This year, resolve to shop local, and find great gifts for all the sugarplums on your list.
Ages 0 to 3
These adorable tights from UK brand Blade + Rose will keep chunky baby legs warm all winter long — and that tushie flap! We’re dying. (Plus, it’s easy access for those who are cloth diapering.) $17. At Kids at Heart.
Deck your little hipster out in this retro-style trucker hat from oh-so-SoCal Grom Kids. They’ll be all ready for that #vanlife. $22.50. At the Bull and the Bee.
Two moms who wanted to see more Spanish-speaking representation in books for babies teamed up to found the adorable Lil’ Libros line. Learn to count with iconic artist Frida Kahlo, or about the parts of the body with the Lucha Libre, the heroes of Mexican wrestling. From $9.99. At Green Bean Books and A Children’s Place Books.
Babies love binkies. Babies love stuffies. But the two combined in one? That’s what Apple Valley’s organic farm buddy lovies do. Pure genius. $13. At Juniper + James, Posh Baby and EcoBaby Gear.
The rattle is an all-time baby classic. At Colton, Oregon-based Waylive Rattle Company, they’ve modernized the concept, with sustainable rattles made from satiny local woods. $30. At Black Wagon and Bella Stella.
The Discover with Dr. Cool Ultimate Dual Microscope allows future scientists to look at both slides and 3-D objects. An Ashland-based company makes this durable microscope. $70. At iSpark Toys and Hammer and Jacks.
The sturdy Kala Color Chord Ukulele features chords marked in colors on the neck for easy learning via included booklet, Kala app or online lessons. (And your kiddos can color the exterior with chalk!) $60. At Music World and Trade Up Music.
Durability is a big theme for this age group. And the rugged, smooth-rolling Micro Maxi Deluxe Kickboard Scooter fits the bill. The adjustable handle and 150-pound weight limit makes this a long-lasting ride. Best for ages 5 and up. $140. At Oodles for Kids, Kazoodles and Piccolo Mondo.
We love how Djeco’s Color House gives the doll house a modern twist. And while it promises big fun, it will only take up a small footprint. Another ♥: You have the option of getting a doll family of color. $80. Dolls ($30 for a family of four) and furniture are sold separately. At Hammer and Jacks.
What’s better than sneaking a fondness for STEM into their dress-up play? The cool Aeromax Astronaut Helmet lets their imaginations soar to infinity and beyond. $24.99. At the OMSI Science Store and Hammer and Jacks.
Ages 6 and Up
LEGO-loving kids will dig the chance to graduate from plastic bricks to the plaster, ceramic, glue and cardboard materials in Aussie company Wise Elk’s Dragon Castle. If you finish building and want to start over, just put the bricks into water, and they’ll separate easily, ready for another go. $49.99. At Oodles 4 Kids.
Many Portland kids will recall the massive Women’s March in 2017 as one of their earliest moments of civic awakening. Keep the message alive with this fab Nevertheless, She Persisted puzzle. $18. At Thinker Toys.
Many kids gravitate toward fiction at this age, but facts matter, too. Whoever their hero is, there’s probably a book in the Who Was/Who Is series about their lives. Read alongside them to get inspired. From $9.99 at Powell’s and Annie Bloom’s.
Inspire your kids toward a career in STEM with the new Paper Chromatography kit from the mad geniuses at Portland-based Yellow Scope. It explores art and the science of color with hundreds of activities. (And FYI, while the kit is marketed towards girls, boys will like messing around with the experiments, too.) $39.99. At iSpark Toys, Mudpuddles Toys & Gifts, the OMSI Science Store and Piccolo Mondo Toys.
Help your kids get their groove on with the Rock and Roll It Piano from Wisconsin-based MukiKim, which can be rolled up and tucked into a backpack, powered by a battery or a USB charge. Great for those just starting to play piano (and they make a drum kit, too.) $49.99. At Thinker Toys.
All Together Gifts
Sure the kids make a list of their must-have toys, but what they really want is to spend some time with their parental units where the focus is on fun all together, not homework or housework or screens. (Even if they won’t admit it.) Surprise them with an outing that you’ll all remember long after the holiday gifts are opened, played with and outgrown.
PACK MENTALITY Great Wolf Lodge at Grand Mound is kiddie paradise: Indoor water park, IRT puzzle-solving game, a new mining-themed maze and panning for semi-precious rocks activity, and sugar everywhere. You’re sure to come home with some swag, but the family-time experience of all the thrills together is what will stick with the kiddos the most. Reserve your room at greatwolf.com/grand-mound.
THIS LITTLE PIGGY Spend one-on-one time with your child doing something you really want to do! At Mother Earth’s Nail Bar they offer kid (4 to 10 years old) and parent pedicures. Plus it’s a gender-neutral establishment, so all are welcome.
THE PLAY’S THE THING Our terrific kids’ theater companies offer shows for kids as young as 3. Getting a season subscriber package means you’ll get discounts on tickets and preferred seating at both Northwest Children’s Theater and Oregon Children’s Theatre.
LIVE ONSTAGE Teach your kids that classical music is fun with the Oregon Symphony’s kid concerts — because it really is at these short concerts. Last season our kids giggled like crazy when red-sneakered conductor Norman Huynh disappeared and a giant T. Rex took his place. Get tickets now to this spring’s Green Eggs and Ham and Peter and the Wolf. Find tickets at orsymphony.org.
SUNNY DAYS ONSTAGE It’s one of life’s mysteries that even a toddler who doesn’t get any screen time can have a deep and abiding love for Elmo. Take her to The Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party! show at the Moda Center on Friday, January 25. Shows at 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Tickets start at $20. Grab yours at sesamestreetlive.com.
PINKIES UP Don your fanciest duds and hit Russian high tea at the Heathman Hotel. The kid tea plate offers a tasty mix of classic snacks and soon-to-be new favorites. Best for ages 4 and up. Pro tip: Stroll off those delicious treats with a visit to the Portland Art Museum just behind the hotel.
BLAZER NATION Get that Rip City pride started early with a trip to the Moda Center for a Trailblazers game. Be sure to swing by Kid City on the 300 Level for face painting, sign making and a special “my first game” souvenir. Pro tip: Sunday games start
a little earlier, at 6 pm. Check out schedules and prices at nba.com/blazers.
THE FAMILY THAT RACES TOGETHER Getting covered in mud + mom and dad getting muddy, too = best day ever. Sign up the whole family for the My Muddy Valentine Race at Lee Farms. The adults can slip and slide through the 5K obstacle race while the kids cover 1.1 miles. More info at: terrapinevents.com/event/my-muddy-valentine-5k-mud-run-portland-oregon.
ASK THE GRANDPARENTS We’ve got some great options for year-round fun in Portland. Annual memberships to the Oregon Zoo, OMSI or Portland Children’s Museum can help the kids get their wiggles out on rainy days. Memberships are a great suggestion for out-of-town grandparents who aren’t sure what to gift your kiddo. (Plus you’ll have a fun place to go together when they come for a visit!) — Denise Castañon