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25 gifts that kids actually want this year

This list will make holiday shopping a breeze

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It may only be the beginning of fall, but the holiday season will be here before we know it—and popular toys are already selling out. Don't run the risk of not being able to get what your kids have on their wishlists; start your holiday shopping right away. Whether you're shopping for toddlers or teens, we've found just the right items to bring them joy.

From the hottest new toys out this year to old favorites from years past, we tested everything to ensure that every item on our list is something kids will actually want. These are the best gifts for kids of 2021, according to Reviewed.

1. For kids who love to read: A monthly book subscription

Credit: Bookroo

Gifts for kids: Bookroo

Encourage your child's love of reading with a book club subscription from Bookroo. Recommended for kids from newborn to age 10, Bookroo delivers hand-picked books right to your door every month. Choose the appropriate club for your particular kid—board books, picture books, or chapter books—and get ready to explore a whole new world of children's literature. 

Get a Bookroo subscription starting at $14.95

Credit: Learning Journey

Gifts for kids: Count and Learn Cookie Jar

Want to raise a math whiz? Start your baby on the path to counting with the Learning Journey Counting Cookie Jar. The adorable red cookie jar comes with 10 chocolate chip "cookies" and two different modes of play that introduce counting and numbers (plus it has a really funny little voice). A great choice for babies as young as 6 months, this cookie jar will keep them laughing—and learning—until about age 2. 

Get the Learning Journey Count and Learn Cookie Jar at Amazon for $19.99

3. For kids who are crawling: Pull-back vehicles 

Credit: Melissa & Doug

Gifts for kids: Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles

Many of the toys marketed to pre-walkers are really boring, but not so this set of Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles. What makes these soft cars and trucks so fun is that you can rev-up the wheels and race them around the house. The set includes a school bus, car, fire truck, and police car, and our executive editor, TJ Donegan, is a fan because they go fast, don't make a lot of noise, and don't damage walls or furniture.

Get the Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles on Amazon for $20.98

4. For kids who are beginning builders: A big bag of giant blocks

Credit: Mega Brands

Gifts for kids: Mega Blocks

Building blocks are a great way to encourage small motor coordination, but classic wooden blocks can be heavy for little hands. Mega Blocks are made from colorful, lightweight plastic, and can be clicked together to build tall towers and other structures. This set includes 80 blocks—some with curved shapes—as well as a zippered bag for easy clean-up and storage. 

Get the First Builders Deluxe Building Bag on Amazon for $29.99

5. For kids who miss the playground: Their very own ball pit

Credit: Kiddzery

Gifts for kids: Kiddzery Play Tent Ball Pit

If you've spent any time at indoor playgrounds you know that the ball pit is the hot spot for the toddler set, but it's also a cess pool of germs. You can create your very own— less germy—version at home with a Play Tent and Pop-up ball pit. Toddlers and pre-walkers will love exploring the two tunnels, and it comes with a carrying case so you can fold it up and store it when not in use. One thing worth noting: The balls have to be purchased separately and come in batches of 200. 

Get the PlayZ 4pc Kids Play tent Pop Up Ball Pit on Amazon for $39.95

6. For kids who are curious: A Little Global Citizens subscription

Two girls sitting in the grass painting pictures
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

Gifts for kids: Little Global Citizens

Bring the world to their doorstep with a subscription to Little Global Citizens. The best subscription kit for kids we've tested this year, Little Global Citizens sends bi-monthly boxes of crafts, activities, and books all tied to learning about a different country. Travel to Kenya, Egypt, India, or Peru without leaving the comfort of home.

Get a Little Global Citizens Subscription starting at $39.95

7. For toddlers who are sporty: An indoor bowling set

Credit: Crate and Kids

Gifts for kids: Crate and Kids Bowling Set

The long winter months can be torture for kids who prefer life on the sports field. Keep your tiny sports fan entertained during snow days with an Indoor Bowling Set. The pins and ball are made out of rubber, so you won't have to suffer through the cacophony of crashing bowling pins, and it comes with a pin set-up template as well as a see-through plastic backpack so the game can easily be transported out to the lawn once the weather turns.  

Get the Indoor Bowling Set at Crate and Barrel for $79

8. For tiny gardeners: Laugh & Learn Grow-the-Fun Garden to Kitchen

Credit: Fisher-Price

Gifts for kids: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Grow-the-Fun Kitchen

Every kid should have a play kitchen, and Fisher-Price is taking it to the next level this year with one that also includes a pretend garden. Toddlers and preschoolers will love "planting" their garden, gathering eggs, and mixing up smoothies in the kitchen—all while they learn important concepts like numbers, shapes, and the alphabet. 

