Motherhood

The Most Fun Gift Our Kids Received

toby and anton

This holiday, my mother-in-law sent the boys something truly amazing…

They’ve gotten many great presents over the years — books, games, a beloved ukulele — but this gift took us all by surprise, and we spent days playing with it as a family. I even told Alex that I would have loved to receive it for myself.

Reader, it was a magic kit.

kids magic kit

The boys went wild! We learned how to make a coloring book turn from black-and-white pages to colored-in pages; how to break a pencil into thirds and then magically restore it; and how to make a straight magic wand appear curved. The list goes on. We practiced the tricks on each other, and then performed over Zoom for the grandparents, aunts and uncles!

toby

Anton

The exact kit my mother-in-law got was from eBay, but this Melissa & Doug magic kit looks great, too. They all seem to have fun, simple tricks, so I don’t think you can go wrong.

toby and anton

What do the kids in your life love playing with these days? What gifts were a slamdunk for you?

P.S. A children’s book I still think about, and Toby and Anton in conversation. Plus, the mentalist we had at my 40th birthday.

  1. Joanna Tsay says...

    My kids went crazy for this carton of eggs toy that would open to be different colors and numbers. My 5y son loved mixing them up and opening them to do math games and my 2y son just loved holding them, opening them and fitting them back together. Then any toys they got became part of their pretend store and of course the eggs were part of a pretend market for selling and buying.

  2. Super cute kids

  3. Elizabeth says...

    Yes! I was a huge fan of this sort of thing as a child. I also had a cassette tape that taught me (or attempted to teach me) how to be a ventriloquist. Loved that, too! I remember one of the tips: Avoid saying certain words that require more mouth movement.

  4. Erin says...

    Yes!! Our beloved nanny got this exact same kit for my oldest son, and it has been SO much fun! I never would have thought of it, but he keeps going back to the tricks. She also got the magician’s hat for him, and he put it on when he woke up multiple days in a row :)

  5. Sarah says...

    I spotted an offer to buy a small plot of land in Scotland in exchange for an official title and presented our three boys with framed certificates of their Lordship for Christmas. My husband was skeptical, but it was the hit of the holiday! They loved it and continued to banter in a regal manner for days. The only downside was being ordered to serve more milk at dinnertime as a “lowly peasant.”

    It’s a pretty cool conservation effort and they plant a tree for every plot purchased! https://establishedtitles.com/

    • H says...

      So fun! I hope you let them know you go by queen mother!

    • Annie says...

      This is awesome! I am going to proceed to give this to all of my nephews and niece. Thank you for such a great find.

  6. K says...

    My son actually got the Melissa and Doug magic kit this Christmas and it was a hit! He played with it a ton and did a bunch of video chat “shows” with friends and relatives. We recorded him doing them too to remember one day. Fun that yours enjoyed something similar too! One of his favorite things during this pandemic has been attending kids magic shows on Zoom (through our and friends’ preschools that organized them. Everyone chips in a little to pay for it). I’ve never seen him laugh so hard, and it’s been nice to have some joy and hear children’s laughter in the midst of this stressful time.

  7. Daniela says...

    Omg! I got this as a gift around age 8 and it’s one of the most memorable gifts I received in childhood and I absolutely was obsessed with it.

  8. Amanda says...

    My youngest son (now 25) had a magic kit when he was in elementary school and spent many hours learning tricks and showing us his skills. While he chose a different profession as an adult, he still has amazing sleight-of-hand, card tricks that I have no idea how he does, and a sense of showmanship and humor that is as delightful as when he was a little boy. Enjoy the show! ☺️

  9. Jennifer D Young says...

    One year, my stepdad gave my kids a book on different types of knots and different size ropes. I’m not kidding, they played with it forever. They loved it! Who would have guessed?!?

  10. Allie says...

    My 2.5 yo was gifted a ball pit and she just loves it. It was meant for our basement but she plays with it so much that so far we have let her keep it in the living room. She will play in it, hide toys in it to find later, or even just watch tv while standing in it!

    • Sage says...

