If you’ve recently said things like “Please stop putting stickers on the dog,” “I can only talk to you once you take those underwear off of your face” or frantically Googled “Where does the moon go when we’re asleep,” you may be the parent of a 3-year-old. They’re inquisitive, curious, and totally hilarious (when they aren’t downright frustrating). With all their newfound knowledge and personality, choosing Christmas gifts for 3-year-olds can be almost too easy.

The name of the game is to be thoughtful and practical. But, let’s be honest, the challenge here lies in giving a gift to someone who has a new interest by the second. Pair that with your competing desires to get something fun, educational and also functional (we know you’re tired of seeing toys strewn around the house your kiddo deserted after 2.5 minutes) and the ensuing stress *might* make you wish you were dealing with a tantrum instead.

Related: 17 toys for active toddlers that will keep them from bouncing off the walls

OK, not really. But if you’re the parent of a threenager, the last thing you need is more drama in your life.

The best Christmas gifts for 3-year-olds provide them with fun and engaging ways to be active in both their body and imagination. Toys like balance boards and mini trampolines allow them to burn off energy no matter what the temps while things like dollhouses and dress-up clothes offer quiet time and creativity. We also love educational games that help them master their ABCs or more complex puzzles that test their problem-solving skills.

We hear you, mama. Here are 25 picks that are sure to make any preschooler smile this holiday season as they develop their independence and growing personality—and staunch opinions.

Best Christmas gifts for 3-year-olds

narwahl stuffed animal



1. Snugglers

3-year-olds can have some big feelings in those little bodies! And while their vocabulary is growing by the minute, finding the right words to communicate those feelings can be tricky. More than just a silky soft lovie, Slumberkins are lovable tools that help parents and caregivers build resilient, confident and caring humans. Designed by a therapist and educator, each creature is part of a collection that focuses on helping little ones with their emotions. There’s Fox who can help guide little ones through big changes like a new sibling or big move. Hammerhead is the pal for kiddos who struggle to take a breath and stay calm when things get frustrating. Consider your child’s personal needs and find their new BFF!

woom bike



2. Woom 2

Time to graduate from the balance bike? Without a doubt, Woom is the gold standard of first pedal bikes. Not only are they the lightest on the market, but the kid-specific geometry makes learning to ride with pedals as easy a possible. The handlebars are nice and wide, offering confident control while low entry, low sitting position and a long wheelbase help them master balance. They also feature a detachable rubber ring steering limiter which can prevent accidents due to overcorrection and a chain guard to protect against cuts and pinches. And since learning how to stop is as important as learning how to go, Woom bikes feature a sophisticated freewheel pedal system (which allows them to pedal backward to balance) & kid-sized double hand brakes instead of coaster brakes which can send them sailing just as they get the hang of it. (Note that the 14” woom 2 bikes does ship with coaster brakes installed as it is a requirement of USCPSC regulations. Swapping for the hand brake system is an easy at-home fix.) Prices start at $359 for pedal bikes.

Tender Leaf Toys Happy Folk Hotel

Tender Leaf Toys


3. Happy Folk Hotel

For toddlers, there’s nothing better than an open-ended toy to spark their imagination. One of our current faves? This adorable collection of people can make their way into all kinds of play, from dollhouses to train sets to simply moving in and out of their stylish hotel.

Piccalio Mini Surfer Balance Board



4. Balance Board

Balance boards are one of the most simple toys with an endless amount of use. They can help your child develop their equilibrium while making for a fun exercise routine, then flip it over and it becomes a ramp for cars or even a small slide. It can even become a prop for imaginative play. This balance board is made of curved plywood and can support up to 200 pounds.

Mudpuppy Monster Mash-Up Magnetic Playboard



5. Monster Mash-Up Magnetic Build It Set

Perfect for travel or playing on-the-go, this silly magnet set lets little ones get creative as they mix and match a gang of monsters. The tidy tin also contains two double-sided cards with fun illustrated backgrounds. Monsters not their thing? No problem. There are several awesome themes to choose from including space, princesses, dinosaurs and more.

Petit Collage Floor Puzzle

Petit Collage


6. Floor Puzzle

Made from colorful, thick and sturdy pieces, this is a great puzzle for toddlers who have graduated from the simple wooden puzzles of babyhood. Name the familiar woodland creatures as it comes together and work on vocabulary as well as patience, problem-solving and hand-eye coordination. (There are also other themes to choose from!)

Laurence King Find My Behind: an Animal Memory Game

Laurence King Publishing


7. Find My Behind: An Animal Memory Game

When you’re three, butts are the height of comedy. In fact, “Knock, knock?” “Who’s there?” “BUTTS!” was a legit joke told in my household for a solid month or two. Harness the power of butts for good with this hilarious (and educational) memory game. It’s fun to play the traditional way but can also be used to create some brand new creatures that are sure to get a laugh. (Even more than that killer knock knock joke, I hope.)




8. Magnetic Play Structure

Have a kiddo who regularly hurls your couch cushions to the floor in the name of building the perfect fort? Save your sanity and transform playtime! The cool shapes make your toddler’s imagination run wild as they figure out different ways to build a house, fort, or castle, or just some random mish-mash. The magnets are the most clutch part about it, keeping the build together, but not being too strong when they’re ready to inevitably destroy it. Each set comes with 12 waterproof and wipeable shapes that can be reconfigured endlessly!

Special Supplies 15 Stepping Stones for Kids Indoor and Outdoor Balance Blocks

Special Supplies


9. 12 Stepping Stones for Kids Indoor and Outdoor Balance Blocks

Simple, open-ended toys are always on the top of our list. These colorful stepping stones are an engaging addition to indoor play, challenging kiddos to jump from one to the next. The non-slip rubber edge helps them stay put on pretty much any surface, but we especially love them for obstacle courses!




10. Little Genius Starter Pack

Screen time can get a bad rap, but there’s a huge difference between a YouTube binge and engaged learning. Osmo turns your little’s iPad into a fun tool—that requires no WiFi!—and bring imagination to life. Pair it with the pretend play costume pieces and silicone rings to practice letter forming, early math skills, create costumes and make magic happen.

Loog Mini Guitar Yellow



11. Loog Mini Guitar

This beginner’s guitar is not just for playtime—it can teach your child how to play an actual instrument. Featuring the first three strings of a full-size guitar, the Loog mini is perfect for tiny hands—and fun from day one, thanks to the companion app and flashcards.

KidKraft Grand View Mansion Dollhouse



12. Grand View Mansion Dollhouse

For little ones who could spend the entire day lost in their own imaginary world, a dollhouse can be a solid investment. The oversize wooden Grand View Mansion Dollhouse from KidKraft comes with tons of high quality accessories and includes moveable features like a gliding elevator, doors, and windows to keep them engaged and enchanted for years to come.




13. Calming Toy Companion with Dynamic Heartbeat and Soothing Purr

If your little one sometimes has trouble regulating their emotions and finding calm (and who doesn’t), they might love (and learn from!) the experience of helping Purrble calm down. This fuzzy lovey has a dynamic heartbeat that subsequently slows down after sensing cuddles from your kiddo.

Garnet Hill Kids Boiled Wool Fox Slipper Boots

Garnet Hill


14. Kids' Boiled Wool Slipper Boots

If you’re looking for breathable slippers that keep little feet warm and comfy, Garnet Hill’s boiled wool slipper boots are worth a try. Parents rave about the knit cuff that makes them a breeze to get on and off and the whimsical creatures and characters make them a time-tested favorite for kids, too.

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Little Tikes


15. Little Tikes Light-Up 3-Foot Trampoline with Folding Handle

Now that winter is around the corner, this Little Tikes trampoline is ideal for colder climates or if you have limited outdoor space. Let them bounce around for hours on this lighted trampoline, then fold it up to store it when you want to reclaim your living room.

81t kTFUH3L. AC SL1500

Wee Gallery


16. Baby Animal Lacing Cards for Toddlers

My own 3-year-old loves these animal lacing cards, and I love that it’s a mess-free craft activity he can even bring in the car. Good for flexing those fine motor skills—and keeping little fingers busy.

Melissa & Doug Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set

Melissa & Doug


17. Sushi Slicing Wooden Play Food Set

Got a tiny foodie on your hands? Foster that fire with a mini sushi set. Little ones will love the velcro seaweed and chopsticks as they learn to make their own maki rolls.

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Manhattan Toy


18. Early Bird Espresso Toddler & Kids Pretend Play Cooking Toy Set

Now your toddler can take part in your morning coffee ritual with their very own espresso set. This bright wooden early bird (get it?) kit comes with two espresso cups and seven colorful wooden discs so your budding barista can whip up a wide range of beverages.

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Manhattan Toy


19. Making Faces 34-Piece Emotion Toy

Kids can explore their own emotions through play with this kit of 34 punch-out magnetic facial features. It’s a good vehicle for identifying feelings—or just making funny faces!

The Ultimate Construction Site Book

Anne-Sophie Baumann & Didier Balicevic


20. The Ultimate Construction Site Book

Your little one talks of nothing but diggers, skid steers and bulldozers—and is sure to adore this lift-a-flap book that goes into meticulous detail on building bridges, crafting roller coasters and digging subway tunnels.

Le Van Toys Honeybake Doctor Kit

Le Toy Van


21. Kids Wooden Pretend Play Honeybake Doctor's Medical Play Set Kit

Three-year-olds are primed for pretend play at this age, and this adorable doctor kit helps them get creative in the medical field. With tools made from sustainably-sourced rubber wood, kids can take up a residency and test out their expertise on their stuffed animals or willing siblings.

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22. Big Cooker Reverso Retro Wooden Kitchen and Laundry Playset

A play kitchen that’s pretty enough to leave out in the living room? Yes, please. This reversible wooden model has a retro kitchen on one side and a laundry setup on the other, meaning double the fun.

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The Big Dig


23. The Big Dig and Roll Ride-On Working Excavator with Wheels

No sandbox, no problem with this ride-on excavator that can literally go anywhere. Kiddos will love digging up snow (or sand or dirt) and pretending the backyard is a big construction site.

Alohaland Wooden Blocks

Keiki Kaukau


24. ALOHALAND Wooden Blocks

We swooned over this sweet block set that’s like a 3D postcard from Hawaii. Perfect for island-life lovers big and small.

Djeco Play Tent Play House



25. Play Tent Play House

A cheery place to call their own, this sweet fabric playhouse is ideal for indoor play now, outdoor play come spring. And even though we adore the artful design, we also love that it can easily fold up and be put away when not in use.

Story Time Chess Game

Story Time Chess


26. Story Time Chess

Why not start them young? Chess has big benefits for young thinkers, but teaching the game can be tedious. Story Time Chess transforms game play into a children’s book, so little ones can see gamepieces as characters and follow along with the story.

Moon Chalk Set Areaware



27. Moon Chalk Set

For the cool tot who has everything, these avant-garde chalks are out-of-this-world. An art piece in and of themselves their unique shapes make for beautiful sidewalk designs.

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28. Duplo Train Set

My toddler gets endless joy out of this LEGO Duplo train set, and especially gets amped up over the moveable tiles that direct the battery-operated train to turn on its lights, whistle, stop or fill up with fuel.

yoto player



29. Kids Audio & Music Player

We love the Yoto player for endless hours of screen-free fun. The clever (and delightfully minimalist) audio player allows kids to listen to a huge and ever-growing library of bestselling audiobooks, music and singalongs, educational activities and kids podcasts through super cool content cards they can insert themselves. It even comes with a record your own card that’s perfect for personalized books they can’t get enough of. And if that’s not enough, it also functions as a night light, clock and sleep trainer!

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Melissa & Doug


30. Wooden Magnetic Matching Picture Game

This magnetic picture board is a great alternative when you’ve reached screentime limits for the day. Kids can select a scene and create their own image using the magnetic pictures–with endless possibilities.

hape four stage rocket ship



31. Four Stage Rocket Ship

Gift tiny astronauts their very own mini rocket ship as they blast off into pretend play. With a design inspired by actual space shuttles, it comes with 20 pieces and three sides for plenty of new discoveries.

A version of this story was published October 27, 2021. It has been updated.