Ultimate 2020 Gift Guide: Gifts the Whole Family will Love

family gathered opening christmas present

While it is our absolute joy to bring you a list of our favorite products, we may receive a small commission if you purchase products through some of the links on this page (don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the price you pay). But please know, even though we are constantly asked to review products, we only recommend products we absolutely LOVE, so you can trust that this list contains only our shout-it-from-the-rooftops favorites!

When gifts suit the giftee, there is no greater glee. 

Now try saying that 10 times, fast.

It’s true, though. The best gifts bring joy to those who give and receive. And when a gift is truly loved and appreciated? It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The problem is, finding ideal presents can take a toll on our time and add stress each holiday season.

We draw blanks brainstorming what to give extended family and shrewdly narrow down the gift list for present-loving kids.  

We try our best to spend the same amount of money on everyone, without spending too much. 

We want our gifts to be enjoyed, not unappreciated or wasted. (Thank goodness for gift receipts and gift cards though, right?) 

AND, as parents, we try to spread love and fun–without the materialism that can come with it

But whether we tend to purchase everything in July or shop frantically online the week before Christmas, the best gifts take careful consideration. 

To help out, we’ve compiled a list of super easy ideas to save you some sanity (and a few brain cells) when choosing this year’s presents.

Table of Contents

pricing guide

Gifts That Encourage FUN Family Time 

We’ve all had more time with family in 2020 than we bargained for. With the pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and virtual schooling, family time has been abundant–albeit a little crazy. 

But, as we’ve all learned by now, family time should be about quality, not just quantity. 

The last thing any of us need right now is to create more work for ourselves as parents. And sometimes, family activities can be just that. 

Instead, we’ve pulled together some thoughtful gift ideas for the whole family–all void of too much effort or extravagance.

Individual Mind, Body, and Soul Time Gifts

Kids love presents, but the truth is, the gift of time–from parent to child–is the ultimate present. 

At Positive Parenting Solutions, we always highly encourage one-on-one time with your kids. We call it Mind, Body, and Soul Time.

We recommend this activity between each parent and each child for 10-15 minutes EVERY DAY. And while even this brief amount of time can be hard to set aside, it truly does help with everything from misbehavior to parent-child connection. 

best gift is you

Our FREE ONLINE WEBINAR further explains why positive connection is so crucial, but it’s true: Mind, Body, and Soul Time is one of the best ways to make our kids feel loved and appreciated. 

But beyond the fact that this attention is a gift in and of itself, it can still be wrapped up in a bow:

Build-a-Fort
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$$

HearthSong has a fun collection of Build-a-Fort kits that you and your child can build and rebuild to your hearts’ content. This can work as a larger group activity too! This particular set is sold on Amazon.

Chasing Fireflies
Ages: 3+
Cost: $

Hide and Seek is a timeless, classic game kids love. With this fun toy, you can combine the game with cute, light-up fireflies and even hunt for the bugs alone.

Laser Xblank
Ages: 12+ (In our opinion, kids much younger will enjoy this game, too.)
Cost: $

Kids always like a fun game of laser tag. With this set, you can play one-on-one at home. Some also come in larger sets for the whole family.

Family Time Gifts 

Since most of us are spending more time with our kids than ever before, why not make it as fun–and as sane–as possible?

Family Paint Night
Ages: 6+
Cost: $-$$$

Painting To Gogh will mail paint kits to your doorstep. All you have to do is link to the tutorial when you and the fam are ready for your paint party! Recommended for kids ages 6+.

Escape Room
Ages: 10+
Cost: $-$$$

Escape rooms are an excellent source of entertainment, especially for older kids. They help families work together and problem-solve. Check this link to find an escape room near you and look for a family-friendly challenge! Just make sure they’re open and that it’s safe to do so (COVID-wise) in your area. You can still wrap this by printing out a gift certificate or hand-written coupon detailing the experience. Or, for a family night in, purchase an escape-room-in-a-box kit, which are plentiful anywhere games are sold.

blank

TableTopics
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $

Family dinners are always a wonderful time for families to connect. But if it’s been a long day for us parents, or the kids don’t feel like sitting, we often need motivation and icebreakers. There is also a teen edition.

