21 great gifts for kids that look generous, but cost £15 or less

Gilly Ferguson,-Writer

Buying children’s presents on a budget needn’t feel cheap. Cue the kiddy crowd-pleasers that little ones, tweens – and your purse strings – will love

Ah, Christmas. ’Tis the season for giving and spending more than you can actually afford on those that you love (or those you feel obligated to buy for), then paying it off ’til spring. 

Or maybe, just maybe, that’s ridiculous, right? For if 2022 has taught us anything, it’s that saving is sensible and shopping smart is, well, even smarter. Throw in a few toy-swap events, a dash of sharing, re-gifting and hero hand-me-downs and you’re living proof that the best children’s Christmas gifts needn’t cost the earth. 

Claim it as the cost of living crisis. Mark 2022 down as the Christmas you chose to shop more sustainably. Call it an investment for your kids’ Christmases yet to come – or just do it for the feel-goods. Because gifting wisely feels great, whether you’re sending present ideas to eager aunts and uncles, godparents and grandparents, shopping for (yet another) class birthday party or looking for some fuss-free Santa stocking fillers – these 21 crowd-pleasers are proof that the best affordable toys and games neither look nor feel cheap. Better still? These are the toys that kids will 100% play with…

Me? I’ve got two kids under 5, and it’s taken me the same length of time to realise that they don’t care about what brand of Scandi-cool their toy is, nor how costly – they just want to play. So this year I’m investing in one hero gift, something that’s built to last, and buying cheap for everything (and everyone) else. 

In my opinion, the best gift you can give someone (this Christmas) is to release them of the obligation to buy your kids something, just for the sake of it. That feels very 2022. And if they really want to? Send them this here guide to looking – and feeling – generous for much, much less.


Galt Fab Hair Extension and Chalks Kit, £6.99

Age 3+ years

One for birthday parties, school discos, craft days, rain days and ‘just because’ days, this (temporary) hair chalk and plaiting kit is so much better than the Sun-In-slathering sessions of old. If someone could just nip back and tell my teenage self…


Tinc Hugga Click Torch, £3.50

Age 3+ years

At last, something small, sturdy and humble (read: affordable) that’ll keep ALL kids sweet, particularly torch-loving toddlers. Note: it may also prove pretty useful as a pocket-sized click torch for parents.  


John Lewis Decorate Your Own Jewellery Box, £10

Age 6+ years

A bespoke trinket box that they’ll treasure for years to come, whether they’re collecting conkers or own enough frosting to put Elsa to shame. Comes with paints, gemstone stickers, colourful card, glitter tape and – bonus – peace and quiet for parents. 


Talking Tables Silent Disco Charades Game, £15

Age 13+ years

Dip in, pick a stick and get ready to hum, sing and dance your hearts out! Players take turns to pop on a pair of headphones and play one of four musical games. Those who name the tune correctly win the stick and the player with the most sticks at the end is crowned the jubilant victor. 


Vital Baby Vital Letters Bath Toy, Multi, £6.99

Age 3+ years 

An easy way to entice kids into the bath, sure, but these floating toys enable parents to sneak in some light learning, too, with A-Z uppercase letters and numbers 0-9 in soft, durable foam. Stick on and peel off bathroom walls and tiles at your leisure for a fuss-free, fun bathtime for all.


Tonies Paddington Bear Tonie Audio Character, £14.99

Age 3+ years

If they already own a Toniebox, why not treat them to an audio character (and their parents to approx 155 minutes of calm) with everyone’s favourite bear, Paddington. Narrated by Stephen Fry, this magical story will bring comfort and joy to all this Christmas.


Interplay Spirograph Retro Set, £12.99

Age 8+ years

An oldie but a goodie, this Spirograph design set features the iconic wheels of the original, just re-engineered for the modern day – think a travel-friendly snap-in storage tray, two design pens, Spirograph Putty and a 24-page design pad. Truly in-spiro-ing (sorry).


John Lewis Wooden Ice Lollies, £12.50

Age 3+ years

Likes lollies? Loves imaginative play? They’ll adore these tasty-looking wooden treats (plus carnival-esque stand) that look luxe, but don’t cost a lorra lolly. Ideal for the child who asks for an ice lolly after every mealtime, mid-winter included. Or is that just my lot?


John Lewis 18-Piece Waitrose Toy Groceries, £10

Age 3+ years

Containing all the Waitrose wins, from cornflakes and spaghetti rings to soft cheese, this 18-piece-strong food and household set is basically your weekly shop but in teeny tiny proportions. Ideal for kids who love imaginative role play (encouraging development of communication and social skills) and adults who, like me, just love seeing anything in miniature. Easy ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Shop’ feels. 


Tinc Miniature USB Disco Light, £5

Powered by your phone, tablet or USB charging port, this is the  pop-up disco you’ve been waiting for. Try this travel-sized disco lamp for all your pint-sized party needs or go for the bigger Boogie Light when they want to throw some serious shapes.  


Tinc Camouflage Snap Compartment Pencil Case, £15

Packing a 15cm ruler, ballpoint pen, pencil with eraser, built-in sharpener, small and large compartments, a durable snap shut lid and a whole load of nostalgia, this pencil case will please present-day kids and 1990s nostalgics alike.


John Lewis Lawn Mower, £10

Age 3+ years

Want to get your kids outdoors for some fresh air? Whether you’ve got a lawn or not, there’s something about mowers that drives kids wild. And by kids, I also mean my OH. No idea why. But I do know that a lawnmower will bag parents (in this case: me) some time off and that is why I – sorry, my kids – love this toy mower. Bonus: it helps to improve their coordination, boosts imaginative play, and costs less than a round of hot chocolates for your crew while Christmas shopping. Winning.


John Lewis Shopping Basket Game, £7

Age 3+ years

More than just a game, this family favourite encourages problem solving skills, improves memory and storytelling, and is way more fun than actual supermarket shopping. Plus, at just £7, it makes a great gift idea for school birthday parties and (*whispers*) stocking fillers.


Micro Scooters Ribbons, Pink, £10.95

Whether you’re looking to accessorise a new scooter on this year’s Christmas list or snapping up an add-on for their already much-loved model, don’t underestimate the power of these hot-pink ribbons. Indeed, any way that you can pimp up their ride, be it bells, helmets and/or straps, will be a win. Made from weather-proof polyester, simply plug the ribbons onto the end of the handlebars for serious standout style in the schoolyard, playground and every scoot in between.

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