We Found 14 Popular Christmas Toys Worth Gifting (and 3 to Avoid)

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Magnetic tiles are one of the most amazing little inventions for toddlers. It takes a while before littles are coordinated enough to put Legos or a lot of other building toys together, but they tend to pick up these snap-together tiles at a much earlier age—and get very creative! This Picasso set is perfect for filling out your collection so you can smash giant buildings like Godzilla—or build something totally calm and serene if you have that lovely kind of child. We intermingle Picasso Tiles with standard Magna-Tiles and haven’t had any issues. They also don’t seem to crack or break easily, so they should last through multiple children. —Jeffrey Van Camp

Lalo 13-15 Month

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There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re shopping for baby toys. You’re looking for something that can stimulate their little forming mind—and for it to be age appropriate, which can be difficult to discern with those first two years. Lalo’s toy boxes come with multiple toys designed for three-month age ranges, so you can easily pick one for the age the baby is or will be when they receive it. It comes with a little booklet on how to use it, both in the intended age window and afterward. My son just turned 16 months, but he still loves most of the items from the 13-15–month kit – especially the drum. —Nena Farrell

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This was the trending toy in my daughter’s second-grade class last year. Almost everyone had one or wanted one. This pen is simple and safe enough for even a second-grader to use, and it fit easily in my daughter’s tiny hands. Just charge the pen via a USB-C connection, feed the colored threads through the pen, and watch your child magically create little 3D flowers and kittens to leave all over your house. I would also suggest shelling out for a storage case, or maybe an empty shoebox, because it’s been a year and I’m still finding stray little colored filaments in very strange places. —Adrienne So

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I’ve lost count of the number of Baby Yodas I have in this house—my daughter has a water bottle entirely covered in Baby Yoda stickers—but this simple plush seems to be the one that gets the most action. It’s small enough for a kid to play with next to Barbies or stuff in a backpack but big enough to cuddle or engage in conflicts with other stuffies. —Martin Cizmar

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However many animals Noah had on that Arc is about as many Squishmallows and Squishmallow-style round stuffies we have in my house. This dog (not technically a Squishmallow and made by the OurHonor brand) is next in line as a surprise this Christmas. I also highly recommend Target’s line of Pokémon plushes, especially Bulbasaur, which you can have extra fun with by introducing him using your imitation of the guttural voice he has in the original TV series. —Martin Cizmar

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When this set first popped up at my toddler’s grandparents house when he could barely walk, I thought it might be a good day of fun. That was at least two years ago, and he has used it constantly ever since, along with other littles! Some weeks dusting was the hot item, other times the littles would sweep and mop up a storm. (A pretend spray bottle and squeegee are also a fun addition; just leave the actual water outside.) The pieces are made from wood and still look close to new after a lot of abuse. The house isn’t dust-free yet, but we’re working on it! —Jeffrey Van Camp

Toys to Avoid

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I don’t recommend this trending toy, despite its many positive reviews. There are a lot of ways to help your kid pretend to vacuum, but this one is a bit complex for its own good. It looks neat, and Casdon Toys advertises it as a working vacuum, but it sucks only the tiniest of items up through a half-inch hole on the bottom (barely). Anything an uncoordinated toddler is able to suck then has to fit in a tiny spoon-sized bin that you’ll have to empty frequently yourself because it takes finger coordination. You’ll also need four C batteries (not included) and some replacements handy. There are two switches, one to turn on the suction and another to swirl some beads so it looks vacuumy.

After a bit of initial interest, this toy tends to sit around my house. It doesn’t stand up on its own, so we regularly have to prop it up if it gets disturbed. My advice: Buy an actual, decent little handheld vacuum. They might have a lot more fun actually sucking up the dirt on your floors and in your couch cushions, and they might help a little, too. —Jeffrey Van Camp

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