      My 2.5 yr old got one of these too haha! Huge hit. He calls the plastic balls “gumballs” and every conversation between his toys invariably ends with them wanting to play in the gumballs.

  11. E says...

    In the middle of all of this wild sh*t today, these photos of your sweet (and seemingly grown??) boys are bringing a smile to my face

  12. Ceridwen says...

    My kids received a magic kit last year and loved it. When my daughter received a magic kit from my friend for her 7th or 8th birthday, we were out at a pub for dinner at the time. She opened it in the beer garden and was so excited. A man near us had watched the scene and her delight. It turns out, he was a magician. An actual magician! He didn’t do any tricks for us that night but shared with her his insights into magic. It was brilliant.

    Ps. A winning gift for our kids in their Santa sacks this year…a multibox of mini cereal. Boom! They squealed with delight. Including our now pre-teen who exclaimed….”He knows me so well!” Talking of the jolly man in the red suit.

  13. april says...

    Excuse me, when did Anton turn 27???

  14. claire says...

    Here were the winners this Christmas for my 7 year old: indoor mini tramp (that I can also use!), sea monkeys ( they are currently breeding and it’s a super exciting time for all of us!) and a bag of Doritos from Costco that are ALL his.

    • Anne says...

      Love this! My 4 year old twin boys are over the moon with their stomp rockets and their thankful momma has been so grateful for a way for them to burn off their extra energy. Their 5 year old sister loved getting a box of bath bombs that have a small toy in the center – Keeps the holiday excitement going for a little longer.

  15. Cara Krenn says...

    How fun! My favorite kid gift that never fails to please is the Guinness Book of World Records.

    • Teresa Kennedy says...

      SO true!

  16. Jen says...

    Hits at our house this year (kids are 13 and 9);

    Disco light: Best $15 ever spent, They went bonkers.
    Hot Wheels super looping track: Adults were equally into trying to shoot cars across the living room.
    Calvin&Hobbes books: Still crazy good after all these years

  17. Cheryl says...

    Magic kit brought to you by Jerry Seinfeld? Ha!

  18. Sara says...

    My mom sent my kids the card game Kids Create Absurdity and it has been the biggest hit! It’s basically cards against humanity but for children, so it’s all potty humor all the time. It’s gross, but it gets my 8 year old struggling reader to read happily and cracks him up to boot.

  19. Danielle says...

    My son is 17 and daughter 14 and the biggest hits this year were weighted blankets, mouse pad that charges all devices and a dorm style tool kit. I had no idea how much they would love the tool kit, my daughter has already used everything included.

  20. Margaux says...

    haha here too the best Xmas present ever was… a Magic kit !
    Best gift for the whole family !

  21. Molly Dansby says...

    Her friend gave my 6yo a simple blacklight marker and it’s so fun!

  22. I’m so impressed your MIL is ebay savvy!

    • Kara says...

      I know this came from a kind place, but if I can push back on it gently: it’s a little ageist. eBay has been around for close to two decades. That you’re impressed by a person in a different generation being able to use a long-established tool (that their generation helped to build) implies that you don’t think very much of their abilities in the first place.

    • Kate says...

      I don’t think this is ageist. My mother, father, MIL, FIL… None of them can use ebay. None of them use online banking, my mom couldn’t renew her passport online on her own, they keep getting in a mess trying to use PayPal. They’re all in their mid 60s. I think to be able to research a unique gift and order it from ebay is pretty cool and not something every child’s grandparents could do.

    • Caitlin says...

      I don’t know how to use eBay and I am 38 sooo… Also impressed!

    • Kara says...

      Y’all are missing the point. It isn’t about who can do what. If this gift had come from a cool uncle, no one would be impressed, which means the sentiment is about ageist and sexist identity.

    • Connie says...

