What to Get a 2-Year-Old for Christmas (The Ultimate Guide)

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by admin

Kids under age 3 grow so quickly that the toys that they find interesting can change a lot in a short time. That makes 2-year-olds a tricky group to buy for — especially if you’re buying for a child you don’t live with.

If you need a refresher on what 2-year-olds are interested in, pop over to my post breaking down the differences between toys marketed toward 18+ months and 3+ years. (To sum up, 1-year-olds and younger 2-year-olds are generally interested in toys they can use to explore things like basic cause and effect and basic motor skills. At some point between ages 2 and 3, they start to get interested in more advanced motor skills and start to develop a rich imaginary world, and the toys change accordingly.)

If you already have a pretty good idea of what 2-year-olds are into, you can think through all your gift options in the following ways, which I break down below:

  • toys according to developmental skill
  • toys according to play stations/types at home
  • toys according to the 2-year-old’s personal interests (the most popular of which seem to be dinosaurs or trucks).

Or, you can skip down to

  • a list of popular gifts for all 2-year-olds that cost less than $25
  • splashy gifts for 2-year-olds that are likely to “win Christmas” ($100 plus)
  • small, stocking-stuffer gifts for 2-year-olds that fit in a stocking and generally cost less than $15.

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Gift Ideas for 2-Year-Olds Based on Developmental Skills

The toys that are the most appealing to 2-year-olds are are the ones that help them develop whichever motor skills, sensory skills, or intellectual skills that they’re focusing on at the moment. Pretty much every toy helps brain development in some way, but if you want to make sure your 2-year-old has access to a good balance of activities that appeal to many different skills, take a look at these categories. (I break down each category even further in my post Toys for 2-Year-Olds: A Developmental and Sensory Checklist.)

Gift Ideas Based on “Play Type”

Putting the brain science aside and simplifying things a little bit, there are four general types of playing that toddlers do on a regular basis. Thinking of these types of toys can help you think of a good toy for the 2-year-old on your list.

Choosing Gifts Based on The Kid’s Interests

Another strategy for buying a gift for a 2-year-old is to think a little bit about what gets the 2-year-old on your list excited and pick any gift within that theme. Here are the things that interest a lot of 2-year-olds:

(Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but it can be a good place to start.)

Quick Win, Staff Picks Under $25 for 2-Year-Olds

If you still need ideas, here’s a roundup of toys that are relatively affordable, relatively easy-to-wrap, available at most major toy stores and retailers, and have been proven popular with toddlers based on a large number of positive reviews online.

Big, Christmas Winning Gifts for 2-Year-Olds ($100 and up)

If you want to make sure that the 2-year-old on your list will freak out with happiness when they see your gift (I’m looking at you, Grandmas and “fun uncles”), here are a few shortcuts that will excite most 2-year-olds, regardless of their personal interests:

  • ride-on toys (coaster toys, electric ride-on toys like Powerwheels, scoot-along toys modeled after their favorite type of truck or animal)
  • wooden train sets on a dedicated train table (there’s something special about
  • a play kitchen and accessories
  • playset or swingset

Other Bigger Toys Popular with Most 2-Year-Olds Will Love

  • sandbox or sensory table
  • an easel for drawing or painting
  • a play couch (like a Nugget) or child-sized furniture
  • a t-ball set or basketball hoop (these aren’t universal hits but will be really popular with some kids)

Stocking Stuffers for 2-Year-Olds

If you’re looking for smaller gifts that will fit in a stocking or that you can combine together to make a bigger gift, here are some ideas.

  • a flashlight or lantern (tough to find one that’s technically designed for ages 2 and under but just use under supervision)
  • a new toothbrush
  • art supplies (some small sets of toddler-friendly crayons, markers, or chalk will fit in a stocking)
  • socks or slippers
  • harmonica or kazoo
  • egg shakers
  • sunglasses
  • miniature toys, such as small dinosaurs or other figures that accompany a play set
  • fubbles (bubbles that don’t spill!)
  • small toy vehicles
  • mittens or hat
  • puzzle pairs
  • fun Band-Aids
  • board books (some are small enough to fit into a typical stocking)
  • a few play kitchen accessories
  • a nesting doll (these are more expensive than a typical stocking stuffer but they do tend to fit in stockings well

For more specific product ideas, check out my post on stocking stuffers for 2-year-olds.