Fact: kids have no filter. If they don't like something or someone, they're going to tell you like it is - usually in the most public and mortifying way possible. Avoid the flaming cheeks of shame by buying them a present they'll actually want, use and love.
We've made it easy for you by rounding up 26 of the best gifts for kids in Australia that are guaranteed to put a smile on their face (and a relieved one on yours as you don't get publicly chewed out. Go you).
Give a child a KiwiCo subscription and not only will they love you for it, so will their parents. These kits are so stuffed with fun, child-friendly activities that parents will never hear the phrase "I'm bored" again. (Or for about an hour, at least.) These all-in-one kits contain everything a child needs to get hands on with science or art. Even better, they're suitable for a huge range of ages, from 0 to 14+ and cater for all interests, from cooking and crafts to engineering and geography. Delivered monthly, they'll always remember their favourite gift-giver long after your visit is over.
Sunshine through my jar
Whether they're a budding Einstein in the making or need something to brighten up the dark nights, this Solar Jar could be the ideal gift for them. It captures the (solar) power of the sun, turning it into a gentle jar of light that lasts up to 6 hours. This robust mason jar has no flames making it a safe light source for curious kids. It also has a watertight lid for night-time adventures in the garden or camping.
Let the good times roll
Nix short attention spans with the Sushi Go Card Game. This fast-paced, easy to master card game pits 2-5 players (ages 8 upwards) against each other as they try to grab the best combination of sushi dishes. With no fancy equipment or much space needed, it comes with a tin to keep the cards neatly stored away when not in use. Be warned: the high quality glossy cards will probably give them a sushi craving you'll have to fix.
Whip it up
Home of possibly the greatest kids birthday cakes ever, who else would you trust to teach a kid to cook than the Australian Women's Weekly? Not only do you have the legacy of those birthday cakes, but each recipe in this cookbook has been chosen and tested by a child, making it 100% kid approved. This bright and beautiful book features easy to follow breakfast and party recipes, plus baking and more. As well as recipes, it's crammed with tips and terminology to help them learn as they cook. Now to start planning what you're going to spend their Junior Masterchef winnings on...
Treehouse of wonders
There's a reason why the Treehouse series books are so popular with Aussie kids - they're hilarious, action-packed and easy to read, thanks to the cartoons throughout. Start at the beginning with The 13-Storey Treehouse and let them discover a kid-friendly utopia complete with bowling alley, see-through swimming pool, a games room and even a marshmallow machine that automatically fires marshmallows into your mouth when you're hungry. The only downside is that their home will now seem sadly lacking in comparison to the Treehouse.
Stick 'em up
Head off their requests for a smartphone with an Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera. This pastel-coloured instant camera will help them capture their favourite memories and plaster them on their walls / the fridge / everywhere, or share them with their friends. Easy to use, simply press and the camera will print. With automatic exposure, they can take photos even in dim light while the small mirror next to the lens is ideal for selfies (#priorities). Stock up on film and you've got the ideal gift.
For true blue Aussies kids, there's no greater way to pronounce their Aussieness than with this G'day t-shirt. Not only is this t-shirt a bold modern design to suit kids of all ages (it runs froms size 0 to 12 years), it's Aussie made from Aussie fabrics too. Pure organic cotton makes it suitable for year-round use and the ribbed neckband allows for a growing child. Organic water-based ink and an Australian made recycled gift box makes this an eco-friendly choice.
Grow, grow baby
Nurture their budding green fingers with this The Little Veggie Patch Co Seed Kit. Touted as veggies that 'even a toddler could grow', this mini kit contains everything they need to grow their own beans, peas, carrots, sunflowers and strawberries. Easy to grow and fast growing, they'll reap the rewards of their gardening in no time. As well as 5 varieties of seeds, the kit also contains biodegradable propagating plugs, reusable plant labels and planting instructions. We especially love that The Little Veggie Patch Co is a small Aussie business based in Melbourne so you're supporting local too.
A space of their own
Let their imagination run wild with this Safari Tent from Mocka. Transport them to the plains of Africa with this sturdy pine tent featuring durable cotton canvas covering and a window. Ties allow them to easily roll up certain sections to create as private or open a playspace as they want. Fill it with pillows to help them create a reading, playing, napping or creating spot they'll love. While you'll appreciate the neutral, modern colour that will fit seamlessly into any room in your home.
Reduce bathtime grumbles with this DIY Bath Bomb Donuts Kit. Not only will their bath be transformed into a pile of lushly coloured fizzing bubbles, complete with coloured water, but they'll get the hands-on fun of making their own bath bomb donuts. That's a full day of entertainment right there. This kit has everything they need to create 6 bath bombs, including a donut-shaped mold, all ingredients, food colouring, fragrances, coloured confetti and easy to follow instructions. They simply mix colours and scents, pop it in the mold, decorate it with sprinkles and it's good to go.
Make their slurping on a smoothie way cooler with their own Personalised Smoothie Cup. This 450ml stainless steel reusable cup comes with a screw top lid and reusable straw, making it ideal for on-the-go drinks and for eco-conscious kids. The matte black finish makes the name personalisation (up to 15 characters) pop even more. Hand engraved in West Gosford, it's a unique gift for kids that they'll enjoy for years to come.
Help them do their home schooling, connect with overseas family or get them out of your hair for a bit by investing in this Lenovo Tab M8. This family-friendly tablet has all they need for work or play. Around 20cm and weighing around 0.3kg, it's child-sized. Packing 2GB RAM and 32GB storage with an expandable memory of up to 128GB, it's got enough storage for their favourite apps and photos. Kid-friendly tech is built-in including Google Kids mode, a touchscreen, and light and display technology that lowers blue light to help protect their eyes.
