15 Last-Minute Gifts for Kids That Will Get There in Time for Christmas
We're down to the wire, everyone, but we totally get why you may still be shopping for last-minute Christmas presents for kids. Maybe something you ordered is still in shipping limbo due to those darn supply-chain issues, no matter how many times you refresh that tracking page. Maybe your exciting vacation has just been derailed by COVID and you need to treat the kids to something special. Maybe time just slipped away from you.
Fear not, generous readers. You may not be able to find the hottest toys of the year in time for Christmas delivery (though, really, Amazon Prime membership still does wonders in that regard), but you don't have to disappoint the children either. No, we're not suggesting you give small children a handwritten I.O.U. or a printout of the gifts you bought that will arrive in a few weeks. Delayed gratification just isn't their strong suit. Instead, we have here some last-minute gift ideas that will thrill them every bit as much as getting the latest and greatest trendy collectible plastic thingy, and maybe almost as much as if you scored them a new gaming console (sorry, we're not wizards).
For all your last-minute gift needs, we have here a list of toys that can ship quickly, digital presents that will arrive in an instant, and toy subscriptions that won't exactly arrive in time for Christmas, but will instead please kids all year long and make them forgive your lateness.
Toys That Can Ship Quickly
Your best bets for toys that are still available and won't cost you a fortune to express ship are toys that are either low-tech and made in the U.S.A., or toys from lesser-known (but still reputable quality) brands that are motivated to ship products quickly. Amazon is packed with such toys, if you know where to look, and there are still some direct-to-consumer toy companies like the Dough Project offering fast shipping.
Remote Control Cars
This set of adorable remote-control cars is easy enough for a 2-year-old to use and still fun for their older siblings too, so this would be a good two-for-one gift. It has more than 10,600 five-star ratings on Amazon, which means you can trust that kids have enjoyed receiving this gift. Plus, it can ship in time to make it under the Christmas tree.
Classic Building Blocks
While these blocks don't carry the Lego brand name, the toddlers and preschoolers who would play with them will not know the difference between these and a set of Duplo blocks (and the two are compatible, FYI). As of this writing, these can arrive by Christmas Eve in the U.S.
The Dough Project
These colorful jars of dough are made in the U.S. from natural, food-grade ingredients—which is a relief for parents whose toddlers can't resist tasting their toys. You can buy a one-time gift or a subscription, and orders will ship within two days.
Kids' Vanity Set
Even if Mom and Dad have fewer reasons for getting all dolled up to go out, at least the kids can pretend they're getting ready for a big night—or Zoom meeting. This set includes a 30-inch tall table with a mirror, an 8-inch stool, bracelets, hair ties, rings, perfume bottles, realistic looking lipstick and lip gloss, a comb, and a "real-working" hair dryer.
Sometimes, it's good for kids to take a break from the characters from TV and movies and let their imaginations roam free. Who knows what personalities they'll give to the lion, cheetah, tiger, elephant, giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and buffalo that come in this set, along with a book that shows their natural habitats. The set will arrive before Christmas if you select "fastest shipping."
To buy: Prextex Realistic Looking Safari Animal Figurines (9), $21.99 (originally $23.99); amazon.com.
Digital Gifts They'll Love
So, yeah, those Playstation 5s are still very hard to come by. But for those digitally minded kids and teens, you can still buy games, as well as movies, streaming subscriptions, comic books, and Cameo greetings to deliver to their other devices in an instant. Even while this leaves them without a tangible present to unwrap, these are bound to be some of the gifts they love most this year.
Cameo Greeting from Thomas the Tank Engine
Just picturing the look on kids' faces when they watch Thomas say their name while wishing them "Merry Christmas" is making us feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy. A Cameo greeting from preschoolers' favorite train engine is just $20 and can be delivered in 24 hours. If you've got a bigger budget and a Harry Potter fan in the house, definitely look up some of the minor actors from the film who are available as well.
How else can you give children the gift of magic, imagination, scientific exploration, romance, and action all at once? Even if the kid you're giving this to already has a Disney+ subscription, you can tack on this gift to extend their time and give their parents a break.
Every parent of a child who is into comics and graphic novels knows that they go through these books much faster than we can keep up. But did you know they can read many of their favorite series—and discover new ones—instantly on a tablet or computer? The Amazon-owned site sells these as individual digital books, series subscriptions, and in an unlimited subscription for $5.99 per month.
To buy: Cat Kid Comic Club Vol. 2: Perspectives by Dav Pilkey, $12.99; comixology.com.
Live online classes from services like Outschool saved many a parent during the dark days of school closures. Now we can continue to turn to the site, a hub for small-group and private Zoom classes with qualified teachers, for our kids' extracurricular pursuits. They can learn to draw or sculpt their favorite characters, have a tea party with their favorite dolls, take drama and dance in their own living rooms, travel to different time periods and countries, and learn new languages, all for about $10 per class.
Digital Video Games
If the kids you're buying for already have their own computer or game console, or can just borrow a PC, you can very easily give them the digital code for a game they'll play for months on end.
Other gift ideas:
Subscriptions That Keep on Giving
Rather than giving one big toy that kids may or may not still play with come January, a toy subscription will deliver satisfying fun for months. You have definitely missed the deadlines to have the first box arrive for Christmas, so we suggest shopping locally for something small that represents the subscription, and deliver it with a note about what's coming next. For example, if you're giving a Baketivity subscription, get them a whisk and the ingredients to make cupcakes. For a subscription to STEM or science kits from KiwiCo or Mel Science, get them a fun lab coat and goggles to play scientist.
Lovevery Play Kits
As much as babies and toddlers can be said to appreciate getting presents, they'll like Lovevery play kits even more than the wrapping paper and bows, especially when they can get a new box of toys geared specifically toward their age every two months. Since babies don't understand dates, they won't mind if this gift gets to them late.
Other gift ideas: