Tunable, playable, pleasantly twangy-and priced just right for little kids too young to handle a grown-up instrument.
To buy: $30, paper-source.com.
The tube packaging becomes the body of the vehicle. Inside are wheels, axles, and decals.
To buy: $16, momastore.org.
VW Camper Play Tent
A van-shaped tent: Can you dig it? Fits three kids, or one nostalgic baby boomer in the fetal position.
To buy: $50, themonsterfactoryusa.com.
My Own Mailbox
Preschoolers can learn all about the days when "letters" existed. How quaint.
To buy: $20, melissaanddoug.com.
Layered Ruffle Tulle Skirt
They're not just for dress-up or ballerinas anymore. This mesh tutu is fully lined and ready for school or holiday parties.
To buy: $30, gap.com.
Mr. Potato Head Super Spud Toy
Friends and 45 plug-ins stash inside 13-inch-tall papa. (Under the hat, he's a bin!) Ages two and up.
To buy: $50, kohls.com.
Me in Mind Hero Beanie
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's perfect for keeping your favorite superhero warm-and incognito.
To buy: $18, psychobabyonline.com.
Pad and pencil? Think different. The modern child won't settle for anything less than genius.
To buy: $16, pylones-usa.com.
Shadow Puppet Theater
If Lemony Snicket came for a holiday visit, he would bring this.
To buy: $40, store.imaginechildhood.com.
These snappy guys are fun to stack, safe to chomp (they're coated in natural tung oil), and sturdy enough to survive a toddler attack.
To buy: $35, thefutureperfect.com.
Blow, blow, blow your boat! An inflated balloon propels this colorful vessel through waves and white caps (aka a bubble bath). Available in eight colors.
To buy: $14, pylones-usa.com.
A bath toy that makes noise? Music to your kids' ears. Fill each flute with a different amount of water to create varying tones when you blow them.
To buy: $16, sfmoma.org.
Pink Elephant Jump Rope
A classic toy with an unexpected twist-pink elephants for the handles to grip while she jumps.
To buy: $27.50, kisanstore.com.
Toobalink Construction Set
These genius joiners allow kids to connect empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes into fun (recyclable!) structures.
To buy: $35, perpetualkid.com.
Just Say Sew Sewing Kit
With pre-cut felt patterns, simple instructions, and colorful thread, this is the perfect starter kit for the mini do-it-yourselfer.
To buy: $32, landofnod.com.
Who says Bigfoot doesn't exist? Strap these stompers to your kid's feet and let them leave monster tracks in the back yard.
To buy: $24, chasing-fireflies.com.
Jungle Bowling Set
It's never too early to hit the bowling alley. These organic pins bring the most adorable players (lion, monkey, elephant) to your playroom lanes.
To buy: $50, giggle.com.
An updated version of tin cans and string, these pocket-sized "microphones" teach kids about the physics of sound. Then they can go back to texting.
To buy: $16, restorationhardware.com.
Girls Glitter Purse
Just enough room for her cell phone, this week's allowance, and the lipstick she stole from your bag.
To buy: $39.50, jcrew.com.
Top Secret Spy Kit
The truly skilled spy will know he's getting this even before it's unwrapped. (Includes spy glasses, a fingerprint kit, code cards, a flashlight, and a secret marker pen.)