      @Kara, I have cool aunts and uncles, none of whom know how to navigate eBay! They can do Amazon and Instacart and other apps though, I do think eBay is a little more complicated so IMO this is more about the platform not the gender or age of users :)

  23. Beth says...

    My kids did a virtual magic class through our local parks department with “Jeff Evans, the Magician” (that’s what he said in his voicemail!— I love that he used the full title!). It really was magical and a true highlight of our summer. He was so professional, kind, he took obvious delight in sharing his passion with kids… He does virtual shows and classes and he’s just a fun resource to share. Watching him made me so grateful for all of the teachers, grandparents, musicians, librarians, and more, all working so creatively to make this challenging time better for kids (even via Zoom).

    https://www.simplymagic.org/aboutjeff.html

  24. Maryte says...

    My husband and I got our goddaughter the same magic kit too! Her dad texted us a video of her trying to do a trick with her wand and saying “abwa cadabwa.” I die.

  25. Emily says...

    I think Eddie Redmayne performs the same coloring book trick on Graham Norton.
    https://youtu.be/URuXdT_9e1s

    My four year old is obsessed with Zingo, Mad Mattr (similar to kinetic sand), and Magna tiles. Also the Nugget cushions—best purchase I’ve ever made.

  26. Jamie says...

    Woah. When did Anton become a teenager?

  27. katie says...

    This is totally uncouth, but my husband bought my four year old nephew a coloring book of animals farting. It was a huge hit! No regrets. What are aunts and uncles for if not to buy ridiculous things.

    He FaceTimed the other night to show us the giraffe with cheeto farts (so orange) he colored.

    • Molly says...

      Katie, as a mom of boys, this made me laugh out loud. What an amazing gift for a four year boy!! I have a feeling my tween nephews would love it just as much. (And I’m sure many little girls would love this, too, but the little guys in my life have a special affinity for toot and poop humor).

    • Crazy Aunty Katie says...

      OMG, link, please! My sister would hate me for this, but like you say, that’s what Aunties are for!

  28. Ragon says...

    My 8 year old loves unicorns and dragons and fairies so we got her the Melissa and Doug fold and go wooden castle. It’s just the right size for her Playmobil figures, can store the figures inside, and easy for her to take outside to play with her friend. Big hit! Also, new game Kingdomino has been a great to play as a family, fun for all of us. And a feather pen and sealing wax and seals to up her letter writing game to her cousin, which she used right away (they are playing some long distance imaginary game mashing up Harry Potter, Avengers and Star Wars over the last 2 years through letters and zoom calls).

    • Ragon says...

      Oh yeah, and a huge pile of graphic novels and other new books which she has already plowed through. Thank goodness she likes to reread!

  29. Gail, in Northern California says...

    My friend’s granddaughter (15 years old) asked Grandpa to make her a set of wooden stilts. Big hit. Grandpa is now the main man.

  30. Rebecca says...

    My kids most treasured gifts are snowball makers that easily create perfectly shaped snowballs. They’ve spent hours outside with them…and then eating the snowballs! (I’ve at least explained no eating yellow or brown snow.)

    • Maha says...

      My son’s most treasured gift is trampoline. We got him one for “Eid” and he plays with it everyday. We use it also to calm him down when he is angry or screaming. I tell him to blow some steam by jumping instead of scaring us and his little bro. And it works. Haha

    • Chiara says...

      My kids eat snow, too! It’s how I lure my almost two year old into her snow suit… “Do you want to go outside?” “NO!”, “Do you want to go outside and eat some snow?”, “Yeah”. Hahaha

  31. Rachelle says...

    I don’t know if anyone else has said this yet but Toby looks EXACTLY like you, Joanna! Exactly like you. And I can’t believe how much he’s grown up!

    • Jade says...

      100%! I was just about to write this!

  32. D says...

    This reminds me of a rather endearing clip of Eddie Redmayne performing magic on the Graham Norton show- he’s got the same colouring book!

    We bought our 14 month old a secondhand little tykes car (classic yellow and red). She loves it so much and it hasn’t even made its way outside. She likes to sit inside it in the dining room and eat her snacks

    • MB says...

      My 23 month old got a similar ride-on tractor and it’s just sitting in our living room – such a success!

    • Lisa says...