Get the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Grow-the-Fun Garden to Kitchen at Amazon for $70.96

9. For busy toddlers: A Lovevery Play Kit subscription

Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Gifts for kids: Lovevery Play Kits

Looking for the perfect gift for the toddler in your life? Look no further than Lovevery Play Kits. The popular baby brand makes fantastic subscription kits for little ones, and it's full of high-quality toys that are sure to engage any toddler's senes. 

Get a Lovevery Play Kit starting at $36.95

10. For better imaginative play: A 3-D play carpet 

Credit: IVI

Gifts for kids: IVI 3D Play Carpet

No space for a train table? Get them a 3-D play carpet instead! Designed by an architect (who is also a mom), the colorful carpets come in five different designs—mini city, beach house, farm, playhouse, and traffic—and four different sizes. Kids will love steering the wooden vehicles through the streets, and parents will love that the carpets can be rolled up and stored when not in use. 

Get the IVI Mini City Play Carpet on Amazon for $98.95

11. For kids who like to be cozy: A pair of fuzzy Crocs

Colorful tie-dye crocs on white background
Credit: Crocs

Gifts for kids: Crocs

Let's be real: waiting for kids to tie their shoes every morning is an exercise in extreme patience. If you're looking for an option to keep their feet warm without the addition of shoe laces, a pair of cozy lined Crocs are just the thing. The easy slip-on style is perfect for toddlers, but drowsy tweens will like them, too.

Get a pair of Kids' Classic Lined Tie-Dye Graphic Clog at Crocs for $49.99

12. For kids who like to "cook": Blues Clues & You Wooden Cooking Playset

A Blues Clues wooden cooking set toy
Credit: Blues Clues

Gifts for kids: Blues Clues & You wooden cooking playset.

You can give your child all the fun of a play kitchen without having to cede an entire half of your living room thanks to the compact Melissa & Doug Blue's Clues & You! wooden cooking play set. The adorable little wooden stove includes 42 different pieces including utensils, an oven mitt and a salt and pepper shaker. Kids will love the reversible grill top turns into a sink, and parents will love that there's a built-in storage rack for all the little pieces.

Get the Melissa & Doug Blues Clues & You Wooden Cooking Playset at Amazon for $54

13. For cool imaginary play: An ice cream set 

Credit: Melissa & Doug

Gifts for kids: Melissa & Doug Scoop Shop

Take their imaginative play to a delicious new level with the Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter. The self-contained set has everything your children need to run their very own scoop shop, including eight different flavors of ice cream, six toppings, two cones, a cup, ice cream scooper, tongs, wooden spoon, and even six pretend $1 bills. We've had this set for years and it still engages my 7-year-old for long periods of play. 

Get the Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter at Amazon for $38.48

14. For kids who like stuffed animals: Cutetitos Pizzaitos

Credit: Cutetitos

Gifts for kids: Cutetitos Pizzaitos

My kids have been obsessed with Cutetitos every since they first saw them, and the newest version, Pizzaitos, is no exception. The cute and cuddly small stuffed animals come wrapped in their very own blankets that look like slices of pizza. There's a surprise elements as well: The packaging hides what's inside, so they never know which one they're going to get. 

Get Cutetitos Pizzaitos on Amazon for $13.99

15. For screen free entertainment: A box that tells them stories 

Credit: Tonies

Gifts for kids: Toniebox

Toniebox was invented by two dads who wanted to find a way to engage kids without putting them in front of a screen. Pair the colorful little gadget with "Tonies"—magnetic pieces that kids can connect to their box and that sing songs and tell stories. Kids can also record their own stories and songs through the companion app, and then play them back to themselves on their Toniebox. The best part about the Toniebox? Kids can operate it without any adult assistance. My kids love theirs, and I'll often find them curled up in a chair listening to stories and songs (instead of zoned out on a tablet).

Get the Toniebox Starter Set on Amazon for $99

16. For kids who love fairies: A flying Pixie

Credit: Spin Master

Gifts for kids: Crystal Flyers

Hatchimals have been topping Christmas gift lists for several years, but we're partial to their Crystal Flyers toy. Open up the giant Hatchimals Pixie crystal to discover a delicate fairy that flies through the air. Essentially a pixie-shaped drone, the Crystal Flyers charge with a USB cord and kids can easily control her flying with a simple movement of their hand. 

