Great gifts can come in inexpensive packages… In fact, these inexpensive gift ideas for kids are all under $10 and have been long-standing favorites at our house.
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I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make Christmas special for your kids. Yes, sometimes it’s worth investing in good quality items that will last for years and years. But for the most part, kids are happy with simple!
Today, I’m sharing some of the simple, inexpensive gifts that have given us the biggest bang for our buck over the years. They’re all under ten dollars, and yet they’ve become favorite toys and activities of my three kids. No junk toys here that are going to end up in the garbage by Valentine’s Day!
Put them under the tree, stuff them in a stocking, or give them away to friends and family. You could even buy extras to keep in a gift stash to give as birthday gifts when your kids get invited to birthday parties, too (Do you have a gift stash?…It’s such a sanity saver).
GAME GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS
We love games! We have accumulated quite a collection over the years, and I like to buy a few new ones each Christmas to keep us laughing during the long, dark, cold winter months. I have a whole list of our all-time favorite games, but here are a few of the best ones under $10:
Disney Eye Found It: This hidden picture card game challenges kids to search their Disney-themed cards to find a specific object. There are several ways to play, so you can adjust based on your children’s age and ability level. Even preschoolers can play this one!
Sleeping Queens: We bought this game several years ago for Christmas, and it still gets played regularly! It’s simple enough that even my four-year-old can play it, and it’s still genuinely fun for the adults, too. Oh, and fun fact…it was invented by a six-year-old girl!
UNO: Every family should own this classic card game. It’s simple enough for preschoolers, and you can add twists and house rules to make it more challenging for more advanced players as your kids get older. Plus, UNO cards can be used for ALL sorts of other fun learning activities, so they’re great to have on hand.
Sushi Go!: I haven’t actually played this one yet, but it’s on my list to buy my own kids this year! It gets great reviews, and I’ve heard from several friends that it’s a winner. Update: We bought it for Christmas, and we LOVE it! It’s simple, colorful, and has just enough strategy to make it fun for all ages!
Monopoly Deal: So, I pretty much loathe the board game Monopoly. It’s not the game itself…it’s just WAAAAY too long. But this card game version only takes 15-20 minutes and is so fun! It’s all the best parts of the original game condensed into a much more manageable time commitment.
Related: Gift guide: Our favorite board games for kids
ARTS & CRAFTS GIFT IDEAS FOR KIDS
I love buying art supplies as gifts because kids typically love them, and they are consumable…so we’re not adding more more stuff to our toy closet. Practical and fun!
Perler bead kit: If you would have asked me a couple of years ago to pick a gift off the store shelf that I thought my kids would love, I would not have guessed Perler beads. But they LOVE them. We discovered these crafting kits during the early days COVID lockdown, and my boys still pull them out regularly to create all sorts of things: dinosaurs, pokeballs, Star Wars characters…and so much more. They’re a perfect activity for a rainy day or quiet time, especially if they listen to one of our favorite kids story podcasts while they create.
Origami paper: Do your kids love origami as much as mine do? There are tons of YouTube videos to teach kids how to fold boats, cups. frogs, flowers, and the quintessential crane. Give the colorful paper with the promise of some one-on-one time to learn how to fold an origami creation of your child’s choice.
Scratch art: I love these mini scratch art note cards because they are small enough to take on the go, and easy to pull out and share with friends who come over to play.
Kid’s paint: These little paint pots have been a staple in our house for years. They’re great for all kinds of art projects and the paint really IS washable (important with kids, right?).
LED drawing board: We got all three of our boys these little drawing pads last year for Christmas, and they have been so great! We use them for travel, at church, for scorekeeping during games, and even for handwriting and math practice. They’re cheap, save TONS of paper, and ours are still going strong a year later.
Paint By Sticker books: The Easter Bunny brought these to my two older boys (ages 6 & 9 at the time) for Easter earlier this year, and they loved them! It’s a great quiet activity and they loved seeing their pictures come together as they matched each sticker to its numbered space. I just bought them the Christmas book for this year.
Air dry clay: We have bought two packs of this clay now, and it has yielded hours of fun for all my boys. I love that it’s not messy at all, and there are so many colors to choose from. One note: you have to be vigilant about keeping the containers closed when you’re not actively using the clay or else it dries out. The good news? Once my boys learned that lesson the hard way with a couple of colors, they got quite good at policing each other and taking care of their clay. (This slightly bigger kit is the one we most recently purchased.)
GIFT IDEAS ESPECIALLY FOR LITTLE KIDS
These gifts are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, but my older kids totally enjoy some of them, too!
Water Wow books: These paint with water books are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. We take them in the car when we travel, and they are a great independent activity when you need a few minutes to make a phone call or take a shower!
Bubble bath: My kids LOVE bubble bath, and I usually put a fun one in their stockings each year. We’ve also given them bath paint and bath bombs, all of which were big hits!
Playdough tools: This is the perfect little set of playdough tools. The tools are sturdy and durable plastic, and they have all best tools a kid would want: a rolling pin, pizza cutter, and more. We’ve had our set for seven years, and it’s still looks brand new.
