Shiny and Bright Holiday Gift Guide: 50 Toys Under $50

Want to put a twinkle in your kid's eye – and keep more jingle in your wallet? Metro Parent's Shiny and Bright holiday gift guide has 50 stellar toys under $50.

Pink gift with a red bow on a pink background

This year, you want to make your plans and check them twice. Know what you’re looking for before you start your holiday shopping and it’ll make spending and saving that much easier. 

That’s where our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide comes in.

With the help of some of our favorite independent toy shops, we’ve found 50 of the season’s hottest toys for $50 or less. Now you can check off nearly everyone on your list, from newborns to college students. 

And save a little for yourself.

Where We Shopped

When we started our search for our holiday gift guide toys, we first looked to our local independent toy store owners. Store owners are on the inside in the toy business and know what is hot, new and affordable for all types of families.

When you are shopping for all kinds of gifts, look to your local retailers who know the market and know the best-of-the-best in stock. Prices may vary by store. Throughout our guide, we’ll let you know if the toys are sold at the following stores:

Find holiday gift ideas for:

Best Toys for Babies

A kiddo’s first holiday season is one filled with pictures, memories and even more pictures. Most of these picks come without the need for batteries and can help spruce up a nursery.

Amuseables Buggy Toys, Jellycat, $29.99

This adorable little stuffed toy crinkles, rattles and even attaches to a stroller for on-the-go fun.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Mudpuddles

Paddle Boat, Green Toys, $29.99

Made out of recycled materials, this bath toy is dishwasher safe (score!) and easily opens for little hands to reach inside and play with all of the parts.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Inny Bin, Fat Brain, $24.99

The stretchy materials are cross-hatched to keep toys in, but can be seen and easily pulled out again. Great for littles 10 months and older.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Mudpuddles

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Dimpl Digits, Fat Brain, $19.99

The newest of the Dimpl line reinforces numbers, colors and has Spanish translations on the flip side.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Zippee, Mobi, $19.99

It looks like an octopus, but each “leg” is a different pattern and texture with varying feelings as it moves. Also dishwasher safe for the many times it will find its way into baby’s mouth.

Available at: Mudpuddles

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Best Toys for Toddlers

As little ones learn about cause and effect, a ton of new toys this season help them discover new things.

Ybike, Ybike, $49.99

Toddlers can push it, ride on it or use it like a walker without being confined to a booster seat.

Available at: Mudpuddles and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Shape Factory, Fat Brain, $24.99

A variation on the shape box, kids can press the top to create the shape they’re looking for.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Little Action, Djeco, $19.99

A card and figurine action game, the cards show kids how to stack, toss, sort and even wear each figure.

Smart Max – Vehicles, Smart Max, $24.99

The magnetic series has added wheels, and these cars are fully interchangeable.

You Matter, Simon & Schuster, $12.99

Great reminder book for early readers to add to their libraries. No matter their size, shape or color, they matter.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

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Best Toys for Preschoolers

With constant energy, preschoolers can’t wait to play and try new things every day. These toys let them create and recreate.

My First Engineering, Elenco, $49.99

Each set comes with a drill that helps kids build everything from a Ferris wheel to a farm tractor.

Monster Math, Hape, $29.99

Kids can learn addition and subtraction as a scale teaches them the “weight” of numbers.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Inflatable Easel, HearthSong, $49.99

Great for outdoor play, set up the easel, paint on it then wash it off with a hose and deflate.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Get Well Doctor’s Kit, Melissa & Doug, $29.99

Great for imaginative play, the set takes doctoring to the next level with 25 pieces including name badge and bag.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Feed Fuzzy, Roo Games, $28

Toss the dice to know how many and of what color nuts to feed the “fuzzy” squirrel.

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Pluto Gets the Call, Simon & Schuster, $10.99

Did you hear about Pluto? The planets help Pluto bear the news of his “demotion” as a planet, teaching compassion along with a few tips about space.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Jack & The Beanstalk, Smart Games, $32.99

Single-player game that gets harder as the player advances. Up to 60 challenges that ask kids to solve how to get Jack up the beanstalk.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

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Best Toys for Early Elementary Kids

Toy makers know how kids want to learn and play with dominoes, air forts, bouncing balls and more.

Swingin’ Shoes, Fat Brain, $26.99

An indoor horseshoes game aims to pick up points by hitting levels and not lamps.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Ball Bounce, HearthSong, $29.99

Teach your kids all those skee ball skills you picked up at Chuck E. Cheese. Bounce the ball off of a trampoline and into the waiting target.

Dig It Up, Mindware, $32.99

Excavate a geode using tools and brushes that help remove the gems from the game.

Creatto, Thames & Kosmos, $9.95 and up

Bendable plastic helps kids create everything from a kitten to a unicorn. Add LED lights for a magical effect.

Domino Race, Hearth Song, $49.99

Up your TikTok game with 255 pieces in this game that includes ramps, stairs, a bridge set and dominoes to set up and push over.

Not IT!, The Good Game Co., $14.99

Roll the dice to spot the card that matches the number on the dice. The object is to be the first to rid your hand of cards.

