Sometimes the problem isn’t that there’s too little to choose from, but there’s too much. That overwhelmed, decision-paralysis feeling is completely understandable – at least I understand it. It’s easy to get lost and distracted when looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
To get ahead of that feeling, I’ve compiled a list of the hottest (and my favorite) new products in just about every category and for all age groups. There’s also a runner-up for each category because I couldn’t pick just 1 (and no, it’s not cheating because I make the rules).
These products are the hot new toys that are all about fun, learning and making sure the two seamlessly come together.
Remember Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? This kind of reminds me of that if you take them up a notch. Blow up a balloon and place it on top of each of the two robots. Once secured, it’s time for a remote-controlled face off. The two players will try to pop the head of the other balloon in a completely safe way. Last balloon standing wins. But you can continue after the balloons are popped, moving the robots around to keep fighting.
This thing is incredibly fun! Even though it’s designed for 5-year-olds, you’ll have fun at 25, 35, 45 and beyond. It’s easy to get the whole family involved. Whether you’re playing or just watching, it’s a fun and unique battle that’s sure to inspire laughs and friendly rivalry.
I’m already planning the tournament for this for my family on the holidays. Forget the mashed potatoes, this is how I want to be spending my Thanksgiving.
I’ll be honest with this one, I’m not usually a huge fan of remote-controlled cars, but this is seriously cool! It’s not like any RC car you’ve seen before. This tank is built for drifting. Not only can it go forward and back, but it goes SIDEWAYS at a 45ᵒ angle. When I saw it move like that, I was so confused at first and couldn’t understand. I had to sit in the office playing with this for 20 minutes before I believed it.
The movement capabilities make it perfect for creating intense obstacle courses that would be impossible for anything other thank this tank. Even make targets along the course since this thing fires safe and non-harmful water bullets.
A coworker of mine got this for her son to play with. She ended up getting another one a couple weeks later so they could race and battle. Easily multiplied the fun of it by two
This is PERFECT for any kid that loves the gross and disgusting, like the grosser and more disgusting the better. This kit enables children to perform all kinds of gross and smelly experiments that are all COMPLETELY SAFE.
As the kids experiment, creating slime, simulated mucous, fake fluorescent vomit and nasty smells, they’ll be learning about the chemistry behind it. And with most ingredients included – aside from a few common household things – they can get started right away and parents get an easy win.
When I was little, I was not the type of kid to play with anything too gross. But I am now. I have branded myself as the cool aunt for planning gross and smelly experiments with my nieces and nephews. This kit is so up their alley! If I brought this kit over to my sister’s house, I would only get a beat-up box back. The poo mold would be there to stay forever.
When we say Mix Up a Rainbow of Mouth-Wateringly Delicious Lip Balms & Glosses, we mean it. Your child will be able to make an array of fun, fruity and colorful lip balms and glosses safe for skin and lips. The kit includes three flavorings along with cosmetics-grade dyes. There’s even the stuff to add shimmer! Who doesn’t love that?
Plus, the material to learn about the science behind it is included. It’s chemistry and biology rolled into one exciting lab. Understand the chemistry of lip balm and the biology of skin and lips.
Fun for girls, boys and chapped lips everywhere, it’s fun in the summer plus practical in the winter. You can easily get the whole family involved in this on a cold winter weekend. I can easily picture my sister doing this with her kids, my brother-in-law pulled in too (and enjoying it more than he’d admit).
with adult supervision
Who wouldn’t love to make their own hot sauce? I may be a little biased on this one since my definition of cooking relies heavily on the inclusion of hot sauce, but my point stands! This ULTIMATE kit expands on the original (#3097700) with more spices, peppers and bottles along with new recipes to try. Perfect the mix of spice and flavor to match your taste buds and bottle it. Even add on the Hot Sauce Bottling Kit (#3157497) for more bottles and labels.
I cannot gush about this product enough. Aside from making my tasty culinary masterpieces, the hot sauce is fun to make and finished bottles make great, personalized gifts. This was one I HAD to bring home. Luckily all my family members love hot sauce, because that’s what they’re getting for Christmas.
Stuck on what to get for the adults in your life? Look at our curated list of the best adult products.
with adult supervision
Are you or is someone you know a chocolate lover? If you’re like me, then just about your entire family is. This fun and creative kit is a perfect gift then. Give your loved ones a chance to explore different gourmet chocolates that they made themselves.
This takes our original Create Your Own Gourmet Chocolate Kit (#3157210) to the next level with more chocolate, more recipes and more fun. We did an in-office taste test, and there was some melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Share or keep the goodies all for yourself, this kit will help satiate someone’s chocolate fix.
