10 cool gifts for kids

Linda DuVal

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Retailers want you to believe that the toys under the Christmas tree should be large and expensive. But if you’ve ever seen a kid more excited about the box a gift came in than the toy itself, you know that sometimes the cheaper, smaller gifts are the favorites. Plus, a few less expensive gifts can be more fun to open than one big one!


Whether you’re on a gift-giving budget, have multiple nieces and nephews to shop for, or want to avoid all the commercial hype, here are 10 cool gifts you can buy kids for $10 or less. Remember that holiday sale discounts and regional price variances mean you might be able to find these items even cheaper.

Here’s what we found.

1. Glitter tattoos

Fake tattoos are just the thing for the pre-teen who wants to look cool but isn’t ready for the real deal. They paint on with a stencil, are bright and sparkly, and wash or wear off in about 10 days. For ages 8 and older only. There are plenty of temporary tattoo choices

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2. Scratch Art Paper

These Melissa & Doug scratch art mini notes and scratch art doodle pad are so cool that kids (and probably many adults) will love them.  You can get a box for every child in the family.

Or you can go for the deluxe combo set, which is less than a dollar over our price limit:

Related: Top 50 Amazon Best Sellers in Kids’ Drawing Kits

3. Board games

How about some board games? Tell the kids they are 3-D – you get to actually touch and move the pieces yourself! We found Operation, Yahtzee, Chutes and Ladders, checkers, chess and more, all for less than $10 at Target and Walmart.


Related: Best Selling Kids’ Games at Amazon

4. Card games

And don’t forget card games. You can buy a pack of cards for less than $5 just about anywhere – including the corner convenience store. Teach kids to play some simple games, like “go fish” or simple solitaire, and they won’t be pestering mom the next time it’s a snow day or the power goes out. If the kids already have playing cards, check out some of the specialized card games, like UNO and Monopoly Deal.

5. Hula hoops

Hula hoops never go out of style, maybe because they’re sparkly and glow in the dark and are easy outdoor fun. Got a crowd of cousins?  Get a 12-pack of hula hoops  and watch them compete in hula hoop contests. Or show them how it’s done!

6. Snow toys

If you live somewhere that gets snow, you can never have too many snow toys. A quick look through the snow toys on Amazon yielded sleds, snowball makers (hands are free though!) Sno-Art kit, snow molds and much more.

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7. Art supplies

Got a budding artist (or would like to have one) in the family? Check out the art supplies at discount stores for great prices on such retro media as finger paints and a giant tablet of paper. We’re not talking high-tech here, and they may be totally thrilled by getting their hands dirty.

8. Bird feeder

Kids love wildlife. How about a simple bird feeder to hang in the back yard so they can watch the birds, and maybe start a list of what they see? Get a basic feeder for less than $10 at places like Walmart or Kmart, but make it a creative endeavor and give them one that they can build or paint themselves.  

9. Magnifying glass

Give a kid a magnifying glass, and she’ll spend hours examining everything from her own fingernails to the ants in the backyard. You can get a Learning Resources Magnifier & Tweezers Set at Amazon.  Perfect for the budding scientist in the family. Or any curious kid.

10. Joke book

Kids love jokes. Give them a book of jokes to entertain the relatives over the holidays.

Look for kids’ gifts in unexpected places, such as Home Depot or Ace Hardware, for example. They’ll get plenty of the hard plastic stuff – Barbies and Legos and such – from everyone else. But they’ll use and remember your gift, even if it didn’t cost a lot.


Kids just love these retro gifts. We found Nerf brand Walky Talkies and a bunch more of all different styles and price ranges. Recommended for ages 7 and older.

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The metal container of this Spirograph makes it ideal as a Christmas gift for kids, and it’s (surprisingly) one of the most affordable Spirograph options. The kit includes 9 shapes, 2 pens, 10-page booklet, 24-page design pad, and a bit of Spirograph putty. 

For more gift ideas:

Gifts for organic gardeners

Kitchen gifts under $25

Practical gifts to give this season

Thoughtful holiday gifts on a budget

Easy gift ideas for drink and sweets mixes

Recipes for homemade gifts

Here are 10 cool gifts you can buy kids for $10 or less. Remember, we did our shopping early in the month and most of these items weren’t on sale – so they could be even cheaper when you buy them. #giftideas #budgetgifts #giftguide #giftsforkids

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