Get the Hatchimals Pixie Crystal Flyers on Amazon for $31.99

17. For kids who love a surprise: A doll that blooms

Credit: Blume

Gifts for kids: Blume Skyrocket Rainbow Sparkle Surprise

Blume dolls are cute little dolls with big heads of hair that grow out of their flower pots when kids water them. The newest entry to the Blume universe is the Skyrocket Rainbow Sparkle Surprise that includes three glittery Blume dolls plus a rainbow that rains. The rainbow can be re-used again and again, and the flower pots can be repurposed to hold mini plants. 

Get the Blume Skyrocket Rainbow Sparkle Surprise on Amazon for $19.99

18. For an alternative to Play-Doh: Mixy Squish

Credit: Mixy Squish

Gifts for kids: Mixy Squish

Kids who love to play with clay will enjoy Mixy Squish. The colorful modeling compound can be shaped and air dried so that kids can make keepsake creations. The deluxe pack comes with 12 colors plus fun mix-ins like glitter and rainbow foam balls so that kids can take their clay creations to the next level.

Get the Mixy Squish Deluxe Pack on Amazon for $17.99

19. For a fun family game: A funny guessing game 

Credit: Spin Master

Gifts for kids: Hedbanz Jr.

Hedbanz Junior is quite honestly one of the best games to play with kids. It moves quickly so no one gets bored, and it almost always ends with someone laughing really hard. We got it as a gift several years ago and it's still one of our favorites. For somewhat older kids, try the regular—harder—version that has objects of all types, as opposed to just animals. 

20. For the iPad addict: Smarter screen time

Credit: Osmo

Gifts for kids: Osmo Genius Starter Kit

Osmo blends digital games with a physical component for a very cool, interactive experience. The Osmo Genius Starter Kit comes with everything your child needs in order to play five different mind-bending games, including Tangram, Masterpiece, and Newton. My kids love playing Tangrams, and I appreciate that it's not just mindless screen time. 

Get the Osmo Genius Starter Kit on Amazon for $74.99

21. For the doll lover: Mealtime Magic Mia

Credit: Mealtime Magic

Gifts for kids: Mealtime Magic Maya

If there's a child on your list who loves to play with dolls, they'll flip over this newest interactive version. Mealtime Magic Mia has a moving tongue, blinking eyes, and she responds vocally to whatever "food" she gets fed with a "yuck" or a "yum." Kids will love watching the spoon light up with different food colors, and they'll get a kick out of her reactions. 

Get Mealtime Magic Mia at Walmart for $49.49

22. For kids who love nature: A classic pair of binoculars

Credit: Scotamalone

Gifts for kids: Binoculars

Kids who are curious about birds, bees, and the natural world will appreciate the gift of a pair of binoculars designed just for them. These lightweight, colorful binoculars are easy for kids to use, and come with a neck strap so they won't get dropped too often. Pair them with a bird sticker book and see how many feathered friends they can identify. 

23. For kids with pieced ears: A monthly earring subscription

A hand holding a pair of earrings in front of a Rowan box
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

Gifts for kids: Rowan earring subscription

If you're looking to buy less stuff this Holiday season, give them something they'll use (and love): An earring subscription from Rowan. Each month they'll receive a new pair of whimsical hand designed earrings that they can wear again and again. Available in either sterling silver or gold vermeil, this is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Get a Rowan earring subscription starting at $25

24. For an alternative to LEGOs: A rollercoaster they can build

Credit: K'nex

Gifts for kids: K'nex Dragon Revenge Thrill Coaster

K'nex has always been a great choice for kids who love to build, but the Dragon's Revenge Thrill Coaster is another level of engineering fun. Budding engineers can build their very own working roller coaster that features a drawbridge entrance, a light-up coaster car, and a ferocious dragon that flaps its wings. Best for ages 9 and up, this K'nex creation will provide thrills—and entertainment—for hours on end. 

Get the K'nex Dragon's Revenge Thrill Coaster on Amazon for $49.99

25. For kids who like STEM projects: A gravity-powered marble run 

Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

Gifts for kids: Gravitrax

Science-minded kids ages 8 and up will go gaga over GraviTrax, a super cool kit that enables them to design and build their own marble runs. There are no electronics here, just plain old science in the form of gravity, magnetism, and kinetics. Kids will spend hours designing different track systems to discover which is the fastest. The starter kit includes over 100 pieces and 18 different construction elements, including junctions and a magnetic cannon. Additional add-on sets can be purchased to create even longer marble runs, and make great gifts for future birthdays and holidays. 

Get the Ravensburger Gravitrax Starter Set at Amazon for $59.95

See USA TODAY for our complete guide to the best gifts for kids of 2021

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