Family Adventure Challenge
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$

This is a book that takes family activities to an awesome new level. Families scratch off an adventure together and must complete it before taking on the next challenge. This is a great gift from kids to their parents, too!

Board Games: Family game night can’t be beaten. With a little set-up and patience for the rules, these board games deliver good, old-fashioned fun. Here are our favorites:

Ages 2-3+

Ages 5-6+

Ages 10+

Educational Gifts That Kids Still Consider “Cool”

Educational gifts can be purchased for Mind, Body, and Soul Time, family activities, or solo play. 

And sometimes, we really want kids to cherish their individual time–without the screens and while doing something educational. 

Of course, when we do encourage that solo play, it’s important to find age-appropriate toys to eliminate frustration for everyone.

Subscription Boxes
Ages: Varies
Cost: $-$$$

Kids love receiving packages not just once a year, but once a month! KiwiCo offers monthly science and STEM subscription kits for kids ages 3-16, while MEL Science is for ages 10+ and includes virtual reality science lessons. You can also purchase single kits through KiwiCo.

Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids
Ages: 8+
Cost: $

Minecraft is an uber-popular video game, but getting our tweens off the screen is always ideal. According to this book’s description, “you can balance your child’s screen time with real-life learning and interaction.”

Crayola Color Chemistry Labcolour chemistry
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$

This is packed with science experiments suitable for all ages.  

Cooking Classes
Ages: 2+
Cost: $-$$$

In-person cooking classes or their virtual counterparts are always excellent for a budding, food-loving chef. Plus, your child can learn to cook for the whole family! We absolutely LOVE Kids Cook Real Food eCourse if you want to get your kids helping in the kitchen..

Telescope
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$$

A life-long love of astronomy–even philosophy–can come from a telescope. According to the brand website, the FunScope is “A great first telescope for beginners and families to test the waters of stargazing at an affordable price.”

IlluStory by Lulu Jr.
Ages: 4+
Cost: $

You can nurture your child’s love for storytelling with this book-making kit.

My Comic Book by Lulu Jr.
Ages: 6+
Cost: $

This is a similar kit, with an additional focus on artwork.

LEGO Technic
Ages: 7+
Cost: $-$$$

For kids ages 7-8 and up, LEGO Technic will get your children’s mechanical gears turning. 

Gifts That Inspire Gratitude

As we all know, the holidays have become a time of excess. And while this is fun and exhilarating for kids and parents alike, it can also create feelings of entitlement.

Yes, we train our kids to say thank you for the gifts they open, especially in front of the loved ones who gave them. But sometimes, the sentiment isn’t there. And it’s not necessarily because they’re ungrateful. 

Kids are simply conditioned to receive and to expect each holiday, without much afterthought.

One battle tactic is to purchase fewer gifts–or even just one–that may have more meaning to our kids. 

We can also purchase gifts that instill gratefulness:

Time Capsules
Ages: 4+
Cost: $-$$$

Encouraging kids to think of something meaningful to them–which also represents themselves or their setting–is one of the many advantages of a time capsule. When kids have time to both reflect and consider the future, they learn about perspective. These suggestions will help you pick out a time capsule that you wrap, and they fill. Just include a DO NOT OPEN UNTIL date! (These make great gifts again at high school or college graduations!)

Repurposed Items

Recycle and Remake
Ages: 9+
Cost: $-$$

If our goal is to minimize commercialism and waste, we can repurpose trash and encourage our kids to do the same. This book, along with these Household Recycling Toy Kits, does just that.

Eco Stars Recycled Crayonsblank
Ages: 3+
Cost: $

Turn the purchase of recycled crayons into a learning lesson for your youngest kiddos, or even make your own! Thou shall not waste! 

Zero Waste Boxes
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$$

Okay, so this probably can’t be the only present under the tree. But it can be one of them. While opening this box, we can explain that it’s about giving back to the environment. With the other new toys they’re likely receiving, this one encourages them to simultaneously dispose of those they no longer want or need. 

