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 7-10.
Batman/Superman 3-D Motion Clock, .95, 8+
We wont get to see Batman and Superman face off on the big screen until sometime in 2016, but these vintage-inspired wall clocks will make the wait a little bit easier. Great for superhero fans of all agesincluding dads who wont ever grow up.
Flickerz Target Net Set, $24.99, 8+
Finally, a good use for flicking other than bothering siblings! With this game, kids take turns flicking mini-discs toward a target and racking up points depending on which part of the net they hit. Buy extra discs for additional one-on-one fun (or stocking stuffers).
Fun for all
Give the gift of fun and learning. Check an entire family off your holiday shopping list with a museum gift card, which is available in any amount for admissions, annual memberships or birthday parties
Kohl Childrens Museum
2100 Patriot Blvd., Glenview
Smartphone Science, .99, 8+
TV streaming, filtered photos, conversations in emoji. Your smartphones already used for all sorts of things, so why not make learning one of them? This kit turns your smartphone into a portable science lab, complete with a real microscope attachment.
Loopdeloom, .99, 8+
Those rubberband bracelets are so last year. Now kids can weave real textiles, thanks to this easy-to-use loom. If youre not careful, your kids will be hoping the groundhog doesnt see his shadow so they can wear their fabulous scarves even longer.
Toolbox Jewelry, .99, 8+
A little bit sweet and a little bit toughIs there any better way to describe your daughter? Kids can use nuts, washers and other items straight from the hardware store and transform them into chic jewelry with an edge. And it makes for a creative daddy-daughter date night.
Jumperbot, .99, 8+
Rosie the Robot could dust and cook, but could she jump? This science kit has kids using springs and spring-powered machines to build a robot that literally can hop, skip and jump. Who knows, your child just might be the one to invent that laundry robot youve been imagining.
Let them act up
Ages 4 and up can spread holiday laughs in improv, acting, comedy writing classes and more for one to 14 weeks at The Second City Training Center. Winter camps and classes also are fun gifts.
The Second City
Style Me Up Hair Chalk, .99, 8+
If your daughter is begging for one of those trendy color streaks in her hair, heres a more temporary way to get the same hip effect. This kit comes with three different colors to tryor to experiment with 45 application techniques. Bonus: It washes out with shampoo.
Gravity Maze, .99, 8+
What happens when you combine a basic brainteaser with an old-fashioned marble run? You get this game, which challenges players to build towers and get the marble to a target. Sounds more fun than what you find in a math book!
Quadrillion, .99, 7+
A quadrillion is a one followed by 15 zeroswhich is about how many different ways there are to play this puzzle of a game. Just assemble the plastic grids and arrange the 12 pieces to match the game board. (We have a feeling its about a quadrillion times harder than it sounds.)
Last-minute, no problem
Did you forget something? If you need a gift fast at low prices, The Toy King can get you out of a jam with next day delivery in Chicagoland and low prices.
The Toy King
7246 W. Foster Ave., Chicago
Mini Flyer, .99, 8+
Dont let it hit the ground! Thats the idea of this quirky little ball that hovers when it senses a solid object underneath. The seemingly magical toy charges up via USB port and comes in five different designs, including the ever-popular smiley.