Ah, the unbridled excitement of Christmas morning. Gobbling the final Advent chocolate. Pulling back the curtains to check if it’s snowed. Scurrying downstairs to see what Santa’s brought. And all before sunrise.
Alas, while you might be the biggest kid in the house, at some point the sprogs get to go first – and your Yuletide duty is restricted to shouting “he’s been, he’s been, he’s been,” before demolishing an entire chocolate orange while jealously watching your offspring tear into their presents.
Stumped for what to stash in their stockings? From coding kits to fitness bands to tablets designed for clumsy paws, these clever gifts should make your role as Santa’s assistant that much simpler – and keep the little ones busy while you whip up a consolatory Irish coffee.
Puro Sound Labs JuniorJams Bluetooth (£55)
Christmas music is made to be overplayed, but there are only so many times you can hear the Frozen soundtrack on repeat before you say ‘Let it go’ to the last dregs of your sanity. Stick these careful cans on your little one’s head for double peace of mind.
With no wires to tangle and a 22-hour battery life, your mini-listener can do their Disney thing without driving the whole house mad, while an 85dB volume limit means the only thing harming their young lugholes will be the jokes you tell at dinner.
Kano Star Wars The Force Coding Kit (£80)
They might not fix a broken hyperdrive, but coding skills are indispensable for future fixers. Thankfully, you don’t need force to encourage educational play this Christmas: you just need The Force.
Kano’s clever kit sees your offspring assemble a motion sensor that, once paired with a laptop or tablet, can be used to create all kinds of intergalactic magic, courtesy of drag-and-drop coding blocks. With the right arrangement of loops and logic, your Padawan can swish lightsabers, push Stormtroopers and lift X-Wings à la Luke, with little more than an Obi-Wan wave.
Fitbit Ace 2 (£65)
You don’t need a fitness tracker to tell you that your offspring just spent two hours building a snow fort: there’s ice all over the carpet for that. What Fitbit’s kid-friendly band can do, though, is help your little ones to build healthy habits.
Virtual badges encourage 60 minutes of daily activity and movement reminders get them to shake a leg if they’ve been lounging for too long. There are bedtime alerts to help get them down at the end of the day, too, while grown-ups can keep a careful eye on everything from the family account.
Sphero RVR (£250)
As minds grow, so do imaginations, which is what makes Sphero’s latest ‘bot so brilliant: an all-terrain rover of boundless potential, it’s a gift that could keep your youngster thinking all the way into adulthood.
Start with simple Draw & Drive coding, step up to Scratch Blocks, before diving into advanced projects that connect the RVR with microcomputers like the Raspberry Pi. If they fancy having a crack at hacking? Sphero’s all for it. Tough, versatile and equipped with a whole suite of sensors, the only thing holding the robot back is your progeny’s creativity.
Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition (£200)
Tablets can be super tools for inquisitive kids, but it’s a brave parent who entrusts an unprotected iPad to little paws. Alleviate the risk with Amazon’s child-friendly slate: wrapped in a tough bumper, it’s backed by a two-year guarantee, so if your little one breaks it in a crayon rage, it’ll be replaced free of charge. The tablet, that is.
And when they’re not drawing on the 10-inch display, a year’s access to Fire for Kids Unlimited means there’s plenty to entertain your little one – from apps that stimulate their brain to audiobooks that keep them listening.
Detective Dot Megapack (£19)
Still waiting for the secret nod from MI6? Your double-0 moment might have passed, but your sprog can still become a secret agent. Start their training now with Detective Dot, a sleuthing challenge that gets kids thinking smart, trying code and using logic to follow clues, solve ciphers and complete multiple missions.
Think that’s cool? The whole bundle arrives in a brown envelope labelled ‘top secret’, complete with personalised CIA membership card. Time to dust off those acting skills.
Nintendo Labo VR Kit (£68)
With so much cardboard cluttering the carpet at Christmas, it might seem odd to spend good money on even more – but Nintendo’s flat-packed set is far from corrugated waste. Pick one of the six accessories to assemble first, slip in a Switch and watch as the wonderful world of Virtual Reality opens up for your offspring.
Sample Super Mario Odyssey with the Goggles, fend off aliens with the Blaster, go wild with the Elephant…there’s all sorts to explore and all it takes is a bit of folding.
Lego Star Wars Boost Droid Commander Set (£142)
Jedi Mind Tricks are the ultimate tool in a parent’s arsenal. One wave of the hand and you’ve got your kid convinced that they actually love carrots. Alas, it takes more than hand motions to get them playing creatively, so deploy these motorised Lego droids to help them on their way.
Piece together R2-D2 and his Gonk and Mouse mates, before pairing the brick-built ‘bots with the partner app for themed missions that required props, code and a good helping of Jedi wisdom.