Love for Animals and the Outdoors

WWF Donation
Ages: 4+
Cost: $$$

With a $75 donation to the World Wildlife Foundation, they’ll send you three stuffed animals of your choice. It’s a great way to give while also getting something fun in return. But the true lesson, of course, is explaining to our kids that these toys weren’t just purchased for them, but for the greater (animal) good.

Outdoor Explorer and Bug Catcher Kit
Ages: 3+
Cost: $$

A love of the outdoors and tiny insects will make kids more appreciative of the massive–and miniature–worlds around them.

The Ultimate Book of Scavenger Hunts blank
Ages: 4+
Cost: $

This contains 42 outdoor hunts. It helps engage kids when they’re bored without their screens (the horror!) and instills a sense of wonder and gratitude for the great outdoors.

Classes & Private Lessons

Private lessons can come in any shape and size. They even come virtually! 

From music to sports, these one-on-one lessons with an instructor deliver much more than one package ever could. They can inspire a life-long love of creative and athletic pursuits. 

Anything that your child has shown interest in can be gifted as a private lesson. And gratitude for this gift will only grow as your child learns more and excels at something new!

Music Lessons
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $-$$$

Music & Arts offers in-person and virtual music classes alike. 

Sports/Fitness Lessons
Ages: Varies
Cost: $-$$$

Takelessons.com offers private lessons in sports and fitness. 

TakeLessons.com
Ages: Varies
Cost: $-$$$

Not only does this site offer individualized lessons in sports and fitness as mentioned above, but it also offers lessons in languages and other academics.

Heirlooms

Ages: 7+
Cost: Free

Handing down heirlooms is something kids take to heart.

The older kids are, the more meaningful these gifts can be. But younger kids can appreciate them, too. 

You can even go through an old box of vintage toys you had when you were little and let them pick out toys to be fixed, re-painted, or enjoyed as-is. 

Here are some other ideas: Heirloom Gift Ideas

Fun and Frivolous Gifts (That Won’t Annoy Parents)

We’ve all had that doll that makes sudden, creepy cries in the middle of the night, and the high-pitched monotonous toy you feel the need to make “disappear.”

Let’s not forget the flashy, obnoxious, battery-eating toys that stop working after 5-minutes and leave us regretting our purchase. 

Kids love these toys, though. They don the top of wish lists and catch their eyes at every store. 

We’re bound to buy one or two–or a few–each season.

One idea is to save these toys, when they’re small enough, as stocking stuffers. That way we can keep more valuable and meaningful gifts under the tree. 

But when we still want to wrap a few gifts for pure fun, here are some solid ideas:

Eco-Friendly Marble Run
Ages: 4+
Cost: $$$

We’ll admit, this toy still has educational value and the marbles can get everywhere, but it’s a classic game that always sparks joy. 

SoapSox Bath Plushes
Ages: 0-10
Cost: $

These are also more than just fun. They’re functional. Your child can bring a stuffed animal sponge into the bath that cleans them and doesn’t leave a big toy mess for you to clean up. Awe.Some. 

Superhero Costumes
Ages: 4-12
Cost: $

Playing dress-up never goes out of style and is a gift that encourages confidence and imagination!

Build-a-Bouquet blank
Ages: 3-6
Cost: $

This sweet flower set made by Green Toys (from recycled plastics) helps kids create, build, and practice their gardening skills!

Hanging Solar System
Ages: 3+
Cost: $

This is fun to both unwrap and hang in their rooms. 

Flybar Pogo Ball
Ages: 6+
Cost: $

Let kids expend some energy with this indoor/outdoor activity.

Little Live Pets Cozy Dozy cozy dozy
Ages: 3+
Cost: $

Kids will love these cute teddy bear and koala babies. They can play animal, house, doctor, and dolls with these nap-friendly, soothing toys. 

Gifts FROM Kids (That They Really Did Help With)

We’ve all presented gifts on behalf of our kids. 

When a gift tag says “To Mom, from Liam,” it’s probably really “To Mom, from Dad Pretending to be Liam.” Because Liam’s only four. 

Or, even more realistically, “To Mom, from Mom, Pretending to be Dad, Pretending to be Liam.”

