I had such a great time discovering so many cool new picks at the NY International Gift Fair this weekend. But what was maybe more interesting, was letting my 7 year-old daughter tag along so I could see her own favorites from the show that are now making the great birthday gift list in her head.
With zero censoring from me whatsoever, here are just over a dozen gifts and toys that captivated her 7 year-old imagination.
This post has been updated in 2017 to reflect product and website changes
Color Your Own Placemats by Modern Twist
Way back in 2011, I discovered the Kidz Placemat collection from Modern Twist and now there are plenty of new designs. I could hardly tear my daughter away from any of them.
“If you don’t like your design you can always redo it,” she says, “and you always have your own placemat so you can always color it and you know it’s yours. You will never get bored of your placemat!”
Evidently placemat boredom is a huge deal. Who knew.
Long-time favorite kids and baby apparel band, Zutano, launched an entire line for boys and girls themed (sometimes loosely) around the idea of “Super.” My daughter took right to the fabric superhero glasses (shown at top) that stay on with Velcro. They also happened to be the only thing in the booth for kids older than about 2.
They don’t sell those any more, but there are so many great, affordable options for superhero masks we love from indie companies. Be sure to check out the superhero masks from Super Kid Capes shown here, and items from Sew Plain Jane. Or if you want to get fancy, we adore Lovelane Designs which makes truly special capes and accessories.
These safe magnetic blocks, sustainably made in Honduras, caught on like wildfire since the launch a few years ago, and now there are so many new kits and colors, I’m not surprised this was a top pick.
“Ohhh I loooove those,” she said about the booth I had the most trouble dragging her from. “I really love them because you can build swimming pools or anything you want and then even put LEGO people on and make it a game the way you want it.” So there ya go.
Build-Your-Own Ride-On Toy Kit from MOOV
My 7-year-old daughter became instantly obsessed with a build-your-own ride-on kit at the Gift Show from a company that’s now gone (sniff). But a similar one comes from cool company MOOV.
“You can build your own vehicle!” she exclaimed. No wonder — it’s like Tinkertoys on Steroids.
“I wish I had one,” she asked me to add. Subtle.
Parachutist Toys from Brinca Dada
This nifty little company made beautiful, creative toy block sets for babies and some very cool modern dollhouses. But it was the display of high-quality wood and fabric parachutists (formerly known as “Stunt Brothers”–good change!) that my daughter was pining for.
“You can have a race with your friends and see who comes down first, and put the target down and see who gets closest to the 50 points.”
She loooooves competition and I think this would bring it out of her in a good way. Provided she’s not dropping them off the roof of our building.
Unfortunately this is another small company that’s no longer — but there are tons of similar parachuting toys for kids, even if none of them look quote so modern and cool as this one did.
Glitter Body Tattoos
It’s hard for a kid of any age resist a booth full of adorable young women beckoning you in for some free glitter tattoos. I had to forcibly pull her away before she covered her entire arms with them.
However this mama has a warning that while these will be the hit of any birthday party, if you use them indoors, there will be a lot of very fine glitter dust all over your home for the next three centuries. Still, the results–at least on skin–are pretty great.
Related: The 2017 holiday gift guide: More than 350+ cool gift ideas for every kid and adult on your list.
Dabbawalla makes fantastic neoprene backpacks and lunch bags that are not only adorable, the ones we’ve owned have lasted us several years and are going strong. (Update: The lunch purse is is no longer available, but the other designs are just fabulous and last foreeeeeever.)
“I love this bag because it’s not totally straight, and so it has more style than other bags,” my daughter said. (I swear she said these words. Where does she get it?) In fact, they sent us home with a sample and the first thing she did this morning was figure out what to put in it so she could carry it to school. Winner: Glee Club song sheets and a gift for her teacher.
AREAWARE Cubebot in new colors
As you can tell, building, construction, and creating are big themes with second graders and my daughter was entranced with the new colorful cubebots. She’s always liked the wooden Cubebots, but the colors add a little something special.
“Since they’re magnetic you can put them in any shape you want,” she explains. And mommy likes that since they’re magnetic, there’s only one piece to get stuck between the couch cushions and not 50.
Zoli Insulated Food Jars
You think kids are just attracted to toys and accessories? Not so. My daughter went right for this Thermos-like vacuum insulated jar from Zoli (makers of great sippy cups too), with visions of hot mac n cheese for lunch every single day. The hardest part was choosing one to take home to try out: “I like the purple. No wait, the blue. No…wait, the green. Yeah. The green is cool.”
eeBoo Waste-Not Craft Kits
My daughter loves anything having to do with art or crafts, so no surprise, she made a beeline for the new display of craft kits from eeBoo. These happen to let you make use of recyclables like used water bottles, plus the materials in the kit, to make cool creatures like a chameleon, hedgehog, or this fox which I think she liked best. We’ll make sure to check them out for a proper review but they look promising.
Junior Backpacks from SoYoung
The durable toddler backpacks we’ve featured from SoYoung are such a hit, that the label is coming out with the same structured, coated linen style, only in a larger size for those kids who have to carry more to school than a lovey and a snack. This purple flower design is far and away my daughter’s favorite, although there are lots more. They last so well, they’ve made my list for the top lunchbox brands that really hold up over the years.
Yep, it’s candy. Well duh, right? Originally she picked a cool company that’s now gone (sniff) but Thalia’s love for them has been replaced by the goodies from Sugarfina and Dylan’s Candy Bar because…duh. Also, the candies at Dylan’s can be personalized. Other favorite candy picks that she will vouch for: the cool creations from Papabubble and little tins of Torie & Howard natural hard candy
Tattly Temporary Tattoos
Evidently my daughter is an equal opportunity temporary body art appreciator, and it doesn’t have to glitter to make her list. Tattly tattoos have been a favorite around our house for a while–they’re so great for classroom birthday treats, in lieu of cupcakes and candy which aren’t always allowed. I think this YAY! burst tattoo pretty much summed up how she felt to get one on her hand.