Top Toys for Kids – Holiday 2016

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been ten years since I posted my first Holiday Top Toy list! This year’s list has many classics as well as new discoveries.

Holiday 2016 Top Toys for Kids blog postIn 30 years of being a mom, I’ve seen my share of toys come and go. My goal is to buy toys and games that hold my children’s interest and last for years.

I hope this list makes your shopping easier and you find new toys and games your children love!

[Click on the images for more information on each item. If you are reading in an RSS reader or have Adblock turned on, you may not be able to see the images. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.] 

Holiday 2016 pinterest pin

Active Toys

We live in a cold climate, so active toys that can be played with inside and out make especially nice Christmas gifts. One year my son got a Pogo Ball and a Hopper ball for his birthday; both were fun for everyone, even adults. Riding toys for little ones are always great and an indoor trampoline uses up lots of energy on a long winter day.


Educational Toys,  Games, and Puzzles

I have to confess, I love educational toys that teach while encouraging creative fun. I also love puzzles and have to resist buying more and more.  Our favorites are floor puzzles, Lauri puzzles, beautiful Ravensburger puzzles, and colorful Melissa and Doug Puzzles.

Trains, Trucks, and Cars

We began collecting our wooden train set when we lived in Ithaca, New York, more than twenty years ago and it has seen hours of play by many, many children. Trucks and cars are big favorites as well.

Castles, Doll Houses, and Adventure Toys

My children spent many hours playing with their dollhouse and toy castle. We still pull them out when little friends come over to visit.

Blocks and Building Toys

We have two large bins of Duplos which have been played with for over twenty years – I’m not kidding.  Over the years we’ve loved Legos, K’nex, cardboard bricks, and all kinds of building toys. We bought our wooden blocks 25 years ago; you can’t go wrong with classic blocks.


Arts and Crafts Supplies

Good art and craft supplies are worth hours of fun. A fresh set of colored pencils and a new sketch book was a favorite gift of one child. Our easel was well-used for many years.



We love baby dolls and saved many special ones. It was especially nice to add more ethnically diverse dolls to our collection. One of my sons loved his Gloworm which gave off a comforting light when he hugged it close.

Imaginative Play

These toys provide hours and hours of fun. Truly. Trust me on this.


Electric Snap Circuits, Marble Run, Other Fun Things



One evening we had a crowd of high school and college kids here, so I took a poll of their favorite games. Many of the games below came from their suggestions. We own and play most of these – maybe you’ll find something new or remember an old favorite!

I hope you enjoyed looking through our family favorites and maybe even found some toys and games that will be great gifts this holiday season.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links.]

Thank you for reading and sharing this post!




This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Sarah
    November 11, 2016

    Not because I need congratulations, but because I knew it would make you feel cared for, I wanted to let you know that over the last 24 hours, I have been praying intensely for you. First God prompted me to write an extra letter yesterday evening. Then just this mornjng, I got out the list I scan through quickly during ritual prayers, and prayed more in depth for everyone there, including you.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 13, 2016

      Thank you so much for your prayers for us, Sarah.

  2. Emily
    November 13, 2016

    I love a lot of these toys, and own a few of them too, but I would love it if you did a gift idea list for those of us whose kids do not need anything (and whose houses can’t take anymore). We’ve done things like ice skating lessons, art lessons, children’s museum memberships, movie tickets, subway or dairy Queen gift cards, but even at that it us hard to come up with gifts every year, especially for everyone who buys for the kids.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 13, 2016

      Great suggestion, Emily. Years ago I wrote a post on gift ideas that aren’t toys. I’ll dig it up and update it!

  3. Susie
    December 19, 2016

    I love your toy lists but I wish there were more remarks, like in the past. Like ages, etc. Thanks.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 19, 2016

      Thanks for the feedback, Susie. I’ll consider that for next year.

  4. Maria
    April 7, 2017

    These are great list Lisa! Train are one of my kids favorite toys. 🙂


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