It can be really easy to get carried away with gifts at the holidays, which is part of the reason that I’m so attracted to the concept of “One You Want, One You Need, One You Wear, One You Read.” The premise is simple, but truly ingenious — a balanced approach to gift giving that keeps parents and kids happy and reduces the likelihood of gift overwhelm.
For this Ultimate Kids Gift Guide for Preschoolers, I wanted to do themed gifts based on the gift book, but even with using completely unrelated gifts, the “One You Want, One You Need, One You Wear, One You Read” system makes gift giving (or, more accurately, gift buying) a lot easier.
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Book with No Pictures + Easel + Magnatab + Art Smock
The Book with No Pictures is likely to make nearly every “Books of the Year” list — it is a repeat request at our house! BJ Novak brilliantly wrote a simple and fun story that keeps preschoolers engaged and interested in reading other books with no pictures. The whole premise is that the adult (reader) is completely at the whim of the book — and the kid who requests for them to read it!
To help children practice their writing and strengthen their fine motor skills — so they can write their own book one day — I love our Magnatab (I wrote about it waaay in the beginning of the year.)
And, of course, so they can make their own pictures based on their interpretations of The Book With No Pictures (or other non-picture books), an art smock to wear and an easel to create upon.
The Ultimate Construction Book + Tegu + Helmet + Kid’s Tool Belt
The Ultimate Construction Site Book is a fun pop-up and lift-the tab book that has seen some heavy use at our house. Consider it a child-friendly encyclopedia on a child-friendly topic, with lots of information and engagement.
I’ve written about our love for Tegu magnetic blocks, and they were actually our big Christmas gift last year. I love that these blocks last for years, support good causes, and teach children about engineering and science.
A helmet is a multi-functional safety measure that is neglected too often. They should be worn while riding bikes, learning how to do any winter sports (skating, skiing, sledding), and on most ride-on toys.
This child-sized toolbelt from Montessori Services is a favourite of mine and it comes with a child-sized hammer and safety glasses. Every child has a different readiness age, so (as with anything) know your child. Even though I trust Ella with real tools, I keep them inaccessible except when we are working together on a project.
Paddington Bear + Backpack + Little Passports Subscription + Hygiene Kit
We are so excited for the release of Paddington Bear the Movie! Paddington by Michael Bond is the first chapter book that Ella and I have read together, so it had to be included on this list.
A cute kit is a great way to get kids excited about hygiene (along with a self-care station, if you can swing it), and there are often some cute travel packs available at this time of year.
We haven’t subscribed yet, but Little Passports is on our wishlist this year. It’s a subscription service that mails out crafts, activities, and ideas to study a new country or city every month. It would be the perfect long-distance or grandparent gift, and I love that it is a reoccuring gift throughout the year.
And where would Paddington be without his suitcase? A more child-friendly alternative is available in these cute Skip Hop backpacks which I can attest are super-durable — some are thermally lined purely for carrying for food.
Alfie + Plate Set + Binoculars + Special Occasion Outfit
Now this is one of my childhood favourites. Anything Alfie just makes me happy, and The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook by Shirley Hughes is extra-special because it contains a collection of poems and short stories about Alfie and his little sister.
Inspired by the stories in the book, Alfie had a special Bunnykins plate set, but any special plate set would be a great gift to make meal times more special. Binoculars for people watching (or bird watching) and a special occasions outfit round out this gift.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole + A Sandbox Digger + Rain Boots + Soap
Another one of the best picture books for this year, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett is a wonderful and fun book that lets kids make up the narrative as Sam and Dave dig deep.
Just in case shovels aren’t your thing, this awesome sandbox digger is sturdy and easy to operate, while working those gross motor skills.
Rain boots for muddy conditions and a natural hand soap for after-digging clean-up help bring some practicality to this potentially-messy gift.
Quest + Periscope/Compass Set + Boots for Outdoor Quests + Reusable Snack Bags
Quest by Aaron Becker is the follow-up to the Newberry-Award Winning, Journey. Both are gorgeous picture books that follow the journey of two children on a fantastic mission to save a captured king — with their trust markers in hand!
Essential gear for your child’s very own quest: a themed rain jacket from Kidorable (we have the Firefighter ensemble), reusable snack bags (we wrote about ours here), and a gorgeous telescope and compass set.
Giving Tree + Kings and Queens of the Forest + Yoga Clothes + Self-care tools
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a quintessential children’s book, and I think the story and the tree metaphors are a great inspiration for a child’s yoga sequence. (We also have some other favourite yoga books, for those who don’t like the Giving Tree… yes, those people exist.)
Kings and Queens of the Forest is hands-down our favourite kid’s music CD and just so happens to be a yoga CD — all of the fun songs have a yoga sequence that kids can do alongside the music — or kids can just have fun dancing and singing along. Two years in, I’m still not sick of this CD — read our review here.
We’ve also written previously about our love for Limeapple Active Wear (which is just amazing quality) and our Little Yoga Mat — learning yoga has really been a great way to help Ella learn self-regulation, while also giving her that gross motor movement that children crave.
Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You? + Musical Instruments + Scarf + Audio-muffling Headphones
We were given the delightful Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? and have since had to purchase additional copies for the grandparents’ houses. A classic Dr. Seuss book with Mr. Brown making all kinds of fun and interesting noises with his mouth — encouraging children and adults to try, too!
To protect those vocal chords, include a warm scarf; to protect sensitive ears (especially in sensory-sensitive children) or to block out a noisy playroom, add some audio-cancelling headphones made for little heads; and, to try to make your own fun sounds — an assortment of musical instruments.
Piggies + Kidorable Gloves + Bubble Bath + Play Farm
I’m allowed to include two childhood favourites in here, right? Piggies by Audrey and Don Wood is one of the sweetest books and we already have a few copies on the go (just in case). A fun play on the “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme, Piggies imagines what it would look like if there were pigs (with personalities!) residing on each of our piggies.
To keep those little piggies warm, I love these animal-character gloves that are perfect for cold weather or hosting puppet shows.
The book shows the piggies getting muddy, and then sudsy in the bath, so some natural bubble bath to help clean messy piggies is a perfect addition, along with the Hape Family Farm to keep those piggies busy in a pig-appropriate setting. (Read our review here.)
Jumanji + Wild Toob + Child-sized Cleaning Tools + Cute Animal Hat
And, for our final gift, Jumanji is a classic picture book that tells the story of a board game gone wild horribly wrong. (Get the version with Robin Williams reading along.)
To re-create their own version of the story, add the Wild Toob, a collection of miniature wild animal figures, and a cleaning kit to clean up after whatever animals may crash through the house. A warm, animal-inspired hat might be just the thing to encourage your little one to keep their hat on through the winter.
Thanks for checking out my Ultimate Gift Guide for Preschoolers using the “One You Want, One You Need, One You Wear, One You Read” system.
Please let me know if you have questions about any of the products or books that I have mentioned — they all have my personal and honest recommendations. We also have an Ultimate Kid’s Kitchen Gift Guide up at our sister site, In the Kids’ Kitchen.