Ideas and suggestions
At Easterseals, we are frequently asked to provide gift ideas for a child or young adult, so we have created this list of suggestions.
Tips for those struggling to select a gift
Many times, people are more alike than different. We may communicate differently and learn differently, but inside we all have likes, dislikes, and wishes. So whatever is hot and trendy is likely to be a hit. If your gift recipient is someone you spend a lot of time with, observe their preferences and take them into consideration when selecting a gift. For someone you spend less time with, consider the following:
- What is their favorite color?
- Does s/he have a favorite TV or movie character? A favorite book?
- Does s/he like to color inside the lines or spread paint across the paper?
- Does s/he like soft and squishy or smooth and glossy?
According to one mom, “When my sister asked what she should get my son for his birthday, I started thinking this might be a chore for her. I had to consider how much she might want to spend and where she shops. It was awkward and stressful for both of us. But when she said, ‘tell me what TV shows he likes, his favorite games, his favorite book,’ then suddenly I was just talking about my wonderful son and she figured out the perfect gift herself.” Don’t be afraid to do a little investigation and ask the individual or parents these types of questions.
Finally, do not be overly concerned about the age ranges or gender a toy suggests. There is nothing age-inappropriate about liking things. If a teen or adult likes character toys geared toward younger kids, accept it. There is so much to be learned and gained through the process of playing, that we encourage everyone to embrace the things they like.
Can’t decide? Need something unique?
Consider purchasing tickets or gift cards for community experiences (movie tickets, minor league sports games, family fun centers, trampoline parks, local tourism sites, restaurant gift cards, museum passes, classes at a local art center, etc.). The opportunity to share an experience with a friend or family member while getting out into the community makes a great gift.
Books – print or audio
DVDs (recent animated and young adult films)
Color Wonder coloring books with pens
Almanacs or trivia books
Amazon Echo Dot
Speakers with Bluetooth
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
Subscription to Netflix
Our picks: board games/family games
Match Madness (age 7 to adult) - fun for the whole family and easy to learn. You can also play solo.
Ouisi (age 4 to adult) – visually connect photo cards based on patterns, shapes and colors; it sounds simple, but it is more challenging than you would expect and tons of fun; 12 different ways to play, including solo.
Set (age 8 to adult) - children and adults can play against each other with the kids just as likely to win. Great re-playability.
Honeycomb tile matching game (age 6 to adult) – popular with all ages, easy to learn and a lot of fun to play; you can adjust the way you play to make it easier or harder to accomodate all skill levels.
Spot It (age 7 to adult) – very popular in our programs; children and adults can play against each other with the kids likely to win; comes in a variety of themes.
Yeti in My Spaghetti (age 4 and up) – popular among preschool and school age kids; there's a reason we keep this one on the list.
PicWits (age 5 to adult) – fun for the whole family; match one of the photo cards in your hand to the phrase on the judge’s caption card; the best fit wins.
Apples to Apples (age 12 to adult) – this still remains popular because there is no “right” answer, just funny pairings.
Jenga (age 6 to adult) - it’s a classic for a reason; play by the rules, make up your own, play solo by beating your highest tower.
Noodle Knockout (age 4-6) - solo or group play; great for working on improving fine motor, grasping, visual motor and visual perceptual skills.
I Spy Dig In (age 5 and up) - a fun game of frantic finding. Causes a lot of laughs among our groups.
Connect Four (age 6+) - is always, always a popular game at our summer camps; everyone plays and they just don't get tired of it.
Tenzi (age 7 to adult) – there are a lot of variations on how to play from beginner to advanced.
Our picks: arts & crafts
Arts & Crafts Supply Kit (ages 8 and up) - over 1,000 pieces of supplies featuring everything from felt, fuzzy sticks and pom poms to glue, scissors and beads.
Art set (ages 8 to adult) – portable case with colored pencils, oil pastels, markers, watercolors, paint brushes and sketch pad.
Toddler craft kit (ages 3 and older) – we like this kit because the supplies are organized into projects that are entertaining and educational.
Sticker by number books (age 5 to adult) – create art or pictures matching colored stickers to the number on the page (it’s like paint by number but with stickers); we've loved these books for awhile and now they are becoming more popular so there are a lot of themes to choose from.
Dot painting kit (ages 2 and older) – super easy and interesting activity for kids.
Paint by Number kit (are 8+) - these kits are popular and engaging.
Rock painting kit (ages 5 and older) – very popular activity at our summer camps.
Wikki Stix – everyone seems to love creating with these; we’re providing a link to a pack of the sticks, but you can also search for activity kits.
Our picks: sensory toys
Cubidi (age 6+) - puzzle ball/brain teaser that also makes a great fidget toy.
Shashibo Shape-shifting Box (age 8 to adult) - flip it and shift it into over 70 different configurations revealing different patterns; mesmerizing.
The Lollipopter (older kids, teens and adults) - an incredible visual treat and appropriate for all ages; a variety of colors to choose from; amazingly elegant, we keep coming back to it.
Sensory Fidget Tubes (age 3 to adult) - set of four different tubes, the recipient is bound to like one if not all.
Heat sensitive sensory putty (age 3 to adult) – changes color as you play with it and warm it up.
Crazy Aaron’s mixed by me putty kit (age 4 to adult) – choose your colors, mix your putty, color your label and play.
Fidget/sensory noodles (age 3 to adult) – they can’t get enough of these in our programs.
Motion bubbler (age 5 to adult) - different varieties to choose from; mesmerizing to watch.
Fidget cube (age 6 to adult) – remains a hot item with our consumers.
Magnatab (age 3 to adult) - this is more than a sensory/fidget toy; great sensory stimulation, creative play, fine motor skills, and just oddly satisfying to play with.
Marble Maze Mats - fun, relaxing and engrossing. Set of five.
Help from our friends
National Autism Resources publishes a comprehensive guide each year. Visit their site.