It’s unavoidable: the mad rush each holiday season to make sure you get something, anything, for the kids. But before you settle for the same old, same old, take a look at our lists for infants (0-12 months), toddlers (1-3 years), preschool age (3-5 years), elementary age (5-10 years) and tweens (10+ years).
It’s chockfull of some of the hottest toys for 2014 (and a few holdovers from Christmases past). They’ve all been chosen with input from owners and managers at independently owned toy stores in the Chicago area. And best of all, they all come with a pretty price tag—$50 or less.
Just be sure to remember us when you’re dubbed the “best parent ever.”
Scream-worthy and wallet-friendly gifts under $50 for kids ages 5-7.
Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine, .99, 6+
Beastie Boys dustup aside, were huge fans of any product that encourages girls to love science. This toy teaches them engineering principles as they build a zoetrope (an old-timey movie projector) to save their towns film fest. Plus, its compatible with the free movie-making app!
Fashion Plates Design Set, .99, 6+
If you need a fun parent-child activity for the next #throwbackthursday, look no further than these retro gems. Kids will love mixing and matching the perfect outfit, while moms (and dads!) will be digging those go-go boots from the original set.
Go wild at Goodman
Goodman gift certificates, the WILD CARD (four flexible tickets), merchandise and more will surely thrill.
170 N. Dearborn, Chicago
YOXOmoto Doon, .99, 6+
Wondering what to do with those empty toilet paper rolls or tissue boxes? This sustainable construction kit uses Y, O and X links and items found around the house to build robots, animals and vehicles. And you just might have acquired a new garbage-duty volunteer.
Paper Punk Urban Fold, .99, 6+
When you grow up in a Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, you know your skylines. Kids can build the city of their dreams by punching out shapes, folding into blocks and customizing with urban touches. They wont look at the Willis Tower the same way again!
NHL Fastrack, .99, 5+
Blackhawks fans can bring the rink home thanks to this NHL-themed game. Use your fingertips to shoot the pucks in a head-to-head competition. The wooden rink is adorned with NHL team logos, so you can create your own Red Wings-Blackhawks style rivalry.
Snowtime Snow Shield, .99, 3+
The fun parts of snow, minus the cold? Yes, please! These faux snowballs have a remarkably true-to-life texture, but you never have to take a break from your epic snowball fight to defrost your fingers. Its the one kind of polar vortex we can get behind.
Keep them safe and warm
Empower yourself and those you care about the most with some new skills real skills for real life – to keep you safe and warm through the winter and beyond. Daily classes and seasonal camps offer a variety of martial arts training options.
Master S.H. Yu Martial Arts
6701 W. North Ave., Oak Park
NightZone Hoops, .95, 6+
Even Jordan needed the lights on to perform one of his infamous slam-dunks. But thanks to this glow-in-the-dark basketball net, kids can show off their hoops skills anytime, day or night. The hoop hooks over doors and glows or flashes, and the foam ball lights up, too.
Doodle Quest, .99, 6+
Can you trust your eyes? This game helps kids translate what they see onto paper in order to complete a missionbut they have to meet targets and avoid obstacles at the same time. Think of it as James Bond meets visual/spatial awareness.
Moon in My Room, .99, 6+
Your average nightlight seems downright boring once you see this authentic moon that rotates through phases to match whatevers going on outside the curtains. Hopefully the only small steps youll be hearing will be on their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Marcos Polos, .99, 5+
This fast-paced game, created by a Chicagoan, helps kids develop color and matching skillsand pay attention to the smallest of details. Its also a Lekotek pick for kids who have special needs, and it has a great name to boot.
Waboba Get Out – Outdoor Active Play Kit, .99, 5+
We all know walking on water is miraculous, but what about skipping, bouncing or spinning? This set of three balls comes with a Play Book explaining 21 different ways to have fun. The first warm-ish day in March, the kids will be dying to try them out.