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The best Christmas gifts for 3 year olds

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve survived the terrible twos, in which case congratulations are in order. But we’re sorry to tell you you’re not out of the woods yet, because with the increased confidence and verbal communication skills of 36 months onwards, three-year-olds can be pretty harsh critics.

So just what are the best Christmas gifts for 3 year olds this year? Unfortunately the time may have passed when they’re happiest just playing in the wrapping or trying to put a paper hat on the dog, so it’s time to pull out the big guns. Luckily, we’ve rounded up our pick of gifts on the market to make your three-year-old’s Christmas the best yet.

Toys and games aren’t just fun, they also play a crucial role in how children develop motor skills, language, and even relationships (no pressure, then) so as well as being super cute, many of our toys also pack an educational advantage, developing everything from empathy to imagination, nurturing to critical thinking. If you’re buying for a niece or nephew, godchild or grandchild, this is an easy way to score points with parents too. Which means more eggnog for you. Win-win.

1. Fisher-Price FKC37 "Think and Learn Teach N Tag Movi" Activity Toy

This new robot friend is sure to be a hit under the tree, and for hours and hours of play

Best for: Playing and learning | Type: Electronic | Educational: Yes | Power type: Battery

Encourages them to move as well as think
Teaches a range of skills
Quite pricey 

Get them thinking, and moving, with this cute little rolling robot. The Think & Learn Teach ‘n’ Tag Movi moves in all directions to keep them on their toes, and offers six exciting games across three modes. From learning to follow instructions to thinking critically, it teaches them valuable skills without them even knowing it, all the while flashing them one of 60 expressions. So, for its sheer range of uses and educational value, this is a real winner.

2. Play-Doh Cake Party Playset

Budding bakers can make impressive creations with this awesome Play-Doh set

Best for: Creative play | Type: Play-Doh | Educational: No | Power type: None

Lots of ways to play
Good number of pieces to enjoy
Doesn't come with much Play-Doh

Encourage your future Hollywood or Berry to baking greatness with this super-fun Play-Doh set. It comes with five drums of ‘doh, including three glittery confetti versions, cutters, moulds and accessories. The little plates and forks are just right for post-baking tea parties with their favourite dolls, the spinning cake plate with icing nozzle is a real joy, and best of all, there are enough pieces included that two can play at once, meaning no arguments.

3. Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctors Set - Multi-Coloured

The classic playset for future medics, with lots of fun accessories

Best for: Imaginative play | Type: Play set | Educational: No | Power type: None

Gives lots of scope for imaginative play
Accessories are sturdy and easy to hold
Need batteries

As future careers go, there are worse things you could encourage your kid towards than medicine, which goes some way to explaining why the doctor play set is such a classic. This version comes with lots of easy-to-handle accessories including a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and mobile phone (try not to point out that it would’ve been a pager in your day), giving them scope for hours of imaginative free play.

4. Giant Box of Craft 1000 Pieces

Glitter! Foam! Ribbons! Feathers! A whole lot of crafting fun in one box of tricks

Best for: Art lovers | Type: Craft | Educational: Teaches skills | Power type: None

Huge range of materials for different projects
Included safety scissors they can keep using
Possibly the messiest on our list

Oh yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Packed with paper, foam, feathers, glitter and much more, it’s the perfect gift for the craft-mad kid. The different colours, shapes and textures provide sensory stimulation and encourage them to explore their creativity within safe parameters, plus, they’ll be extremely proud when their creations make it to the fridge door or kitchen wall art gallery. Even when the supplies run out, you can carry on using the included safety scissors, so the longevity is quite nice too.

5. Orchard Toys Giant Railway

All aboard! This giant railway puzzle will spark their creativity and provide hours of fun

Best for: Puzzle lovers | Type: Puzzle | Educational: No | Power type: None

Lots of different combinations to try
Everyone loves trains
You need a lot of space to play in

Like all good toys, this giant railway puzzle links up with expansion packs, so the possibilities for play (and future presents) are pretty much endless. This set comes with 22 chunky railway track pieces that link together every which way, giving them a great opportunity to try out creative solutions, while the included train and character pieces help them create a world that’s all their own. It’s immersive, and very cute, just say goodbye to your carpets now, because you won’t be seeing them again for a while.

6. Paradiso Toys 80 x 120cm Duoplay Carpet

A timeless toy with two sides for maximum versatility

Best for: Playing with toy cars | Type: Mat | Educational: No | Power type: None

Printed on both sides
Easy to store and transport
Not very grippy

Yet another toy that’s managed to stand the test of time, the road map playmat is always a sound investment. We’ve yet to find a kid who doesn’t like playing with toy cars, animals, or characters, and this two-sided mat offers scenes for all. With a town map on one side, featuring lots of lovely roads to zoom along, and a farm on the other, it sparks their imagination and then rolls up again for easy storage. An immersive and practical toy for small spaces, and an all-round stone-cold classic. 

7. Melissa & Doug Top This! Role Play Costume Hats

They can be whoever they want to be with this fun collection of costume hats

Best for: Dress up | Type: Clothes | Educational: No | Power type: None

Endless imaginative play options
Something the whole family can enjoy
May cause fights

For their next big living room production, consider this box of five cute costume hats. With these well-made felt hats, they can be a cowboy or cowgirl, king or queen, fire chief, pirate, or Frank Sinatra (okay, we don’t really know what the fedora is for, but we’re sure they’ll put it to good use). Not only will it look adorable, it’ll spark their imaginations, as well as exercising their interpersonal skills and empathy. And they all come in a well-constructed cardboard chest that’ll sit happily in the playroom for years. Great fun, time and time again.