No one knows our kids’ passions and wishes better than ADDitude caregivers and readers. Here, get our readers’ ADHD-friendly picks for gift ideas and stocking stuffers — from putty to pendulum clock puzzles — in our holiday gift guide, grouped by age.
According to ADDitude readers, toddlers enjoy toys that stimulate different senses, encourage imagination or role-playing, and have cause-and-effect features.
“Give balloons to blow up and play with in the house,” one ADDitude reader suggested. Another ADDitude reader recommended giving “toys with lots of things to manipulate.” These could include sorting toys, colorful puzzles, interactive picture books, or gear toys. Other stimulating ideas include:
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Silly Putty Variety Eggs
At 79 years old, Silly Putty was long overdue for a makeover. Now fans can find super bright, glow, and metallic versions (and original, for loyalists) in the Crayola Silly Putty variety pack. It’s the same safe, non-toxic putty made of silicone polymers — it just looks much cooler to sculpt, stretch, snap, and share.
I Spy Dinosaurs, by Alek Malkovich, is part guessing game and part storybook. Pages are arranged alphabetically to help children recognize their letters and learn about dinosaurs. The book includes 20 age-appropriate puzzles.
Inspire the next Jack Nicklaus or Annika Sörenstam with this beginner golf set from ToyVelt including a rolling bag, four assorted clubs, six balls, a putting mat, and two practice holes. Children can use the set indoors and outdoors, get introduced to playing golf, and develop concentration and patience in a fun, active way.
Popular gifts for children ages 5-8 include fidgets, books that focus on a child’s interest, puzzles, and board games. One ADDitude reader suggested, “sports-related items or games that require quiet concentration like puzzles or balancing games.” Another ADDitude reader recommended gifting “dress-up clothes, indoor play tents, fort-building kits, or LEGOS.”
One ADDitude reader suggested “hands-on toys” to develop “dexterity and strength in the hand and arm muscles” to help kids manipulate pencils and crayons for writing and drawing. Toys that fit the bill include Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Kinetic Sand, squeeze balls, or Rubik’s Cubes. Here are more ideas:
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Develop your child’s imagination, math, science, spatial, and tactile skills with these colorful, translucent magnetic tiles from Magna Tiles. The 32-piece set includes squares and triangles (equilateral, right, and isosceles). The tiles easily stack or attach into a seemingly endless array of flat or 3-dimensional geometric shapes and structures.
Encourage your child to jump off their excess energy on this mini-trampoline from Tangnade, which has a 360-degree enclosure and a shock absorption design. It’s small enough to be moved indoors or out. There is no gap between the protective net and the jumping mat, so it can ensure the child’s safety when jumping from the net. The fully visible mesh cloth also creates a safe and pleasant jumping environment because you can observe the child through the mesh, and the child can also see you.
Making and chasing giant bubbles outside is a fun activity for kids — and adults. This BubbleThing bubble set includes a stick wand with a slide control that lets you create all shapes and sizes of bubbles. Just stir the safe, non-toxic bubble solution with hot tap water and liquid dish soup. The kit makes 2.7 gallons of giant bubble solution.
Ready, aim, fire with this light-up archery set designed to hone fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The ToyVelt Super Archery Bow and Arrow set includes six suction cup arrows, one quiver and bow, and a target. Kids can choose from three different light settings and play day or night, indoors or out.
Skateboards and scooters are perennial favorites with this independence-seeking set, which also likes art supplies, innovative board games, and LED lights that change color. ADDitude readers also suggested complex logic toys, like circuit-building sets, LED lights, and concentration games.
One ADDitude reader suggested “escape room games, sports gear, and chemistry kits.” Check out more gifts your pre-teen will enjoy.
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Connect 4 Spin Game
Said an ADDitude reader from New Hampshire: “We like simple family games that don’t require too much concentration.”
In the classic Connect 4 game, winners are crowned when they get four discs in a row. The same premise is true in Connect 4 Spin Game, except now, after players pop in a disc, they spin the column. Who knows how the discs will line up while playing this strategic game of weights and balances? Players can choose their challenge level and play using beginner or expert mode rules.
String together beads and charms to make colorful bracelets and necklaces that can become outspoken accessories and gifts for friends. This DIY charm bracelet-making kit requires no glue or tools — just imagination. Assorted glass, metal, and dangling charm beads, plus jewelry hardware are included. Charm inscriptions such as “She believed she could, so she did,” and “Never, never give up,” will empower kids and remind them of their strengths.
This fun, color-matching puzzle game will encourage kids to fidget and focus for hours. The object of the Rainbow Puzzle Ball is to match each ball with its color-matching hole. Sounds simple, right? The rainbow puzzle ball activates working memory and hand flexibility while improving logical thinking. Plus, it comes with a traveling pouch, making it the perfect take-along toy for long car or plane rides.
Teens love fidgets and sports equipment like table tennis, foosball, or air hockey tables; weights; and workout gear, such as a smartwatch for tracking steps and fitness. Also popular are a wallet with money and tickets to an event. “We like tickets to experiences,” said one caregiver, “not more junk.” Here are more teen-friendly gift ideas:
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Backlit Portable Bluetooth Keyboard
Typing papers becomes instantly cooler with the Arteck HB030B Universal Backlit Bluetooth Keyboard, which works with all major operating systems supporting Bluetooth for smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It includes seven LED backlights (deep blue, soft blue, bright green, soft green, red, purple, and cyan), two brightness levels, and an auto sleep feature to maximize power usage. It can connect to three devices simultaneously and its ultra-slim design makes it easy to slide into backpacks.
“A gift that kids can operate and will keep their interest for hours,” wrote one ADDitude reader when recommending this kit for building a mechanical pendulum clock. This do-it-yourself kit from Fat Brain Toys inspires spatial reasoning, logic, concentration, and engineering skills. The puzzle includes 166 laser-cut wood pieces and detailed instructions. No glue or batteries are required. When completed, the clock lasts six to seven hours per winding.
The 3Doodler Create+ 3D printing pen takes doodles off the page and turns them into objects. Just plug in the 3D Pen, insert 3Doodler Create plastic, wait for it to heat up, and then you’re good to extrude. The heated plastic hardens almost instantly. Users can draw 3D structures freehand or on stencils. The 3Doodler Create + 3D printing pen comes with 15 colors of plastic refills and an activity guidebook. The 3Doodler app offers additional stencils and step-by-step interactive instructions.
Teenagers can safely and stylishly carry their essential electronics and accessories over the river and through the woods thanks to the Tzowla travel backpack. The backpack sports a USB and headphone port, a separate compartment for a 15.6-inch laptop, and plenty of space to hold daily necessities. The fixed password lock and durable metal zippers keep items safe and secure. The water-resistant 300D outer nylon withstands ripping, abrasion, bad weather, and even poor decisions with carbonated beverages.
Screen-time battles with teens are never easy. One ADDitude reader suggested a compromise: A Kindle electronic reading device. “It’s a screen but a beneficial one,” she said. “My daughter doesn’t have a phone. This makes her feel less excluded and different. Extremely helpful.”
This past October, Kindle released an upgraded Kindle with extended battery life (lasting six weeks) and 16 GB to store thousands of books. Adjustable front light and dark modes make reading effortless, day and night.