Last Updated on October 25, 2022
3 year olds are at a magical age. Ask any parent and most would agree, 3 is a hysterical, frustrating, adorable, messy, laugh-filled year.
They’re out of those pesky terrible twos, but still little enough to squish and snuggle and sing to.
When your favorite 3 year old needs a special gift, what to do? We’ve got you covered with 21 ideas sure to please the most persnickety (yet precious and delightful) of human beans.
The Best of the Best 3rd Birthday Gifts
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1. Most Outstanding Gift for 3 Year Olds: Kinetic Sand
It squishes, it squeezes, it’s irresistible (just like your 3 year old). Not only that, but it’s educational and calming too.
Kinetic Sand is pretty much our favorite-ever gift for 3 year olds because it won’t dry out and it’s easy to clean up. (Yes, really.)
You’ll find yourself wanting to shape and mix along with your toddler. There’s something soothing about kinetic sand!
2. Best 3 Year Old Gift for Boys: Car Storage & Play Track
Cubbies are fun for any age, plus they have the added bonus of keeping Mom and Dad’s house a little cleaner.
Whether he’s into trucks, cars, blocks, superheroes, or his precious rock collection, this personalized storage system will be worth it’s weight in gold.
Plus: it will age along with him and he’ll find new uses for it for years and years.
3. Best 3 Year Old Gift for Girls: Handcrafted Dollhouse
There’s something about dollhouses that beckon to every little girl.
Whether it’s the rooms, the furniture, the dolls… well, it’s everything. And this one is just about perfect.
She will redecorate to her heart’s content, and as she does this toy will be a favorite throughout the years. Inspire her imagination and let the play begin!
4. Best Books for 3 Year Olds
There are just so many great books to choose from. Here are four of our favorites. Make sure to inscribe the inside for your little tyke!
The Wonkey Donkey is a cute and hugely popular picture book that’s perfect for 3 year olds.
It’s a cumulative, building limerick that starts with a three-legged donkey that’s a little… wonkey. Then you add more features to create a donkey that’s spunky, cranky, stinky, lanky, and so on. Good, clean fun.
With sweet watercolor-esque illustrations, this charming book will be one you won’t mind reading over and over again.
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is a classic for very good reason. It’s jam-packed full of ridiculous rhyming wordplay along with Dr. Suess’ inimitable art. Every kid needs a copy.
The first book featuring Arnold Lobel’s timeless characters, Frog and Toad Are Friends is about the give-and-take of friendship.
The book includes valuable life lessons, lovely artwork, and silly yet sweet plot lines for the two amphibians. An all-time favorite.
More inspiration: Fun & Timeless Jewelry Gift Ideas for Kids
5. Best Bath Time Gift for 3 Year Olds: Float & Play Bath Balls
Bath times can be a major Olympic sport for any 3 year old. It’s time to practice blowing bubbles, holding their breath underwater, writing on the walls, and of course, playing with their favorite bath toys.
These bubbly, bouncing balls of fun will keep them entertained until their toes are nice and pruney!
6. Best Educational Gift for 3 Year Olds: Ballet & Ninja Classes
Experiences are just the ticket when shopping for a 3 year old! This is the age where most dance studios, ballet teachers, music conservatories, and the like will actually want them to start.
“When I grow up, I want to be a…” will be the next thing you hear when you start them on a path to the performing arts.
The cool thing? They can take a course online, from home!
Here’s a fun beginner ballet class inspired by the hit movie Frozen.
Aaaaaaaaaaand…. while some girls (and boys) are into ballet, other girls (and boys) might prefer a ninja class like this one.
7. Best Art Gift for 3 Year Olds: Water Drawing Doodle Mat
Whether it’s some calming time before nap, or a quiet time during a rowdy playdate, this huge art mat will provide hours of craft time for your 3 year old.
From the shapes to the colors, it has everything they need to create to their heart’s content. The best part? It’s all drawn with water, so there’s virtually zero mess.
8. Best Wooden Gift for 3 Year Olds: Patterned Blocks
Not only is it pretty to look at with those wooden colorful shapes and handy storage box, but these are way more educational and brain-growing than you might think!
Your 3 year old’s noggin will be challenged as they piece together all the puzzles in this cute (and fun) collection.
9. Best Gift for Outdoorsy 3 Year Olds: Classic Tricycle
You know the ones: the 3 year olds who just long for the wind in their hair and the grass between their toes!
If your kiddo hates in the inside, don’t fight it: get them this Radio Flyer trike. It has a classic, vintage vibe, but is hardy enough for the biggest flips and tricks (which you know they’re going to try).
10. Best Personalized Gift for 3 Year Olds: Art Travel Kit
If your birthday kid is on the go all the time (and what 3 year old isn’t?), he and his parents will love this monogrammed art travel kit.
It will keep all those crayons in one spot and look cute too. Doctor’s offices, Gramma’s house, in the car, in the tree house, when it’s Dad’s weekend, you name it… You might want to purchase more than one!
