Our top toy gift guide: From Squishmallows to Barbie and beyond

Let the shopping begin! Here's our must-have toys list for the holiday season. (Indigo/Amazon)

The Curator independently decides what topics and products we feature. When you purchase an item through our links, we may earn a commission. Promotions and products are subject to availability and retailer terms.

Whether you’re a parent, family member or friend, chances are you have at least a few children on this year’s holiday shopping list. And perusing toy catalogues can be overwhelming.

We’ve saved you hours of scrolling by pulling out the toys that’ll put a sparkle in their eyes on Christmas morning. You may even have them jumping for joy.

And the best part? A lot of our favourite picks are on sale for Black Friday.


reindeer squishmallow
It you’ve got little ones who love stuffies, no Christmas tree should be without at least one Squishmallow wrapped up underneath. This uber-popular toy launched in 2017 and was named No. 1 best-selling toy in 2022. Special edition Christmas versions include a Christmas tree or reindeer, or get them one of the classics like Danny the Dinosaur.
Story continues below advertisement


If there’s one thing little kids love to do, it’s play like the big kids. And the big kids’ Barbie Dreamhouse is one of the hottest toys of the year, even spawning a gingerbread version! Fisher Price’s own version of the pink fantasy playhouse features the classic spiral slide into the pool and an elevator the littles can take to all three floors, along with 45 sounds and phrases. Great for new and nostalgic Barbie enthusiasts alike. Says one user: “I would recommend this house to any family who loves Barbie!! This brings back fabulous memories!”


Add in a “You can be anything” set of seven little people to play along with the Little People Barbie. Includes astronaut, chef and pilot figures, among other fun careers for your toddlers and preschoolers to explore.


For bigger kids, the Barbie Dreamhouse is a classic pick. This model is sturdy and comes with all the bells and whistles – including a frying pan that sizzles on the stove and a push button to flush the toilet. With over 70 accessories, it’s sure to keep your little one entertained. It’s 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide so make sure you measure before ordering.
Story continues below advertisement


Bring out the scientist in your child with this beast creator. Your young Einstein can unleash one of two sharks, either the Havoc Hammerhead or the Mayhem Megashark. Kids will need to correctly measure out all the ingredients to bring the beast to life and when it does, look out! When they pull a lever, a cloud of mist reveals their beast creation. They can even add a ferocious roar to their beast by adding Roaring Rocks to the mix.


Who would have thought this vintage classic from the 1980s would continue to be so popular? If your kid hasn’t tried the Rubiks Cube yet, get them working on solving the colourful cube puzzle over the holiday break. This Amazon No. 1 best-seller with more than 16,000 ratings helps children with problem solving, agility and concentration. Also a great fidget option for those with extra energy.


What child hasn’t wanted a toy that can fly? Hatchimals Pixies flyers really soar. Once the pixie is ready to fly, her dress lights up and her wings start to flutter. She will launch from the base, or from the palm of your little one’s hand, and will keep aloft as long as she’s guided.
Story continues below advertisement


Create a home “ice cream” parlour with this multicoloured tactile sand set. Kids can create scented ice cream treats with three “flavours,” including chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Comes with fun molds including a scoop, sundae cup, and waffle press, along with toppings for your tiny shopkeeper.
More Recommendations


Or, try the Swirl and Surprise sand which allows kids to spin and mix a variety of bright colours. Comes with ten tools. A 2022 Top Toy Insider winner for Top Holiday Toys.


What’s the best thing about playing with cars? Watching them crash, of course! This Hot Wheels set has crazy loops that lead to four intersections, and smashes can be amplified by motorized boosters.
Story continues below advertisement


Baby’s first Christmas gift, check! Granted, this interactive baby teether is really for parents and grandparents to giggle over. Each piece will give baby’s fine motor skills a workout, from the dumbbell with noisemaking beads inside to the jingly protein shake. And check out the chewable kettle ball.


Kids can use their STEM skills to imagine their very own carnival rides with the Magformers Carnival Set. Includes tiny carnival enthusiasts to try out the rides and comes with the classic square, triangle and hexagon shapes. Plus, this set is compatible with all their other Magformers.


For those long winter days cooped up inside, bring the jumping indoors with this fully enclosed trampoline. Safer than a regular mini-trampoline with suction cups to keep it in place and a net enclosure on the inside so little feet can’t get caught in the springs. Comes with 10 balls to keep the hoop action going and to help kiddos burn that extra energy— even if you can’t make it out to the playground.
The Curator newsletter The Curator newsletter
The Curator

A weekly newsletter featuring must-have products, expert advice and a round-up of the best deals.

Sponsored content