The 50 best gifts for children

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Kate Watson-Smyth fills the family stockings with this year's top toys and greatest games

1. Wild Science Perfume Laboratory

A mini chemistry factory with the ingredients to make not just perfume but scented crystals and notepaper, burp slime and pot pourri. Designed to make science more fun, this kit works alongside the National Curriculum.

Where: 08456 804 484;

How much: £12.99


2. Doggie Doo

Well, yes, it depends how you define fun but if you're a child and you love animals and think poo jokes are hilarious you can't go wrong with this. It's all over the best toy charts too. Feed the dog. Pump the lead. Scoop the poop. The manufacturers claim it's educational and will teach a child to clean up after a pet. Yeah, right. It's just fun.


How much: £22.99


3. Wooden Rescue Station

Girls have had all the fun with elaborate doll's houses and now it's time for the boys with this wooden three-storey police and fire station that comes with lots of accessories including a helicopter, fire engine, police bike, dog and lots of staff.

Where: 0871 231 3513;

How much: £140



4. Giant Keyboard

Well, it's not the most quietest toy they could have, but they can compose their own tunes and play them back – remember that scene in Big – and learn a bit more about music and it's probably the most fun way to learn scales.

Where: 0871 231 3513;

How much: £40



5. Street Surfer

Skateboarding never goes out of fashion and each generation brings something new to the party. This is a mix of snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding and provides a full body work out too (apparently). You can choose between castor boards or scooters depending on your ability.


How much: From £59.99 ~


6. Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game

This might be the first time an app has been turned into a real game rather than the other way round. Build the wall, arrange the pigs and catapult the birds to knock it all down.

Where: 0800 044 5010;

How much: £19.99


7. Great Gizmos Green Creativity Recycled Bottle Light

This is the newest title in the range and they'll enjoy the idea that they can make something that actually works. Whether you want it in your minimalist sitting room is another matter.


How much: £9.99


8. Hexbug Nano Elevation Set

Hexbugs are tiny little bugs that react to noise and scurry around, changing direction when you clap your hands. This set has 52 pieces to build them a habitat in which they can run about like robotic hamsters.

Where:; 08456 049049

How much: £35.95


9. Brainbox Football

A sort of modern version of the tray game. Look at the card for one minute and answer the questions that your opponent reads out from the back of it. Sets include history, inventions, London, animals and nature.

Where: 0844 412 2291;

How much: £9.99


10. Rory's Story Cubes

One of those incredibly simple ideas that could entertain them for hours – especially on long journeys. Nine cubes, 54 images and 10 million combinations. Throw the dice, look at the pictures, tell the story.

Where: 08708 745437;

How much: £7.96


11. Inflatable Alien Head and Hands

So silly but it will surely raise a giggle and be useful for Halloween next year. If you don't fancy the alien there's a robot too.

Where: 0871 231 3513;

How much: £10



12: Club Penguin Air Hockey Table

Club Penguin continues to dominate the online gaming sphere for the under-10s and this is an attempt to keep the interest going by bringing the game off the computer and into real life.


How much: £29.99


13: Play All Day

The drawings in this book are gorgeous and you can make everything from little cardboard storage boxes for precious stuff as well as animals and entire townscapes.

Where: 020-7241 4212;

How much: £9.99


14. TappBlaster iPhone Gun

Download the app onto your iphone and insert the phone into the gun. Your kitchen will then appear in the sights with aliens coming at you from every which way. Just shoot them down.

Where: 01482 830368;

How much: £19.99



15. Living Larder Little Veggie Patch

Children are more likely to eat vegetables they have had a hand in growing, so buy them this raised table and get them interested while they're young.


How much: £149.95


16.  Sylvanian Families: Ambulance


These sets are massively popular. This comes with medical supplies and a stretcher and the roof lifts for emergency treatment.

Where: 0845 800 1020;

How much: £44.99


17. Personalised Rope Swing

Every child loves a swing and these rather beautiful oak ones can also be inscribed with their name or a message.

Where: 01297 443084;

How much: £229 uncarved; £329 for 20 letters


18. Dweebies

Round up the Dweebies by placing a matching card on the end of each row but watch out as some will disappear before you can make that match.

Where: 0878 0745437;

How much: £8.95


19. Flip 'Em Flops

Seven pairs of flip-flops in one set. Comes with one base and seven pairs of ribbon straps for changing every day of the week or to match a particular outfit.

Where: 0844 482 9708;

How much: £14.95


20. Light Strike

Another toy that brings video games into the real world, this time with laser guns and lots of accessories that act like shields, rapid-fire machines and customisable weapons.


How much: £39.99


21. EZ Fort

These plastic rods slot together any way you fancy and you then drape over a sheet or tablecloth and the hideout is complete. Comes with 54 pieces so it's a bit more sophisticated than a blanket over the washing line.

Where: 0844 848 6000;

How much: £36


22. Octonauts Octopod Playset

This animated preschool series on CBeebies has been a huge hit. It has noises, rescue pods, characters and sea creatures but Peso is missing, which is a huge blunder I'm told.

Where: 0845 640 3030;

How much: £34.99


23. Crocodile Helmet

Fully moulded lightweight skate and scoot helmets for heads aged between two and eight. The interior is covered with shock-absorbent foam too and should encourage those who don't like to wear a helmet on a scooter.

Where: 020-7241 4212;

How much: £35


24. Cannibal Monsters

Another fine game from SmartGames. This is based on a group of monsters who want to dominate their planet by eating all the others until only one remains. Everything stores inside the box, which makes it easy for travelling.


