Since Charlie’s birthday and Christmas is in December, I’ve been thinking about lots of gift ideas for him. The older Charlie gets, the more options there are for imaginative play toys, educational toys, and toys that are just plain fun. Most of the gifts in our Gift Guide for 2 year olds are still applicable for 3 year olds, so be sure to check that one out too.

These are the top 22 toys that are on my wishlist for 3 year olds!

1. Magnatiles – Magnatiles are translucent magnetic blocks that take building to the next level. Building is Charlie’s favorite thing to do right now, and there is such a huge variety of blocks and building toys out there, I’m going to devote an entire guide just to that. I’ve selected Magnatiles for this guide because I’ve been coveting a set for a long time. I’ve looked for used ones to come up for sale on my local parenting listserv for over a year, and a single set has never come up! I’ve been able to purchase every high demand baby item I wanted from my listserv except for Magnatiles, which attests to just how popular they are!

2. Design & Drill – The Design & Drill has a reversible power drill that you use to screw plastic screws onto an activity board. Children can create their own designs or recreate patterns on the included activity sheets. One of Charlie’s good friends received this for his third birthday and he’s been obsessed with it. I know that Charlie would love this toy because he’s loved tools since he was 1 1/2.  I also considered the Battat Take Apart Vehicle which is a similar concept but with an actual car/plane/etc., but I thought the Design & Drill was a more educational toy.

3. Melissa & Doug Pizza Party – Charlie plays with all of his play food, condiments, pots and pans, and cutting food regularly. He’s very much into birthdays and pizzas, since they always serve pizza at daycare when it’s one of the kids’ birthdays. This wooden pizza set would be a great addition to our play food, as would the Melissa & Doug Birthday Cake, or any other high quality wood or felt play food. You can’t go wrong with play dishes or a tea set either! Check out Ikea’s Duktig line for affordable play food dishes, cups, cookware, and cooking utensils.

4. Automoblox – These toy cars are cool because they look much more expensive than they are, and they can be disassembled and put back together.

5. Play Market – If you don’t yet have a play kitchen I’d definitely recommend one since ours is truly the single toy that has had the most play in our house. I know that a play market would be something that’s played with just as much. I’d love to have one since Charlie is a picky eater so that we’d have many more opportunities to talk about and play with food. We also have this Melissa and Doug shopping cart which is really well made and wonderful as well.

6. Pretend Doctor Set – The kids in Charlie’s daycare love to dress up and play pretend, and doctor is one of the perennial favorites. Charlie loves going to the doctor, and actually loves getting shots! He would love a set like this because he already gives us “shots” with anything that looks like a shot.

7. Play Silks – Many parents say that play silks are the most played with toy for their kids. They’re a staple of Montessori and Waldorf inspired open-ended play. Charlie has been using his as a cape, but I suspect as Olive gets older, they will be using playsilks to create all kinds of costumes and forts.

8. Fantastic Little Fox Coat – I adore this fox coat from Little Goodall if only it weren’t so pricey. It’s adorable for playing dress-up, and it’s also a coat! They also carry coats in leopard, lion, dinosaur, owl, wolf and teddy bear, but the fox and the lion are the cutest.

9. Tool Bench – It was really a toss up between getting a tool bench or a dollhouse, but I decided to get a dollhouse (a guide on that coming up!) because I thought it would have a longer life and Olive would be able to play with it too. We’ll probably get Charlie a set of tools at some point because all the kids at his daycare are obsessed with the play tools there. This wooden tool set from Acorn is stunning (currently sold out) and at the top of my wishlist

10. Fort – You’ve probably seen teepees all over the place, but these customizable forts from etsy seller Miss Pretty Pretty are even more adorable. They fit over a card table so you can fold it up and put it away when it’s not in use.

11. Hape Furnished Dollhouse – There are so many fantastic dollhouses out there, I really can’t decide which one to get. This is going to be our big Christmas present to Charlie and Olive to share.

12. Twig Creative Wood Cameras – Wood toys are undoubtedly beautiful and long-lasting, and they make very special gifts. Charlie pretends to use the Einstein Takealong Tunes as his camera, so I know he’d appreciate this beautiful wood camera. For another great wood toy that inspires imaginative play, check out the iwood Chalkboard Laptop.

13. Kiwi Crate – Kiwi Crate is a $19.95 monthly subscription box with arts, science, and crafts for kids 3-7. I’ve heard great things about this and think this would be a fantastic gift! I’ve also given the Babbaco Box as a gift, which is very similar. I think their boxes were previously aimed at 4+, but it looks like they’ve changed it to 3+ recently.


14. Richard Scarry’s Busy Town Game – I love board games because the whole family can play together. This one is easy enough for 3 year olds to master, but still fun for adults to play. Dominoes are another great game that Charlie has really been enjoying lately.

15. Eebo Matching Game – There are tons of matching games out there, but this one from Eebo is well-made and has stunning illustrations.

16. Imaginary Castle Giant Floor Puzzle – Charlie is very much into puzzles lately, and this giant 2 foot x 3 foot puzzle by Patrick Hruby is easy for little hands to put together, only has 24 pieces, and is a work of art! Melissa and Doug also makes a bunch of great oversized floor puzzles including this 48 Piece Underwater Floor Puzzle that we just opened up today. It’s a little difficult for Charlie, but puzzles are so awesome at helping him recognize patterns and improve his fine motor skills.

17. MOMA Modern Shapes Lacing Cards – These lacing cards teach shapes, textures, and hand-eye coordination. You could pretty easily make a basic one yourself with some cardboard, laces, and a hole punch, but they probably wouldn’t be as pretty!

18.  Janod Wooden Alphabet Blocks – Although we have the Leapfrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set that talks, Charlie is much more interested in blocks. Ever since Mrs. Cowgirl blogged about how to teach your little one their name song, Charlie can spell the names of everyone in our entire family. I love that these blocks are a puzzle, each with its own place, and I think they’d be much more effective in teaching Charlie all his letters than the Leapfrog toy. Sometimes old school is best!

19. Keyboard – Musical instruments are always a great gift for young kids. I bought a guitar for half off on Gilt Group since that’s what Charlie specifically asked me to get him for his birthday. It was also my go-to gift for 2 year olds. But a keyboard would be such a fun gift, especially since Charlie and Olive will take piano lessons at some point. This one is affordable and has a lot of fun beats.

20. Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers – Books are, of course, a timeless gift and we can truly never have enough books. Since Charlie is really into spelling lately, I want to start focusing on reading. These Bob Book series are supposed to be great for early readers.

21. Crocodile Dentist – I think this game is simple and fun for kids 3+. You remove the crocodile’s teeth, and you never know when its jaws are going to snap shut!

22. Melissa and Doug Shape Model and Mold Set – What kid doesn’t love play doh? I just picked up this play doh tools set that has stamps, rolling pins, and a patterned wheel press at a 50% off Amazon one day sale. It’s a great addition to our Play Doh Fun Factory that we use to make “spaghetti.” For a more affordable set, check out these dough tools.

There were so many more items I wanted to add to this guide, I really had to narrow it down!  If you have any great suggestions for gifts for 3 year olds, please leave it in the comments!