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Cheap Christmas gift ideas for kids ($10 or less, no batteries required)

Christmas gifts
Christmas gifts

Looking for Christmas gifts that will make the children on Santa's "nice" list smile, for $10 or less? The popular, flashy electronic toys and gadgets are fun for a short time, but a lot of these less-expensive toys and games will entertain children for years to come. All of the toys and games listed below can be found at, with a few noted exceptions.  

Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids, Priced $5 or Less:

Jump rope

Hula hoop (available at

Bouncy balls

Balloons; "punch ball" balloons

Plastic army men


Lip gloss, nail polish

Hair accessories

Jigsaw puzzles

Little Golden Books

Crayons, Markers, Coloring pencils, Paints

Coloring/activity books

Construction paper

Origami paper

Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars

Stickers, sticker books

Costume jewelry--necklaces, rings, clip-on earrings, tiaras


Card games

Crazy drinking straws


Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids, Priced $10 or Less:

Classic games--Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Don't Break the Ice, Cootie, Memory, Uno, Yahtzee

Trading cards

Bead sets for making jewelry

Small Mega Bloks, LEGO, or Playmobil sets

Doll clothes and accessories (baby bottles, diapers, etc.)

Dollhouse accessories (furniture, people, pets, etc.)

Mr. Potato Head

Action figures--superheroes, animals, popular movie or TV show characters

My Little Pony figures

Littlest Pet Shop figures

Small "Little People" playsets

Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends "Take Along" engines and vehicles

Play purse

Books--my favorite children's authors are Rosemary Wells, Eric Carle, Margaret Wise Brown, and Mercer Mayer

Diary with lock and key


Play food ( has a nice selection of play food sets)

Play money

Piggy bank

Soccer ball; basketball; baseball and bat

Bath toys--bath tub crayons, boats

Small stuffed animals--some Webkinz are priced under $10

Bucket of small toy dinosaurs, farm animals, wildlife, insects, sea creatures

For babies: Shape sorter (e.g. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks) or rainbow stacker (e.g. Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack)

Gift cards or Cash as Christmas Gifts for Kids?

My seven-year-old son is genuinely thrilled whenever he receives gift cards or cash for Christmas. Give young children ten one-dollar bills instead of one ten-dollar bill--it does make a difference! My son loves getting to spend his own money at Toys 'R' Us, Wal-Mart, Target, or a bookstore.

Give Children the Gift of Your Time this Christmas!

Is your niece's or grandchild's room already exploding with too many toys and games? Instead of wrapping up another Christmas present, plan an outing or a party at your house with the special kids in your life. Here are some ideas:

Take them out for ice cream, frozen custard, or McDonald's.

Go play laser-tag or miniature-golf.

Go bowling.

Go to the local arcade (it won't take them long to spend $5 or $10 worth of tokens, but they will enjoy every second of it, not to mention the "prize" they'll get to purchase with their hard-earned tickets).

Go on a hunt for the best Christmas lights display in town.

Go ice-skating or sledding.

Take them to see Santa Claus.

Go to the library or a local museum.

Bake cookies or other holiday treats together.

Decorate a gingerbread house.

Teach them some simple card games.

Go see a movie, puppet show, or play (or rent a movie; put on your own puppet show!)

Do a puzzle or build something together.

Read The Night Before Christmas or other holiday favorites together.

Time spent together is the most special gift of all!

No one likes a grinch, so get your Christmas shopping done early. Like right now (no pressure!). Merry Christmas!

This article was originally published at


  • Lindy Lou 5 years ago

    You're such a good Mom. These are great ideas --- wish I had some kids to shower with gifts.

  • Anna Sanclement-Ft Lauderdale Science News Examine 5 years ago

    Wow! Great list, this makes it easy to find gifts for kids!

  • halina zakowicz-madison craft beer examiner 5 years ago

    Wow, this is a huge list of gifts and activities! Magic tricks are also good gifts for kids.

  • John Myers - Long Island City Guide Examiner 5 years ago

    Great suggestions Maria!

  • Sherri Thornhill-Dallas Generation X Examiner 5 years ago

    I grew up with some of these and I still think they are wayyyyy better than ipods and lap tops and cell phones and other things kids just don't need!

  • Bobbi Leder - Houston Dogs Examiner 5 years ago

    Great ideas and there are so many to choose from. :-)

  • Jenny Wagner - Charlotte Interior Improvement Exam 5 years ago

    What a great list!

  • Craig the KC car guy 5 years ago

    You forgot all the free ones--mud puddle, box that the TV came in, rocks, shadow puppets, name that smell ...

    ... maybe your ideas are better ...

  • Quick Pools 5 years ago

    It's good to see that Christmas presents are going back to the classics. Take swimming pools for example - it makes for more family time, healthier habits, it lasts for decades, and the kids don't grow out of it, ever.

    Thrifty shoppers can compare prices on dozens of portable pool brands at

    Happy Christmas and beyond!

  • halina zakowicz- madison craft beer examiner 5 years ago

    I found a vibrating Mr. Potato Head not long ago at a thrift store. Hmm....

  • Lorraine Yapps Cohen, Denver Jewelry Examiner 5 years ago

    The gift of our time and attention is the best gift we could possible give to our kids and grandkids. Too bad that kind of gift can't be placed under the Christmas tree. Too bad that's where most kids look for their gifts. Your suggestions, nevertheless, are super gift ideas!

  • Kat - Dallas Ethnic Foods Examiner 5 years ago

    Halina's vibrating Mr. Potato Head scares me. I'm bookmarking this for birthdays, too. :)