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Finding the perfect toy for your little one can be a challenge. Every year, it seems like there are endless new innovations and hot items added to the 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, whether it's a tried-and-true staple like a 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. That's why Laurie Schacht, chief toy officer at The Toy Insider, stopped by TODAY with Hoda & Jenna earlier this season to share the hottest holiday toys that kids will actually want to unwrap this year.
Below, you'll find the top picks from The Toy Insider for kids of all ages, as well as some additional toys we rounded up from Amazon, Zulily, Best Buy, Buybuy Baby, Macy's, Target and Walmart.
If anything catches your eye, you're going to want to grab it now. With all of the expected shipping delays and shortages, there's no telling how long these hot items will stay in stock. To quickly jump to the category you're looking for, click on the links below or keep scrolling to see all 52.
- Hot holiday toys as seen on TODAY
- Bestselling holiday toys
- Deals on hot holiday toys
- Bestselling toys from Amazon's Toys We Love List
- More hot holiday toys from Amazon's Toys We Love list
- Hot holiday toys from Best Buy's Toy Gift Guide
- Hot holiday toys from Buybuy Baby's Top Toys of the Year list
- Hot holiday toys from Zulily's 2021 Toy Index
- Hot holiday toys from Target's Bullseye's Top Toys
- Hot holiday toys from Walmart's Top Rated by Kids list
- Hot holiday toys from Macy's and Toys "R" Us Geoffrey's Hot Toy List
- Hot holiday toys from The Toy Insider's Holiday Gift Guide
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s 2021 Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!
Hot holiday toys as seen on TODAY
Bumper cars aren't just for the fair. Kids as young as 18 months can steer around the house, reaching a maximum speed of 1 mph. Each car comes equipped with a seat belt, a sturdy plastic shell and a soft rubber bumper to protect the walls of your home. This pick is a popular one, so you'll have to look in stores to find it.
For fun interactive play, kids can get creative with this learning pot. With 12 included accessories, they can whip up pretend meals and learn about foods and colors while they're at it.
Instant cameras look a whole lot different now — this version from VTech has a digital screen. Little ones can snap regular pictures or flip the lens to enter selfie mode and take up to 80 photos with the included roll (or even more with a refill). After they take their own photos, they can turn them into drawings or stickers, too.
If your little one has been watching you take a spin on your stationary bike, now you can let them in on some of the fun. They'll get to exercise and can use a tablet on the included stand to access trainer videos and engage with high-energy visuals to feel as though they are mountain biking, snowboarding or even riding a roller coaster. Plus, a built-in Bluetooth speaker brings the sounds to real life.
This fun new game will put their aim to the test with three fun modes for play. It uses lights and sounds to create targets that they can play solo or with friends. It can be placed on the ground or hung on the door for play at any time.
These bugs are defying gravity! After they construct their robot bug, they'll get to crawling in nearly every direction when placed on a window or several other flat surfaces. It's a fun way to combine STEM skills and hands-on play, as they'll learn how motors, batteries, gears and switches work together.
Your classic remote control car just got an upgrade. All it takes is the flip of a switch for this car to get ready to race. With customizable chassis and lighting that you can control, the fun is all in their hands with this one.
After assembling the stage, kids can become the star of their own music videos. When connected to the app, the model and figures will come to life as they perform. Plus there's even a backstage area to explore when the show is over.
