Here are four words bound to strike white hot fear into any adult, parent or otherwise: Christmas shopping for children.
It’s tough enough to think of great presents for the grown-ups in your life, but who can fathom the toys wish list currently doing the rounds in the school playground?
Even if you manage to intercept and decipher the Crayola’d letters bound for the North Pole, it can be a stab in the dark as to what kids actually want.
Get it wrong, and you’ll soon know about it. Most children have yet to learn the socially necessary art of hiding disappointment so if they hate your gift, it will be painfully obvious.
So, to ensure shrieks of joy come Christmas morning, we’ve pulled together a crack list of this year’s biggest, baddest, coolest toys to wrap and place under the tree.
From science-kit subscriptions designed to ignite their grey matter, to cauldrons that conjure strangely adorable creatures with the waft of a wand, we’ve pulled together the best toys, kits and games for kids aged 5 - 11 that will win you some serious brownie points this Christmas.
Just think of us as your personal Christmas elves.
Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron
Double double toil and trouble may be reserved for Halloween, but you can keep the magic going this Christmas with Magic Mixies innovative new toy. Kids can chant their spells over the cauldron and add in various potions before tapping it with the jewelled wand. Then, watch in wonder as an interactive plush toy emerges from the foggy depths. Mixie comes complete with more than 50 sounds and reactions, ensuring it’s not a one-trick pony. Your children will be enchanted.
Buy now £70.00, Amazon
Paddington Bear Plush Chair
Get you a bear that can do more. This version of Paddington can do more than offer cuddles - he makes the perfect perch for watching Christmas morning cartoons and storytime too. Dressed in his trademark red hat, he’s covered in soft plush fabric and comes with a thick cushioned seat. Worth it for the Christmas pictures alone. Suitable for ages 18 months+.
Buy now £59.99, Very
Vtech Kidi DJ Mix
In the hallowed words of our favourite acts “hey girls, hey boys, superstar DJs, here we go!” A record deal for your musical progidy is that much closer thanks to VTech’s kids deck, which lets kids aged 6 and up record their very own tracks. They can learn to DJ using 15 pre-set tracks and four styles of music while Bluetooth will let them connect to external music too. There’s even a disco light that flashes an array of colours, helping to keep the party pumping.
Buy now £52.99, Very
Sensory Fidget Toys Pack
Offering the same pleasing pleasure as popping bubble wrap, in certain circles, 2021 could be rebranded as the Year of the Fidget Toy - these things have been everywhere.
There’s no one brand that does them, which means you can shop around for the best deal - and this bumper box from Amazon offers a whole host (which also helpfully allows you to break it up for multiple Christmas stockings).
There are peas to squeeze out of their pods, spiral tube puzzles to work out and shaped pieces of rubber to prod. A great screen-free idea that will keep kids and teens occupied for hours.
Buy now £16.99, Amazon
PAW Patrol Movie Ultimate City Transforming Tower Playset
On top Christmas toys list for a few years now, no roundup of this kind is complete without a PAW Patrol entry. A towering 91.2cm tall, it promises hours of unbridled joy for your mini-me and brings the recent PAW Patrol movie to life for their personal playtime. Full of nifty gadgets like projectiles as well as sound effects, it comes with six figures as well as a pack of stickers to keep them amused.
Buy now £130.00, Argos
Crayola Inspirational Art Case
No matter the year, the gift of colouring remains an evergreen gift choice for kiddiwinks. Crayola has their screen-free exploits covered with this huge briefcase stuffed full with crayons, pencils, markers, and paper - and it makes for excellent storage too (no more trodding wayward crayons into the carpet). With 140 pieces, the only limit is their imagination.
Buy now £20.00, Argos
SAVITA 12 Colors 2400 Strands Hair Tinsel Strands Kit with Tools
Tinsel season is here but it’s not just the tree that can enjoy a sparkling makeover. This hair kit allows kids to thread shiny bits of plastic through their hair for a very Christmassy transformation. Using a hoop, they secure on with pliers and can stay in situ for weeks. When the new school term starts, they can be removed without harming a hair on their head. Thanks to the hardware involved we recommend this tinsel extensions kit for older kids or with adult supervision.
Buy now £13.99, Amazon
Hot Wheels Massive Loop Mayhem Track Set and Car
Gasps of amazement are all but guaranteed when your lucky recipient tears off the wrapping paper to uncover this Hot Wheels car extravaganza. The playset features a 71cm wide loop track and slam launcher made to give maximum player thrills. There’s one Hot Wheels car included which means friends and family can gift more to add to their toy garage in birthdays to come. Requires batteries and suitable for ages 5+.
Buy now £55.00, Argos
Li-Fe 250 Air Lithium Electric Scooter
Two-wheeled transport is the mode of choice for whizzing around these days. Whether you’ll walk beside them as they trundle to the school gates or this is intended purely as an extracurricular treat, this electric scooter is perfect for older kids and teens who feel the need for speed.
With a top speed of 15mph, there are three speed settings propelled on pneumatic tyres for maximum comfort and minimal bumps and a 36V 6Ah 30 cell battery which can last up to five hours before needing a recharge. Suitable for ages 8+.
Buy now £259.99, BargainMax
L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G Movie Magic Studios
Leave your kids wide-eyed and slack-jawed with a L.O.L. Surprise! offering. The latest addition is destined to be a Christmas must-have and will have your children feeling like they’re behind-the-scenes of the brand’s newly released Netflix movie.
