Easy go-to gifts for babies, toddlers, and kids aged three and up

There’s a certain moment in your life when you realize that you’re not only buying gifts for your friends anymore—you’re buying things for their children. If you’re anything like us, you might also end up forgetting the precise day of those august occasions. Don’t just get ready: stay ready. We asked our child-rearing teammates to put together a stockpile of ideas for your “in case of emergency” gift shelf as well as a few “absolutely nots.” Discretion, after all, is the better part of gift-giving.

Gift ideas for babies and kids up to 12 months

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1. and 2. Jellycat stuffed animals and matching crinkle books: We love babies, but they haven’t yet started on the Times Book Review. If you want to give a book, give one that’s textural and stimulating and give them one that comes with a matching soft toy. These cute and cuddly choices come highly recommended.


3. Zutano booties: “Don’t be fooled by the name,” says one office parent. “These are amazing socks that snap on and STAY on.” They come in different season-appropriate fabrics and a rainbow of colors, too, so you’ll be giving a gift that’s right for any time of the year and any kind of half-pint fashionista.

Don’t ever give: any musical toys, “unless you wish to never speak to your friends again.”

Gift ideas for kids and toddlers aged one to three

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4. Llama Llama books: Where the littlest readers love books with a bit of hands-on thrill, two year-olds are now ready for something with a bit more lyricism and prosody. The Llama Llama series has fans in our office and in the ATL.


5. Sesame Street Elmo Go Letters: This is the age where slightly more interactive and educational games and toys become a great idea. These letters are made for one year-old hands, and are the perfect gift offering at a Sesame Street-themed party.


6. Zingo and Sneaky Squirrel: If you’re buying something for a kid on the higher end of one-to-three, these two games come with strong reviews from our office parents: “They’re fun, they encourage cooperation, they’re good for kids who aren’t yet readers, and the pieces are durable.”


Don’t ever give: “Legos. The pieces are too small for this age range. Give Duplos instead!”

“Bouncy balls, or anything that can be thrown—unless you plan on paying for property damage.”

Gift ideas for kids four to six years old


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7. Wooden tabletop stove, cutting board/vegetables, sushi: The full-sized toy house and kitchen are for people with yards. This charming table-sized model is great for young apartment chefs and their landlords. Kids won’t mind playing with their food in smaller quarters when the ingredients are this cute.


8. Balance Bike and sidewalk chalk: This is the age for the great outdoors, or at the very least, the great outside your house. A trike is a great introduction to self-propelled travel and sidewalk chalk is perfect for artistic explorations that aren’t on your house’s walls.


9. The Book with No Pictures: Ah, maturity. Just kidding: this book is a crowd-pleaser because it forces the reader (either the advanced kid or the doting parent) to say outrageous things like “boo boo butt.” “It guarantees a lot of laughs,” says one Paperless Parent.

Gift ideas for kids seven and up

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11. Bananagrams: A freeform word game for all ages that takes up barely any room on the table or in your travel bag—truly, a perfect gift.


12. Sunprint kits: This is a sentimental favorite of ours: one Paperless Poster has a wall covered in Sunprints made from years of childhood beachcombing. You can pretend it’s educational, but it’s also a good way to get kids outside—how else will they collect the raw materials?


13. Jenga and Pictionary: We’ve suggested other games, and these more timeless choices are great for kids in elementary school for a family game night. Adults can enjoy them among friends—the difficulty scales with the participants.


Remembering the gift can be challenging, but sending a birthday greeting is easy. Browse our collection of kids’ birthday cards.