11. Best Christmas Gift for 3 Year Old: Wooden Winter Play Set
How sweet is this adorable Montessori Christmas set? Make your own snowballs and decorate your own trees in all sorts of different ways, all as they learn about shapes and colors and your own family holiday traditions.
I mean, your 3 year old can do that. It’s for them, right? These are 3 year old gift ideas, amirite?
10 More Delightful 3 Year Old Gift Ideas
12. Sorting Game
No wonder squirrels are obsessed with acorns! If they’re as cute as these we get it.
In soft pastel colors, this Montessori sorting toy will be a treasured gift for years to come. This and many more available from Playful Petalz.
13. Gear Set
S.T.E.M. sets are great gifts for any age! But 3 year olds especially will love this colorful, bright, and totally addictive building set of interlocking gears.
It’s never too early to introduce them to engineering and science and construction.
14. Dress Up
Princess and Pirate costumes are fun sure, but why not make dress-up time a little more… out of the box and less ordinary?
Inspire their creativity with a costume that will help them dream of changing the world for the better! Line up those teddies and dolls: Dr. 3 year old is in the house.
15. Etch A Sketch
It’s classic, it’s timeless, it’s 60 years of shakin’ and erasin’! You know you want one for yourself, so we won’t tell if you buy a couple.
This Etch A Sketch is perfect for keeping in the car, or if they’re at that oh-so magical age where they’re aging out of naps but Mama still needs that hour to herself in the afternoon!
Choo choo! Chugga chugga chugga chugga CHOO CHOO!
Okay, you can’t help but provide the sound effects when you see this wonderful train set. Build ’em and block ’em, chase ’em and race ’em!
Your 3 year old will adore this train (and you won’t mind playing it with them) for years to come.
17. Flower Building
Every little gardener needs to start somewhere, and this charming and sunny flower building set is just the thing.
From the colorful flowers to the cute shark watering can, this is an unusual gift that won’t be regifted anytime soon (unlike that 12th Elsa doll).
18. Play Doh Set
You can’t go wrong with Play Doh when looking for the right gift for a 3 year old. The possibilities are literally endless: open a taco stand, make your own zoo, recreate your family, make a toy shop, grow a garden…
Is 3 years old too early to start a band? Nah! Bring some noise and bring some funk into your next playdate by introducing these wooden musical instruments.
Make sure to record the performances because they’re bound to be as adorable as can be.
20. Baking Accessories
Every kid loves to help Mom and Dad in the kitchen, but some of those utensils are just too large for their chubby little hands.
Introducing…… a pint-sized baking kit to the rescue! From the silicone and wooden utensils to the hat and apron, your little budding chef will be set for culinary success. This is one those 3 year old gift ideas that will surprise you with how much your little chub uses it!
If this is along the lines of what you’re looking for, you might be interested in our gift guide of Real Tools for Kids.
21. Jungle Gym
Got a little monkey on your hands? Channel that energy into their own personal climbing jungle gym!
Scrambling up and down is more important than you might think: they’ll be developing their gross motor skills, learning coordination, and getting out the ants in their pants, all while they play.
3 Year Old Party Ideas
Now that we’ve covered the gifts, let’s think about party time! Here are some of our favorite party ideas for a 3rd birthday celebration.
Have a theme party!
What’s their favorite movie/show/book/activity right now? Whether it’s Jake and the NeverLand Pirates, or a crazy mashup of monkeys and mermaids, encourage your party goers to come dressed for the part.
Have a music party
Provide musical instruments, play music in the background, have a dance party, play musical chairs!
Don’t forget kazoos as party gifts, and sing that round of Happy Birthday as loudly as possible.
Be King or Queen for the day with a Royal Party
Have your guests dress as members of the royal court and really let your 3 year old be the most high ruler of the day! Curtsies and bows are of course, a must.
Have a Party on a Stick!
Find a pogo stick or two for on the spot laughs and tumbles, serve kabobs and popsicles, even the invitations can be glued to sticks! You’d be surprised at how many “stick” ideas you can come up with with this one.
Have Sundaes on a Sunday party
Sure, cake is fun, but ice cream is better. And served up with do-it-yourself toppings, well, you’ve got yourself a party right there!
Don’t forget the maraschino cherries. Mmmmmmmm…
Have an Ice Cream Splits party
Build your own, or assemble them ahead of time and freeze.
3 Year Old Birthday Quotes
“Sometimes you need to talk to a 3 year old so you can understand life again.“
“A 3 year old is a being who gets almost as much fun out of an expensive set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.” ~Bill Vaughan.
“Some days I wish I had the wisdom of a 90 year old, the body of a 20 year old, and the energy of a 3 year old.”
“The terrible threes should come with a complimentary bottle wine. I’m just sayin.'”
“Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who lost an argument with a 3 year old today.”
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