Fresh off toddlerhood, 4-year-olds are blossoming into fully independent kids with lots of opinions. They’ve got their own interests and ideas and won’t hesitate to tell you exactly what they want as gifts. However, helpful as that may be, they’re also fickle little characters who change their minds every half hour. So it’s smart to do a bit of your own research, right?

The best Christmas gifts for 4-year-olds allow them to get lost in their creativity and imagination. They’re more independent now and providing them with toys and projects they can master on their own is a gift to both of you really. (I mean, what’s better than 30 minutes of peace and quiet with a cup of coffee that’s actually still hot?)

If choosing the best gift has you stressed, don’t sweat. We’ve rounded up some top-rated, tried-and-true toys and gifts that your preschooler is sure to love–even if it wasn’t on the list. From the outdoor equipment that gets them moving to STEM based toys that boost their brains, these are our top picks for four-year-olds this holiday season.

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of our holiday gift guides!

Our favorite Christmas gifts for 4-year-olds

Super Smalls Lucky Streak Necklace

Super Smalls

Lucky Streak REAL 4-Leaf Clover Necklace


Some kid-friendly bling with a side of good luck! This super giftable necklace from Supersmalls is bedecked with a real four-leaf clover set in resin with a halo of rainbow gems to create a piece that’s as unique as they are. Inside the box they’ll also find a sweet little booklet reminding them of all the reasons they’re lucky to be who they are.

Great Pretenders Reversible Dragon:Knight Cape

Great Pretenders

Reversible Dragon/Knight Cape


Make dress up double the fun with this flashy cape from Great Pretenders. On one side, they can transform into a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon, on the other they become the brave knight ready for battle. The best part? It’s machine-washable. Because even knights and dragons have to clean up once in awhile.

Habbi Habbi Starter Set

Habbi Habbi

Habbi Habbi Starter Set (Wand + 5 books)


Habbi Habbi’s Reading Wand & Bilingual Books help even the youngest children begin learning a second language. The innovative and engaging play-based tool brings language to life through a tech-enabled wand and “tappable” books that give kids instant feedback, from vocabulary and phrases to musical tunes. And while learning the alphabet, colors, and shapes is great, we love that they also work to include topics like emotions, female role models and diversity. The starter set includes the wand and five books offering a mix of Word, Phrase and Sentence books from their collection. Choose from Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean or Hindi.

Melissa & Doug Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Gear Play Set

Melissa & Doug

Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Gear Play Set


Adventure awaits! Little explorers will learn about and be inspired by the wonders of the Grand Canyon with this set of play gear from Melissa & Doug. The 18-piece set includes pretend binoculars and picture discs they can use to discover the plants and animals found in the park, as well as a working flashlight, a wooden tracker and ID cards as well as other essentials they’ll need on their travels.

Kiwi Co. Water and Sand Sensory Table


Water and Sand Sensory Table


It’s hard to say who loves a water table more–our kids who spend hours scooping, experimenting, and pouring, or us, the moms who get a few minutes of peace while they do it. Any style makes a great holiday gift, but we’re super impressed by this one from KiwiCo. In addition to a generously-sized basin which can be filled with water, sand, rice, you name it, the plexiglass divider offers a place to assemble custom water features with the included pipe set, or doodle with the paint crayons. It’s crazy easy to assemble (one reviewer said it best–”Kiwico should buy Ikea”) and can be adjusted to three different heights as they grow.

Starry Night Air Fort

Uncommon Goods

Starry Night Air Fort


When you’re four, is there a better place to hang than in your own cozy fort? Not really. This dreamy design uses a standard box fan to inflate in seconds and features glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling for an extra dash of magic. It’s also machine washable!

She Spoke Voices of Inspirational Women Sound Book

Uncommon Goods

She Spoke


She Spoke is a fun and engaging way to introduce 4-year-olds to real life superheroes. Through gorgeous illustrations, sharp profiles and button-activated recordings and speeches of 14 legendary women, kids will be inspired to speak up and be heard. What’s more, it includes useful prompts to help identify ways to help in your own community.

Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center


Geometric Dome Climber


This climbing dome has multiple five-star reviews, and will likely bring back joyful childhood memories for you as your child climbs, swings, and jumps from this structure. Although this requires a good amount of space in a yard—it is 9 feet in diameter and 4.5 feet high—reviewers say it has replaced large play structures in their yard and gets just as much use. The climbing activities this lends to can help improve a child’s spatial awareness, sense of balance, and motor skills—you may even find that the interior of the dome makes for a great playhouse, too!

Mudpuppy African Safari Search and Find Puzzle


Search & Find 64-Piece Puzzle


The 64-piece Search & Find puzzles from Mudpuppy offer preschoolers two challenges. First they have to flex their problem solving skills to put it together. When they’re done, they can use their eagle eyes to find 40+ animals, insects and plants that surround the puzzle edge. Choose from variety of animal themes.

Stomp Rocket Stomp and Catch

Stomp Rocket

Stomp and Catch


Of all the toys we’ve ever bought, none have gotten more use than Stomp Rockets. The simple foam rockets and launchers keep kids running, catching and jumping for hours, and sometimes, siblings even get along while doing it. This set is particularly well suited for multiple kids since it comes with a net to snag them before they hit they ground.

Raddish Kids Motherly

Raddish Kids

Cooking and Baking Kits

Got a budding chef on your hands? With Raddish Kids, the all-ages cooking club, each month’s themed box contains three recipe guides and culinary skill lessons, grocery list, quality kitchen tool, creative kitchen project, a colorful apron patch and four table talk cards (great for getting a conversation going around the dinner table). They also offer free “bonus bites” on the website with things like extra recipes and playlists to inspire your little chef as they cook up a storm. You can also check out their single kits or even opt for a cook-along kit that includes exclusive access to a cook-along class taught by a Raddish Culinary Coach. Prices vary.

