Finding the perfect gift for your little one can be a challenge. Every year, it seems like there are endless new innovations and hot items added to the toy market, which is exciting for kids but can make your decision feel 10 times more difficult.
Even if you have a good sense of what you're looking for — like a tried-and-true Barbie doll or something more educational like a STEM toy — there are so many variations of each that it's hard to know which ones they'll actually appreciate.
Retailers are well aware of the struggle parents go through when picking out a present. And that's why many drop "hot toy" lists each year revealing their top toy picks for the season. While we're still waiting for all of the guides to drop, early bird shoppers will be happy to know that retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Zulily and more have already revealed their top picks. In fact, we got the chance to speak with Zulily toy expert Joe Glass, who walked us through some of the top choices for the holiday season.
Below, you'll find those toys, as well as additional picks from The Toy Foundation and some of the top toys from last year to help inspire your shopping. And even though it may seem early, many people are planning on getting a head start on their shopping this year. Salesforce is predicting that 42 percent more consumers worldwide will start shopping earlier this season to avoid potential price jumps due to inflation. So if anything catches your eye, it might be a good idea to grab it now.
To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 34.
- Toys from Amazon's Toys We Love list
- Toys from Target's Bullseye's Top Toys
- Toys from Walmart's Top Toys list
- Toys from Macy's Geoffrey's Hot Toy list
- Toys from Best Buy's toy guide
- Toys from The Toy Insider's Hot 20 list
- Top toy picks from Zulily
- The Toy Foundation Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award winners
Toys from Amazon's Toys We Love list
Kids can use the Magna-Tiles to build unique shapes and structures and then turn off the lights to see their creations really shine! Just don't forget to place them in direct sunlight or use the included LED light to recharge them when you're done.
With this dodgeball card game, the whole family can get in on the fun. Players will collect matching cards to earn points and start burrito wars and duels. It’s fun on its own, but it can also be combined with Throw Throw Avocado to create an epic combo game.
Make art time more fun with this rock painting kit. Kids (the brand recommends ages 6 and up) can use the tools included in the kit to create mini glow-in-the-dark pieces of art. It comes with 10 smooth rocks that are perfect for painting, but once the kids have decorated all those, they can hunt for more to paint outside.
It doesn't get more classic than gifting your little one a Radio Flyer Wagon for the holidays. And this toy allows little ones who are just figuring out how to move around to feel more comfortable and balanced on their feet. It has resistance clickers which prevent it from moving too quickly, the brand says. Plus, the front doubles as a toy storage area, so they can bring all their favorite items along on walks.
Toys from Target's Bullseye's Top Toys list
As this Pop It! toy's bubbles light up, kids can try to pop them all before the time runs out. There are three modes of gameplay, including a competitive multiplayer mode and a solo player blitz mode.
One toy expert recently told Shop TODAY that this is the "year of Cocomelon," so if you see a toy featuring characters from the franchise in stock, you should grab it while you can. With this transforming fire truck, which made Target's list this year, kids can help Firefighters JJ and Nina save the day.
From the park to their own backyard, kids will be able to find fairies everywhere they go with this little toy. The Fairy Finder has already made multiple top toy lists this year, and reviewers say that it provides hours of fun. "My 3 kids (3,5,8) haven’t put these down since we got them," one shopper wrote.
In this remixed game of Yahtzee, all players roll their dice at the same time and try to be the first to match the sets shown on the cards. Once they do, they'll yell out the name of the combo, like "The Spicy Burrito" or "Pair of Threeves" and slap the card before anyone else can.
Toys from Walmart's Top Toy list
The Barbie three-in-one Dreamcamper made many hot holiday toy lists last year, so we weren't surprised to see this new version on Walmart's 2022 Top Toy List. The super-sized vehicle (it stands at 2.5-feet tall!) features rolling wheels, an epic slide, pool and seven play areas. It also comes with over 60 accessories, including pet puppies, furniture and kitchen tools that they can use to dream up tons of fun adventures for their dolls.
Made for little ones (babies ages 6 months and older), this cute toy promises to help introduce kids to words, counting, feelings and emotions. They can touch his paws to hear silly reactions and music or play games and mindfulness exercises. You can personalize his reactions and add their name, favorite color or food.
Hot Wheels vehicles are always a popular choice for the holiday season, and Walmart selected this monster truck remote-control vehicle as one of its top picks this year. They'll have a blast testing this car's Terrain Stomp Technology on all kinds of terrains, from grassy lawns to rocky pavement.
Kids will learn how to care for a pet with this interactive guinea pig toy. They can feed her, groom her and pet her to make her heart light up. When it does, it means there's a baby on the way! They can place her in her hutch and wait for their new little pet to arrive. Each Mama comes with three babies, so they'll have a whole family to care for and play with.
If they haven't stopped talking about "Jurassic World: Dominion" since it premiered earlier this year, they're bound to love this Lego set. They can uses the included offroad vehicle, three character mini-figures (Ian Malcom, Dr. Ellie Sattler and a guard) and two dinosaur toys to act out scenes from the movie.
Toys from Macy's Geoffrey's Hot Toy list
Buzz Lightyear is ready for liftoff! And when kids fill his fusion canister with water and load it into his jetpack, it'll create a real vapor trail as they send him flying. He also has poseable joints and plays phrases and sounds from the movie.