      This made me a little teary. Our 2 year old son’s favorite FAVORITE gift was a classic cozy couple. We lived in Connecticut at the time and he used it for months indoors til the snow melted enough to venture outside. He would “park” it in front of the television and climb in and out of it while watching his favorite show “Barney”. Oh, did I mention he turned 30 this year and is an amazing daddy to my beautiful grandchildren? I believe another cozy couple purchase is in my future. ❤

  33. Meagan says...

    After reading about how much your kids loved it, I got the Melissa and Doug wooden bus for my son on his first birthday. It’s almost two years later and the bus and wooden people are still going strong, and are played with everyday single day!

    This year the kids got magnatiles and big sized plusplus blocks for Christmas, and they’ve spent a few hours each day building with them.

  34. I literally just ordered a magic kit for my 7 year-old today! What a funny coincidence.

  35. Celeste says...

    So cute! 11 and 13 here. With one believer and one “keeping the magic” so gaming headphones, kinetic sand, a tripod for filming videos on the iPad and cocoa bomb round molds were the rage here.

  36. Em says...

    Just a large but simple duplo set has kept my 2.5 year old busy making intricate towers and what not everyday since Christmas. Love seeing her creating and playing independently.

    The hit with the family is the large water drawing mat that also glows in the dark. Her uncle sent it to her and both her dad and I like it just as much as she does – we stencil, trace ourselves, draw, paint, write our names with the water brushes. Then turn off the lights and use the light pens which is a whole new round of fun for her.

    • katie says...

      Yes Duplo!! For next year/future, there are non-Lego extension packs to create what we call “marble slides”. I’ve got 2.5 yrs and 6 yrs and this year I suggested the Magnatiles ball slide and the Duplo-compatible slide. Yes, adults need to help but once you have the route it’s such a hit. Frankly, parents may be the type to love building new routes, too ;-). Nonnie also found Duplo animals on eBay and we’ve made a million zoos.

    • Kayla says...

      Do you have a link to the drawing pad you got? Sounds fun!

  37. Lisa says...

    My 20 month old got a Melissa and Doug shopping cart and a camelbak mini mule backpack. He’s obsessed with both and spends his days cruising around the house with his cart, backpack on, ready for anything.

  38. Lindsay says...

    I had a third grade student who loved magic! He performed at a local senior citizen home!

  39. Jean says...

    We have a 9 year old and he got an electronic dart board. We have all been having so much fun playing darts together, I highly recommend one!

    • Neile says...

      Electronic dart board and soldering iron kit (surprisingly affordable) were the biggest hits for my 13 year old.

  40. Varina says...

    These are great gift ideas!

    In our house, for our four year old, it’s all Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol, Paw Patrol. The tower he received (from his grandmother) is both the worst and the best – it’s. so. loud. and takes up so. much. space. BUT he now delays running into our room in the morning because he wants time to play by himself before we set his (18 month old) sister loose.

    For our daughter, a giant stuffed bunny and monster trucks that she tells everyone are “MINE.” Oh goodness, and this sweet book (etsy.com/listing/555277136/santas-comingdont-be-crabby) which even though we’ve read at least 10,000 times in the last three weeks, hasn’t gotten “lost” IE put away by parents yet.

  41. Jane I. says...

    My 13 month old toddler got a slide from his Grandma for Christmas. He loves trying to climb up the front (with parental supervision of course) He is so freaking STRONG. I call him my Hulk baby. But the best part is when he’s ready to go down the slide and we count, “One… two…” then he yells KEE!!!” before taking off. Also, magic is the best!!

  42. Emma says...

    Santa gave the 19 month old a balance bike and the 4 year old Magic Tracks. The 4 year old has been zooming around our house on the bike and the 19 month old can’t get enough of the car/tracks. Guess Santa got a little mixed up this year :)

  43. Megan Lec says...

    My son got a recycling truck for Christmas and it has been played with every.single.day.since. My only regret is putting the batteries in.

  44. Genevieve says...

    One of the ways I fell for my husband was when he told me learned to do sleight of hand to impress his kids. He can still do some magic but he keeps it very close to the vest so none of us know exactly how it’s done. Kids love magic – EVERYONE loves magic!

