Gifts for kids {$20 and under}


Celebrations / Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Confession: I love gifts. Buying gifts, even more. Buying gifts for kids, win win win. It’s one of the many things I love this time of year, as Christmas approaches and secrets accumulate.

Some years I have a ton of ideas, other years I come up dry. This year, I went digging in my own Amazon history for suggestions to share with you of great gifts for kids, for twenty dollars or less. Amazon prices are subject to change without notice; some now cost more or less than what I paid. But these current ballpark costs should get you started.

There are gifts on my list for boys and girls, from toddler to teen. Only you know what the child on your list would like, but it has been fun brainstorming here for you. Our family loves gifts that last for months and years: durable, usable, interactive, bright, funny, educational, or joyous. Each of these items comes with our own experience and recommendation.

  • $17 Melissa & Doug wooden train set
  • $13 Wooden puzzle trick box (Great to hide cash or a gift card in, for older kids.)
  • $16-20 Walkie talkie set (My son and I use these in shopping to touch base across the department store and save valuable time and have fun. “No son, not the double pack, just the original. I’m in aisle 18. Don’t forget the shampoo.”)
  • $10 Melissa & Doug Wooden alphabet puzzle
  • $20 MP3 music player
  • $15 Thread organizer (This makes the best Matchbox car organizer ever. You can add a Hot Wheels decal for $5.)

  • $17 Miniature library (Tiny books you can make yourself. My daughter has crafted them off and on all year. We discarded the zodiac one since it’s not our style.)
  • $13 Codenames (One of our favorite family games. Good for at least four people, or as many as a group party.)
  • $20 Durable T-ball set for toddlers
  • $5 Clean joke book
  • $18 Alex tin tea set (The best: useable, leakproof, non-plastic, unbreakable.)

  • $10 Multitool card (Fits in a wallet.)
  • $12 Most adorable stuffed tiger (We just got one for my youngest daughter, who promptly named her Sara.)
  • $19 Nerf gun
  • $17 Bop-It game
  • $18 LifeStraw water filter (Truly awesome for an older kid who’s into survival gear. Makes any water source potable.)

  • $20 Screwdriver/ Electronics repair kit (Also for my oldest. Great all-purpose set if you’re into tech repair.)
  • $11 Insect lollipops (Gag gift, literally. This is exactly my second son’s style of humor. Edible ants, scorpions, and other goodies encased in sugar. What could be better? And yes, he partook. Yummy.)
  • $13 Reading light for bedtime

Do you have questions I could answer about anything on this list?

I see your hand, sister. Yes, we allow Nerf guns. There are a few moral boundaries, such as, “Not on the same floor of the house as your mother.”

What would you add to the list? What do you love to give?


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17 Replies to “Gifts for kids {$20 and under}”

  1. I just got my preschoolers LCD writing tablets and they are definitely a hit! Also, if you’re buying from Amazon, check the used option. You can often save a dollar or 2 buying someone’s returns (Amazon Warehouse)

  2. The sarcastic comment t shirt caught my eye… Definite win for my second son. And the mini library… Too cute! Trouble is, which of the three little girls should get it?
    This year, we latched on the idea I read in a comment on YouTube. Each person gets:
    ” something you want, something you need,
    something to wear, something to read.”
    There are catches. When son 2 says he wants a watch, son 1 figures that will fit all 4 categories!๐Ÿ˜‚
    Calico critters are a big win around here. We don’t buy the big houses, just get tiny doll houses (Melissa and Doug have a nice one) and each girl has her own house and accessories. Easily the most played with toys in our house.

  3. Um, I have a question? The Bop It Game? How do you survive? ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the other great ideas though – (my boys have been expounding to me how they would do well to have some nerf guns for the winter months).

    1. Haha. So my kids have quite a lot of activities that need to be played on a different floor of the house than Mom. Noisy games. Particularly annoying songs. You know. We have an explicit understanding that if I can’t hear it, we’re good.

      As a bonus, our rule puts some nice natural limits on frequency of use. ๐Ÿ˜‚

  4. When my girls were little we loved Melissa and Doug merch. They have the neatest stuff. I was in line at the pharmacy yesterday and saw a rack of Melissa and Doug books, puzzles etc. I found myself daydreaming about when my daughters were youngsters. Then the worker is “Ma’am are you dropping off or picking up?”.

    GVS catalogs have a ton of toys for under $20 and depending on the item you can get a discount when you buy in multiples and many are mix and match.

    Stickers are always fun except when they put stickers on things they were supposed to.
    The old standby of crayons and color pencils are great except when they use them to to mark on the wall how much they’ve grown in a month and mom finds this out. And mom is so taken by this and doesn’t have the heart to make them clean it off. Mom also wished she could have taken said wall with her when they moved to AZ three years ago.

  5. Love posts like this! So helpful for me who isnโ€™t so good at knowing what to buy, besides legos and dolls๐Ÿ˜Š. Now a post for husbands please and even things that you like for yourself! Love your blog!

  6. Now I know why I’m going crazy– my house only has one floor. I have 3 noisy boys and an even noisier husband. Never could understand how other moms can be so much tougher then me. You are helping me understand that house size has a very real impact on sanity. Thanks for the insight. Also, thanks for the toy list. You have some very interesting things here that I will be checking out.
    The favorite gift at our house right now is a single goldfish in a gallon jar. I bought water conditioner drops, goldfish feed, and 2 goldfish all for $12 at a pet store. The gallon jars I already had, and we searched for pretty rocks outdoors to put in the bottom of the jar. One fish per gallon is the limit, according to the pet store owner. I have a jar at home for my son just because he wanted one. The other jar is in my classroom at school, where being allowed to feed the fish has become a reward for being the first one ready and waiting to go to lunch or to go home. Interestingly enough, even students who see they are going to be the first one, still hurry to get ready so that they can watch the fish eat. Warning: don’t try this without the water conditioner drops, because the fish will die in regular old tap water.

  7. PLEASE, A list for men! Single male teachers anyone? Both gifts for my children to give as students and ideas for bigger appreciation gifts from school boards! Last year we gave gift cards to Faithview Books and it was enthusiastically received but now what? Also ideas for a hired man who is gets into Christmas in a big way and is so very โ€œgift-yโ€?

    1. I wish I had more to say. Each year, I come up dry on ideas for men’s gifts, and rely on exact wish lists from my loved ones to get something that’s right. Even then, I rarely find it as meaningful (for me) as I’d hoped. This is something I wish I could change about myself.

      1. I was pondering also what to give to men, and here are some ideas:
        Shirts, books, tools (i.e. that drill he has been eyeing up, or a new hammer), if you’re married- a gift card with your favorite restaurant and tell your hubby you have a date night planned, a new Cd, hat, gloves (seems all guys like gloves?!), knives, power pack for charging his phone, games (like a wooden puzzle magic ball), iPod, twizzlers ๐Ÿ˜‰ ,
        and If he likes camping- camping gear: sleeping bag, hatchet, tent or hammock….
        Hope this helps to get your mind rolling and if the man you are trying to find a gift already has all this, or is very picky… I wish you great luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

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