Bestselling holiday toys
- ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Brain Game, Amazon, $29.99
- Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad, Amazon, $24.75
- VTech KidiZoom PrintCam Digital Camera and Printer, Target, $49.88
- Koosh Sharp Shot Interactive Target, Amazon, $28.43
- Tamagotchi Pix, Amazon, $39.00
Deals on hot holiday toys
- Melissa & Doug Let's Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! Play Set, Amazon, $23.99 (was $35.79)
- Osmo Math Wizard and the Magical Workshop, Amazon, $44.99 (was $59.99)
- Barbie Dreamhouse, Best Buy, $159.99 (was $224.99)
- L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Movie Magic Studios, Target, $81.99 (was $135.99)
- FAO Schwarz Tie-Dye Ultimate Set, Macy's, $16.99 (was $49.99)
- Tamagotchi Pix, Amazon, $39.00 (was $59.99)
Bestselling toys from Amazon's Toys We Love list
In mid-October, Amazon revealed that customers had purchased more than one million toys since the holiday season kicked off at the beginning of the month. And of all the toys purchased, ThinkFun's Gravity Maze was one of the top sellers. The game helps kids put their spatial reasoning and planning skills to the test as they build new paths to get the marble to the target.
This set will introduce kids ages 4 and up to the fun world of Lego. With more than 484 colorful blocks, including windows, toy eyes and tires, they can build endless characters and structures.
Not only is this doll a bestseller from this year's toy list, but it's also the No. 1 new doll release on Amazon. Little L.O.L Surprise fans will love unboxing the 20 surprises that come with their OMG Sports Diva Fashion Doll. The doll's package can be a part of the play experience, too, since it doubles as a dressing room.
They'll have hours of fun going up and down this slide, which can be used both indoors and outdoors. When they're done playing, simply fold it up for easy storage.
Kids are 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 Let's Play House Pretend set from Melissa and Doug comes with a variety of cleaning tools, which will inspire them to use their imagination and strengthen their sense of purpose.
More hot holiday toys from Amazon's Toys We Love list
Toys featuring characters from the popular TV show "Bluey" are a hit this year. This playset comes with figures for all the members of the family, including Bluey, Bingo Chili and Bandit. Your little one can gather them all around the barbecue for family dinner and then tuck Bluey and her sister into bed for the night.
In this virtual game, they'll explore the village of Wyverndell with the cat Mumbles and use math to brew magical potions. It will help them master valuable skills like addition and subtraction, counting, place value and more.
These adorable octopus plushies took TikTok by storm earlier this year and as a result, became nearly impossible to find. But now, they're back in stock and are a finalist for The Toy Association’s 2022 Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards. Not only are they super cute, but kids can flip them around to match their mood, whether they're feeling happy or upset.
Make art time more fun with this tracing pad. Kids age 6 and up can use the tool to sketch their favorite characters or copy drawings from books and magazines. The light-up board makes it easy to see the lines that they are tracing, even in low-light rooms.
Squeakee The Balloon Dino toy has more than 70 sounds and reactions, so he can do things like roar, dance, stop and even play tug-of-war with his bone squeaker. But if you roar too loud at him or pull his tail, he may pop! Don't worry, he'll inflate again when you pump his tail.
It's "mail time!" And with this playset, which made both Amazon's and Macy's lists this year, kids can pretend to send and receive letters just like Josh and Blue on the show. The set comes with reusable wooden stamps, an envelope, invitations, a memory game and more.
Hot holiday toys from Best Buy's Toy Gift Guide
This toy is the ultimate gift for any car-obsessed kid. The large playset comes with two vehicles and has parking spaces for up to 100 other cars. They can send their Hot Wheels cars up in the elevator and then watch as they zoom down the track, narrowly missing the hungry Robo T-Rex.
Given their popularity, experts say that L.O.L Surprise dolls will likely be some of the first toys to sell out. And while this doll is currently out of stock at Amazon and Target, you can still get it at Best Buy. Lil Bon Bon, part of the Lil Sisters collection, comes with some exciting makeup surprises for them to unbox, including a color-changing lipgloss.
Standing at just under 4 feet tall, the fully furnished Barbie Dreamhouse will encourage kids to use their imagination as they customize each room and discover all of the exciting sound effects and light features. They can take their dolls for a swim in the pool, send them down the slide or even host a barbecue in the backyard. It's a TOTY awards finalist for 2022, so you know it's a good choice.
