This post is sponsored by Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
It’s beginning to look a lot like a flurry of shiny paper, beautiful bows, and delivery boxes engulfing every inch of your home. It’s magical, it’s exciting, it’s… a little overwhelming.
If you shuddered a little at the idea of more stuff, you’re not alone. Go ahead, put one finger down if you’ve ever rage cleaned your house, tossing broken toys, forgotten dolls, unused trinkets in a trash/giveaway bag while muttering something to yourself about not buying any more of it. It’s strangely soothing, to be honest, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In fact, the best gifts are the ones that will last. The timeless toys that grow with your child, encourage exploration, and spark imagination. Now, that’s magical.
As you and your kids are making lists this holiday season, remember that the best toys to support your little one’s development don’t have to be marketed as educational. Sure, you want your kids to learn their ABCs, but skills kids really need to learn include fine motor skills, impulse control, creative thinking, social-emotional development and more. And these things are best learned through play.
With that in mind, we compiled some of the best holiday gifts for all ages from one of our favorite toy brands, Melissa & Doug. They’re our ultimate go-to for open-ended toys that will keep kids of every age and stage engaged for hours. Whether you’re choosing from their pretend play sets, puzzles, or developmental activities, Melissa & Doug has you covered for the holidays. And best of all, you can use code EVERYMOM20 for 20 percent off your first purchase!
Gifts for Babies 6-12 Months Old
Let your little one have an “a-ha!” moment of discovery when they pull the cone to reveal four ice cream scoops with friendly faces. We love this take-anywhere pull-toy for hands-on, screen-free play and developmental skill-building. Clip it to your diaper bag or stroller for on-the-go entertainment and fun while building fine motor skills.
Build your own taco with this 12-piece soft taco play food toy. Various fabrics with different textures and sounds, like crinkle paper, encourage your little one to explore their sensory, fine motor, and problem-solving skills. We’re big fans of crinkle paper to keep our little ones entertained during car rides, waiting at doctor’s offices, attending older sibling’s events, and so much more.
Trust us when we say this one will be a fan favorite at your home. A twist on the traditional stacking rings, this soft pineapple stacker invites infants to sort, squeeze, shake, and stack. Each of the five-pieces feature various textures and sounds, including rattling, crinkling, and more to support sensory, fine motor, and problem-solving skills.
Have a baby who loves to imitate everyone and everything? Let them pretend-play that they’re grocery shopping or at the farmer’s market with this play food fill-and-spill toy. They’ll discover different textures and sounds as they explore the mesh tote and plush toys that chime, crinkle, rattle, and squeak. We love how the fun shapes and textures encourage exploratory, skill-building play.
Talk about a gift that keeps on giving. This five-piece cloth-wrapped box features presents to “wrap” and “unwrap” over and over again. And we all know how much kids love repetition. Plus, each item makes a great toy on its own. The box includes a peek-a-boo mirror at the bottom and is filled with a plush bear, fuzzy ball, crinkle cloth, and cloth book. It’s like five gifts all wrapped into one.
Gifts for Toddlers 1-2 Years Old
Toddlers can pretend-play that they’re grocery shopping with this wooden push cart. And when they’re done with that, they can sort, match puzzles, organize pieces, and so much more. This is one of our favorites for open-ended play to spark creativity, imagination, and build on fine and gross motor skills.
For the animal lover, this double-sided wooden barn includes four double-sided GO Tots discs that create six wooden animals and two farmers. GO Tots support cause-and-effect exploration with motion-driven movements, and they’re compatible with other GO Tots play sets. We also love that this is made with sustainability in mind, using Forest Stewardship Council-certified materials.
Got a little worker bee on your hands? Let them experience the fun of “working” just like the adults in their lives. The wooden desktop activity board makes it a great option for road trips as well. The laptop lid includes a peekaboo mirror, along with rubber keyboard buttons for all the fun of a “computer” without the screen time.
Traditional toys like puzzles are a great way for kids to learn problem-solving skills and support fine motor skills and cognitive development. But what is so unique about this puzzle is that it doubles as a pretend play set! Little ones can lift ice cream and topping pieces with the magnetic scooper and arrange in a sundae dish, cup, or ice cream cones to create their own fun treats (without the sugar high!).
