Tried and Tested — 10 Brilliant Gifts and Kid-Entertaining Ideas for December 2021
How is it December already? 2021 had its share of ups and downs, but we’re ready to end it on a high note. There are so many things we’re all loving right now that it was almost impossible to pick a top 10. But we've done it, and what follows below is a perfect mix of our latest obsessions that includes the best toys to buy for Christmas; the most unique gifts to give friends, family, and ourselves; and the best holiday movies and new TV specials that will keep the whole family happily entertained all month long.
Every one of these things is tried and tested by our Mommy Poppins team, and we think you'll love all our picks every bit as much as we do. Read on to find out what we just can't get enough of this holiday season.
My favorite new show, no joke. Photo courtesy of BookTube Jr.
1. BookTube Jr.
Though BookTube premiered earlier this fall, the newer releases now have us officially obsessed with this new YouTube channel for kids. Authors read their new books to kids and kids interact with them, asking honest questions and giving pretty real reactions. I’ll be honest; I teared up watching Dr. Ibram X. Kendi read his book Antiracist Baby to a group of kids and answer their questions. And our whole family (even my teenage kids) loved watching Jon Klassen read I Want My Hat Back. Whether these short storytimes are something you set the kids up to watch over the holidays while you’re cooking or working, or it’s something your whole family (including Grandparents) watch together, I think you’ll really enjoy them.
Those shoes you're obsessed with? Now you can get them for your kids. Photo courtesy of Allbirds
Just in time for the holidays, Allbirds released a limited edition collection of new Smallbirds, which come in sizes 5T - 10T. These shoes are sustainable, comfy, and can go straight into the washing machine. The collection includes 2 Fluff colors, and the fuzzy, soft shoes will have your kids as excited to get these shoes as you are to give them.
Help kids express their big feelings without poking or prodding. Photo courtesy of learningresources.com
There are a LOT of “Hot Toy of 2021” lists. And I’m sure some of the toys are amazing, but many of them are variations of last year’s hot toy: the new Lego set, the new Hot Wheels track, the new LOL Surprise playset. But the Big Feelings Pineapple feels really timely. If grownups are having a hard time processing the last few years, how hard is it for our kids to find the right words to talk about their emotions? The toy itself is like Mr. Potato Head, but with loads more expressions, making it easy for kids as young as two to show you how they are feeling.
While the last couple of years have been hard on everyone, it's been extra hard on kids. Heading into Pandemic Christmas #2, there are lots of families that still don't have extra money to spend on gifts. So we've decided to once again play elf, and help fulfill the wishes of children in need through letters to Operation Santa. The Mommy Poppins team will shop, wrap, and ship gifts on behalf of our communities, and we could use your help. If you want to donate to our efforts, you can do that with a quick and easy $2 donation. Just Venmo MommyPoppins. We'll also purchase gifts at local small businesses to help support our local business communities. Read more about our Operation Santa Project.
It's a fun activity and a festive holiday decoration, all in one. Photo courtesy of Tiny Expressions
Danielle, our Philly editor, found this on Twitter and promptly ordered the Thanksgiving version from the TinyExpressionsStore on Etsy. It occupied her kids so well that the rest of us rushed in our Christmas orders ASAP.
Make any trip a little more fun with these inexpensive decals. Photo courtesy of @thewonder
6. Reusable Window Decals
Going to travel this holiday season? Whether you’re just headed to the grocery store or on a cross-country airplane trip, this will give kids something fun to stare at. When Jody, our NYC editor, saw this post on Instagram by @thewonder, she sent it to the rest of our team so we could try it out this travel season. Head to the nearest dollar store to stock up, or order a whole array from holiday to butterflies to sea life.
It's time to return to the multiverse. Photo courtesy of CTMG and Marvel, all rights reserved
7. December Entertainment: Sing 2, Spiderman: No Way Home, and Annie Live!
We’re cheating here by listing two movies this month, but it kind of depends on how old your kids are. Or maybe it doesn't: Sing 2 hits movie theaters December 22, and it is for the whole family, even the littlest members. (I thought I would hate the first one, and I ended up singing along with my kids.) And then for kids who love the Avengers, Spidey is swinging into theaters on December 17 and he's bringing Dr. Strange and the whole multiverse. And on TV: We got Annie! There’s a new live performance of Annie Live! on December 2 on NBC starring Taraji P. Henson and Harry Connick, Jr. This might be a hate-watch? But I'm riveted.
Would Oprah steer us wrong? Photo courtesy of Roq Industries
If it’s good enough for Oprah… Every year I scour Oprah’s list, hoping there’s something that isn’t too expensive that I can try out. And this year’s winner is the Roq Innovation Headlightz Hats. I’m getting them for the whole family (hello, stocking stuffer!) so we can go for night hikes, or play hide and seek in the backyard now that it gets dark at 4:30pm.
Looking for something amazing? A family trip to the Galapagos thrills. Photo courtesy of Meghan Rose
9. Southern Explorations Family Vacations
This is kind of a splurge gift, but after almost 2 years without travel, I’m ready to go somewhere big and do something special with my family. I learned about Southern Explorations when I took my mom on a special mother-daughter trip to the Galapagos several years ago. They reached out to me again when they launched new family excursions to Costa Rica and the Galapagos, and now I can’t decide if our family should go to Costa Rica or on an Amazon River Cruise next year.
Buy one for a friend, and one for yourself! Photo courtesy of Milk Street
Milk Street's Coffee Sugars are actually the best gift I received last year, and I made a mental note to get them for everyone on my list this year. They are great to stick in stockings, or in a mug as a teacher or neighbor gift. They’re delicious stirred in coffee, tea, or hot chocolate—or even to use to rim glasses for holiday cocktails (or mocktails). They’re fun to pair with a basket of homemade cookies to give as gifts to friends, or even gift to yourself, to make your Christmas morning coffee a little more special after the kids wake you up at 5am to open presents.
By the way, none of these items are sponsored—these are just things we're excited about this month. However, this article does contain a few affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you make a purchase. We only recommend items we've personally used and loved or researched thoroughly.