At every gift-giving occasion with my first child, I remember being stumped at what was a good gift idea for the next stage. The end result was a lot of wrong purchases that my son only played with once or twice. With every kid, I feel like I got a little better with not only thinking ahead for gift ideas, but also choosing one great “big ticket” item over a bunch of useless trinket gifts. So five kids (three boys and two girls) and 14 years later, here is my expert gift guide on big-ticket gift ideas (and the best age to buy them). I hope this helps you make amazing gift purchases for the child on your list whether it is your son or daughter, niece or nephew or grandchild.
Don’t forget you can PIN this to your gift ideas Pinterest board to refer to later!
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6-months-old to 1-year-old
Toys and gear for baby can be a bit overwhelming…especially when you are a new parent! After five babies of my own, these are the two bigger baby purchases that I recommend. These are the toys that lasted the longest (babies played with them for longer) and I was so glad I had them!
Activity mat There are bouncy seats, which only lasted a couple of months before they were wriggling out of them, and there are activity mats. This is the same activity mat we had and my kids just loved it! The star on the top is motion activated…so when babies kick the sides it sings a new song and the lights blinked. This one works from quite small infants to older babies who can sit up and grab the toys. It is lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room.
Next up is this Activity Center. I picked this one in particular (we had it!) because the chair on the outside swivels around as they walk and you can take the chair OFF and just have the activity table when they are walking around. It is a great one! And it is really funny to watch them do laps when they get the hang of walking. haha!
This will last for a long time! This particular model can fold up and store under a bed if you are tight on space. Toddlers love climbing up and sliding down over and over and over and preschoolers and bigger kids will be sliding down this too! Sliding is always fun!
We bought a train table when my oldest was 3. Every child after him has LOVED our train table starting around 1 1/2. They are perfect because kids can hold onto the side of the train table and push the little wooden trains around. This table can be used for puzzles, activities or trains and has a storage drawer. Melissa & Doug have the best customer service, they are always a good bet to buy from!
Play Kitchen– When my kids are around 18 months they will play a bit with a kitchen, but right around 2 years old is when they start to love pretending and especially love play kitchens. This is true for my boys and my girls! I chose this Melissa and Doug kitchen because they have the best play food accessories and the cookie sheets will fit in this oven (a source of much frustration for my kids and our smaller play kitchen).
Little Tykes Bounce House
This was one of our all-time best toy buys. Santa brought this for our kids as a group Christmas present one year. We kept it as an inside toy (it squeezes right in our family room) and it has lasted for three years of super bounce fun. These go on sale around Black Friday (follow me on Facebook so I can alert you when it happens!) and are seriously a great thing to have at home. Sometimes we add some plastic balls, but most of the time we just turn it on and the kids have tons of inside fun (and exercise). My kids start bouncing on this at 2 and my 10 year old still gets on it sometimes! It is a good size…big but not too big. These go on sale pretty significantly around Black Friday/Christmas. Make sure to follow me on Facebook and I will let you know right when it is on sale!
Right around 2-years-old is when my kids start to love pedaling around. There is nothing cuter than a chubby little toddler peddling away on a trikey bike. And it gets them ready for the next stage of bikes!
This is seriously one of the best inventions ever. Water Tables provide HOURS of entertainment for my kids, and last for SO many years! I love this one…it has an umbrella to give some shade and the water overflows. SO MUCH FUN! And here is a mom tip…water tables work INDOORS in the winter! YES! When the winter blues hit particularly badly…I layer some beach towels on the floor of the kitchen and bring up the water table.
Roller Coaster Ride-on
My brother and sister-in-law have this ride-on and it is where my kids run to every time we visit. Lots of thrills and safe for the littles (ages 2 and up).
These bikes are so much fun for little kids. It also makes them able to ride a two-wheeler much easier because they have the balance part down. This particular model is the Strider brand…price wise it is right in the middle. There are some cheaper ones and some more expensive but this one has amazing reviews.
Three-wheeled scooters are great for this age! I don’t have experience with this particular one but I love that it can be used to sit and ride as well as scoot (and it has great reviews!) Very fun! My kids would have loved this!
This was the big Santa present for my three youngest last year. We have a pretty big playroom and actually have this indoors. It has been tons of fun for my kids and gets jumped on at least daily. 3 and 4-year-olds will dig getting their wiggles out on this fun 7-foot trampoline!