Bring “The Wheels on The Bus” to life! This GO Tots set includes a wooden bus and three double-sided disks that create six diverse characters. Toddlers can spin, bounce, and roll the different shapes for exploratory, skill-building play that refines fine and gross motor skills. And parents can feel good knowing this was built with sustainability in mind, as part of Melissa & Doug’s commitment to the planet.
You don’t need a trip to the beach to spark your child’s imaginative play with oceanside adventures they can explore through this wavy wooden slide. Let them learn cause-and-effect as they roll the Rollables through the slide and work on their problem-solving skills with a built-in bead maze. Built with Forest Stewardship Council-certified products, this toy supports responsible forestry, helping keep forests healthy for future generations.
Gifts for Preschoolers Ages 3+
Calling all cookie lovers! This is a fun alternative to baking actual cookies that involves a lot less mess and sugar. With 12 sliceable cookies, 12 toppings, and all the utensils to go with it, your little one can create, serve, and “enjoy” the pretend cookies they make.
Pizza party, anyone? We love that this pretend pizza has 34 pieces to allow kids to make any and every pizza creation their heart desires. With a reusable menu and play money, they can play “restaurant” while working on their counting and sorting skills, too. We’re big fans of toys like this where siblings can play together with the same toy and different roles to learn about cooperation and teamwork, too.
New to the Melissa & Doug lineup, this ice cream play shop is a great gift for 3 to 7 year olds who enjoy hands-on pretend play. They will love getting to scoop, stack, sort, serve, and so much more. The magnetic write-on ordering and payment tablet and menu board takes this toy to the next level, and we know it will be a fan favorite.
It’s no surprise this pretend play sandwich counter is one of Melissa & Doug’s bestsellers. Kids will love the 52-pieces that allow for endless creativity when it comes to sandwich making. From wooden meat and cheese slices to felt toppings and play money, there is so much to love about this set. Kids ages 3 to 6 can enjoy imaginative play, counting, sorting, and working on other fine motor skills at their own sandwich shop.
If your LO loves a play kitchen, they’re going to love this play grocery store. They can crank the conveyor belt, scan items in the beeping scanner, bag groceries, swipe their “credit card,” or use the cash drawer. Another great option for sibling play, with one side dedicated to shopping and the other for checking out.
Play dentist with this 25-piece set that includes dental care essentials for cleanings, cavities, retainers, braces, and more. Kids can learn about going to the dentist and work through their feelings with this dentist play set. It’s also a great way to teach good dental hygiene to preschoolers. Plus, it can spark imagination and creativity as they play patient, doctor, assistant, or anyone in between.
Fashionista alert! This 18-piece beauty salon is loads of fun for the little one who loves all things hair, makeup, and nails. The vanity features a child-safe mirror and storage drawer for all of the make-believe makeup and tools that come with it, including lipstick, nail polish, blush, brushes, eye shadow, a hair dryer, hair spray, a comb, lotion, and more. This set is ideal for kids ages 3 to 6 who love to dress up and play pretend.
Open your preschooler up to a world of imaginative hair grooming adventures with this barber shop play set. Your LO will love to care for hair and customize beards, complete with a vibrating trimmer, play shaving cream cans, and a pretend rolling razor. No matter what style they’re into, this set will encourage their creative play, fine motor skills, and language development, making it a great gift for kids ages 3 to 6.
For a fun twist on a traditional puzzle, check out this animal-themed puzzle that features 24 interlocking pieces and four spinning gears. The innovative design creates a dynamic play experience that promotes number, color, and animal recognition, as well as counting and search-and-find activities. We love this option for 3 to 5 year olds who love puzzles and search-and-find books and toys.
This brand new interactive jigsaw puzzle features seaside scenes that form two circular tracks for wind-up vehicles. Kids will be thrilled to come up with their own adventures and move the puzzle to send the wind-up boat and school bus cruising past numbers and sea creatures on one track, with the alphabet and corresponding pictures on the other. We love this gift for strengthening problem-solving skills and sparking imagination for kids ages 3 to 6.
Let’s be honest: this one had us at glow-in-the-dark. Kids will love the double dose of fun they get piecing together the cardboard outer space puzzle and then seeing it light up in the dark, bringing astronauts, spaceships, and stars to life. Did we mention that it’s not just your standard size puzzle either? At 3 feet by 2 feet, kids ages 3 to 6 will love exploring all the magic they uncover through this puzzle.
This post is sponsored by Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.