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Toy Guides

6 Tips for Buying Birthday Gifts for Kids

February 23, 2021

Need some ideas for birthday gifts for the kids in your life? We asked some of our co-workers for their favorite, go-to birthday gifts for kids of all ages. These are the tried-and-true gift ideas that have worked for them and will work for you! Our fans tell us that Melissa & Doug toys are a hit with both kids and their grown-ups, for their playing power and their staying power. With their focus on open-ended, hands-on play and their ability to grow with kids through many ages and stages, Melissa & Doug toys make for gifts you’ll feel great about giving!

The Best Birthday Gifts for Kids of All Ages

Toy-Buying Tip #1: Shop What's New

"My go-to strategy for buying toys for nieces, nephews, or friends’ kids is to browse the What's New page and buy them the toys that are the newest! That way I know they probably don't already own it. In terms of favorite toys for gift-buying, I like to find ones that can easily be stored away, like these really cute, new play tents. There are a few different play tent themes that match different kids’ personalities.”

— Carrie B., mom of three

Birthday Gift for 3-Year-Olds, 4-Year-Olds, and 5-Year-Olds

Melissa & Doug Fire Truck Play Tent

CARRIE: These play tents were a hit for all different ages when I bought them as Christmas gifts for all the kids in my life

Toy-Buying Tip #2: Think About Themes

“I like to do themes when buying birthday gifts. Melissa & Doug is known for themes such as farm, dinosaur, wildlife, ocean, and fairy tale. For example, for a dino-obsessed kid, I might buy this dinosaur set that includes a giant T-Rex, an activity rug, and a floor puzzle.”

—Traci M., mom of two

Birthday Gifts for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

“I always give the Rainbow Stacker for babies and toddlers and the Stainless Steel Pots & PansCutting Food, or Tabletop Easel for toddlers and older kids.”

—Sara E., mom of two

SARA: Parents love it because it doesn't take up too much room and you can move it from table to floor … so many options for play to keep kids entertained. It's also awesome for virtual learning!

Melissa & Doug Stainless Pots & Pans and Wooding Cutting Food Set

SARA: Another playroom staple... I have not met a kid who doesn't love these pretend play sets!

Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker Toy

SARA: I love that it's a classic toy, babies can even chew on it when they're teething! Also, it looks great in any nursery or playroom on display!

Toy-Buying Tip #3: Tunnels Are Tons of Fun

Melissa & Doug Giddy Buddy Tunnel

“The Melissa & Doug tunnels are great because they are fun for indoor and outdoor play. Kids get so creative with them. The camp chairs are great gifts too!”

— John F., dad of 5

Toy-Buying Tip #4: Water Wow Always Wows

“I love Water Wow. I always think back to the times I've been in the car or on planes with my own little ones, trying to give them a creative, mess-free way to play!”

— Jess T., mom of four

Toy-Buying Tip #5: Don't Forget the Guests

“I love using Water Wow as birthday party favors.” 

—Jill G., mom of two

Melissa & Doug Water Wow Activity Pads

JESS: Another huge plus to this gift is that it can be used over and over!

Melissa & Doug Construction Worker Role Play Set

JESS: I also love our role play outfits. I recently gave the construction worker outfit to a little boy whose dad works in the field. Now he can dress up to be just like dad!

Toy-Buying Tip #6: When in Doubt, Opt for a Play Food Set

Kids love the realistic details in the Melissa & Doug pretend play food sets. Although they say age 3+, even older kids enjoy playing with the comprehensive sets. With their high-quality construction, these sets are sure to last for many years of play. Some favorites:

Melissa & Doug Prepare & Serve Pasta Set

Melissa & Doug Prepare & Serve Pasta Set

Melissa & Doug Top & Bake Pizza Counter

Melissa & Doug Top & Bake Pizza Counter


Melissa & Doug Wooden Brew & Serve Coffee Set

Melissa & Doug Wooden Brew & Serve Coffee Set