This is a great age for pretend! This outdoor playhouse has it all…pretend kitchen and grill, and even a small water table and sand area! I love that there is shade as well. This would make an amazing gift.
Five-year-olds are ready for a two-wheel scooter! Razors are the best, they have lasted us for years. There are tons of different colors and bells and whistles (lights etc) so lots of different price points.
This was another BIG Santa gift for our kids. We’ve had ours for two years and it is honestly used EVERY day at our house. I realize it is spendy, but it is worth every penny. We have our bar set up in our playroom doorway so we don’t have to move it, but it is really simple to move if needed. My kids mostly use the swing, but occasionally pull out the other attachments. The rope is really hard though! I highly recommend this!
Depending on how your 3-4-year-old is doing with the balance bike…around this age is when my kids started riding a 12″ bike with training wheels. If you plan on having more kids choosing a quality bike like this Huffy will save you money later (because this bike will last through several kiddos). Make sure to pick up a quality helmet!
My parents purchased these for my two little boys last Christmas. I wasn’t too excited about them but I RAVE about them now. Things I love about the Kindle Fire: 1) 2-year Replacement Guarantee-If it gets broken they will replace it no questions asked (this happened to us once). 2) Lots of parental control options…it would be hard for a kid to access bad things using their Fire. 3) Kindle FreeTime Unlimited free for one year…gives free access to books (really great ones, including picture books!) and apps.4) My kids can watch their favorite shows on Amazon Prime. These are durable and great little devices.
This inflatable waterslide will be huge hit for your 5-6 year old (and older kids too!) Kids will play on these for hours. You should also consider this as an amazing family gift!
This is a perfect camera for a 7-8 year old. Even if they don’t print a single picture, they will love capturing beautiful pictures with their very own camera.
This scooter is SO MUCH fun! It takes a little coordination so it is recommended for ages 7 and up, but my kids do fairly well on it around 6ish. It is powered by quickly pushing your legs back and forth horizontally and it spins in circles as you go. This is always a big hit for kids who haven’t seen one before.
Trampolines get a really bad rap…but, in my opinion, if kids are taught safety rules and as long as you have a good net they are wonderful for getting exercise and for having fun!
My kids LOVE slip-n-slides. We have the cheaper version when they are younger, but if you are looking for a great upgrade this is an AWESOME gift idea! This is 25′ long and 6′ wide and is much more durable than the cheap versions.
Kids are playing on gaming systems a lot younger than 7-8 years old, but in my experience with my five kids, this is the age where their hand/eye coordination and their attention level is at an optimal level for video games. The Nintendo Switch is a great system that kids love! This set includes Super Smash Bros which is one of my boys’ favorite games.
This carries a much higher price tag than the camera above, but it LOOKS like a grown-up camera and is a wonderful gift for a kid interested in photography.
You can start kids earlier on rollerblades, but around 9 years old they are able to pick it up fairly quickly. Definitely purchase a helmet and pads!
This is a more difficult version of a skateboard. It only has two wheels and the top rotates back and forth so you use your body to propel yourself forward. Very fun for kids!
If you have a kid who loves to read, this is one of the best gifts ever…it also saves us a TON of money. My kids read a TON and amazingly fast…and free ebooks borrowed from the library are absolutely the best. It takes just a few minutes to look up and send a book directly to the Kindle. This is the cheaper version of the Kindle, the next one up, the Kindle Paperwhite has BACKLIGHTING so you can read at night. Once you have a kid who can read chapter books well, this is a GREAT gift!
End of elementary school/beginning of middle school is a great time to get kids an intro level laptop. This Acer Chromebook is affordable and was rated #1 of the best laptops of 2018 under $200. It doesn’t have a ton of memory or speed (so isn’t good for video gaming) but “While these machines aren’t built for hardcore gaming or video editing, they’re more than enough for web browsing and writing papers.”
For about double the price of the entry-level laptop you can get one with considerably more memory and power that will last many more years.
This is a great outdoor gift idea for tweens! Hook these up in between two trees and kids can have tons of fun (and strengthen their core) balancing on what is essentially a tightrope. If you don’t have good trees at your house, I’ve seen kids using these at parks!
I hope these big ticket gift ideas for kids will work perfectly for someone on your list! Make sure you are following me on Facebook and Instagram for more great gift ideas and TONS of free gift printables.