Creativity for the kids and nostalgia for the adults. This spirograph is all the fun we remember from our childhoods but with a brand-new twist! Or should I say spin. Create your spirograph image and put it on the rotating platform base. You’ll see it literally come to life in a way that other arts and crafts kits just don’t. The spinning is incredibly mesmerizing!
There’s a reason the sample is still on my desk. When I need a creative cleanse, I pull it out, climb under my desk and watch it spin for a bit, lights flashing. It looks like it’s changing. Once your child is done playing with it, easily put all the supplies in the attached underneath bin for easy storage and a mom win.
Make drawing a 3D experience for your little one by using thread and pegs to create unique designs they’ll want to show off to everyone. And when your child is done, store it all in the base for an easy clean-up.
It’s perfect to help hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and creativity. With the string art mandala also helps give your child a chance to sit down, take a break and focus on something. Whether they’re working on their masterpiece or spending time with a relative, it’s calming and therapeutic for everyone involved.
First things first: this thing is so cool! Who doesn’t want to build their own dragon and then play with it? This thing has it all. Your child gets to build, program, play, connect it with their smart device, even control it with clapping. This dragon can move its head, tail, limbs and mouth, can play a game with you and can be programmed to do even more.
Beyond super cool and multi-functional, the Mecha Dragon can help your kids hone their fine motor skills and learn and apply engineering skills. Once it’s built, your child gets to play with it after. It’s fun and educational, sign me up!
For an introduction to basic robots that’s fun for kids, this is a homerun! The only reason this isn’t the winner is because it’s competing against a DRAGON that does it ALL. This cute and clumsy panda comes together in 23 parts. From there, you will have this cute, little panda rolling and tumbling all over the place. Observe the guiding principles of movement while it recreates realistic motions.
When we got the sample in at the office, we immediately built it and popped in two AA batteries. The cuteness of this bear is unreal! The transition motor and gear system they have in place really works wonders. I haven’t seen many toys that can move around like this panda can.
Bioluminescence is quite possibly one of the coolest things found in nature. For those of you not familiar, bioluminescent algae is a group of tiny marine organisms that literally glow in the dark. Usually this kind of organism is something you only see on National Geographic or on some exotic vacation, but that’s why I love this product so much.
While you don’t get the algae sent to you immediately with the orb and stand, this is a cool house pet, conversation starter and art piece all in one. It’s literally a living organism that glows when you touch it! I will be buying one of these… and then probably another.
From creepy spiders lurking in the corners to tiny ants invading kitchen crevices, this set allows you to vacuum them up and study them. Keep them in the carrier until it’s time to release them back into the great outdoors. It even has a built-in magnifier and light, and the vacuum can directly empty into the carrier to make the transition easy.
This is great for kids to get an up-close look at the words around them, putting them face to face with insect life or giving them a place to put any toads they catch for further study. It’s also perfect for adults to use to remove bugs without having to get near the pesky things.
This set is definitely doing double duty at my sister’s house. Her kids love it. They’ll go bug hunting for hours on the weekends whenever the weather is good and bring their findings home for deep study. And my sister uses it to deal with any spider she comes across in the house.
This is quite likely the most high-tech item we’ve carried yet. If you’ve been fascinated by voice-controlled assistants with a desire to understand how they work, Spencer will be your new best friend. You will be able to make your own personal voice assistant and then be able to use it, connecting it to the internet. The possibilities are almost endless on what Spencer can do once you start coding it.
Forget all the other voice assistants out there; they have nothing on this. This enables you to truly understand one of the biggest innovations of this generation. Get answers to questions, updates on the weather and even news from a device you built yourself. There’s nothing else quite like it out there.
This is perfect for any budding engineer or programmer with a passion for video games! With this, your child can build their own retro game console with four fun games pre-programmed in. In the two hours it takes to build, they’ll learn about electronics and a bit of engineering. Then they can start playing or work on designing their own game on the computer that can later be downloaded to the console.
This is the gift that keeps on giving. Every part of this is fun: the initial build, the game programming, the video game playing. Forget the handheld game console every kid wants, try giving them Nibble instead. More educational and more fun long-run.
Where do I start? These robots are fun, versatile and a great entry into the world of robotics. Your child will build five robots, but the learning doesn’t stop there. Once the robots are built, they’ll learn about electronic switches, light sensors, vibration, oscillation solar energy and more from these bots. Plus, they’re fun to play with.
