At three years old, your littles are full of well-articulated opinions and preferences. Sometimes, they’re slightly long-winded. They love a lot of things! They have a lot to say! They are becoming such impressive little people.
They may be really into something specific, like the solar system, bugs, or Amelia Earheart. But, their attention can still be grabbed by something new and fun, so our three-year-old gift guide is full of things they may love already, along with new obsessions they didn’t even know existed…until now.
From floor puzzles to machine-washable dolls (and so much in between), at price points across the board, this third birthday gift guide will make your three-year-olds AND their gift-givers smile for months to come.
Third Birthday Gifts Less Than $25
We just love Hape because we know we’re always going to be happy (see what we did there?) with whatever we get from them.
This wooden harmonica creates pitch-perfect sound for young musical enthusiasts. It’s the perfect way to encourage your little one’s love of music while they experiment and play, and, as far as noise-makers go, it’s on our shortlist of “most tolerable.”
Do a Dot Art! markers and activity books offer endless combinations of fun! Whether your kiddo is into homesteading, princesses, rainbows, pirates, or pets, there is an activity book for them. Plus, the dot markers set them up for success by (mostly) making a perfect dot every time they are stamped.
Kiddos will love how easy the markers are to grip, their fun scents (remember Mr. Sketch? – just like that!), and vibrant colors. You’ll love that they’re non-toxic, made in the USA, and mess-free.
Three-year-olds love it when you get on their level and work on something together. This puzzle is the perfect way to do just that! Choose from multiple designs (remember your little buddy who loves the solar system? – there’s a design for them!) and work together to put it all together—or offer moral support while they do it themselves.
The pieces are bright, sturdy, and easy for small hands to grip, plus the handy carrying box makes for easy storage and transport.
We included this one in our roundup of Best Board Games for Toddlers and it’s so good, we had to add it to this list, too. It includes a friendly monster (à la Sesame Street) whose preferred diet includes hairy pickles and fuzzy donuts. Can your kiddo balance his crazy treats on a spoon and get them into Woozle’s mouth in time?
For this insect-inspired brain bender, they’ll choose one of the kit’s forty challenge cards and then arrange, flip, and position the semi-circular puzzle pieces into the bug-shaped tray to match the picture. Unbeknownst to your favorite littles, they’ll be learning about colors, fractions, early math, and more.
We LOVE a machine-washable doll, especially one that looks as heirloom-quality as this one from Manhattan Toys. Choose from six different dolls, which measure 14 inches from head to toe, and include a mini friend. They all have fully embroidered facial features, and their clothing and shoes are interchangeable, making collecting multiple friends extra fun.
If LEGOs were flattened and you made them into a puzzle, you’d have this Plus-Plus BIG Picture Puzzle. Every brick is the same shape and easily connects to the next. Create colorful, flat mosaics or work in 3-D to make more intricate builds.
Mix and match any Plus-Plus BIG set to bring more ideas to life! Make everything from bacon and eggs to a rainbow butterfly.
Green Toys is another one of our no-fail kids toy brands and, since Thrifty Littles is based in Seattle, we have a special affection for ferry boats.
The two-colored ferry boat comes with two colorful cars that will delight littles. It also features a spacious cargo area and a slide-out ramp. The open design allows kids to place action figures or other toys inside. And just like an actual ferry, the toy is designed to float in water!
Third Birthday Gifts Less Than $75
Toddlers love to help around the house, and we love them for it! This cleaning set for kids has tons of realistic details for hours of imaginative play. It includes five pieces: a broom, mop, brush, duster, and dustpan. Just make sure you teach them not to step in your pile as they’re sweeping up their own. (Another option here.)
Pottery Barn does an excellent job with their backpacks, especially these minis. They’re sturdy, come in a large variety of colors and designs, and can be monogrammed. They’re perfect for toting around all of your kiddos’ favorite things and made to last. Your three-year-old will be ready for any adventure with their perfectly sized backpack.
When it comes to play kitchens et al, kids want theirs as realistic as they can get. This Pretend Kitchen Playset combines a multi-function kitchen sink that can spray with a stove that has light and sound. Give them more ways to experience the fun of cooking with this fun set!
Calling all animal lovers! The Little Tikes Rescue Tales Scrub’ n Groom Bathtub Playset is about as cute as it gets. With a working bathtub, this set allows littles to fill the tub with water and then use the hand-powered showerhead for bathing their adorable new pup.
The grooming supplies, including a shampoo bottle, shower hose, brush, hairdryer, and of course, a rubber ducky, are included.
Three is a big year for pretend play, which means it’s time to start the costume collection. If you want to ensure you’re getting excellent quality at a great price, look no further than Melissa & Doug. They can be whatever their heart desires: a magician, a pilot, an astronaut, a chef. The possibilities are endless!
or the kiddos who want to be just like mom (and who wouldn’t – she’s the best!), get this Litti Pritti My First Purse. The stylish purse comes with everything your three-year-old needs to head out on the town: a wallet, cellphone, lipstick, face powder, keychain, car key, ID card, play money, three credit cards. Let the shopping commence!