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Spill-Proof Washable Paint


Love arts and crafts time but stress about the mess? Crayola, the brand that’s conquered washable art supplies for decades just released one of the coolest products yet. Spill-proof, washable and easy-to-use, their brand new paints can be used with or without water to create all kinds of masterpieces. (Seriously, you can turn it all the way upside down and, NOTHING. Not a drip.)

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My First Foam Pogo Jumper


My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord “stick” is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don’t let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

LEGO® Large Creative Brick Box


Large Creative Brick Box


While we love a good themed LEGO kit, we’ve found that our 4-year-olds get the most joy and use out of a plain ‘ol pile of colorful bricks. This new set is a great way to start their collection with a wide selection of shapes and sizes that are not only pre-sorted by color, but can easily be stored in the convenient plastic bin between play sessions. There are endless ways to create and plenty of bricks for the entire crew to get in on a family build session.

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Creativity For Kids

Construction Zone Playset


This ready-made sensory bin comes with everything your construction-loving kiddo needs to entertain themselves for hours. When they’re done, just snap the lid back on and store for next time. Honestly, I’d pay double. (And if diggers and dump trucks aren’t thing, they offer a bunch of different themes that are sure to please.)

Janod MagnetiBook Girls Costumes


Magnetibook Magnetic Girl's Costumes Game


Preschoolers will have a blast creating hundreds of stylish outfits with this magnetic set from Janod. With 8 cards and 46 magnetic pieces, they can flex their creativity and work on fine motor skills while having fun. We also love that it’s all contained in its own book shaped box which makes it convenient to take on-the-go and easy to store on the bookshelf. There’s also a boy dress up set that’s fun to mix and match!


National Geographic Kids

Chimpanzee Care & Nurture Vet Set


Vets-in-training will go bananas for this educational and interactive toy from National Geographic Kids. The plush chimp makes sounds when its paw, chest and mouth are “examined,” and there’s a deeper opportunity for learning when you scan the QR code to access exclusive NGK content.

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Holiday Gift Box


If you’ve got a budding fashionista on your hands, they’re guaranteed to love the rad selections from Kidpik. Choose from a variety of fabulously curated boxes that contain everything they need to look fresh from head-to-toe. What’s easier and more fashionable than that?

Prices start at $56

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Marble Rush Ultimate Set Marble Run Building Set


With 145 pieces that can connect together in endless combinations, this colorful marble run is bound to get their wheels turning. A spinning Ferris wheel, a swirling cone that plays a musical light show, thrilling ramps, fast tracks, extreme launchers and bases can be used as they follow instructions for exciting builds or they can flex their creative muscles to design something all their own.

MAGNA-TILES Dino World XL 50-Piece Magnetic Construction Set


Dino World XL 50-Piece Magnetic Construction Set


Whether your kiddo is already Magna-Tile obsessed or just discovering their magic, their latest Dino-themed set it going to blow their mind. The 50-piece set includes six dinosaurs and a variety of pieces they can construct into whatever prehistoric scene they can dream up and experiment with countless ways to play.


Plan Toys

Detective Set


Playing detective is a fun game at any age, but especially in this age’s wheelhouse. Kids will love to test their research skills as they try to locate the missing cat in town.

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Banana Blast Game


If your child has trouble picking up small things, try playing this game to strengthen hand and eye coordination. It’s a short enough game that even young kids are able to maintain attention and focus through everyone’s turn.

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Micro Kickboard

Mini Deluxe Scooter


Whether you’re zipping through city streets or riding up and down your suburban driveway, a good scooter is a must-have for outdoor fun. Our top pick is the genius three-wheeled designs from Micro Kickboard. Not only are they super easy for even the smallest daredevils to master, but they’re made to last and hand down. It’s a great way for little ones to improve their balance and coordination while also having a blast!

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Thousand Jr. Helmet


With the guidance of over 100 kids, Thousand created a helmet that every kid will not only tolerate wearing, but ask to wear even when they’re not on wheels. Each helmet includes a pack of super cool reflective stickers so they can easily customize it to their own personal style. As far as fit, it comes in one size and adjusts via a dial at the base of the head. Details like the integrated visor, comfy vegan leather straps and extra ventilation are the icing on the cake.

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Outdoor Wooden Playhouse


This one is spendy for sure, but a sturdy, beautiful playhouse is an investment that will pay off in years of imaginative play for everyone from young toddlers to school-aged kiddos. This one is large enough for several children yet compact enough to work in even tiny backyard spaces. It’s made from 100% cedar wood and features several large built-in windows, an attached picnic table and benches, a working door, and even a chalkboard.

Pop the Pig Toddler Game

Goliath Games

Pop the Pig


The premise of Pop the Pig is simple and goofy, which makes it a hit for preschoolers. To play, you roll the die, pick a burger of a certain color and the push the pig’s head down the number of times shown on the bottom of the burger. Whoever causes the pig’s belt to pop is the winner… But really everyone is the winner since each game is a great lesson in color and number recognition. (Saying “pop the pig” is even great for articulation skills!) As one editor says, “I’m easily influenced into buying games that could be fun for my three young kids and, hands down, this is the best one we’ve purchased. They actually play together. Peacefully! 10 out of 10 recommend.”

A version of this story was published October 10, 2020. It has been updated.