They can make their own dinosaur models with this building set. It comes with all the parts they'll need to create the figurines, along with a kid-safe powered screwdriver and screws. The building is only half the fun: Once they're done, they'll have fun dino figures to add to their play sessions.
As they love and care for this doll she'll grow, just like a real baby! She starts at just 14 inches and can grow up to 18 inches after they rock, "feed" her and give her her pacifier. And she even comes with a growth chart so they can measure her progress. Once she's fully grown, they can dress her up with her brushable tiara hair extension and her princess skirt.
As they sort the wooden pieces, complete the puzzles and push around their grocery cart, they'll learn about shapes, colors, problem-solving, imaginative play and more, the brand says.
You may be familiar with Connect 4, but you've likely never played it this way! In this updated version of the classic game, players choose where to put their disc and then spin the column to line them up.
Toys from Best Buy's Toy Guide
This fun experience packs four different games into one interactive set. They can practice their trick shots with the toy basketball and hoop, perfect their swing with the toy bat and tethered baseball, score goals on the soccer net or take over the concession stand and prep a big "meal" to keep themselves fueled on game day.
They can add a little holiday cheer to their Squishmallows squad with Brooke the polar bear. They'll love squeezing and snuggling their new oversized plushie friend.
The Barbie holiday doll is here! And this year's version was one of Best Buy's top picks for the season. She comes dressed in a beautiful red gown, which the brand says was inspired by a poinsettia. She's a collectible piece that kids can play with and then display on their bookshelf for years to come.
Older kids and tweens will love having a set of wheels to ride to school or around the neighborhood. This one can reach speeds of up to 7.4 miles per hour, features three speed modes and weighs less than 10 pounds, according to the brand.
Toys from The Toy Insider's Hot 20 list
Kids are almost always imitating every move their parents make. And now, they'll be able to feel like they're lending a hand on cleaning days. The LeapFrog Clean Sweep Learning Caddy comes with a variety of cleaning tools that make sounds and play songs, possibly inspiring them to use their imagination and strengthen their ability to follow directions.
This plush doll is another hot holiday toy that parents of CoComelon fans will want to grab ASAP. Perfect for kids ages 2 and up (according to the brand), JJ’s head, elbow, knee or foot will light up when he's hurt, and they can help him feel better by placing a bandage over his boo-boos.
This adorable interactive toy responds to your child’s touch with sounds and movements. It features more than 75 songs, sounds and phrases that can help little ones learn the alphabet, counting, colors and more.
Kids can sing along to all their favorite Disney songs (including picks from the hit movie "Encanto") with this portable karaoke machine. It's Bluetooth-enabled, so you can wirelessly stream music from any compatible device. And when you add a flash drive, they can record and save their performances, too!
Top toy picks from Zulily
Because the events of the last couple of years have been pretty stressful for kids (and adults, too), Glass said that toys that help kids learn about their emotions and cope with them are starting to trend in the industry. This Big Feelings Pineapple from Learning Resources is one such option. Not only will they have fun swapping out the 26 different face pieces to create unique and funny expressions, but it also comes with a poster that will help them identify different expressions and the corresponding emotions.
Made for kids ages 4 and older, Glass said that this Lego set is a "simple build," so it's perfect for kids who have graduated from the Duplo Lego kits, but aren't quite ready for more involved sets. The 140-piece set comes with mini-figures, vehicles and a cool T. rex toy.
"You want that big gift locked in, so you know they're gonna have that wow moment when the big day comes," Glass said. "And I love this pirate ship. It actually has projectiles, it floats in the water which is super cool, and then when it's not floating in water it has wheels so it can go across a table as well."
"We have so many of those name brands out there that mom knows and loves and trusts, and that's a big thing that's part of her shopping habit this year — to buy into those brands that she trusts and knows that she's getting quality out of," Glass said. One of those brands is Melissa & Doug, whose wooden toys have been a staple in families for decades. "Melissa & Doug is all about being screen-free — getting off the screens and playing with tangible stuff," he said. This coffee set is one of Zulily's top 25 toy picks for the holiday season and is bound to become one of their favorites, as they pretend to take coffee orders and brew their own cup of Joe in the morning.
The Toy Foundation Toy of the Year (TOTY) Award Winners
Each year, The Toy Foundation recognizes some of the best toys and games from the past two years during its Toy of The Year Awards. And while this year's winners haven't been announced yet, more than 100 finalists across the 17 categories were revealed in August. This set from Lego is a finalist for the collectible of the year category. There are 12 mini-figures from "The Muppets" to collect, from Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy, and which ones they get in the box will be a surprise!
If there was one toy that dominated the 2021 holiday season, it was the Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron. In fact, it was so popular, that the toy was sold out for most of the holiday season. But recently, the brand announced the launch of its new toy, the Magical Misting Crystal Ball and it's already a No. 1 new release on Amazon and won the creative toy of the year award. This version brings all the fun, magic and interactive features that kids loved about the original, but in a new crystal ball form!
Bill Nye has been teaching kids that "science rules," for years now. And this kit from the wacky science expert is the perfect way to introduce your kids to the fun world of experiments. The STEAM toy of the year winner, this kit will provide them with step-by-step instructions and tools to master 30 different science experiments, so they can create a lemon battery, make perfume and more.
This cute toy won the infant and toddler toy of the year award, and it's perfect for Cocomelon fans. Made for kids aged 18 months and older, it features lights, sounds, music and more than 300 phrases and sounds. The brand says it can help kids learn letters, numbers, color recognition and more.