These are the toys your kids want for Christmas
Toy trends can reflect the larger preoccupations of parents, and society, as a whole. These are the toys everyone's buying the kids in 2019.
While we fight against over-consumerism, we should also remember that toys aren't the enemy (too many toys - that's another matter). Play is so crucial, in fact, that researchers are looking into the benefits of learning through play in formal school settings (check out The LEGO Foundation's recently published research).
OK, OK, we all know that play doesn't necessarily require toys – any parent who's watched their child play with a cardboard box for weeks on end can tell you that – but toys are fun. We like researching them and buying them and we want to make sure we find ones for our kids that we wouldn't mind playing with ourselves.
Here are the big toy trends to know about - and the best toys for your child for Christmas.
Coding without screens
Coding for babies? Officially happening. And why not - we'd love to help inspire our tot to become a future inventor/founder/medical guru. Learning Resources has an impressive selection of building and snap-together toys for babies, to develop fine motor skills and encourage early STEM development, and the brand's newly launched coding pets offer screen-free programming for kids to teach them early STEM concepts as well as basic coding and more advanced games.
Meet Muro, our favourite way to play. Boards start at £129
Modular play boards
The big buzzword in kids' play this year? Muro: a UK-designed plug-and-play board with interchangeable modular toys that easily connect together. Muro has many points in its favour, from its gorgeous design (it's the perfect finishing touch to your child's Insta-ready bedroom), it's made from birch-plywood and rubber wood and it can be changed and personalised to grow with your child's age and interests. Definitely the type of toy that parents enjoy as much as the kiddos...
JoJo Maman Bébé Christmas Dinner set, £24
Food-themed toys are MAJOR
No matter the age of your kids, food-themed toys are everywhere, from food-experiment toys that are somewhere between chemistry and baking (go STEM!), food-truck inspired toys and pretend-baking with new Play-Doh sets (there's a sophisticated-looking wood-burning pizza oven kit that even parents will struggle to object to - think of the Quattro Stagioni potential!) Parents who are trying to shy away from plastic will be pleased to see lots of pretend-play wooden toys that fit in the culinary category, too - GLTC has tons, from a fish & chip shops to bakery baskets, as does Le Toy Van and JoJo's even got a toy version of your Christmas feast (complete with Brussels sprouts and Christmas cake!). And let's not forget about Cutetitos - just over from the US - they're a soft toy wrapped in a burrito. Who needs unboxing when you can have one of these?
Arcade Coder by Tech Will Save Us, £129.99
STEM toys are cooler than ever
Parents aren't just buying up STEM toys to tick that dutiful-parenting box - in fact, some are so good these days that we really just want to play with them ourselves (have you seen Kano's Harry Potter coding wand?! or Robo Wunderkind's fun robotics kits?). We've long been obsessed with Tech Will Save Us, which has everything from electro dough to synth kits to crafty light-up badges. Their newest launch is the Arcade Coder, which lets kids become gamers of a different variety: ones who invent games for the whole family to play together. Boxing Day entertainment? Sorted.
Monopoly Voice Banking, £29.99
Retro meets modern
Traditional games never go out of style as parents long for their children to enjoy the types of games they played with as kids - but there is a twist: they've gone hi-tech. Some examples? Beloved board game Monopoly now has voice banking, while Mr. Potato Head - 2.0 - has moving lips, is interactive and even sings.
Pomsies, £14.99 apiece
Wrapping a toy around a body part is still the dream
The obsession with wearing toys isn't going anywhere, and you'll see lots of Fingerlings-type toys that perch on a shoulder or hang off a finger. Meet Pomsies: interactive soft toys that wrap around wrists, hair, or backpacks and light-up based on mood. We predict every 6-9-year-old girl will have - or want - one.