In the great book called "The Secret of Play" it talks about the best toys for your money. I thought with Christmas around the corner this would be some valuable information.
For ages 2 to 4: Chunky crayons, simple puzzles, or toys that feature zippers, latches or sorting challenges feed their "I can do it!" drive. Because, sharing doesn't come naturally, set the stage with props like puppets, a pretend workbenchor kitchen, and balls-all more fun with friends.
Ages 5 to 7: Kids this age enjoy games with rules and structure, so board games are a big hit. They are also passionate collectors, so cater to their latest obession, whether it's rocks or reading. (There's no such thing as too many books!) And if they are busy with school, sports, lessons, then gifts that help them connect with nature (a butterfly net, a kid friendly camera) or veg out (a tent, a stargazing guide) may be the most inspired choices.
Ages 8 to 12: Gifts that celebrate a child's unique talents (a complex model, jewelry-making kits, a soccer ball) are great during the awkward preteen years. Privacy is paramount, a journal and special pen may prove retro-cool.