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 tweens ages 10 and up.
Munchkin Panic, .99, 10+
This hybrid of two popular tweener gamesCastle Panic and Munchkinhas players working together and on their own. The delicate balance between working together and looking out for Number One is oddly reflective of real life, but a lot more fun.
Sponsored – Need more gift ideas?
Hasbro just launched ToyBox Tools in partnership with The Autism Project. It provides instructional videos, printed instructions and playmats for several of Hasbros classic toys such as Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh and Rescue-Bots.
ToyBox Tools has three levels of tools for basic play, expanding play and social play levels with visual countdown timers and learning cards. Each level caters to different aspects of play where children may need help.
Brew It Yourself Ginger Ale, .95, 8+
Home brewing is all the rage, and this set cleverly appeals to the under-21 set. Kids can make their own non-alcoholic ginger ale and learn a little about the science of fermentation at the same time. Wonder if it compares to what theyre brewing over at Goose Island?
Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty, .99, 3+
Forget stress balls or zen gardensthis crazy compound promises to ease tension and release inner creativity. Plus, with so many different varieties, it just looks (and feels!) cool. Next time your tween is freaking out over a test, pass some of this their way.
Wreck This Journal, , 10+
It is not your average grade-school diary. This treasure of a book takes the concept of journaling and turns it on its head, with prompts that get kids expressing themselves more inventively. It might even make for some family bonding time (painting with dinner, anyone?).