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Xtreme Bots – Robbie, Play Visions, $49.99

Kids can code the robot to do 50 different tasks, including change his facial expressions, dance, and make sounds. The robot is chargeable, not run on batteries.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys

Air Fort Glow, Air Fort, $50

It’s not often that we’ll highlight a toy twice in back-to-back years, but Air Fort is an exception with the introduction of Glow. Use a simple box fan to blow up the fort and turn off the fan for easy storage. Glow adds the dimension of lights to this perfect at-home toy.

Wondrous Women Who Changed The World, Thunder Bay Press, $19.99

Not just a book about revolutionary women, each one is also a paper doll that kids can put together and learn with.

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Best Toys for Late Elementary Kids

Between games that make older elementary students think and learn strategy to building and creating, we’ve got you covered.

Mega Cyborg Hand, Thames & Kosmos, $39.99

This season’s “hot toy” helps kids learn about hydraulic technology, conduct experiments and know what our hands do.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Genuine Toy Company

Cat Crimes/Dog Crimes, Think Fun, $14.99

In this single-player logic game, solve the crime of the century … committed by a cat.

Available at: Mudpuddle and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Master Detective Tool Kit, Thames & Kosmos, $49.99

The set comes with everything your kids see on CSI, including fingerprint and mold making kits to recreate things like shoe prints. Kids also learn the science behind criminal investigation.

Available at: Genuine Toy Company and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Plus-Plus Go, Plus-Plus, $49.99

Plus-Plus are building blocks that are all the same size and shape, so there’s no losing a necessary piece from the set. The addition of wheels helps kids create the cars, fire engines and motorcycles of their dreams.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Walk the Dog, Smart Games, $25

Use strategy to move and place the animals on the board with enough space between them to avoid fights.

Drone Home, PlayMonster, $26.99

Each player has an alien that has to reach the drone before it takes off. The drone actually flies in the air off the stand.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Auto Moto, Odyssey, $49.99-$99.99

Battling bots transform from cars to robots to fight each other. $49.99-$99.99

Neon Tie Dye, Fashion Angels, $29.99

Set includes everything from dies to shirt, gloves, socks and hair ties for the future fashion director.

Quiz Art, Ann Williams, $19.99

Create a dream catcher by adding colored string as directed by answering questions. No two dream catchers will look alike, because kids will answer the questions differently.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Bounce Battle, Battle Games/Fat Brain, $49.99

Ping Pong meets Tic-Tac-Toe in a game that can be played solo or in teams.

Available at: Mudpuddles

Solar Bots, Thames & Kosmos, $24.99

No batteries are necessary for the building of these 8-in-1 solar robots. Kids ages 6 and older can put them together with help, but 9 and up can totally handle it solo.

Available at: Mudpuddles and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

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Best Toys for Tweens & Teens

Whether lovers of art, music or just hanging with their friends, there are toys enough for kids who think they’re too old for them.

Crystal Growing Lab, Horizon Group, $27.99

Science meets art as crystals form and grow on a base. Kids can then dye the crystals to make jewelry out of them.

Disney Villains Series Puzzles, Ravensburger, $20.99-$29.99

These 1,000-piece puzzles are all the rage of kids stuck inside. Great for the “young at heart” who want to relive their favorite Disney stories.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Wall Collage, Ann Williams, $29.99

Perfect to spruce up a bedroom, a dorm room or an at-home learning space, the set comes with shapes, name letters and all the fixings to create a unique collage.

Available at: Genuine Toy Company and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Exit the Game: Theft on the Mississippi, Thames & Kosmos, $14.95

Players work as a team to solve the puzzles and stop a riverboat thief.

Available at: Genuine Toy Company

Pindaloo, Pindaloo, $21.95

Use eye-hand coordination to move the ball from one side of the loop through to the other. Perfect your game to show tricks!

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Faux Bow 4.0, Marky Sparky, $45.99

The “arrow” is foam while the real feel of archery reaches 100-foot range.

Split Wheel, Odyssey Toys, $29.99

Special stunt car makes 360 spins, drives on and off the road and comes apart to easily be put back together again.

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Best Toys for Kids with Special Needs

Kids of all abilities deserve a lot of fun when opening presents during the holidays. These toys encourage sensory play

Noodlies, Schylling, $4.99

Easily plays as a fidget toy, with pulls, stretches and strings.

Karmagami, Fun In Motion, $9.99

The infinite flip fidget toy comes in a litany of colors and styles.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys and Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Slackers Skyboard, Slackers, $49.99

Movement sensory needs are met with bouncing on the board and ropes to hold onto that mimic a pogo stick.

Whirly Squigz, Fat Brain, $19.99

New take on the fidget spinner sticks on surfaces and the material can be chewed and bent. Great for toddlers of all abilities.

Available at: Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy

Smart Max – Sounds & Senses, Smart Max, $24.99

The magnet toys introduce sensory play with textures, rattles and faces on each character.

Enter for a chance to win this toy in our Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!

Play Dirt, Play Visions, $24.99

This super-clean dirt acts like kinetic sand that can easily be molded, but is also easy to clean up.

Available at: Funky Monkey Toys

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