A controlled explosion
This National Geographic Volcano Science Kit is sneakily educational in that they'll have so much fun, they won't realise they're learning stuff. (Sneaky.) Wannabe scientists will love making a functioning volcano model while wannabe artists will love getting hands-on painting and decorating it. To up the educational factor, it contains 2 real volcanic rock samples (hello wannabe geologists). It comes with a full colour learning guide so they can understand what they're blowing up. Sorry, erupting.
Many hued hair
Extend their painting canvas to their head with this Happy Hair Chalk Kit. These temporary hair chalks are all natural and cruelty-free, so you know they're only putting good stuff on their hair. They get 4 non-toxic colourful hair chalks (purple, blue, green and red) plus a palette and brush for mixing up the chalks and new colours in. However they apply the chalks - dry, wet or with a little oil - they're easily washed out so grandma won't get a hot pink hair shock next time she visits.
Game on the go
Help them game on the go with the Nintendo Switch Lite. This handheld games console is lightweight and easy to use, making it ideal for small child hands. Ergonomically designed, the keys and sticks are positioned for fast play that they'll pick up in no time. Coming in a range of kid-friendly colours, the best thing about buying them a Switch is that it's kind of a present for you too. You'll either get to relive your childhood playing Mario or you'll get some peace and quiet as they game. It's a win-win.
Penny for your thoughts
Drag them away from their screen with a 22" Penny Skateboard. Proudly Australian owned and designed, Penny is obsessed with skateboards so they use only the best materials and processes to craft iconic skateboards that will last. Their 22" boards are ideal for younger kids but there's a size to fit all ages (yep, adults too). They come in a range of colours and styles for that true boarder aesthetic. Whether they’re just learning to skate or are tackling advanced tricks, there’s a Penny to suit.
Roald Dahl's been called the world's number one storyteller and no wonder with his fantastical tales that are just the right amount of creepy. Unleash their imagination with this Roald Dahl Marvellous Colouring Book Adventure. Featuring 45 images from his most popular tales, including the BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they'll love adding their own colour to Roald Dahl's world.
Make bath times fun times with Rainbow Fun from Lush. Like playdough for the bath or shower, kids can pick off pieces and mould them into shapes. Then, when it's wash time, they can use it as body soap or shampoo or crumble it under running water for mountains of coloured bubbles. Crammed full of natural ingredients, they'll be having so much fun they won't even realise they're getting clean and sweet-smelling.
There are soft toys and then there are Jellycat soft toys - these high quality, super plush toys are perfect for cuddling but their fun designs also look great on their shelf or bed. Our pick of the bunch is the watermelon. There's no time like the present to get them engaged in the 5-a-day thing and what better way to introduce them to the joys of fruit than with this snuggly sweetie? With looks like this, younger children of any age will be pleased with their newest pal.
Light 'em up
Life's more fun on 2 wheels, especially when those wheels light up. Meet the Micro Sprite Light Up Kids Scooter. Suitable for 5 year olds and up (even to adult - it's got an adjustable handlebar), this lightweight scooter is easy to manoeuvre. It folds down easily too, for taking it places and storage. As they scoot, the wheels light up. Even better, the LED lights are motion powered which means you don't need to worry about the lights going out or having to replace batteries.
If the thought of getting a book makes them groan, treat them to the Puzzle Odyssey Maze Adventure Book - it's not your usual book. This book is crammed full of puzzles, mazes and mind-benders to keep them entertained for hours. Intricately illustrated, it's a feast for their eyes. It's also a feast for their minds as they escape into a world of adventures, including cyclops, cannibals, gods and goddesses. They'll have so much fun they won't even realise they're learning about Greek mythology. Score.
Honestly, we toyed with putting this into the guides to the best gifts for mum / dad / parents / families - heck, any type of adult. Because any human that grew up in the 90s is probably going to love this nostalgia hit. If you can't remember them, here's a refresher on the Original Tamagotchi. A pocket pet, they raise their Tamagotchi from an egg to an adult - feeding it, playing with it, giving it medicine and more. Complete with a chain, it can go with them everywhere. Bonus: once they're bored of it, you can inherit it instead.
Choo choose this
Get them hooked on strategy games with the Ticket to Ride Board Game. Equal parts strategy and imagination, this board game involves a cross-country train adventure. For 2-5 players aged 8 and up, it takes around 30-60 minutes to complete as players race to collect train cards and claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. With simple rules, it's easy to pick up and play. They can make the board game more modern by exploring it through Amazon Alexa. Heck, they can even play against Alexa if humans don't cut it.
Soothe their minds
Help them look after their wellbeing with this beautiful G'day Gift Set. Suitable for kids between 5 and 14, it includes a range of Australian made, eco-friendly goodies. These are a 100% organic cotton sleep set for restful nights, a wooden Mandala puzzle to help them explore and connect with their feelings, plus wellbeing and affirmation cards. Presented in a recycled paper gift box, it's a thoughtful gift to help build resilient kids.
Reach for the stars
Build a future astronaut with this Melissa & Doug dress up set. Even if they haven't started career planning yet, this quality dress up set will let them explore their future options. Or just play out their Buzz Lightyear / space-related imaginative games. It includes a jumpsuit, gloves, shiny helmet, and reusable name tag for hours of dress up fun. Because Melissa & Doug think of everything, the jumpsuit is machine washable for easy care.
An unicorn of their own
Oversized pink unicorn. Check. Bouncy hopper. Check. Sturdy yet soft material. Check. Yep, this Sunnylife Unicorn Hopper has it all. Suitable for ages 3 and up and measuring 62cm in height, they'll have hours of fun bouncing up and down on this hopper. It comes with an air pump so there will be no excuses to not blow it up (sorry). But it does inflate and deflate quickly which means when this becomes their new favourite toy, they can take it everywhere with them.