Analog gifts for kids in the digital age

What to buy a kid for the holidays in 2017? Tech may be top of mind, but we kept this year’s gift guide as analog as possible. We’re talking DIY ski-ball, a cardboard plane, and a dreamy kite to embrace and share the best of the past. That said, we also dug into the best of what technology offers as well – because what kid doesn’t want a glove-controlled drone?

Gifts for tweens

House Patch Pillow

Any reluctant muggle knows which Hogwarts House they’d be plopped into if the time came: Give them a pillow that proclaims it loudly (and stylishly). $40.

DIY Ski-Ball

DIY the world’s greatest arcade game — fun to build (complete with included kid-friendly tools), further fun to play, and it winds up being killer room decor. $50.

It’s a drone!

The Aura starter drone comes with a glove controller, so a budding techie can control his or her new toy with their hand, superhero-style. $99.

Get cooking

A gift that will thrill parents just as much: a weekly delivery of ingredients for a family-friendly meal that kids can make themselves — think pizza balls and taco bowls. Tweens, BYO apron. Starting at $90 a week.

My Golden Ticket

A special retelling of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring … the lucky kid unwrapping this gift. It’s a hard-copy book that will delight even the most iPad-obsessed. $36.

California kite

Because beach days never get old, and a nonprecious state pride kite will delight everyone from wide-eyed toddlers to surly teens. $48.

Wireless headphones

These Hesh 3 Wireless Headphones are noise-canceling, highly durable and boast extreme battery life. Just the thing to keep homework time sacred (or blast the “Hamilton” soundtrack while walking to school). $130.

Utter Nonsense

The best holiday traditions are the ones that land every family member doubled over in laughter. Pairing (ridiculous) accent cards with (ridiculous) phrase cards, the Utter Nonsense board game will quickly earn its place at the top of the pile. $25.

Reversible quilt cover

Two kid-favorites — cheetahs and spaghetti with meatballs — bundled back to back in one stylishly wacky duvet cover. 100% cotton, 100% grown-up approved. $135.

Sanrio ♥ Sugarfina Bento Box

The holy grail of of chic sweets. Sugarfina and Hello Kitty’s collaboration is the stuff that sweet tween dreams are made of. Make ‘em share an apple pie gummy with you as a thank-you. $20.

Rainbow playing cards

Sure, kids can play games on their parents’ phones, but a simple deck of cards is never not fun, and rainbows are never a bad idea. $12.

Bear bag

A bag-in-a-bear for kiddos to stash in their backpack to bring home stinky gym clothes or extra books. Lightweight, cheerful and earth-friendly. $19.

Mermaid shimmer spray

We wouldn’t ordinarily endorse grooming products for children, but these sea salt sprays are nourishing, work with all hair textures, and turn any child into a shimmer-headed mermaid. Use carefully. $28.


Big surprise

A glittering melon-sized limited edition toy chest filled with more than 50 “surprises” — think charms, dolls, and the like. Which means up to 50 squeals of joy from the lucky kid unwrapping this one. $70.


The ultimate throw-on-over-everything-and-look-cooler topper. Plus, locally made, affordably priced, and free of ubiquitous sports/cartoon logos. $25.

Castle playset

The next best thing to a Disney vacation: a LEGO replica of the Walt Disney World Resort Cinderella Castle. Authentic details abound from mosaic-tiled floor, to a tuxedo’ed Micky Mouse. $349.

Megazord playset

One toy that does the work of three — this Power Ranger fan favorite transforms from Megazord mode to Ultra Megazord mode, to fortress mode. Plus, dozens of sound effects accompany each iteration to further the magic. $99.

Mr. Grumpy lunchbox

Elementary school kids aren’t too young to appreciate nostalgia — a glossy “Mr. Men”-branded lunchbox will be a hit; bonus points for the appearance of especially blase Mr. Grumpy. $9.

Brownstone dollhouse

Three floors of urban sophistication for little ones to project fantastical and silly stories onto. The deluxe set comes with all accessories, so it’s move-in ready. $347.

Nanea doll and book

The newest American Girl doll, Nanea, arrives dressed in traditional Hawaiian clothes — cute, yes, but it also helps set the scene for the powerful story in the accompanying book. Young readers will be enthralled and inspired by Nanea's journey to help others in WWII-era Honolulu. $115.


Milton and Goose play kitchen

Forget the plastic and loud colors — this heirloom-quality play kitchen is modeled after designer versions and is sure to inspire envy among any kid’s playgroup — and playgroup’s parents. $699.

Cargo balance bike

Outdoorsy kids have already ridden in the back of their parents’ cargo bicycles, now give ’em their own with Yuba’s genius balance bicycle with a rack for saddle bag or basket and flippable frame that makes it a fit up to age 6. $120.

Flying high

Not the type to turn a cardboard box into a toddler wonderland? Ordinary Genius does the work for you with its pre-cut, easy-to-assemble play plane. Good for hours of flight — and coloring. $45.

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