, including lots for younger kids, such as we used to have. The list is organized by category:

Little guys’ toys (besides dolls)
Games and puzzles
Building and tactile toys
Sciencey stuff
Art and journaling supplies
Jewelry, pins, accessories (+makeup, sunglasses)
Music and musical instruments 
Crafts, kits, knitting, sewing
Dolls and stuffies
Outdoor and active toys
Weaponry and knives
Hats and hair accessories
Bags and wallets

Hope you find something good! 

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3 thoughts on “50 gifts our ten kids loved! The 2023 list”

  1. I always find something to buy on your lists. One dance mat winging it way to my Christmas tree! My daughter and younger son will love it, and the teens will pretend they’re too cool but will play with their sister and love every minute.

  2. I went ahead and ordered that apple cake pan!

    I’m always looking for things for my teenage and 20-something sons, who mostly don’t want anything. They can always use clothes but I like to put fun things under the tree.

    I saw an idea yesterday and I’ve already ordered a few: Personalized neon signs. Perfect for their bedroom, college apartments, or bachelor pad bars. Surprisingly cheap (<$50) and even available on Amazon, if you want to add to the list.

    Two Christmases ago, our daughter got one of our sons an old fashioned record player. This was a wonderful present and it guarantees, that for him, there will be at least one easy gift, i.e. a new to him record album.

    Another idea my thoughtful daughter has done is to give her hard-to-buy-for brothers copies of their favorite books signed by the authors.

    And no Christmas in our house is complete without a copy of the latest Just Dance videogame.

    And now I'm out of ideas for the boys and will probably resort to my old reliables: board games, Nerf guns, Chia Pets, Bob Ross kits, and carnivorous plants.

  3. Thanks for the list! I can’t believe Hot Topic is still a thing! Was my favorite store for a while, over 20 years ago!

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