  45. Susan says...

    This summer my parents cleaned out their basement and we inherited an old magic kit from when I was a kid. My sons love it! This Christmas a marble run was a hit :)

  46. Angela says...

    A magic kit was a big hit for my daughter (7) too! She loves it! So much fun.

  47. Addie says...

    You guys have to watch Magic For Humans on Netflix! It inspired my boys to want to do magic too!

    • Sara says...

      That is a really fun show! My 13 & 10 year old think he is amazing.

  48. A says...

    There are tons of great magic trick tutorials on YouTube with easy to make props from stuff around the house. My daughter performed her YouTube magic in a talent show and was soooo smirky and proud when a few big kids come up after to ask: how’d you do that!
    Also, have you heard of the Carbonara Effect? I hadn’t, but my mom put it on for my kids. It’s a hidden camera magic show that is very fun!
    And that the end of my magic knowledge.
    Oh and also the TAL episode about Ira Glass as a childhood magician. The. Best.

  49. Kiana says...

    Does Toby still play with toys? I have a ten year old nephew who only wants video games, every now and again maybe he’ll play with Legos. I always struggle with what to get him since I don’t know much about video games and also you can just download them rather than having to physically buy them. Anybody else have a kid like this?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      This was the year toby finally stopped playing with toys! It kind of broke my heart because he loved his wooden bus and wooden people since he was one year old. Now he’s into basketball — basketball video games, basketball books, basketball monopoly, etc! I agree, it’s a hard age to shop for :)

    • Michaela says...

      I have had two home run years with 12/13 and now 13/14 year old nephews by gifting games (so not toys but not video games). Settlers of Catan, Code Names, Spike Ball (an outdoor game), as well as a ‘fox tail’ light up football, and Exploding Kittens. I’m very proud of how much non screen time fun they have with them. I think most of these could work for younger boys too. The key is just to ask other people who know boys (like you are!). I crowdsource all ideas (including from Jo!).

      I bet Toby and Anton would like Spike Ball!

    • Becs says...

      I have a 10 year old and Rubik’s cubes and Shashibo are a really cool step up from “toys.” You can learn Rubik’s cube solutions at youcandothecube.com and my kiddo loves solving them again and again!

    • KC says...

      I do not have a kid, nor a kid like this, and even my nephews (nephews!) have remained easier to shop for than video games, but I have heard from friends that getting them “swag” related to their favorite games (esp. in-joke t-shirts) works well. That said, you have to get info on what t-shirts (or whatever) relate to Favorite Video Game from somewhere, which can be slightly tricky unless you know other people who also play video games.

      I mean, there’s also duct tape. And giant bags of cereal marshmallows. And throw blankets that look like tortillas. And such.

    • Hi Kiana! My son turned 11 a couple of months ago and, although he’s not a gamer he’s still at a tricky age to shop for! I’d second the board games (we have not had a single dud from that company that makes the Exploding Kittens game; this year A Game of Cat and Mouth was the winner) and magic but I’d also suggest a cube puzzle (AKA Rubik’s cube). My son first learned how to solve a cube last spring and then he got hooked on speedcubing (solving the cube for time). There’s a whole international community of speedcubers out there (who knew?!) plus it’s a fun challenge that doesn’t require more than one player to make it interesting, and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

    • Alissa says...

      I second the board games suggestion!

      My two boys are almost ten years old and when I asked what their favorite presents of all time have been, one’s answer was the Labyrinth board game (by Ravensburger) that he got for Christmas last year. We also play Sushi Go, No Thanks (a Cup of Jo suggestion!), and Uno all the time.

      The other thing that is always a win for my two is graphic novels. There are so many wonderful graphic novels for middle grade readers these days and they just devour them. They read full novels as well, but there’s something special and engrossing about graphic novels at this age. Some favorites at my house are “New Kid” and “Class Act,” “El Deafo,” “Pashmina,” all the Raina Telgemeier books, and all the Ben Hatke books, .

