When the holidays roll around, parents prepare for the annual quest of picking out the perfect presents to pile up for their little ones. And every year, parents everywhere forget one pivotal component of said gifts: batteries. The bane of the holidays for parents, toys that require batteries have caused more than a few Christmas morning meltdowns. So do yourself a favor this year and skip the headache by snagging gifts that don't require batteries. You'll thank yourself come Christmas morning when you realize you're fresh out of AAs.
You might be thinking, "But everything requires batteries now." My husband half-jokingly believes that the battery companies and Christmas toy retailers are in cahoots to trick parents into shelling out tons of dough every year on gifts that require a steady diet of AA batteries. Even if you try to be proactive and stockpile batteries ahead of time or buy the rechargeable kind, it's never enough. It's the Christmas anti-miracle — no matter how many batteries you buy, there will always be at least one toy that winds up without on Christmas morning.
Happily, there are plenty of gifts for kids that don't require a lifelong commitment to buying batteries in bulk. The following battery-free gifts encourage free play and imagination, so parents and kids alike will love them.
1Hape Discovery Spaceship And Lift-Off Rocket
Three... two... one... imagination blast off! Kids can explore the vast world of outer space from the comfort of home, thanks to a 37-piece spaceship and lift-off rocket ($120). With four levels and characters including astronauts, an alien, and a moon rover, this set will lead to out-of-this-world fun.
2Make Your Own SnowGlobe Kit
Whether you live in a part of the world that becomes a wintry wonderland during the holidays or you only dream of a white Christmas, this DIY snow globe ($28) will bring the wonder of whimsical winter weather indoors. Kids can shape their own polymer clay, add water and glitter, and personalize.
3Cthulhu Hopper Ball
If you were a child of the '70s or '80s, this Cthulhu Hopper Ball ($30) likely just gave you a major wave of nostalgia. So why not introduce the colorful space hopper from your childhood to your own offspring? If you happen to live vicariously through your kid in the moment, so be it.
4K'NEX 50 Model Big Value Tub
K'NEX can keep kids busy for hours on end, batteries not required. And this K'NEX 50 Model big value tub ($27) includes ideas and instructions for over 50 models — think cars, creatures, and robots — so it's highly unlikely your kiddo will have eyes for anything else for quite awhile.
5My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage Playset
Who needs batteries when you're busy cultivating a real, live garden — especially one that serves as a home to Freya the fairy and her woodland friends? The My Fairy Garden magical cottage playset ($26) encourages kids to not only use their imagination but also to take a vested interested in nature.
6Colossal Art Studio
Your little one might have to invite some neighborhood kids over on Christmas morning to make use of this colossal art studio ($38). Artistic types will be floating on cloud nine when they open this extensive set containing 40 crayons, 20 pastels, 40 sheets of paper, 48 fine markers, 36 watercolor cakes, 36 jumbo markers, 24 colored pencils, 24 watercolor pencils, 15 stickers, a kneaded eraser, four white erasers, three drawing pencils, four sharpeners, 18 paint brushes, and two pallets. Whew — that's a mouthful.
7KidKraft Uptown Natural Kitchen
Calling all tiny gourmets — the dreamy KidKraft kitchen set ($102) will have budding chefs whipping up all kinds of fun. Bonus? It's large enough for your little one to entertain friends and, let's be honest, you whenever they are ready to serve up some imaginary cuisine.
8Play-Doh Ice Cream Castle
Here's a universal truth of parenting: if you're ever in doubt about what gift to get your kid, just buy Play-Doh — no kid can resist the smooshy goodness. And if you present it with this Play-Doh ice cream castle ($14), it will be the cherry on the Play-Doh sundae.
9Magbot Magnetic Block Set
Made from sustainably harvested wood, this magnetic block set ($30) is as beautiful as it is fun to play with. Plus, let's be real — it totally looks like something made by elves in Santa's North Pole workshop, which makes its appeal that much more magical.
10Snowtime Inflatable Snow Shield Game
Who's ready for a snowball fight? It doesn't matter if there isn't snow in your neck of the woods or even if there is — you don't have to bundle up in a million layers for a snow-throwing flurry if it isn't in the elements. This inflatable snow shield game ($20) lets you bring the fun of a good ol' snowball fight indoors.
Baby, it's cold outside, and you know what that means . . . the kids are getting stir crazy from being cooped up inside so much. But if you've got a nice open room and the Limbo Hop ($37), kids can burn off some of that restless energy by playing this game filled with ducking, jumping, and likely giggling.
12Radio Flyer Grandstand Deluxe 3-In-1 Wagon
You can't really go wrong with a Radio Flyer, and this Grandstand Deluxe 3-in-1 wagon ($130) is par for the course. Whether the kids pile in for a walk around the block or use it as a prop during playtime, the wagon will prove to be a gift they can enjoy all-year round.
13Mini Golf Set
Just because it's too cold to go outside doesn't mean you can't bring a bit of outdoor fun indoors — and it won't even cost you a massive supply of batteries, because a mini golf set ($28) runs solely on your little one's endless supply of energy and enthusiasm. As far as gifts to, this one's a hole-in-one.
14Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck Craft Kit
Perfect for the little one who loves to play in mommy's makeup, this Num Noms lip gloss truck craft kit ($30) lets kids choose from cherry and vanilla flavors, toss in some glittery sprinkles, and stir it with the cherry spatula to — voila! — create their own soft-serve style lip gloss.
15Angry Birds Vinyl Knockout Playset
The classic-slash-addictive Angry Birds app comes to life with this Angry Birds vinyl knockout playset ($20). Kids will get a kick out of chucking their favorite angry bird through the air in order to demolish a makeshift tower topped with a couple of pesky pigs.
16Imaginarium Pretty Garden Mansion
With three levels, a working elevator, and a claw-foot tub among the amenities, the Imaginarium Pretty Garden Mansion ($100) qualifies as a dream house for little ones with big imaginations. Now if only Santa could deliver a real-life version to Mommy, that would be a very merry Christmas indeed.
17ZipBin Dinosaur Playset
One dinosaur toy is fun. Two dinosaurs and a playmat ($30) that includes dinosaur-stomping grounds like a volcano, tar pit, river, and cave? Well, that's even more fun. Upping this dinosaur playset's cool quotient is the fact that it actually folds into a bin that holds up to 160 standard dinosaur figures.
18Deluxe 100 Trick Magic Suitcase With DVD
Prepare to be amazed when your kid abra-cadabras their little heart out upon unwrapping this deluxe magic suitcase ($45). The all-inclusive set has everything one might need to become the next David Blaine, along with a DVD for step-by-step trick lessons in case your aspiring magician gets stuck.
Here's a gift that likely needs little introduction if you have kids: kinetic sand ($15). And, hey, you can't really blame your kid for begging for this stuff — the way that it looks like regular sand but moves like dense fluid without getting all over the place is enough to impress any parent.
20Abby & Emma Magnetic Dress-Up
Budding fashionistas will delight in this Abby & Emma magnetic doll dress-up ($17) that lets you swap outfits and accessories as you see fit. With 56 pieces of clothing that instantly connect to the girls' magnetic bodies, the set offers hours of fashion-loving fun.
21Candy Land Game
Although this goes without saying, Candy Land ($10) is one of the best board games ever created. Why wouldn't you want your child to enjoy the sheer joy you felt every time you managed to make it past the Chocolate Swamp and enter King Kandy's castle? Real talk: this classic is a gift for you, too.