What are some great "wow" gifts for an almost 5-year-old?
December 1, 2015 6:14 AM   Subscribe

I usually buy my daughter one larger gift each Christmas, one that we can set up as the big surprise Christmas morning. The challenge is that our house is fairly small so whatever we buy should be able to fold up and be put away, either up on a shelf or in a closet.

Last year we gave her a play kitchen and the year before we got her this Bilder playhouse set (which I highly recommend as the best gift ever). My current best candidate is a child-sized tent that we can set up as her personal domain for picnics or on family trips. I'm willing to spend up to $100 dollars, but would be ecstatic to spend less.

She is all over the map as far as personal taste. She likes crystalline rocks, things that sparkle, jewelry, animals, R2-D2, the planets, any and all building toys. She loves action-figure house/ castle/batcave playsets with a million doors and moving parts. She has a bike, a marble roller coaster set, a child-sized piano, and enough electronics. I'd be happy if I never had to buy another stuffed animal ever again. Her life is pretty good, but it's been a hard year and I'd like to surprise her with something nice.
posted by Alison to Shopping (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Along the same lines as a tent - how about a teepee?
posted by Sassyfras at 6:49 AM on December 1, 2015

posted by xm at 6:50 AM on December 1, 2015

ok, my google-fu is utterly failing me - but my sister's kids have a laptop microscope where they put something cool from outside under a microscope (bugs, crystals, rocks, plants, etc etc) and the image is displayed on the laptop screen and they can zoom in, take pictures, do measurements, etc etc. Her 6 and 5 year old are obsessed with it - and even did a mini science project this summer where they took a bug at the beginning of summer, kept it in a bug jar - and tracked its growth and changing shape as it matured. Seriously - the kids thought it was the coolest thing.

I want to say it was about $50 and both girls love to play with it.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:52 AM on December 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: A camera? It seems like a cool big girl gift and you can help her set up storage where she can store, label, and edit photos.
You can get a great camera for under a hundred bucks. Not the kid ones...
posted by ReluctantViking at 6:53 AM on December 1, 2015

Best answer: I gave my niece and nephew a pop-up castle tent from Ikea last year for Christmas and it was a HUGE SUCCESS. So I think you're on the right track with a tent. It folds up small. They use it in the house. My niece is four and she is still talking about it from last year.
posted by mskyle at 6:56 AM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

When I was a kid I always went gaga looking at the HearthSong catalog. They have a category for "Wow!" gifts that might be good inspiration.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:04 AM on December 1, 2015

was intrugued so googled "scientific gifts" and found

USB microscope

bunch of microscopes, digital and other, some too expensive some not.

Cool idea!
posted by chapps at 7:14 AM on December 1, 2015

Do you live somewhere where a telescope would show anything interesting? (Also, I immediately when I saw the headline was like BIG BILDER! because that's what we're getting our son this year, but I'm happy to see the positive review since it hasn't arrived yet and I'd like to know I haven't wasted my money!)
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:28 AM on December 1, 2015

I think the tent sounds awesome. When I was a kid, I really wanted a bed tent.

Or you could go to town at your local thrift store and make an amazing dress-up box, if she's into that.
posted by the_blizz at 7:31 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Though I don't know if my son would have gone for the microscope at five without a solid intro from some sciencey type.
I must admit my feminist heart still secretly longs for my easy bake oven from my childhood.
posted by chapps at 7:34 AM on December 1, 2015

This Cottage Playhouse/tent was a big hit when we gave it to our friend's girls.
posted by gudrun at 7:38 AM on December 1, 2015

I mentioned this in another thread, but I think it also applies here. This large, inflatable, remote-controlled R2D2 was the most popular toy at a store I visited on Black Friday. The kids and adults were competing to see who could play with it next. I think it would fit the "WOW" factor you're going for and it's inflatable! I'm not sure if this is the exact brand I saw at the toy store, but it looks very similar: Jumbo R/C R2D2

My other ideas are a an American Girl Bitty Baby in a doll stroller, a great sled or a nice set of kids dishes and mini appliances. Something like this and this. I think the dishes make sense because you can store them with the kitchen and it's just a great toy - even if she already has them, it would be fun to have an upgraded set. You could have them unpacked and arranged under the tree in a basket (maybe a small shopping cart?), tie a balloon on the handle to make it more "Wow!" Actually, tie a balloon on any of these gifts! If these ideas don't work, consider visiting a local, independent toy store in your town. That's where I get my best gift ideas. Merry Christmas!
posted by areaperson at 8:00 AM on December 1, 2015

My newly minted 5 year old is getting this kids' USB powered microscope and some slides for Christmas. I think it hits all of the factors: wow, big kid, compact.

Alternately, the camera suggested above is a good idea. This recent thread is a good place to look for specifics on that.
posted by telepanda at 8:37 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another tent suggestion: this pop-up VM camper van is pretty cute. When I was five, my favorite game to play with my best friend was to pretend that we were taking a trip in a van...
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:54 PM on December 1, 2015

Response by poster: To follow up, I ended up buying this market stand from IKEA, a toy cash register, and an inexpensive gumball machine and added a few homemade displays, plus some additional candy to make her very own candy store. The whole thing cost less than $50. She'd been pleading for a human-sized gumball machine and this was my compromise.

It was a huge hit. Now every piece of candy that enters the house goes straight to her stand so she can sell it to her grandparents. They pay real cash money for mini Snickers bars. I was worried that I'd made a huge mistake, but she seems more interested in having a stocked store to eating her inventory. He plan for the summer is to put it outside and sell to the neighbors.

I marked one of the tents as the correct answer because she will be getting that for her birthday.
posted by Alison at 7:38 AM on January 26, 2016

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