The Ramshackle Glam Gift Guide For Kids (That Parents Won’t Hate)

I can be very Grinchy when it comes to my kids’ toys. It’s one of those “Well, when I was a kid…” things – because when I was a kid, you know what I had? A cabinet for my toys, and exactly the number of toys that could fit into that cabinet. Maybe it was the fact that we lived in a small apartment or maybe my parents were just Grinchy, too, but I’m totally of the school of thought that when it comes to toys, less is more. You spend more time with each one; you get more creative with how you play; you create actual relationships between yourself and your possessions, a la the Velveteen Rabbit (sob).

Which means that the overflow of stuff that my kids get every Christmas, what with the multiple Christmases celebrated at multiple locations throughout the country with multiple pockets of relatives makes me, like I said…


I want them to have new toys; of course I do! But I don’t want them to have piles and piles of toys that they don’t really care about, will never really play with, and that just pile up and make me feel intense guilt over consumerism and waste and etc etc. So. Here is my carefully curated list of toys that I know my kids would swoon over – and that I can get fully on board with, too.


Wizards & Werewolves Glow-in-the-Dark Fantasy Game

“Two mythical forces face off against each other in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits. Play as a Wizard to search for glowing crystals or bare your teeth and hunt as a Werewolf.”


This is suuuuch a fun way to get adults and kids playing together.



Alright, so this is more a gift for a parent than for a kid, but I cannot tell you how useful this travel car seat booster has been to me over the years. It’s sized for children aged 4-11 years, and is narrow, lightweight, and foldable – such a little problem-solver.



Does your child love unicorns? Of COURSE they do. Everybody loves unicorns.

And this one lets you make wishes on it: You kiss it’s nose to light up its bow, make your wish, and then blow on the bow to turn it off. Squee. (And I love the subtle mindfulness element.)


Jumbo Squishy Strawberry Rainbow Cake

…Why does my daughter love this (and all squishy toys, really, but this one is extra-special to her)? Words fail me. But she will spend hours playing with it. Hours.

I bought ours from a street stand, and it turns out they’re actually kinda hard to find on the Internet…but I located some for you!


Crystal Ball

This is a gift for a very specific type of child – but for the right child, it’s everything. I had a crystal ball growing up and it was the source of tons and tons of imaginative play, and my kids are equally fascinated with them. The one pictured here is super pretty, but you can find tons of different colors, styles and sizes on eBay (or at your local flea market).


Bop It!

Forget my kid: I’m obsessed with this game. It’s sort of like a more active version of Simon – you pull and twist and bop the little widget there in time to the music, and try to get as high as you can without messing up (I got to 60, thankyouverymuch).


How to Draw Pokémon

My son (and virtually all of his friends) and complete and total Pokemon fanatics. I don’t even know what he does with the cards – he and his friends just sort of….talk about them? And…trade them? …Or…do “damage” with them?

This is a fun way to extend the obsession in alternate directions.(And I love drawing them with him, so it’s also a cool activity for us to enjoy together.)


Dojo Battle

This interactive game uses smart strike technology to record strikes, so you can actually – literally – battle your friends. Not for a child prone to recklessness, for sure – but with a little guidance, this can be a really fun (and safe) introduction to fencing.


Game Rox

This is a pick-up stix-style game that adds the element of collectibles – each starter pack of Game Rox comes with five rocks, and there are over 100 different styles that kids can collect, trade, etc. So analog! I love it.


Old-school Boom Box + Your Old CDs

Speaking of analog…this is hands-down one of the best gifts I’ve ever given my son: I picked up an old-school boom box for like $20 (the one pictured above is slightly more expensive but very cool-looking), and then went through my old CD collection (come on, you know you have one laying around somewhere) and put together a curated musical education for him. And now he sits in his room at night, reading his book while listening to Sam Cooke.

(A Discman would be fun, too. Just saying.)


Creatable World Customizable Doll

These gender-neutral dolls (!!!!!) come wth a whole stash of mix-and-match accessories so kids can create the customized doll of their dreams. This is just so, so great.


Neo Tarot Deck

For the tween or teen, an easily digestible tarot deck perfect for beginners.


Marvel Ultimate Alliance III

My son says that you should get this for your son.

(I think this translates to “I am getting this for my son.”)

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