Best Toys Under $50

From Local Toy Stores

Bring all the smiles but none of the pain to the wallet this year by shopping local. Use this guide to help you.

BY TIANA KUBIK

Gift shopping this year will be no easy feat, as supply chains and retailers are working overtime to make sure that the best toys are out there to spark creativity and engage minds. We’re lending a helping hand to make it a little bit easier and joyful with our local holiday gift guide.

We got the inside scoop on the hottest recommendations from some of Chicago’s best independent toy stores. Your local toy shop owners have direct contact with all the best manufacturers so they know what will be hot, affordable — and available — this year. Still, it’s best to shop early to avoid disappointment.

Where we shopped

Note: Prices may vary by store. Throughout our guide, we list which local store carries each toy. 

Find holiday gift ideas for:

Infant-1 year
Babies

Coming up on the holidays for new babies is always exciting. Be careful not to think too far ahead. There are lots of toys that they can enjoy now and grow with them into toddlerhood.

Kido Key 

Never lose your keys to the baby again. This jumbo silicone key is a great teether and toy for baby. $15

Available at: Kido

Lumipets Nightlight 

This incredibly cute line of nightlights is safe and squishy for snuggling. $21.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toys

Lalaboom

This set is an upgrade from the brand we all know and love, with more ways to manipulate and snap the pieces together. $29.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toys and *play 

Quubi 

This is bendy and squishy cube can be held and mushed, without rolling away like a ball. $12.99

Available at: Building Block Toys and *play

Noodoll Mini Plush

Babies love this adorable line of veggie-themed plush toys. Soft and cuddly for playtime! $19

Available at: Kido

Dimpl Digits

A continued favorite toy, this large Dimpl Digit is perfect for tiny fingers and fine motor skills. Starting at $19.99

Available at: Building Blocks, *play and Moore Toys and Gadgets

1-3 years
Toddlers

On the move and ready to play! Toddlers are ready to take on the world and these toys can help move them along.

Starfish Silicone Teethers

This beachy silicone teether will feel nice on their gums and fun for them to play with. $10

Available at: Kido

Le Toy Van Rainbow Cloud Pop 

This spring-loaded cloud is perfect for little ones to match colors, work on fine motor skills, and enjoy the anticipation of the “pop!” $25

Available at: Kido

Tiny Treasure Dim Sum Wooden Puzzle

This beautiful shape puzzle features some favorite Dim Sum dishes. $24 

Available at: Kido

Hape- Rocket Ball Air Stacker 

It may look like it is ready to launch a ball in the air, but this stacker launches number and color recognition and fine motor skills. All while containing the ball in the stackable cube! $29.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store, *play, and Moore Toys and Gadgets

Spiroku

This twisty stacker keeps toddlers mesmerized by the ability to stretch it out to a tower and then reverse the twist to collapse it back down. $19.99

Available at: Building Block Toy Store and *play 

Green Toys Seaplane

This Green Toys Seaplane is perfect for land or sea (aka the bathtub.) The plane will actually hold water. Allowing for a fun and playful bathtime! $22.99 

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Blocks 

These magnetic foam blocks make it soft and easy to keep building whatever their imagination desires.  $24.99

Available at: Building Blocks

Dimpl Stack

A perfect combination of the sensory input of Dimpl Digits combined with the fine motor skills of stacking. $19.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

3-5 years
Preschoolers

Preschoolers are starting to dive deep into cooperative and pretend play. Snag one of these toys to help them engaged the entire family in the creative fun!

Pancake Monster

A family game for the young and old. Practice counting and turn-taking while anticipating who will be munched on by the pancake monster. $25

Available at: *play and Moore Toys and Gadgets

Magna-Tiles Arctic, Jungle and Safari

Magna-Tiles-obsessed kiddos will love these new additions to the line. The animals aren’t just decorative, they bend and move to add hours of fun for creative builds. $42.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toys and *play

TWEE Petite Macaroon Sidewalk Chalk

Delicious-looking cookies that make the best street art! $28

Available at: Kido and Moore Toys and Gadgets

TWEE Mason’s Planets Sidewalk Chalk

These out-of-this-world chalk pieces are basically art that helps you make art! $45

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

Kido Our Chicago 48-Piece Puzzle

Kido’s Chicago-themed puzzle is a hometown favorite. The locally designed puzzle has all of our favorite landmarks on one beautiful puzzle. $17

Available at: Kido

Chasing Fireflies

An active indoor or outdoor game for the entire family! Hide the blinking flies and have fun trying to collect them all. Perfect for pairs or creating teams. $36

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

Busy Busy Bake Shop

A cooperative game perfect for family fun and pairs well with a donut snack! $22

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

Janod Penguin Nesting Dolls

The gorgeous penguin set will keep any child engaged with the seemingly endless nesting of dolls. $38

Available at: Kido

12 Days of Dig-it-up

This dino dig-up is perfect to create daily fun or as a 12-day countdown to your favorite holiday or birthday! $28

Available at: *play and Moore Toys and Gadgets

5-7 years
Early Elementary

These new “big kids” are ready to take on the world. They are coming into understanding complex ideas and embracing abstract. Let them create and strategize with these fun toys.