This simple and cute karaoke machine gives kids the opportunity to belt out endless hours of songs—all they need to do is find their favorite stage. It’s light-show capable and also doubles as a comforting night light. Available in two color options (blue and green or pink and purple).
Let’s build something! Kids power up their imaginations and build coordination skills as they play with a toy drill and drill chunky, kid-sized bolts onto a workbench. This toy helps to hone fine motor skills and introduces them to a fun STEM activity as they sort and count the colorful bolts, map out all kinds of designs, and develop critical preschool math.
The only thing your kids will need from you while they go in and out of their AirFort for hours and hours is the occasional snack and water bottle left outside its entrance. With multiple designs to choose from, the AirFort inflates in less than 30 seconds, and at 77″ wide x 50″ tall, it’s big enough for a few members of your little’s crew.
Just don’t forget the box fan, so the fun can begin as soon as they open their gift.
This 30-piece set is the perfect launching pad for all kinds of creative designs! The patented “rolling magnet” technology means each shape always sticks to another, allowing for frustration-free building. There’s also an included step-by-step educational idea booklet with follow-along ideas and instructions to keep the creativity flowing.
Dinner’s on your kiddo tonight! The Melissa & Doug Pizza Counter is a pizza counter and oven all in one! Toppings adhere with self-stick tabs, so kids can prepare their pizza just how they like it, pop it in the oven, then box it up for delivery.
This wooden balance board is perfect for stimulating and strengthening your child’s vestibular system and body posture as they learn to balance with a higher center of gravity. They can rock, sway, climb, and build forts with it, or use it as a bridge or road during imaginative play. Whatever they choose, they’ll never be bored!
With this awesome 3-in-1 dollhouse playset, toddlers develop fine motor, social and emotional skills as they build, play, redesign, and play again!
This modular house features a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom that can be reconfigured in three designs. It is packed with details, like an opening fridge and toilet, a rocking horse, guitar, and blanket. Includes mom, dad, child, dog, and teddy bear figures.
Just like our favorite wagons, this Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike conjures a sense of nostalgia as your little rides it around and around…and around. It has a covered storage bin in the back for their favorite treasures, an adjustable seat, and an adult hand-grip on the back. Most kids can ride this bike until they’re about five, giving it lots of life.
Third Birthday Gifts Over $75
There is something magnetic about a splash table for kids that we’re not going to question. With this Rain Showers Water Table, they will use the large bucket to scoop up water from the pond and pour it into the top tray, then watch as the rainfall effect is activated and the water splashes back into the pond! This also activates maze-like spinners, ramps, and buckets, all adding to the fun.
Rearrange the put-and-place maze pieces to create new waterfalls for fun cause-and-effect STEM play.
This colorful 12-piece stepping stones set promotes physical activity and active play, inspiring your child to jump, stretch, climb, and balance for full-body exercise. They’re durable enough to be enjoyed almost anywhere and have full rubber, slip-resistant bottoms that make them safe for carpet, tile, and grass. They even hold up to 220 pounds, so this is one toy dad doesn’t have to be afraid he’ll break.
Grab your iPad and set up the Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit—we promise this is some screen time you can get behind. The award-winning learning games in this kit let your child interact with their tablet, bringing their actions to life. They’ll help your child recognize letters and learn phonics (ABCs), develop pre-drawing skills (Squiggle Magic), experiment with clothes and colors (Costume Party), and develop problem-solving skills (Stories).
The Toniebox is an imagination-building, screen-free digital listening experience that plays stories, songs, and more. The Toniebox comes to life by simply placing a Tonie character on the box, making it simple for kids to change stories or tunes whenever they want. Each Tonie is a unique listening experience, and there is a whole library of Tonie characters, so you’re sure to find lots of Tonies your little one will love.
The cutest little play kitchen we ever did see! Kids will engage in garden-to-plate play as the they “grow” their veggies in planter boxes, then “slice” and prepare them with the included knife and cutting board, then cook them up in the included pots and pans. Write out the menu du jour on the included chalkboard for extra fun!
Making this play kitchen even more fun is the lights and sounds feature! The ice maker dispenses cubes, and the faucet lights up and makes sounds.
Sometimes on rainy no-school days, the only way our founder can get any work done is by pulling out this Little Tikes Jump n Slide Bouncer and setting it up in her living room! Don’t worry – it works equally great outside too.
This bouncer is big (12′ x 9′), giving up to three kids room to jump, slide, and bounce. Plus, it inflates in minutes and folds into a bag for storage.
There is lots of fun to be had with this list, so take your time with it. Bookmark things, add to wish lists, come back. Whatever your strategy, you’re bound to find the perfect gift for the special three-year-old in your life. If you do, we’d love to see it! Tag us: @thriftylittles on Instagram and Facebook!
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