Every year when I make this new list I look at the old ones and it's really sweet. My oldest is 13 now, not so into toys anymore, so it's all bittersweet. Thank God for her younger sisters (they are getting old fast, too!) and my little nieces and nephews. Here's the 2015 favorite kid gifts list. It's a mix of both old and new items—ones we have recently fallen in love with and ones that are tried and true winners for all the kids from years ago.
We usually get a new table top game every year and this one was the most loved immediately. It's easy to learn, has beautiful graphics, and we could all play it easily (we are 8-43). My association with this game is the questionable 1970s music we were listening to while learning it, which really wasn't fitting with the historical Japanese theme of the game. There is a wonderful Table Top episode on how to play this, which I highly recommend.
This sweet little kit was a huge hit with our 8 year-old and now she wants them all. She loves robots, tinkering, and cute things, so there you go. They are affordable, well made, the directions are clear, and this has held up surprisingly well considering how much the little guy gets put to work.
I originally bought these for trips because it's an easy way to use watercolor when away from home. All you need is a waterbrush and some heavy paper and a waterproof pen. What I didn't expect was just how beautiful these pencils are, unlike any watercolor pencils I have used before. They are almost like a gouache pencil, the pigment is much less transparent than watercolor depending on how much water is used. They are so vibrant and saturated, we just love them. The girls love them so much they are now used all the time, like with this project. They allow for much more control when placing color, which is great for younger hands.
Oh, Pic Pac! That's what it says on the box, but the official name is above here, which doesn't roll quite as well. I get choked up whenever I see this toy, which isn't very often anymore. Our first born got it, and it has been so loved and used since then by all three girls, it's really in the top 3 of best loved toys in our family. I know some parents balk at a toy for little kids that includes a small wooden mallet and small real nails, but the cork is soft enough that the nails can be pushed in by hand, if the hammer needs to take a nap for a little bit. But the girls never did that, using the hammer was just too much fun.
We do a lot of art and crafts in this house—with kits, online tutorials, books, and all that and I have a pretty high standard having written some sewing books and teaching online craft classes on creative bug (shameless plug.) So when we land on a kit that's a winner, we really notice. Many craft kits out there are either not clearly written, or set you up to fail with bad supplies and tools. This one has been purchased two times, it was so popular. Overall, Klutz has pretty great kits. When the yarn runs out on this one, more can be made with yard around the house. This kit comes with cute little cardboard accessories, which have been very popular. Even though it comes with all you need (great for vacation crafts) a glue gun is much better for this craft than the white glue it included. And sharp scissors. And an adult helper if it's for a younger child (I think a crafty 7 year-old can do it with minimal help.)
I hope these are helpful! I have linked these all with amazon, where I am an associate, so if you do find these lists helpful, and want to buy through the links, thank you!