Despite our efforts to limit screen time (we swear), our elementary school kids are obsessed with making “pretend YouTube videos…” Unless, of course, they are busy ripping open every single package that comes through the door. Given their evident passions, it’s easy to see why unboxing videos are hugely popular. The savviest toymakers have caught on to these crazes, but they’ve also tapped into parents’ desire for screen-free imaginative play. Here, we’ve rounded up the trendiest toys of the holiday season that guarantee good times—without the guilt.
These Are the 6 Trendiest Kids’ Gifts of 2021
1. L.o.l. Surprise! Omg Movie Magic Studios
This isn’t just a toy. It’s an experience. Moms who reviewed this collection of mini Hollywood sets praise it for providing hours of imaginative play without the need for any actual technology. First, a series of glamorous stages set the scene for endless stories, as each backdrop unfolds in all its glitzy glory. Then kids can open up a plethora of packages to reveal over 70 on-theme items (even more if you count the ones discovered by donning 3-D glasses!). And L.O.L. Doll superfans will flip for the 12 exclusive Movie Magic Dolls (and pets!) with their ultra-glam outfits, “outrageous hair,” and sparkly accessories. We all know narrative play comes naturally to kids. Now, with these inspiring movie sets and adorable stars, they’ll be ready to direct their own masterpieces. Did somebody say, Action!?
2. L.o.l. Surprise! Color Change Bubbly Surprise
Water toy? Check. Unboxing magic? Check. Kinetic sand? Check. This one tiny toy has it all. First, add water to the heart-shaped center and watch its contents get fizzy and change colors. Then dig through kinetic sand capsules to reveal six more tiny surprises. The sparkly packaging can also be reused as a purse. Be still our style-obsessed, sensory-stimulation-seeking, STEM-loving hearts.
3. Rainbow High Color Change Car
Take note, Elon Musk: The latest in automotive technology isn’t limited to the adult world. This color-changing convertible becomes any shade on the ROY-G-BIV spectrum with the push of a button. Since our Rainbow High dolls must arrive at school in style, their ride simply has to keep up.
4. Lalaloopsy Silly Hair
If you have become your child’s reluctant hair model, we are here to save your strands. Enter Lalaloopsy. She has a head full of boingy, springy, colorful locks that bend and twist into silly, superhuman shapes. Curl it, twist it, straighten it, bead it, clip it. Even her pet has a bendable tail! And did we mention her house looks like a salon, complete with a styling chair? We think we just heard your hair just sigh with relief.
5. Pelican Explore & Fit Cycle
You thought getting a smart bike was a brilliant pandemic purchase. That was, until you caught your second-grader about to begin an advanced “Bangers Club” spin class. Meet the pint-size “Pelican” with interactive technology that lets kids access trainer and adventure videos on YouTube. Options include snowboarding, mountain biking or even roller coaster rides, all guided by high energy trainers, walking—er, spinning—them through it all. Kids can also opt to play their favorite music through the built-in Bluetooth speakers. A side-by-side ride? Family fitness just got upgraded.
6. Rescue Tails Walk N’ Wiggle Daisy
If your kids have been begging for a dog but you’re just not ready to adopt, you may be able to scratch their itch with Daisy. She’s a gorgeous Springer Spaniel who—unlike an actual, untrained puppy—responds flawlessly to 10 unique voice commands, including “Dance Party” and “Time for Bed.” Walk her on- or off-leash and pet her to elicit adorable puppy sounds. Buying her also helps support real-life animal welfare organization Best Friends Animal Society. Now that’s paws-itive action.