Christmas is all about the kids. Nothing beats the smile on their faces (and your own) when you know you've given them a gift they really love.
But shopping for kids' Christmas presents has become incredibly difficult - not because you're short of options, but because there's almost too much choice. And when it comes to choosing tech for a child who probably knows more about it than you do, you can feel out of your depth.
We've put together our ultimate tech gift list for kids, which contains dozens of tech products any child would be happy to receive. We've considered all ages, from youngsters right through to teenagers, and focused strongly on value for money - Christmas is an expensive time, especially when it might seem that quantity of gifts can outweigh quality.
In this round-up we've got everything from big-ticket gifts like phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches and games consoles to smaller tech accessories that would make great stocking fillers or less expensive presents from their favourite aunt or uncle. There's something here that every kid will love.
It has a 7in IPS display with a reasonably low resolution of 1024x600 pixels, but it's a great size for small hands and the 1.3GHz quad-core processor inside is more than sufficient for playing casual children's games.
It's reasonably easy to lock down the Fire 7 using parental controls, but if this is a particular concern we also recommend the Kids Edition (£99.99). It comes with a tough bumper case and a two-year warranty that covers accidental damage, plus access to games, videos, music and more at Kids Unlimited.
You'll find more tablets primed for children in our round-up of the best kids' tablets.
It wouldn't surprise us if top of your kids' Christmas list was a new iPhone, but few parents are going to have the budget for that without looking down to an older model.
If you have made the decision that your child is old enough to be responsible for a smartphone, our favourite budget option is the Poco X3 NFC. It packs in strong specs, an excellent camera, a beautiful display, and absolutely fantastic battery life.
We've also rounded up some great SIM deals to keep them in credit.
See more best budget phone ideas.
Read our full Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC review
You've probably seen PopSockets before, but you might not know what they're called. Attaching to the back of a smartphone or tablet they lie flat but, when needed, can pop up and act as a stand or simply offer extra grip.
If you're worried about your child smashing their expensive new device as it tumbles from their tiny hands, they're seriously worth a look.
As a gift we love this personalised Custom PopGrip, which costs £16.99 direct from PopSockets. It comes in a range of colours, and you can apply your own photo to complete the design.
Power Banks & Wireless Chargers
Phones, tablets and handheld gaming consoles keep the kids quiet only so long as their batteries hold out. A power bank or wireless charger (or even a combo of the two) can extend the peace until you feel they've had enough screen time.
There is a crazy amount of choice out there, especially for power banks, which come in various capacities with differing inputs, outputs, features and performance. Make sure you know what you're looking for by checking out our buying advice on the best power banks and the best wireless chargers.
Every year we run into the same question from parents looking to buy the ultimate Christmas gift for their child: a laptop. But not just any laptop, a gaming laptop that costs less than £300.
But while integrated graphics chips are getting more powerful all the time, to play the most intensive games your child is really going to want a dedicated graphics card and a powerful processor, and that you are not going to find at £300. You might actually find better value from a budget gaming desktop PC.
Read our full Lenovo IdeaPad S340 review
The best budget media streamer you can buy, Roku Express is cheaper than the Fire TV Stick and more user-friendly than Chromecast. Offering access to all the main free and paid catch-up and on-demand streaming services, it's an ideal gift for an older child who is picky about what they watch.
A free mobile app adds voice- and remote control, but the diminutive Roku Express will sit unobtrusively below a TV where it will happily operate with the bundled infra-red remote control. Small and light, it's difficult to believe such a tiny box can make such a huge difference to your entertainment experience.
Read our full Roku Express (2019) review
If your budget stretches to AirPods, great - your kids will love it. If not, there are significantly cheaper options that will amaze you with their quality.
These budget buds from TaoTronics cost under £50 and they sound great. Audio performance is impressive and the huge battery life means you won’t need to interrupt your listening sessions very often.
For more budget options see our round-up of the best budget wireless earbuds.
Read our full TaoTronic SoundLiberty 79 review
A pair of headphones is the gift that keeps on giving - to you, since you no longer need to listen to yet another Minecraft walkthrough on YouTube.