Diplodocus 3-D Puzzle

This 3-D dino puzzle creates a build that they will want to display well after the puzzle is done. $20

Available at: Kido

Omy Giant Coloring Poster

Kids can create their own room art with these giant posters. $16

Available at: Kido

Koosh Sharp Shot

Koosh Balls and these fun targets make a great competitive game for any age. $39.99

Available at: *play

Story Time Chess

Create a memorable chess learning experience with this game that treats the rules of each piece like quirky traits of each character. $49.99

Available at: *play

Stomp Racers

Never lose another stomp rocket on a roof again! Stomp Racers are a great addition to the line!  $19.99

Available at: *play

Outfoxed!

Find and decode clues to find the pot pie thief. A fun twist on the classic “whodunit” game. $19.99

Available at: *Building Blocks Toy Store

Candy Claw Machine 

Kids can spend hours creating their own Claw Machine design. A game they can actually win.  $44

Available at: *play and Moore Toys and Gadgets

Nightball

These balls come in a variety of colors and styles to make tons of nighttime or lights off fun! $22

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

WOWmazing Space Edition Giant Bubble Concentrate Kit

Create your own giant bubble with this easy-to-use kit. $18

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

Color-A-Cape

This line of capes is made for the artist to color, play, wash and repeat. $24.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

8-10 years
Late Elementary

Focus and concentration is the name of the game with these kiddos. These toys will engage and challenge them like never before.

Gradient Puzzle

These gradient puzzles are a beautiful challenge for the puzzle lover. $15

Available at: Kido

Best Chess Set Ever

Take the next step for any young chess enthusiast with this tournament-style set, which includes a strategy guide. $49.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

Gravity Bugs

STEM at its best with this “gravity-defying” little bug. $22

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store, *play, Moore Toys and Gadgets

Dizzy Gyroscope

No batteries needed to play and experiment with the six different ways this machine can play.  $29.99

Available at: *play

Fidget Poppers

These poppers are great for fidgety fingers and come in an infinite amount of designs and forms. Kids are collecting all of them. Starting at $7.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store, *play, and Moore Toys and Gadgets

Roller Coaster Engineering

Design and build your own working roller coaster models. $49.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

Ooze Labs: Big Box of Science

Kids can turn chemistry into epic playtime with this variety box of different science experiments.  $24.99

Available at: Moore Toys and Gadgets

10+ years
Tweens & Teens

The key to this age group is sophisticated fun. They want to play and they just need the right nudge to tap into their playful sides.

Lava lamps

Yes. Lava lamps ARE cool again and they come in more colors and styles than ever before.  Starting at $19.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store, and Moore Toys and Gadgets

Hands Craft DIY Miniature Kits

Follow their suggestions or make it all your own. These kits will provide any budding designer with hours of artistic outlet. $39.99

Available at: *play

Tie Dye Bluetooth Speaker

Sing your heart out with this newest style of Bluetooth microphone. $49.99

Available at: *play

Mega Cyborg hand

This cyborg hand is an exciting, truly hands-on way to explore robotics and hydraulic experiments. $39.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store and *play

Chill N Fill

Never have a messy room again! Stuff all those lovies, blankets, and clothes into this stylish cushion…and chill! $29.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

Kids with Special Needs
All Ages

Tapping into the social, cognitive, and physical abilities of every child can be a challenge but these toys are up for it!

Legler House of Locks

This house of locks is perfect for a variety of developmental needs. Sensory input, cognitive exercises, and the ability to repeat as often as necessary. $50

Available at: Kido

Mobi Zippee

Children can experience different sounds, vibrations and tensions by pulling and squishing this multi-sensory. $19.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

The Groovy Glob Needoh

Stress relief and sensory experience all in one with this groovy squishy ball. $4.99

Available at: Building Blocks Toy Store

Stretcheez

This toy food set promotes pretend play and can be stretched and kneaded over and over again. $14.99

Available at: *play

Enter Now!

Win a $250 Gift Card from a Chicagoland Toy Store

To spread even more joy this holiday season, we’ve giving one lucky winner a chance to win a $250 gift card from one of the local toy stores mentioned in this gift guide. Enter the form below by Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, for your chance to win.