The colossal box includes 12 exclusive dolls with 70 extra accessories - even the packaging can be reused to create a film set complete with a green screen and selection of stages. Children can film their own scenes and ‘outtakes’ too thanks to a mobile tripod, also included.
Make it even more special with tickets to the live show L.O.L. Surprise! LIVE VIP Party which brings all the action to 15 arenas around the UK. Somewhere between a concert and club, the immersive L.O.L. Surprise! LIVE VIP Party give fans the chance to have a ball with their favourite L.O.L. Surprise! friends.
Buy now £139.99, Smyths
BARBIE Day to Night DreamHouse playset 109cm
It’s never too early to get onto the property ladder. While junior may not qualify for a mortgage just yet, they can enjoy running this playhouse from Mattel. Barbie moves into a Malibu three-storey house of (our) dreams complete with a pool, a super-slide and BBQ. There are ten areas for your little one to discover and play in, and selected accessories are included too. Also available at Argos for £250.
Buy now £310.00, Selfridges
Hatchimals Crystal Flyer Starlight Idol Magical Flying Pixie
Give the fairy sitting on top of the Christmas tree cause for concern with Hatchimals flying doll. Dressed in festive finery (think an iridescent dress, glittery wings and metallic makeup) the pixie will be ready to dance and fly across the room - after a short recharging spell through the USB cable. When she’s not airborne she can rest in the crystal egg from which she was hatched.
Buy now £35.00, Argos
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic
If your little one loves storytime, add a new box into their library. This hardcover book features inspirational stories from Black role models: think Aretha Franklin, Ava DuVernay and Naomi Osaka. The empowering read is an essential for all children.
Buy now £16.38, Amazon
James Bond Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Edition play set
After a record wait, James Bond fever shows no sign of decelerating. Playmobil has jumped on 007 action with this playset, which allows young fans to play with the Aston Martin from Goldfinger. It comes complete with spy-worthy gadgets such as the passenger ejector seat and revolving number plates. As well as the car and all its fixings, the set comes with the main man himself as well as Auric Goldfinger, Oddjob, and another shady henchman.
Buy now £80.00, Selfridges
Monster Jam Megalodon Storm 1:15 Radio Controlled Truck
No feet are safe with this radio-controlled monster truck around. Inspired by the super shark movie The Meg, the chassis is designed like the animal while XL tyres help navigate it across all sorts of terrain, from snow (should we be so lucky to have a white Christmas), rocks, mud and grass. It’s water resistant and can reach top speeds of 8mph. Suitable for children aged 4+.
Buy now £60.00, Argos
Really R.A.D. Robots MiBro Radio Controlled Robot
Your budding undercover agent will find an invaluable tool in MiBro, a robot who can do their bidding through the Really Rad Remote. Get it to play, prank, spy and fetch things - or simply surprise others using its menu of sound effects. Ideal for ages 5+.
Buy now £30.00, Argos
LEGO® 10282 adidas Superstar Originals model
Got a sneakerhead to buy for? If they love LEGO too, they’ll adore this 3D set which will see them build Adidas’ iconic Superstar Originals shoe. With 731 pieces it does require a certain level of dedication, but once done, they’ll have an awesome display piece they can show off to all their mates.
Buy now £80.00, Selfridges
A modern truth: what starts on Tik Tok becomes a viral trend soon enough. Right now, it’s all about #OctopusPlush, a rather sweet cephalopod with comforting cuddly tentacles. It has a smiley face on one side and frowny one on the inverse which you can see when pushed inside out. Perfect for everyone from toddlers to teens, it helps them express their feelings. Amazon has a two pack on sale, perfect for stuffing into stockings.
Buy now £11.99, Amazon
Smart Sketcher Projector 2.0
Budding artists will adore this smart gadget which is designed to hone their drawing skills through the help of a projector. There are over 60 pre-loaded images to help them finesse their sketches and you can also use an app to help them draw from photos. Comes with interactive sounds and special effects. Encourages STEAM learning.
Buy now £67.00, Argos
Canal Toys Slime Antibacterial
While we can think of infinitely better things to do in the name of fun than hold cold gunky stuff, kids have inexplicably been going wild for slime. The ‘toy’ was mystifying enough before, but with Covid in the mix, it became a rather concerning threat.
Enter Canal Toys, who have dreamed up this anti-bacterial slime, designed to sanitise their tiny hands as they play. It wards off up to 99 per cent of bacteria while kids stretch and play, keeping its bug-fighting potency for up to a month.
As well as singles (perfectly sized for stocking fillers), they also come in packs of four (£10).
Buy now £10.00, Amazon
Want to get your children excited about STEM subjects? MELScience makes it feel like fun rather than homework. The company offers a subscription, drip-feeding a collection of intriguing 18 science, technology, engineering and math projects delivered to your door.
Each month you’ll receive an exciting new set such as a DIY headphones kit, infinity portal and spectrum goggles to help them discover the world around them and there are sets for kids aged from 5 to 14+. Our only regret is that this wasn’t around when we were kids.
Prices start from £22.50.
Buy now £22.50, MELScience
Jellycat Fuddlewuddle Puppy medium soft toy
This unbelievably soft toy will make the perfect companion for your little one this Christmas. His soft and sumptuous fur is prime for nuzzling into, offering comfort and friendship to newborns and up. We have no doubt the new member of the family will be treasured for years to come.
Buy now £22.00, Selfridges