The best Christmas gifts for kids under 10

Our parenting editor sorts the gimmicky offerings from the presents that will get the seal of approval from fussy recipients – and will keep them occupied beyond Boxing Day

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By Robyn Wilder on

Even now, I remember the childhood Christmas gifts that rankled the most from my childhood (before I learned that complaining about gifts received was a mild abuse of privilege).

There was that awful doll; a walnut in my shoe; knock-off Transformers with bits that came out and jabbed me in the eye; the wrong Transformer; the one My Little Pony I already had; and the world’s itchiest, most ill-fitting cardigan. This Christmas, avoid this sort of drama with the children in your life with our foolproof gift guide for kids under 10 years old.

An amazing snuggly gift for the bookworm in your life, this features a copy of Roald Dahl’s brilliant book, Matilda, plus a Matilda-themed bubble bath and pillow spray – all featuring Quentin Blake’s original artwork. The skincare products are dermatologist-approved, and smell deliciously of bergamot, orange and lavender.

Suitable for: Children who can read; Roald Dahl fans (there’s a BFG version, too).

This is a great introduction to science experiments without the cost and commitment that comes with the bigger kits that have test tubes and ingredients that go bang. Kids love gross stuff, and this kit teaches you how to make snot (gross), grow friendly bacteria (gross, if friendly) and create a stinky intestine. Lots of fun for Christmas Day afternoon.

Suitable for: Ages eight and up

A is for Akon, B is for Biggie and C is for Coolio. This is a wonderful book – funny and colourfully illustrated, and it will help tiny children learn their alphabet while making their parents feel as though, even though they might be covered in sick and have had no sleep, they are still somehow relevant. The Little Homie also does a numbers book (1 2 3 with the Notorious B.I.G.), in case you were wondering.

Suitable for: Ages one and up

Balance bikes are great – they don’t have pedals, so they teach toddlers and preschoolers how to balance and steer without relying on stabilisers. My three-year-old has one and he’s close to being ready to start on a push-bike soon. This cute Pendleton Bailey version comes with a toy basket and, if you squint, could be ridden by a cheerful vicar on a sunny country afternoon.

Suitable for: Ages three to five


Wilko is a wonderland of wooden cooking toys this Christmas, all at super-low prices. This baking set comes with flour, sugar and a stylish wooden food mixer. There’s also a fruit play set, which you can “cut” with a wooden knife, and a wooden make-your-own pizza kit (both £8), all of which are brilliant step-ups to helping you out in the kitchen.

Suitable for: 18 months plus

Create a sanctuary from all the manic overconsumption of the festive season with this children’s art box. The Art Tiffin produces ethical, sustainable and charitable art kits for adults and children, and this one-off Christmas box encourages kids to use their imagination, work with nature and play quietly by themselves. Just remember to order yours before 5 December.

Suitable for: Ages one and up

This is a lovely gift if you have some extra cash (hollow laugh) and know an older child who’s into collectibles. Made from organic cotton offcuts, this upcycled bear comes in a gift box with an uplifting message and 100% of the proceeds go to Mothers 2 Mothers, a charity that supports families living with paediatric AIDS and HIV.

Suitable for: I’d recommend not giving to children under three years old, because of the potential for dangerous small parts

Send the kids off to eavesdrop on your relatives while you mainline mince pies with this great piece of kit that includes a “secret listener”, torch, magnifier and telescope, plus – what all good spies need – a secret compartment. It needs three LR44 batteries, so be a good gift-giver and get some of those, too.

Suitable for: Ages eight and up

This is one of those kids’ items that makes you wonder why you, as an adult, don’t have one. Then you end up going down the “if I had a playroom, what would be in it?” route. Before you know it, a day has gone past and you’ve done zero work. Anyway, live vicariously through the children you know by gifting them this reading nook. I guarantee you won’t see them all day.

Suitable for: All ages; might be wise to save it for kids who read, though. Or yourself.

Together, discover the fabulous life of Coco Chanel (did you know she used to be a cabaret singer? I didn’t), with this gorgeously illustrated children’s book. It takes you through her childhood, her love of needlework and her time as a hat-maker, and the solid message that runs throughout is that you should work hard and follow your dreams, whatever they are.

Suitable for: Ages six months and above.

As you might imagine, The Science Museum does a great line in science kits for kids. There’s a robot one, an explodey one and this one, which teaches them not only how to make slime, but also how to make it dance using a tiny wave machine. Magic! Well, not magic. Science!

Suitable for: Ages eight and above. Don’t forget the AA batteries!

Rock back to the ice age this Christmas, with this gorgeous woolly mammoth rocker. It comes on a solid, beech base that you can personalise with a child’s name (or any text you like), a fluffy coat of wool and the most adorable little face. There is also a smaller pull-along mammoth you can buy. My oldest son is obsessed with woolly mammoths (or “elephant dinosaurs”, as he calls them), and the only reason I’m not getting it is because we don’t have the room.

Suitable for: Ages eighteen months and above.


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