Robot kits are great, but this kit takes it up a notch. It gives kids as young as 7 years old a chance to build five different robots on their own, plus something to play with when they’re complete while continuing to learn. I don’t know about you, but I already know who I’m giving this to.
This is literally TINY, like we’re talking about 1 ½” tall, like the size of my finger. And it WORKS! This thing is easy to build and doesn’t require any glue or soldering, which makes assembling super easy. Then you can decorate it if you want (small thing but so much fun!). It’s also easy to download over five hours of content to watch on the MicroSD card.
Filled with STEM learning and your favorite videos, it’s perfect for you, your child or to show off to your friends. With an even smaller remote, this is an amazingly fun way to display your favorite digital content that’ll marvel all your friends when they see that the TinyTV actually works.
Is it a cool building project or a challenging puzzle? Why not both? This wooden puzzle can’t be solved until someone builds it first. High quality and made of wood, this 210 -piece puzzle is a fun project before you even get to the marble puzzle, which is so challenging it may even stump the puzzle savant of your family. Plus, when you’re done, it has an acrylic case to display it.
Build, play and display; this puzzle has it all. When we got the sample in the office, we passed it around giving everyone a chance to solve it, and it took us all day to get this brain teaser completed. And while that’s fun, building it is half of what makes this puzzle so unique! It’s a total experience you can’t quite get with a different puzzle.
We can all agree that light switches are boring. But this unique project can add pizazz to this mundane feature. With movement, levers and reactions, these kits are perfect for the wood hobbyist as they can be assembled with sandpaper and glue.
With steam-punk-mad-scientist and fairy tale vibes, they make a fun addition to any space. I told my dad, who loves these kinds of projects about these, and they’re now decorating the light switches of my oldest sister’s house. Her kids love them, and she does too.
I fidget and I fidget and then I fidget some more. So, I am a big fan of fidget toys, especially this one. This small square is easy to spin, twist and just be held onto, but there’s a trick to it. And that’s flipping it, causing it to topple over itself and reflect light. I obsessed over this until I got the technique down – and continued to obsess once I did get it down. I couldn’t help it; it didn’t work how I thought it would!
Momentum and positioning turn into magic on this totally unique desktop toy. It’s a must for anyone who needs to keep their hands busy to keep their brains working.
While I’m not a math fanatic, I can appreciate the elegance of pi and respect those who have a passion for it. And it is for those people that the PiTop is perfect. This is the nerdiest paperweight ever, but it’s more than that. It’s the physical embodiment of Pi, designed with a thickness that is equal to the radius divided by Pi, displays the first 109 digits of PI and spins while rolling on its edge. It goes for what feels like forever.
Math and physics lovers unite within this as it puts both into practice in an executive paperweight. With the care that went into the PiTop’s design and how perfectly it was executed, there’s nothing else like it.
Project a multicolored galaxy onto your ceiling or walls with this projector. This spinning nebula and star combo has so many options on how you choose to project it, and connect the device to your phone for even more color combinations. I love it for movie nights and just hanging out. It’d even be a really cool nightlight.
Easy to use, you just need to plug it in and it turns on with a button (or using your phone as a remote). I’ll get lost staring at it when I’m in the marketing manager’s office and he has it turned on. While there are other space projectors out there, this one offers a higher level of choice and customizability than the others and the charcoal housing easily blends in and easily tucks away (even while in use).
I’ve always wanted a lava lamp, but once I saw this liquid lightshow in action, I knew it would never have anything on the FluoroSphere. Easy to use and reuse, you get a new show every time that you add the dye. Watch the fluorescent colors shift through an array of shades until it reaches its end state. Simply put, this psychedelic show is hypnotizing.
When the sample came in, the marketing manager for Scientifics Direct immediately had to set up and called us in the office to test it out, and then do it again another hour later. It’s a great time to tune out and enjoy the simple change or take the opportunity to give a fun, unique science lesson.
This game is for 4-year-olds, and I think it’s proven itself as fun for the whole – competitive – family. Get the whole family involved in your little one’s learning with this family friendly game of identifying animal, instrument and city sounds. Each sound is even identified and repeated in seven different languages to serve as an extra educational opportunity, which I am always here for.
While it can be played with one or two people, it’s even more fun to get the family involved. I brought this over to my sister’s house to test it out and the whole family crowded around the dinner table playing, yelling and laughing the whole way through! If our parents were there, I could even see them playing along with their grandkids. I’m not embarrassed to say that I had fun playing a preschooler game. And my youngest nephew also got to learn a bunch during it. He even picked up on the Spanish and Russian words for elephant.