  50. R says...

    Such a fun gift for your boys. One of my kids has really gotten into magic during the pandemic, even taking a bunch of magic classes on Outschool and making surprising progress. He’s also really enjoying performing tricks on Zoom for family! We joke that he’ll come out of Covid ready to work birthday parties. I recently learned about a really neat sounding magic store in Indiana that we hope to visit post-Covid: J&B Magic Shop and Theater (Google it!)

  51. Christen says...

    We got our girls A Fuji Film Instaflix with frames and a photo album for all of their pictures. It was a huge hit. They take their cameras in their little camera bags everywhere now and love looking through their pictures.

  52. Diana says...

    My daughter (10 years old) got a karaoke microphone and adored it. There hasn’t been too much singing. But she is constantly pretending to be a male reporter (she has given him a name and has a very clear idea of his personality and look) as she reports on everything happening in our family.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s amazing!

  53. Lana says...

    Omgosh! He fun! My kids got the Melissa and Doug cardboard house/restaurant and Melissa and Doug diner food. They have been taking orders and filling coffee cups for days!

    • Lana says...

      *How fun!

      Maybe my New Year’s word should be “spellcheck” lol!

  54. Emily says...

    I think I had this exact kit when I was a kid! Is that possible? A wave of nostalgia came over me when I saw those items on the cover (especially the egg-dish-like thing- what is that thing?).

  55. We got the same one! And I specifically say “we” because my husband and I are equally obsessed with it. I’ve also been taking magic lessons on Masterclass as a new (nerdy!) hobby!

  56. jdp says...

    the husband is a kid’s magician (our kid, now 10, sometimes helps with a trick or two), and has been entertaining littles on zoom throughout the pandemic. sure he can be a little Gob from arrested development sometimes, and sure i refuse to dust his props, but i love seeing hundreds of little laughing faces on gallery view during his shows, virtual crowds from babies to preteens, some showing off their own magic kits in the background. things usually end with a dance party. it is the best cure for the pandemic blues we’ve had so far, and keeps things….magical.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s incredible!

    • K says...

      Please tell us how we can find him to join!

  57. mym says...

    This truth I know: for a child (and the said child may be technically an adult), the best gift isn’t necessarily the most elaborate or expensive one.

  58. Dana says...

    Man, that first photo is wild. I IMMEDIATELY flashed back to when you posted the first photos of Toby + Anton — and then flash even further back to the first photo of you and Alex — the genes don’t lie! You all really belong to each other, it’s magic!

  59. Steph says...

    Oh I love this! My nephew got this ridiculous “screaming chicken” toy (google it – you’ll thank me later). It’s like a giant rubber chicken that you squeeze to make funny noises. I think my sister in law and I had more fun with it!

  60. Emily says...

    It’s so sweet to watch your kids grow through the photos you share throughout the years! Anton totally looks like a ‘surfer dude’ like the ones I grew up with :)

  61. Heather says...

    Ahh thats super fun! I think we’re maybe a couple of years off, but will definitely keep that on our list.

    Our girls (4&5) loved Harry Potter PJ’s and Harry Potter glasses then the surprise hit was my old set of Boxcar Children books. We were just taking them off my parent’s hands, but our 5 year old picked one up and is now through Book 8 – she’s completely in love.

  62. Jackie says...

    My son got an old school game boy. He loves it…and so does my husband!

  63. Courtney says...

    After watching your Instagram of the boys doing the tricks, I sent the Melissa and Doug one to my 8 year old nephew! He’s definitely a ham so I’m hoping he likes it. Got his 10 year old sister a friendship bracelet making kit. Realllly working on being the cool-good-gift-giving aunt!

  64. Amy Tsai says...

    Have you seen Justin Willman’s virtual magic show? We watched it for Halloween with our daughter. He has a magic kit and we got it for her for Christmas. She loves it.

  65. soph says...

    We gifted my highly energetic six-year-old an indoor “scooter.” Think early elementary and zipping around in the gym during P.E. It’s definitely loud and a little wild, but she has a ton of fun with it! It’s really helped for being cooped indoors.

    hand2mind Purple Indoor Scooter Board With Safety Handles For Kids Ages 6-12, Plastic Floor Scooter Board With Rollers, Physical Education For Home, Homeschool Supplies (Pack of 1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008AK6WMC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_Hmo9FbTE0C7B5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

    • R says...