Still, from an early age, kids can be encouraged to give thoughtfully. The earlier they learn the joy of giving, the less they’ll want. Really. 

But how can a 4-year-old give something, at least monetarily? Well, that’s for each family to decide. 

We can either encourage our children to contemplate and choose gifts while we cover the cost, or we can encourage them to use their allowance to budget for gifts. 

With an Allowance

At Positive Parenting Solutions, we see an allowance as a fantastic financial training tool. We believe kids even as young as four or five can benefit from monetary management. 

Ideally, an allowance isn’t just about spending. It’s about saving and giving. If kids do this successfully, they’ll have enough money of their own to spend on gifts.

It may not be much, but even a little can go a long way. 

Toys for Tots
Ages: 4+ (So kids grasp the donation concept)
Cost: $-$$$

The well-established Toys for Tots is a great way for kids to consider those less fortunate. Children can choose a toy and donate it–all online. 

4 Ocean
Ages: 4+ (So kids grasp the donation concept)
Cost: $-$$$

Buy a gift–some under $25.00–and help save the ocean! For example, kids can gift moms, grandmas, sisters–anyone!–the beautiful bracelets on offer. 

Indoor Darts, Curling, Golf/Pool, or Shuffleboard
Ages: 8+ 
Cost: $$-$$$

Dad and Mom might both like these fun indoor options that encourage fun family time. Parents can even pitch in with the costs. 

Starbucks Gift Card
Ages: 4+ 
Cost: $-$$$

Kids know what picks their parents up–and contributing to that joy is something almost any child can afford with basic budgeting. Naturally, kids can substitute other options for siblings, grandparents, and the rest of their peeps.

Small Gifts for Siblings
Ages: 3+ 
Cost: $

Many kids have just a few dollars to spend, but it’s impactful when kids remember not just Mom and Dad, but each other. One idea is to gift a LEGO-loving sibling a unique Minifigure. Another is to wrap some neon or glitter crayons.   

Without an Allowance

Repurposed Toys
Ages: All Ages
Cost: Free

We talked above about repurposing trash, but kids can also repurpose their toys to make new gifts for family and friends. 

Used Toy Donations
Ages: All Ages
Cost: Free

Kids can turn their excess into something valuable for another child.

A Helpful Activity
Ages: All Ages
Cost: Free

When kids give presents, a little can go a long way. It may be unrealistic to expect them to make breakfast in bed for mom and dad on Christmas morning, but they could make a dessert for holiday dinner or clean the house after the presents are opened. 

DIY Crafts
Ages: All Ages
Cost: Free

Depending on a child’s age (and the type of craft), a DIY project may be something an adult needs to assist with. Still, if we let our kids choose the crafts and help substantially with the project, they will feel pride in a hand-made gift. And the recipient will love the thought and work put into it.

Gift Exchanges

Many of us are familiar with the annual White Elephant or Secret Santa exchanges at work and at school. But kids will adore playing these games with family members. They’re a clever way to receive a gift while giving something in return. 

Secret Santa encourages kids to consider what others care about, while White Elephant teaches, “We get what we get and don’t throw a fit.” 

Best of all, they’re both riotous fun.

Final Thoughts

The art of gifting is legit–as in legitimately nuanced, thoughtful, impactful, stressful, and tricky.

Just remember that starting a tradition of substantial, meaningful gifting is the most priceless gift of all. 

And everyone will benefit.

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to my Newsletter:

Sign up for my newsletter for parenting tips to help you create a happier home and become the parent you always wanted to be. Plus, when you subscribe, I'll also send you a copy of our strategy-packed guide 10 Tips for Better Behavior – Starting NOW!

2. Register for my FREE 60-Minute Class:

Register for my free class called How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. Classes run several times per week but I recommend you register early, as spaces are limited.

3. Enroll in my 7-Step Parenting Success System

Enroll now in my proven 7-step system for busy parents ready for change (it's rated 5 stars on Google). Plus, for a limited time, save 10% plus get a FREE upgrade on all plans—completely risk-free and with lifetime access.

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.