Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Games for kids of all ages

Turning off and tuning out can be a great gift to give for the holidays. Putting away electronic devices and popping off the T.V. lets you really focus, whether it’s laughing uproariously with friends, furiously competing with family members over a board game, or developing a new skill.

While there are certainly fun games that include beeping and booping and flashing lights, going completely analog has a specific charm. It feels more relaxing, and dare we say, even restorative.

The challenge here is finding something that is accessible for different age levels — simple enough for a pretty little one to try, without enduring eye rolling from a tween or teen. Adults have to also enjoy it enough to not groan internally every time the suggestion is made to play with a specific thing.

Repeat playability and usability is also a big factor. There’s nothing worse than buying something for the toy or games cupboard, having a great time with it once, and having it languish, gathering dust.

Sometimes your introvert also wants to spend some time alone, learning something new — we have suggestions for that too.

Stabilo woody 3 in 1 crayons (10 pack)

Colour three ways

Stabilo woody 3 in 1 crayons (10 pack)

These function as pencil crayons, wax crayons, and watercolour pencils, depending on your mood. Better yet, they can be used on glass and cardboard, as well as dark paper, because of the intensity of their colour. Best of all, they come encased in sturdy wood and feature an extra-large core lead, making them easier to grip and allowing for versatility in stroke width. Artists of all ages will appreciate them. $32.99 and up, art supply stores and dillydallykids.ca

Soggy Doggy

It’s a dog’s life

Soggy Doggy

In theory, the idea is to roll the dice, take your turn bathing the pup, and safely get all the way around the board without getting splashed. Turns out some players really enjoy when the dog shakes itself all over, sending water flying. The fun for older players is anticipating the reactions of the younger ones. $24.27 and up, major toy retailers

Pencil Nose

The nose knows

Pencil Nose

So you think you can draw — but can you do it with your nose? This zany game asks artists to put their trust in their proboscises. Pop on the glasses, and sketch away ‘nosily’ on the clear board while onlookers try to guess what your creation depicts — particularly peculiar facial contortions do not get any bonus points. $34.99, mastermindtoys.com

Flexo

Flex your building skills

Flexo

If you’ve ever wished your ‘rigid bricks’, a.k.a. LEGO were a little more flexible, then Flexo is for you. The pliable silicone connectors open up a world of building creations with spring and bounce action. They come shaped as triangles, circles, squares, and rectangles, and in a variety of colours. Kit prices vary, mastermindtoys.com (exclusive to Mastermind)

Air Blast Cannon

Fun blast

Air Blast Cannon

Blast your way to some major fun by building this air-powered cannon. Launch foam darts up to 10 paces away at the included paper targets — or a different target of your choosing. The accompanying book explores how pneumatics work, and where they function in every day life — like bicycle pumps. $24.80 and up, major toy retailers

Kingdomino

Dominos done differently

Kingdomino

You’ve probably never played dominos quite like this. With each turn, you have to try and connect a new domino to your kingdom, while keeping ‘terrain’ in mind. Who gets which turn depends on what tile was chosen previously, and securing a tile with a crown multiplies point totals. (It probably makes more sense once you actually have your hands on the game.) $24.95 and up, toy and board game stores

Mic O Mic kits

Plane, Train, Automobile ‘Selfies’

Mic O Mic kits

Things that go vroom, chug chug, or thup thup thup in real life are always going to be popular toy options — these Mic O Mic kits make it an analog experience by asking kids to build the machines themselves. The clip and pin building system exercises their fine motor skills, pun intended. Kits $13.99 and up, mastermindtoys.com

4M KidzMaker Embroidery Teddy Bear Kit

Sew Cute

4M KidzMaker Embroidery Teddy Bear Kit

Some kids just can’t have enough stuffed animals. This kit is a gentle way to get them to think about the work and materials that go into one, instead of instantly and mindlessly acquiring another fuzzy friend. Kids stuff and sew their own teddy bear before embroidering it and sewing a button on — skills that could come in handy later in life. $16.99, mastermindtoys.com

Sewing Textiles and Weaving Class

Sew Useful

Sewing Textiles and Weaving Class

An option for an analog gift is to give an experience, rather than a physical object. This series of classes at Vancouver’s Collage Collage allows children ages 8-13 to weave on looms, and try out their hands at sewing, crocheting, and embroidery. It’s the opposite of fast fashion, and that may be what makes it especially enticing. $180, collagecollage.ca

Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids

The Write Stuff

Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids

Traditionalists may believe that penmanship is dying away, but that certainly doesn’t have to be the case for users of this book. Amy Latta’s book takes readers through step-by-step instructions for different hand lettered fonts and text embellishments. These skills will come in handy for teen school projects or journaling, and — fingers crossed — you might even get a lovely handwritten thank-you note for the gift. $26.65, indigo.ca

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