Now video game lovers can guide Luigi through big adventures both on and off the screen with this set, which is another TOTY finalist. The Lego Luigi figure has an LCD screen that reacts to movement and plays some of the iconic sounds from the game. They can put together the pieces and then move him through the spinning seesaw and flying challenges, collecting coins along the way.
Hot holiday toys from Buybuy Baby's Top Toys of the Year list
Buybuy Baby's list is geared toward the littlest members of your family, with recommendations spanning from toys for infants to kids ages 4 and older. But this plush penguin toy is great for all ages. Get Kissy for your little one's first holiday season and then watch as they continue to play with her as they grow. Press one button and she will teach them to blow kisses, lifting her wings to her beak, then press the other to hear her sing.
All aboard the alphabet train! Your little one will have a blast scooting around on this rolling train. And as they play with all the fun features, like the letter blocks and storybook, it'll help them learn the alphabet and develop reading skills.
Babies can pump some iron and strengthen their fine motor skills with this adorable set. It's complete with a kettlebell rattle (which doubles as a teething toy), dumbbell, jingling protein shake and even a cute sweatband that they can wear.
Take your tot for a cruise around town in this push car. It's available in pink or blue and features a working horn, moveable steering wheel and under-seat storage.
Hot holiday toys from Zulily's 2021 Toy Index
Barbie is all dressed up for the holidays! This festive version of the doll comes in a fun candy cane-themed dress and has matching accessories like a clutch, heels and earrings.
They can take Barbie on some big adventures in this 3-in-1 DreamCamper. Along with the camper, which can transform into a pickup truck, they'll get a pool, boat, fishing gear, a picnic table and more essentials to help them create the ultimate camping experience for their dolls.
The classic stacking toy from Fisher-Price got a supersized makeover! Little ones can shake and play with the extra large rings and then experiment with lining them up in different ways to create a stack.
Hot holiday toys from Target's Bullseye's Top Toys
This Target-exclusive toy is the perfect pick for young “Jurassic Park” fans. The playset comes with action figures depicting Tim Murphy and a T. rex, as well as a Ford Explorer that has rolling wheels and a breakaway roof.
Just like last year, toys featuring The Child from Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” are promising to be some of the most sought-after gifts. This animatronic toy popped up on multiple lists this year and is a finalist for Action Figure of the Year at the 2022 Toy of the Year awards. The figure comes with four snacking accessories. Place one in his hand and he’ll react with sound effects and animations. Or pat his head three times to activate the Force!
A fun follow-up to the beloved Throw Throw Burrito game, this dodgeball card game is a pick that the whole family can enjoy. Players will collect matching cards to earn points and start avocado wars and duels. It’s fun on its own, but it can also be combined with Throw Throw Burrito to create an epic combo game.
Part panda, part kangaroo, this adorable interactive toy responds to your child’s touch with sounds and movements. Along with the Momma-Roo toy, they’ll get a fun surprise — a Baby-Roo hidden in her pouch! Each toy comes with one of three baby Panda-Roos. They won’t know which one they got until they unbox it!
You'll want to grab this L.O.L Surprise set while it's still available. It made both Target's and Amazon’s lists this year and comes with more than 70 surprises for kids to unbox. The package doubles as a movie studio, where they can create productions using the 12 included dolls and fun movie-themed accessories.
Whether you set it up in the house or the backyard, they'll be able to dream up so many exciting adventures with this boat and tent playset. They'll feel like they're on a real camping trip thanks to all the additional fun accessories like a wooden fishing rod, boating license and first aid essentials.
Hot holiday toys from Walmart's Top Rated by Kids list
Walmart's list of the hottest toys has been tested and selected by the best toy experts out there — actual kids. And the soft furReal Sweet Jammiecorn Unicorn was a top pick for kids aged 2 to 4. They can feed and care for their unicorn throughout the day and then at night it will play songs and white noise soundscapes to help lull them to sleep.
They'll love having a set of wheels to ride to school or around the neighborhood. And at just under $40, this scooter is a pretty affordable pick. It has four adjustable height settings, so they can keep using it even after they hit their growth spurt.