But kids' ears are sensitive, and an adult pair of cans is neither going to fit comfortably nor build in proper safeguards that will avoid life-long damage to their hearing.
We like the JuniorJams from Puro Sound Labs, one of several recommended in our separate guide to the best kids' headphones. These good-looking wireless on-ear headphones are lightweight and foldable. They feature volume limiting (to the standard 85dB), and sound quality is excellent - possibly the best we've heard on a kids product.
You don't need us to tell you kids love music, and sometimes it's okay to let them blast it out for the whole house to hear rather than slapping on a pair of headphones.
Bluetooth speakers used to go down a treat, allowing them to stream YouTube or Spotify music from their phones and tablets, but these days it's becoming increasingly difficult to recommend budget models when we are faced with some excellent-value smart speakers.
Apple is still one of the coolest tech companies in the world in the eyes of most teenagers. If they have an iPhone, an Apple Watch would make like the best present ever. Except, as with all Apple stuff, the new Watch Series 6 is kind of expensive, starting at £379.
By buying the older model you miss out on some of the more recent developments in the line - for example, the faster processor, the larger always-on display - but the Series 3 remains a great smartwatch, and a gift your child will love.
Currently retailing at a reduced price of £49.99, the Ace 2 (reviewed) is a waterproof fitness tracker aimed at kids aged 6 and above. With accounts previously accessible only by those aged 13 and above, with Ace 2 Fitbit has opened up a whole new world of activity tracking for children, who are most likely going to want to use it because it feels like a grown-up thing to do.
For its younger audience Fitbit has made some tweaks, stripping out the calorie counting and adding in different modes for kids and parents. Through the Kid View, kids can see only their stats data, badges and clock face options, plus are able to connect with parent-approved friends.
Be sure to check out the best Fitbit deals before you buy.
If your teenage children are forever losing things, one of the biggest worries is often that they will misplace their house keys.
Tile has a range of Bluetooth trackers that can be attached to the stuff they need to keep safe, and not only to their keys but also their bag, wallet, phone and other stuff that may or may not be carried around with them.
The cheapest option is the Tile Mate, which has a 200ft range, a loud alarm, a water-resistant design and a one-year battery life. The more you buy the cheaper each becomes.
Digital cameras used to be a go-to gift for kids, but these days they all use their phones. That is unless they are too young to own a phone.
The other time kids might need a camera is, of course, when they are participating in extreme sports. You know, climbing trees, jumping in puddles and so forth.
GoPro is easily the best known action camera maker, but many of its products might be a little too expensive for your budget. And depending on your child's age they could also be overly complicated to use.
For younger kids we like the Kidizoom Action Cam from VTech. It's perfect for little adventurers aged 5 and above.
In the box you'll find various accessories, such as a waterproof case and various mounts, but you will need to supply your own microSD card for storage.
Able to capture high-definition photos and video, kids can add a range of visual effects, enjoy three included games, and mess about with various shooting modes: stop motion, slow motion, fast motion and reverse video.
Instant Camera or Printer
Our favourite instant camera, the Instax Mini 11 from Fujifilm lets you print out the photos you love from the camera itself - very much like the old Polaroid cameras that were around when we were kids.
It's very user-friendly, making it a good option for photography beginners and kids. Its design is chunky and retro, available in a range of colours.
Also consider an instant printer for those pics they already snapped on a phone.
Read our full Instax Mini 11 review
Help your kids bring their drawings to life with a 3D pen. These work by heating up and then extruding through a nozzle coloured plastic that can be shaped in any way you like, allowing for hours of fun.
Drawing with 3D pens can be tricky to get the hang of, and when you're dealing with hot plastic and components you want to ensure your kids are safe, so 3D pens tend to be targeted at different age groups. For real youngsters we love the Oaxis MyFirst 3D Pen (£36.99).
These USB-rechargeable devices are chunky enough for little hands to clutch on to, and there are no accessible hot parts. One-button operation simplifies use, so the only hand-holding they'll need is in clean-up - but even that should be simple thanks to the non-adhesive filament that can be easily lifted from hard surfaces. (6m of filament is included in the box.)