Mini machines construction trucks: We use these little trucks ALL the time with playdough or in our sensory rice bin. Our first set got loved to death after five years of near-constant use, and we loved them enough that we bought a new set to replace it.
Wikki Stix: Wikki Stix are basically pieces of colorful string covered in wax, which may seem simple (and it is), but they open up a whole world of creative possibilities…plus they’re great for travel. We were gifted the traveler kit along with the alphabet cards (and love them), but you could also just get the basic set and buy a dollar store pencil box to keep them in. Print and laminate some alphabet flashcards to go with it to really make it a wow-worthy gift.
Kinetic sand: If you haven’t ever played with kinetic sand, you’re missing out. It’s play sand that can be molded like playdough but doesn’t dry out and keeps my four-year-old (and his brothers when he can be convinced to share) busy for hours. We have a strict “only at the kitchen table” rule and keep it contained by playing on a cookie sheet, so it really is super easy to clean up.
Magnetic Fishing Puzzle: Melissa and Doug know how to do puzzles. In this one, they’ve combined a classic chunky puzzle with a fishing puzzle. My youngest fell in love with this toy at his grandparents’ house, so we bought one for ourselves, too!
GIFT IDEAS ESPECIALLY FOR OLDER KIDS
These are gifts that have been enjoyed by my school-aged kids (but don’t let me stop you if your preschooler wants binoculars!)
Rubik’s Cube: If you’ve got a determined kid who loves puzzles, give them the ultimate Rubik’s cube challenge! I’ll admit, even after learning the official strategies for solving the cubes on YouTube together, my nine-year-old is still better at it than I am. More power to him!
Playground ball: We just bought this playground ball a month ago to use in our basement play space. It’s soft enough to use indoors without denting walls (although I wouldn’t use it in a room with breakables…keep it in the playroom!) We made a four-square court using painter’s tape (love that stuff!) and have been going downstairs in the evenings after dinner to play together. It’s been so fun!
Lego base plate: If you have a Lego lover (which I would guess is most of you!), a new Lego base plate is a great, cheap gift. The official branded ones are under $10, but you can get off-brand ones that are completely compatible for less. TIP: Check the Dollar Tree store if you have one near you. I’ve found blue, green, and brown base plates there. It’s hit and miss whether they have the full size ones, but it’s worth a shot!
Small Lego set: Lego sets are not typically cheap, but there are a few small sets that have been surprisingly impressive. This little technic skid steer is a favorite, as is this dinosaur set (which is technically just over the $10 mark).
Science kit: If you have a kid who loves science, there are some great done-for-you experiments that my kids have loved. The first one we ever did was this crystal mining lab, and we’ve now bought and gifted it to several other friends. Other favorites (that are a little more expensive) have been this crystal garden kit and our very favorite Kiwi crates.
Head lamp: Head lamps are such an inexpensive, fun gift for kids! I have one for each of my boys to use when we are camping, and they also like to pull them out when they make forts at home. They also make great reading lamps for bedtime!
Gift card + date with a parent: I love giving experiences to my kids, so I love the idea of giving kids a $5-10 gift card to their favorite fast food restaurant or ice cream shop with a certificate for a date with mom or dad to redeem it.
Binoculars: If you ask my kids, hiking and exploring in the wild is so much more fun with binoculars!
Floor puzzles: There is something fun about building a giant puzzle on the floor. We have this USA map puzzle as well as a solar system puzzle.
BOOK IDEAS FOR KIDS
“I cannot live without books,” said Thoman Jefferson, and that’s the motto around our house as well. Really, there are TONS of great books under $10, but here are some of the ones that have gotten a lot of love at our house over the past several years:
Blue Hat, Green Hat: This is one of my favorite board books for toddlers…simple and silly and perfect for gifting.
The Pout Pout Fish: This rhyming book is another tried-and-true favorite for young kids. Want more book ideas for toddlers? Click here for more favorite board books.
Who Would Win?: If you have kids who love animals–especially dangerous ones–these books that teach cool facts while debating which one would win if they met in the wild are so fun.
Little Kids First Big Book of Why & My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things: These books are great for those kids who ask a million questions about everything. They are fun books to read together, and my boys also just love thumbing through them and looking at all the cool pictures.
Wipe Clean Letters – tracing book: This is such a great book for preschoolers who are excited about learning the alphabet. It comes with a dry erase marker for tracing, and the pages are really high quality (read: they actually do erase well). We’ve had this book since my oldest was a toddler, and all three of my boys have enjoyed it!
Want more book recommendations? I have LOTS of ideas to share:
- 25 charming Christmas picture books you’ll love
- My absolute favorite children’s picture books of all time
- The Best Train Books for Kids of all Ages
- Terrific Dinosaur Books for Kids (that actually teach you about dinosaurs)
- Fabulous chapter books to read-aloud to your kids
If you’re still looking for more gift ideas for kids, check out these gift lists, too!
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