Gifts to Encourage Creativity in Young Children

Gifts to Encourage Creativity

With Christmas quickly approaching, many parents and grandparents are thinking about gifts for the children in their lives.

Many toys that are given to children at Christmas are quickly forgotten, but some gifts have staying power. Classic, open ended toys encourage creativity in young children and are played with for months and often times years.

Here are some of our favorite toys:



You really can’t go wrong with blocks. A nice set of blocks is a simple toy that will be used over and over for so many different things from towers to bridges to play food. We gave our older son a set of Uncle Goose Alphabet Blocks for his first Christmas and they’re still being played with almost 3 years later. We added to that original set when our younger son was given a set of Uncle Goose Number Blocks last Christmas.

In addition to our wooden blocks, we also enjoy the sets of foam building blocks and Building Blocks (like Mega Bloks or Duplos) that we have.

Dress Up

Dress Up Clothes

My boys love dressing up. We have a small collection of dress up items like train hats, superhero capes and a pirate outfit. They really enjoy pulling out the dress up bin and engaging in pretend play. One of the favorites is the Melissa & Doug Pirate Costume, it’s a high quality dress up set that has been played with countless times over the past year and will used for many years to come.

Wooden Train Tracks

Wooden Train Sets

When our older son started showing an interest in trains, we chose wooden train tracks over plastic. We felt the wooden tracks were more open ended and encouraged creativity more than the plastic ones (especially electric trains) available.

You can purchase inexpensive wooden train tracks at various places but we chose to go with the Thomas Wooden Railway. It is expensive but we started out with a Starter Set which included 2 trains and a caboose, he received a track expansion pack and 3 engines as gifts last Christmas from grandparents and another engine for his birthday. Over a year has passed since the initial train set purchase and both boys are still playing with the track and engines and that’s what he wants again this Christmas.

In addition to the creative train play, building the track requires engineering. He’s so proud of the different track set ups he creates and I’m often blown away by what he has created.

We forsee playing with these train tracks for years to come. And, trains aren’t just for boys! Most little girls love trains too – so don’t buy into the gender stereotypes!

Art Supplies

Art Supplies

Art supplies definitely encourage creativity – and big messes! We don’t have a ton of art supplies but big pad of construction paper, colored pencils, fingerpaints, paint and paint brushes goes a long way in helping kids embrace their inner artist. Both of our boys love doing ‘art stuff’. And, art supplies are a consumable gift!

Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

Our older son loves music. He received his first drum and guitar on his second Christmas and those two toys are still being played with and providing music for our family jam sessions! We added a small wooden drum for little brother last Christmas. Other favorites include the child size child drum kit and our xylophone.



For toddlers, Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles are wonderful. The large pieces are easy for little hands to maneuver plus they make fun toys too. We also like Melissa & Doug Wooden Puzzles and have a few Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Puzzles. The wooden puzzles hold up much better than cardboard puzzles – especially if a younger sibling decides to chew on them!



While books aren’t exactly toys, they certainly inspire creativity and can be the starting point for inspiring creative play. My boys will role play favorite characters and act out their favorite stories.

A few of our very favorite books:

If you’re still looking for gifts for young children, hopefully this list helps you find a wonderful gift to encourage creativity!

*This post contains affiliate links.

responses to “Gifts to Encourage Creativity in Young Children” 6

  1. All great gift ideas and loved toys at our house too! You are so right – little girls love trains too! Amelia loves the train set, especially "Emily" and "Toby!" In fact, it was purchased for her before we even knew little men were in our future 🙂 And I totally agree – wooden is the way to go!

    Overall, we also try to have mostly open-ended toys also. However, Amelia has discovered the "Furreal" line of battery operated animals that move their heads/legs and make noise. I have been pleasantly surprised that she is actually able to get lots of play out of them! She goes through spurts of playing with them every day and then they are set aside for awhile before they make a big comeback! As long as things are being used they can stay – even if they give me a headache sometimes!

  2. Thanks for this great gift ideas, I'm still looking for gift ideas for my 5 year old nephew and found some nice inspirations in this post – now I know what I will buy him :-).

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I'm ordering my 19 month old son six of the Chunky Puzzles and the Uncle Goose blocks for Christmas! I had waited to the last minute to buy his Christmas presents because I was not impressed by most of the toys I had seen in the stores. I know he will love the blocks and puzzles! Thanks again for your suggestions!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *