Our Top 20 Holiday Toys That Will Actually Hold Your Kid’s Attention
High play value toys they won’t want to put down.
We’ve all been there: Sitting bleary-eyed in pajamas amid a sea of crumpled wrapping paper, watching our beautiful children open their holiday gifts, looking forward to the (fingers crossed!) hours of rest we will have while they play with their new toys and gadgets when all of a sudden, the bubble bursts as they turn their sweet little faces to us and ask, “Can I watch TV now? I’m bored.”
Kids today — please get my cane — can lose interest quickly, and who can blame them? They likely have more toys than we did as children, not to mention having instant access to pretty much any digital content they desire. So when it comes to holiday shopping, there’s a new metric that matters even more than the price tag when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck: play value. Play value is a measure of how much a toy engages, inspires, and excites a child — meaning that they’ll play with it longer and more often.
Since The Toy Insider is our go-to source for expert reviews of all the hottest toys and games, we've selected 20 gifts with the highest play value from its list of hot holiday picks. These must-haves feature tons of engaging features and play patterns, so they'll be sure to keep your kids happy (and busy) long after the wrapping comes off.
CoComelon Big Bouncer
As any parent who has ever sent their kid into a bouncy house knows, they will stay inside until you have to take your shoes off, climb in, and physically drag them back out. Keep kiddos safe and happy while staying on budget with this miniature CoComelon bouncer that’ll fit anywhere and inflates and deflates in minutes.
3Doodler Start+ Essentials 3D Printing Pen Set
3-D printing sounds complicated, but the affordable 3Doodler Pen makes it easy for kids to bring their most creative ideas to life! A toy that makes more toys? Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Crayola Scribble Scrubbie Ocean Glow Lagoon
Meet the lowest-maintenance fish you’ll ever own with Crayola’s Scribble Scrubbie Ocean Glow Lagoon Set. Kids can color, wash, and redesign an adorable vampire squid, sea snail, seahorse, and angler fish, over and over again, or transform them into digital “pets” with the Scribble Scrubbie app.
“Spill Again” sounds like the name of a toddler biography, but is also the name of this interactive toy that lets kids fill the top of a plastic tower with 16 colorful balls and then press a button to activate a hidden timer that starts ticking away until suddenly... all the balls are dropped at once! (Pretty relatable, amirite, parents?)
ABCs and Activities Wooden Table
This toddler-friendly activity table stands out from the pack due to its sturdy wood design and removable inner disc — perfect for floor play — that flips from a sensory Activity Center on one side to an electronic Letter Center with touch-sensitive pictures and music on the other.
This 2023 Toy of the Year finalist lets kids explore spatial reasoning and the physics of airflow with a chargeable (and safe!) turbine fan that sends colorful foam balls whizzing and floating through a series of plastic tubes that connect in any way your child can imagine.
Cool Maker Popstyle Bracelet Maker
Perfect for little makers and accessory fiends, this creative Popstyle Bracelet Maker requires no knots, no cutting, and no clasps — just pop beads on & off to make and remake endless friendship or fashion bracelets (did we mention bead storage is included? Swoon!)
Disney Mickey & Friends Toniebox Starter Set
The Toniebox is an ingenious audiobook system for kids, and this limited-edition Mickey & Friends set includes a Mickey ears-shaped speaker and a Mickey Mouse Tonie figure that activates the action-packed whodunit story “Robbery on the Overland Express” when placed on top.
Musical instrument toys can often feel either too flimsy and tuneless or way too complicated for little learners. That’s why we love the Tinkertar, a colorful one-string guitar created by musicians Brian Calhoun, Dave Matthews, and John Alagia that comes with a songbook to teach real beginner guitar skills and designed to ignite a love of music in kids.
Disney Princess Style Collection Fresh Prep Gourmet Kitchen
This play kitchen takes “cooking” to the next level with a realistic “steam” feature, a stovetop burner that makes boiling and sizzling sounds, and “magic” noodles that change color in icy water. With 35+ accessories including a mini herb garden and all kinds of kitchen prep tools, your mini gourmand will spend hours exploring the features!
VTech Drill and Learn Workbench
Say so long to putting toys together the night before; your little builder can put this workbench together with the included “power tools”: a drill, circular saw, and hammer that prompt the workbench to share sounds and facts about each one when placed on the bench. Includes 9 kid-friendly projects to keep them building for days.
Spider-Man 6V Techno Racer
This ride-on Spidey racer with light-up eyes and a push button accelerator lets your mini superhero vroom and zoom at a very reasonable 2 mph around the yard or driveway. If your property is big enough, that could take all day!
Feelings Family Hand Puppets
If you’re not into the literal bells and whistles of noisy toys, these soft, colorful puppets encourage both independent play and emotional connection by helping kids identify and express different feelings: happy, angry, surprised, sad, and scared.
Lite-Brite Super Bright HD Disney 100
The brightest Lite-Brite yet comes with 12 templates, a snap-on grid, 900 mini pegs, and 4 LED modes to dazzle and delight your kids while they create light art portraits of their favorite Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Ariel, Simba, and more.
Magic Sketch Glow
This mess-free, reusable glow-in-the-dark art kit is a great way to encourage creativity both before and after lights-off; stylus pen drawings glow under the Magic Light Pen, and can be erased with the touch of a button.
Piñata Smashlings Piñata Action Figure
Inspired by every child’s favorite app, the ubiquitous Roblox, each Piñata Smashlings action figure comes with two Smashlings (one hidden inside the pinata!) and a QR code that unlocks exclusive Roblox in-game virtual items.
A twist on the classic game of Scattergories adds a competitive race to see who can stack the most pieces on each letter card before time runs out! This gift is sure to keep kids old enough to spell busy for hours.
Shimmer 'N Sparkle Glam & Go Beauty Caddy
Did someone say makeover? Your beauty-obsessed tween will love testing out hundreds of makeup looks, including lip gloss, eye shadow, and nail art. And the compact travel case makes it perfect for creating lewks (kids still say that, right?) on the go.
Cry Babies Newborn
Since our own babies keep us so busy, it stands to reason that giving your child their own newborn will keep them occupied for, oh, 18 years or so. The Cry Babies Newborn dolls recognize their “parent” through an interactive bracelet, make 20 different sounds, cry real tears, and calm when given a pacifier or laid down for a nap.
With no disrespect to the OG fashion doll icon who had a big movie this summer, Style Bae understands that kids don’t want to spend hours trying to pull metallic hot pants off a pair of plastic legs just so their doll can go fake clubbing. With a 3D head and 2D body, each Style Bae doll comes with 7 reusable sticker outfits to quickly mix and match for fashion-forward creative play.