This game can be as educational as you want. Relying on balance, physics, gravity and kinetics, Octacog takes other popular suspension games to the next level. Players take turns adding a piece to the core and before spinning it all the way around to make sure that it’s still secure, balanced and well positioned. The last to place a piece successfully before it falls is the winner. To up the ante, you can even add the expansion pack (#3157527) to play with more pieces and bigger risks.
We played this in the office when the marketing manager brought his son in and the trash talk got intense. I may have lost, but we all had a lot of fun, especially my boss’ son – plus he didn’t even know he was learning. I even learned playing too.
Marble runs have been taken to the next level. This fun and addictive way to explore gravity, magnetism and kinetics comes in an interactive track system that’s easy to build and rebuild over and over again. Create a different track every time, using the fun pieces that take the form of crazy stunts (like freefalls, crosses, curves and even a cannon). Your child will have a blast every time they use the GraviTrax while finding it impossible not to learn.
My boss loves this thing so much. He says it’s one of the best products he’s ever seen in the 10 years he’s worked here in regards to fun level and educational value – those are his actual words too. He and his son play around with this so much. I’ve seen some pictures of the tracks they’ve built, and I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty impressed by what they’ve come up with.
The only thing that Zig & Go Vroom has in common with the GraviTrax Obstacle Set is hours of challenging and customizable fun. In short, this set is high quality, high educational value and high fun! You can see the care put in by the creators in every detail and part of this.
This wooden domino set has unique block pieces you won’t find anywhere else. The circuit won’t go if your child doesn’t have them placed just right, but even every failure offers a fun learning experience. With each roll of the marble, your child will slowly be transformed into a master of chain reactions.
When I was little, playing with bubbles was one of my favorite parts of warm weather. I would spend hours outside with my mom and sisters playing with bubbles, and I know I was definitely not the only kid like that. Blowing them, chasing them and popping them. You can do all that with the Giant Bubble Mega Loop Creator, but you can do even MORE!
Get inside the bubble with this amazing set. It may take some practice to get the technique right, but that’s part of the fun! That also means you might want to look into grabbing some extra bubble solution (less is more is not the case here). Bubbles are great, but this makes playing with bubbles an absolute blast. Once the first person is inside a bubble, everyone’ll want a chance to get inside one.
I took this over to my sister’s house; it’s still there. And I’m usually the first one to suggest bringing it out, but the kids all love it too – no one’s disappointed when the Mega Loop comes out.
Who doesn’t want to become a conductor of electricity? Once you hold both ends of this GIANT Energy Stick, you’ll SAFELY complete the circuit and see an exciting display of energy in the form of lights and sound. Science comes alive to little children. They can play by themselves or with someone else and watch them come up with new experiments as they complete the circuit time and time again.
This makes science real, and I think this would ignite the spark in young kids as they unlock a passion for electricity.
This is one of the nerdiest products we’ve ever carried. This glass sphere contains a gorgeous recreation of 5,068 stars outlining the 88 defined constellations accurately scaling how far the stars are from Earth. Even if you don’t love the night sky like an astronomer, you have to appreciate the beauty and detail of the globe. Plus, it’s amazing to literally hold the night sky in the palm of your hand. I can’t help but to find myself enchanted by it.
Turn on the color changing light in the base and watch it shift through the rainbow. With this, you’ll always have the chance to see an accurate depiction of your favorite constellations, regardless of the time of year or the weather.
Don’t get this confused with Van Gogh’s masterpiece. This Starry Night is a masterpiece you get to build yourself. This Victorian replica of a vintage Orrery mechanism presents you with your own representation of the solar system. Watch as the planets orbit around the sun and listen as the music box plays “Memory” from ‘Cats’. The combination provides you with a feeling of awe for both your work and for the world.
Perfect for space lovers and woodworking hobbyists alike, you’re presented with a fun project that turns into a fully-functioning display. It’s the best of both worlds!
There is A LOT to go through as you hunt for the perfect gift. We’ve made it easier for you to find what you’re looking for by highlighting the hottest products in every category.
To give you a quick recap, robotics is always a win for every age level, and arts and crafts is growing with some super fun and creative projects. Check out the Spirograph Animator to give a nostalgic gift with a new twist to the next generation.
For adults, don’t underestimate the power of hobbies. Whether by themselves and without the kids or making it into a family affair, there are tons of fun products to choose from. The woodworking kits are a true gem in that – think like the Intrism Pro.
At the very least, I hope this gave you some ideas for what to get your loved ones as I went through some of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE new products from 2021.