      We have one of these and I use it to scoot around the floor when I’m picking up Legos, ha!

  66. Sequoia says...

    Wow Joanna Toby IS you!

    My two year only received two presents for Christmas after a wildly outta of control December birthday (socially distant family member overcompensated for the lack of physical presence with a ton of gifts. Like 35 for a two year old!!!). He received a Wobbel board and a balance bike (cuz we have to burn that energy somehow) and he immediately decided to ride the bike over the board like a ramp! I’m in over my head guys. Send help!

    • Soph says...

      Balance bikes are amazing. All three of my kids transitioned from the balance bike to a regular pedal bike before they were five. (My youngest was three — she looked like a little clown on her tiny bicycle! Always made us laugh.)

    • Cooper says...

      Haha, we did the same thing for our 2 year-old December baby – just a Wobbel board and stocking stuffers from us, although she still got more from relatives. This December birthday thing is going to be tough to navigate!

  67. Julia says...

    I think this very much depends on what your kids preference is, but ours went to town with a very basic duplo set (just tons and tons of bricks!). They are 2 and 4 and have built huge towers, houses, sandwiches, you name it.

    Also if you haven’t heard of it: The Toniebox is a huge hit in our house (and has been for months now). They love hearing audio books and music and being in charge of what’s playing is super fun for them.

    A total bust: two identical remote control cars, which means that yes, they each have one, BUT: one remote controls them both! Confusion, followed by a lot of frustration have inevitably accompanied this gift :)

  68. Jen says...

    This post is making me so nostalgic and joy-filled. My youngest son was obsessed with learning magic tricks starting at about age five (he’s 15 now) and even put on a magic show for all of his friends for his birthday one year. It’s amazing how much fun it was to watch him learn and how entertained we all were by it. We’ve still got all of the props and tricks (it’s one of the few things from his childhood I refuse to let him get rid of) and once in awhile he’ll do a few tricks. So fun!

  69. Jill says...

    Our boys love magic. You should take them to Tannen’s Magic in Herald Sq. It’s the store to pros and the staff there is amazing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oooh how cool! thank you!!

  70. Tonia S says...

    My daughter got a potted venus fly trap and has been obsessed with caring for it and feeding it flies! Such an unexpected and unique gift for kids who are into science/nature. We ended up getting one for her cousin as well!

    • M says...

      I may have to borrow this idea. My kids would love it!

  71. Peg says...

    I gave that Melissa and Doug one to my oldest son (8) for Christmas! Big hit. My younger son (5) is amazed by the tricks and wants to repeat them over and over. Really fun gift.

  72. Sue Harris says...

    My great-niece asked for a microscope. So I sent her one and also sent A Wrinkle in Time–which of course features a girl scientist who saves her father. She also received an Occulus Quest 2 virtual reality headset from her parents and grandparents, which the entire family apparently were wild about, but because of COVID, we didn’t travel to visit over Christmas so missed out on all the fun.

    • Meg says...

      We got an Oculus Quest 2! It’s so much fun, but not recommended for kids under 13 (so our kids have to wait haha).

  73. Yelena says...

    My daughter received a rock painting set for Hanukkah and it’s been a big hit! Sometimes on our walks we find colorful rocks with inspiring messages on them, and now she’s excited to leave some of her own for others to find!

    • Sequoia says...

      Oh I have to get one of these. My son collects rocks on EVERY. SINGLE. WALK! So we have a ridiculous amount that aren’t very nice to look it. This will be next weeks art project for sure.

    • Christy says...

      These are amazing. We actually bought a second set for even more epic forts! During the early part of quarantine last year when we were new to e-learning (and it was still kind of fun) our 9 and 11 year old built the most gigantic fort, complete with twinkle lights, and took their breaks from school to have lunch and watch Bear Grylls Survival School. So, all that to say, these are really a timeless gift!