2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Open Ended Toys

The last thing you want is to buy a kid a toy that they play with for 3 days and then forget. Bonus negative points if it’s got flashy lights and beeping sounds so that all parents everywhere collectively hate the toy and the gift giver. That’s you. Oops!

Benefits of Open Ended Toys

“Open ended” is the holy grail for toys that will be loved for years to come.

Open ended toys are often beautiful and simple. They can be played with in multiple ways. They support the child’s creativity, coordination, problem solving, and learning.

They are more cost-effective in the long run. While there’s often a higher initial investment, they last longer and can be passed from child to child. When you’re sticking within a budget, consider buying fewer toys of higher quality.

My Picks

Without further ado, here are a handful of my choices for great open ended toys for kids this year. (All images and links are affiliate links that take you directly to Amazon.)

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This was the first set of LEGOs that we bought Dylan, and he immediately took to them. Our collection has grown, and so has his imagination and engineering skills!

Here's a whole list of open-ended toys gift guideOur children’s science center has a table with these Magna-Tiles, and they are a big hit. The geometric shapes snap together with magnets to allow you to create amazing scenes and structures. The big shapes can easily be managed by little hands, and they are just as interesting for to grown-ups to play with!

A whole list of open-ended toys gift guide

Wooden blocks are classic toys than any child will love for years to come. These blocks can become absolutely anything, and over time they will become everything the child’s imagination can dream of. Unit blocks are the most basic type of block set, and Melissa and Doug has a nice set to start with.

A whole list of open ended toys gift guide

KAPLA blocks are another great choice. Unlike unit blocks, the KAPLA blocks are all identical. This changes the way kids approach creativity and problem solving with the blocks. They can be used to create anything! Most sets will come with a guide book, and there are additional ideas online. These blocks can be used for homeschooling units, such as for studying classical architecture.

Extra Ideas: 10 Beautiful Wooden Toys for Toddlers

A whole list of open-ended toy ideas gift guide

I haven’t gotten Dylan any K’NEX yet, but when he gets a couple of years older we will be getting these for sure! K’NEX let you build vehicles, creatures, and contraptions with real moving parts like wheels, wings, tracks, hinges, and rotors. As open ended toys, K’NEX are an imagination engineering bonanza.

A whole list of open-ended toys ideas gift guide

I’ll be honest with you: I always wanted one of these awesome art sets as a kid. When I look at all the colors lined up side by side and all the different mediums, I am filled with a sense of creative wonder. This kit comes with pencils, crayon pastels, and watercolors. Add a big pad of drawing paper, and this is such an amazing gift.

Extra Reading: 63 Things To Do With Your 2 Year Old

A whole list of open ended toys ideas gift guide

One open ended toys favorite has always been dress-up supplies. You could easily put together a dress-up kit with a visit to a thrift shop. Some big jewelry, scarves, jackets, and vests in a cool bag would make a fascinating gift for kids who like to play pretend. Top the collection off with these dress-up hats for an endless variety of cool outfits.

A whole list of open-ended toys ideas gift guide

Children’s music is naturally open ended, and a collection of instruments gives their music a new dimension. Yes, they’d be happy banging on pots and pans alone. But some bells, shakers, sand blocks, and more give them some extra options to work with.

A whole list of open ended toys gift guide

Snap Circuits are different pieces like snap wires, slide switches, resistors, microphones, and capacitors that snap together on a grid for hands-on learning about electronics. Kids can follow along with the included projects or experiment themselves with how the components work together.

And More

What other favorites can you think of for open ended toys?

I remember loving Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys as a kid. What about you?

Plus, when in doubt, never forget about the 5 greatest toys of all time. Sticks, boxes, and dirt never go out of style!

Here's a whole list of open ended toys gift guide