How much: £14.95


25. Laser Pegs 4-in-1 Constructing Kit

So, when they've moved on from Lego this set comes with 60 pegs that light up as you join them together. Includes instructions for four models including starship cruiser and hang glider.


Where: 0800 044 5010;

How much: £49.99


26. Playmobil Top Agents Spying Camera Set

Not that we wish to encourage spying on one's parents but this kit can be attached to the Robo Gangster Truck and driven out of the field of vision to see what's going on in the next room.


How much: £59.99


27. Time Teacher Wristwatch

Christmas is a good time for that all-important first watch and this one helps them distinguish between "to" and "past" and marks out the minutes to help them learn those last tricky ones.

Where: 0844 848 6000;

How much: £16


28. Retro Play Kitchen

This one has been included because it comes in red as well as pink and boys like to cook too. Features include an oven, cupboard, shelf, two burners a sink and turning knobs and taps.

Where: 0844 848 6000;

How much: £125


29. Irritating Ethel

One of a series of monsters that giggles, burps and screams when you tickle them, which will please young children who think there's nothing funnier than a burp (many adults too come to that).

Where: 0844 557 5261;

How much: £20


30. Pinball Master

A pinball machine that only takes up the kitchen table. Comes with all the lights and sounds, flippers and a high score display. It does need four big (C 1.5V batteries), which are not included.

Where: 0844 573 7070;

How much: £19.99


31. My Style Craft Deluxe Charm Bracelets

A new range of craft kits aimed at older girls. Make the beads with the clay and glitter provided and then style up your own bracelets.

Where: 08456 804484 ;

How much: £20


32. Paper Jamz Pro Microphone

A microphone that comes with five voice effects so you can sing perfectly in tune or with auto harmony or chorus.

Where: 0845 640 3030;

How much: £34.99


33. Lego Space Centre

While many this year will want Lego's Ninjago sets, this space centre, with its launch pad, countdown clock, and mini astronauts, might keep them amused in the longer term.


How much: £49.99


34. My London Girl

No, not Kate Moss but a proper doll built like a proper little girl. You can also buy clothes for your daughter and her doll to match. Four to choose from.


How much: £79 and outfits from £30



35. Fijit Friends Interactive Figure

Interactive pets that move and talk, dance and chat and react to your voice identifying more than 30 commands.

Where: 0800 044 5010;

How much: £54.99



36. Mission Earth Family Board Game

Designed by a group of Oxfordshire school girls, the game involves a group of Earth heroes with special powers who must each try to save the world from impending environmental disaster.


How much: £17.99



37. Bob the Builder Deluxe Construction Tower Playset

It's extraordinary that it's taken this long for Bob to have his own building set given the nature of his job and all. Build the tower by winching the materials up and down.

Where: 0845 640 3030;

How much: £29.99


38. Vtech Innotab

This has proved popular with small children. A rubber-covered tablet that has lots of games and e-picture books and won't hurt their eyes. There's also a video player, interactive globe and various other educational activities.

Where: 0845 640 3030;

How much: £79.89



39. Horrible Histories Cracking Castle The Jigsaw

They can't seem to get enough of this fabulous series so series so if they've got all the books/annuals why not see if you can get them interested in a proper puzzle with 300 pieces?

Where: 0161-428 9111;

How much: £8.99



40. Convertible Pirate Ship Book

First of all it's a giant book, then it opens out to be a playmat and finally you can fold it back up again and it becomes an actual pirate ship that they can sail across the carpet.

Where: 0844 848 6000;

How much: £12.99


41. Chuckimal

It's silly but children seem to love them. Record your message and chuck it over to the recipient who can then hear your words when you have left the room. Messages can be up to 30 seconds long.

Where: 01482 830368;

How much: £11.95


42. Battleships

A rather beautiful version of Battleships that has been simplified for younger players and magnetised for travel. The larger counters make it less fiddly than the more grown-up versions.

Where: 0844 557 5263;

How much: £12



43. Meccano Space Chaos Patrol Ships

Meccano has been a favourite for years. This is a futuristic collection of drones, raiders, bombers and fighters with stickers and trading cards to collect as well.

Where: 01628 690700;

How much: £9.99



44. Character Building Doctor Who Ultimate Tardis Playset

They all still love Doctor Who. This has a port for the sonic screwdriver and comes with the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song.


How much: £49.99


45. My Body Inside

Children are fascinated by what goes on inside their bodies and these fun puzzles show them what it looks like in there. There are 86 pieces that make up the inside and the outside.

Where: 0844 557 5263;

How much: £12


46. Large Chimp Hand Puppet

But so much more than just a puppet. He's soft, his mouth moves easily for great expressions and Velcro on the hands means he can hug you too.

Where: 0844 4122291;

How much: £29.99


47: Penguin Race

First launched more than 20 years ago, this has captivated children and their parents ever since. My husband has added it to his Christmas list.

Where: 0844 557 5261;

How much: £15


48. Romans

In this fun board game, you want to be Caesar so you need to conquer the empire using chance and army cards and answering the questions.

Where: 0844 412 291;

How much: £19.99


49. Build Your Own Kaleidoscope

A great little stocking filler Comes with its coloured beads but substitutions – petals, buttons, feathers – can be made.

Where: 020-8974 1200;

How much: £7.50


50. Light Sprites Tree of Lite

Yes it's a big ol' pile of plastic but it's got fairies, it's got glowing lights and it's got a magic wand that makes everything change colour.

Where: 0845 640 3030;

How much: £39.99


Next week: Gifts for men

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