Of all the products we wrote about during last year's holiday buying season, electric toothbrushes were arguably among the most popular (quite possibly because there are some great deals to be had). The kids want to get in on that action too, and for us adults anything that is going to help convince them to actually brush their teeth is a win-win.
We love this fun Deeno-Saur toothbrush for kids aged 3 and above. With soft bristles it won't be too harsh on their teeth, and the head is wrapped in silicone protection to guard their teeth and gums. It uses sonic brushing technology and an intuitive bristle pattern to get into all the hard-to-reach areas, and there's a tongue cleaner on the rear.
A timer makes sure they keep brushing for two minutes, and when connected to a companion app (iOS and Android) they will earn Deeno coins as a reward. In the box you'll find two heads, some stickers for customising Deeno, a tiny egg that hatches into a dinosaur, and three AAA batteries.
But Deeno-Saur is just one of many electric toothbrushes aimed at kids, and with the upcoming release of Frozen 2 we think this Elsa toothbrush from Oral-B will also go down well.
For older kids Oral-B also makes the Junior Kids Electric Toothbrush, aimed at those aged 6-12.
If your child is playing games online with their friends, they are going to need a headset - but where on earth do you start?
We like the Turtle Beach Recon 70P. It's PlayStation colours, but it's a wired headset (with a 1m cable) so will work on all platforms. It has an adjustable headband, and swivelling ear cups to help find a comfortable fit.
Turtle Beach has placed a flip-mic and volume controls on one of the earcups rather than using an in-line control, making it easy to adjust volume and mute your mic in the heat of battle.
We've got some more budget options here.
Okay so it's definitely true that it's possible to spend a ton of cash on keyboards aimed at gamers, and there is a lot to be said for some of the more premium models and how much they can enhance your gameplay. But, at a certain age, it's also true that all a child wants is for their keyboard to light up in funky colours.
This Trust GTX 830-RW might seem like a substantial present, especially wrapped up under the tree, but in fact it's available for much less than you might think.
It's a full-size model, and supports rainbow wave illumination with adjustable brightness. For gamers there's anti-ghosting, and you can disable the Windows button to stop accidental presses meaning the Start menu will pop up at exactly the wrong time.
It's a wired keyboard, so setup couldn't be easier: you just plug and play, with no worries about what happens when the batteries run out.
For some more premium options see our guide to the best gaming keyboards.
Fortunately, everything we just said about keyboards above also applies to mice, and we've seen 10-year-olds seriously lose their, ah, bananas, over this £12.99 mouse from VersionTech. Why? Because it lights up in seven different colours. Seriously.
It's a pretty basic optical mouse in other respects, although almost certainly a little less basic than the generic mouse that was sold with their desktop, and an improvement over many laptop trackpads.
There's an ergonomic design with a rubber scroll wheel, and it's wired so you simply plug it into a USB port and you're away. A dpi button on top lets you switch between 800, 1200, 1600 and 2400dpi resolution, and there are two side buttons. Simple, but they'll love it.
Games Gift Cards & Subscriptions
So it's pretty obvious that most kids would love a games console (although some of the recently launched models are both expensive and very difficult to get hold of), but what if they've already got one?
A subscription to the exclusive membership service or a gift card for their preferred game store would go down a treat. Here are some options:
- Nintendo Switch Online 12-month membership (RRP £17.99)
- PlayStation Plus 12-month membership (RRP £49.99)
- Xbox Live 12-month Gold membership (RRP £49.99)
Digital Magazine Subscription
Kids learn an incredible amount through having so much free-to-play and streaming video at their fingertips, but it's important that they keep reading in order to get a good grasp of spelling, grammar and the written language.
If you really can't drag them away from their gadgets, consider a Readly subscription, which puts a whole world of digital magazines in their hands - they can read as much as they like. Not all titles are going to be age-appropriate, but with 4,525 available (including our own), they are sure to find something of interest.
You can get a Readly gift card direct from the site, with options for three-month (£23.97), six-month (£47.94), nine-month (£71.91) and annual (£95.88) packages.