If your little one is obsessed with "Rainbow High," they'll love driving their dolls around in this color-changing car. Currently the No. 1 new release in Doll Playsets, they can switch between the eight colors to match the car to their doll's outfits. It can fit two dolls and even has a working steering wheel and seatbelts.
Lulu Achoo is another TOTY Award finalist for 2022. When she isn't feeling well, her nose and forehead will light up red to let your little one know that she needs some TLC. The doctor's station will tell them what's wrong they can nurse their doll back to health. They can play doctor with the accessories which include a stethoscope, charts and a light-up thermometer.
Kids ages 5 to 7 will love this set from Hot Wheels. They can see how many cars they can race on the 28-inch wide track loop at once. If they add one too many, there will be an epic crash!
Your house will instantly become the coolest on the block when you set this Bouncesational Bouncer up in your living room or backyard. The bestselling bouncer has a built-in pump, which makes it super easy to inflate. And it can fit up to three kids (up to 188 pounds), making it the ultimate entertainment for playdates or rainy days.
Hot holiday toys from Macy's and Toys "R" Us Geoffrey's Hot Toy List
Warning: When you gift your kids this fun tie-dye kit, none of the white clothing in your house will be safe. They'll love using all of the included dyes and accessories to create fun patterns and designs on clothes. It comes with two white headbands and a tote bag to get them going, but pretty soon they'll be asking to tie-dye everything in their closets.
When they place their fingers on this glowing orb, the lightning-like plasma beams will follow their movements. It will react to the sounds of their voice and music to create a cool light show.
You've played Uno before — but never like this. Up the intensity with this version that features three piles and sounds and lights that will tell you where to place your cards. Put too many cards in one pile and it will overload! It's suitable for ages 7 and up so the whole family can get in on the fun.
Toys that can be “unboxed” are all the rage, and kids will have nearly as much fun opening up this Polly Pocket set as they will playing with it. It comes with 20 accessories including micro Polly and Lila dolls and life-size 3D glasses. The movie theater setup even has a spot to set up a phone, so they can watch movies and shows with the dolls.
Marshall from "Paw Patrol" is here to save the day in his transforming fire truck! The truck features a ladder, water cannon launcher and rescue net, so kids will be ready to take on any adventure with their new puppy pal.
Hot holiday toys from The Toy Insider's Holiday Gift Guide
You've got mail! Kids can ride around the backyard or driveway and deliver three plastic envelopes while listening to their favorite songs thanks to the included FM radio and MP3 player input. Kids ages 3 to 5 can even get some driving experience when they use the pedal for acceleration.
With this Play Kitchen Set, they can pretend to whip up tasty dishes with help from Blue and her friends Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper. The realistic cooking sounds and fun interactive features will make your little one feel like a real chef. They can "cook" foods on the stove or in the oven and Tickety Tock will let them know when their dishes are ready!
Kids as young as six months old can enjoy this learning bot, which is a 2022 TOTY finalist in the infant and toddler toy category. It's filled with fun hands-on activities like twist and flip gears, a press-down antenna and more. As they grow, you can switch up the Smart Stages learning levels to match their age and stage.
Based on "Ryan’s World," a popular YouTube series, this chest is filled with surprises like action figures, a belt, compass, coins and stickers that will help kids gear up for their next great adventure.
Remember Tamagotchis? The retro toy has made a big comeback, and kids can get in on the fun with the Tamagotchi Pix. They'll feed and nurture their virtual pet and play games to keep them happy. This version even has a camera, so they can take pictures with their Tamagotchi.
Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2021 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:
- 45 entertaining gifts your 3-year-old won’t want to put down
- 40 gifts for the 7-year-old who’s ready to take on the world
- 46 incredible gifts that’ll capture your 4-year-old’s imagination
- 40 best gifts for the 1-year-old who's growing up way too fast
- The 39 best gifts for 2-year-olds, according to experts