Right, so Santa's sorted the big-item presents (or is working on it – eep!) but what fun little toys are going to get stuffed in those Christmas stockings?

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Unpacking their stocking is often the first thing your child rushes to do on Christmas morning – usually quite a few hours earlier than we parents were hoping for! So, among the little reindeer socks, the chocolate coins and the regulation satsuma at the bottom, it’s wise to stash your child's stocking with some well-chosen, pocket-sized toys that'll keep them happy and busy while you stagger out of bed and find your festive sparkle.

We've scouted the (online) shelves for great stocking filler toys for toddlers to preteens – in a range of prices – looking for the ones that really stand out for play potential and value for money. And we’ve found some brilliant, budget-friendly buys, including some that are so good, they've won MadeForMums Toy Awards...

Best stocking filler toys at a glance

Best under £5

Best under £8

Best under £10

  • Sea-Monkeys Ocean Zoo, £9.99
  • Elf HQ – Puzzle Post, £9.99
  • Bubiloons Confetti Party, £10
  • Hexbug Junkbots Dumpster Assortment, £9.99
  • Unicorn Squeeze Popper, £9.99

And one for £10.95

Here’s our pick of the best stocking fillers for boys and girls of all ages – all (but one) under £10

best under £5

1. Squishmallows 2" Squishmallows Blinds, £4.99 each

Squishville by Original Squishmallows 2" Squishmallows Blinds with child tester Charlotte

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: H5cm | Batteries: None

Inside your brightly coloured, cat-eared plastic 'egg', you find a mini Squishmallow surprise – plus little fashion accessory for them to wear. There are 24 in total to collect and each one is sweet, squishable and has its own unique character.

"It's so cute and I love it," said our child tester Charlotte, 6 (pictured above). "I can't wait to get some more!"

"These are absolutely perfect for a stocking filler," said her mum Caroline. "Charlotte hasn't put this toy down since receiving it – she takes it everywhere. I've already purchased 5 more for Christmas."

Available at: Smyths Toys

2. HGL Pushpoppers, £3.99

pushpoppers with child tester Noah

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: Varies but roughly L12cm x W12cm x H1.5cm | Batteries: None

Push down a plastic 'bubble' on this two-sided plastic fidget toy and it pops back out again, a bit like bubble wrap.

There are a range of rainbow-coloured shapes to choose from and the 'pop' quality is great. "I LIKE pushing these!" said our child tester Noah, 6 (pictured above).

Jasmine, mum of our other child tester Ariana-Joy, 5, said, "My daughter absolutely loves these, and has even taken them to school as she gets anxious and they really help calm her down. One of the best push pop toys around."

More like this

Available at: House of Fraser and SportsDirect

3. IKEA Uppsta Building Beakers, £3.50

IKEA Uppstå Building Blocks

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Size: 8cm (base diameter) x H34cm | Batteries: None

This colourful set of 7 8cm-high plastic beakers can be stacked into a tower (and then knocked down).

We love the happy face with a hat you can see when they're stacked into a tower. We've found they make great pouring and splashing bath toys, too. They’re pretty indestructible and also really easy to wipe clean.

Available at: IKEA

4. Sylvanian Families Baby Party Collectible Series, £3.99 each

Sylvanian-Families-Party

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5+ | Size: H6cm | Batteries: None

As any Sylvanian Families fan will tell you, lots of their playsets come without any figures, so this is a purse-friendly way of adding a little more play value to your child's SF collection.

Each blind bag contains 1 super-sweet SF baby figure (from a total of 9 collectible characters) and 1 mini party accessory. We particularly like the Bear Baby with his little hoopla game.

It's worth knowing that some of the accessories are really tiny (a little hat, a bell shaker), so it's definitely a stocking filler for the over-3s only.

Available at: Hamleys and Sylvanian Store Keepers

5. Large Rocket Baff Bombz, £4.99

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: 1 x 110g bomb | Batteries: None

This white, rocket-shaped fizzes around the tub, leaving a bubbly trail of red, yellow and orange in its wake – and it actually pretty exciting to watch.

It also has a quite a pleasant, sweet smell (supposedly strawberry but we're not sure we got that) and, our child testers' parents report, even softens the bathwater a bit (it does contain some bicarb).

And, best of all, you just pull the plug when it's all over: no mess to clean up.

Biodegradable and stain-free.

Available at: Amazon and Sensory Smart Store

6. Petooties Mini Plush, £3.49 each

Petooties Mini Plush

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2+ | Size: H10cm | Batteries: None

These super-soft, super-cute toy animals comes in 17 different designs to collect, including dogs (pictured), cats, rabbits, cows and even unicorns.

All of the pets in the range are very cute – and very cuddly. We have a special soft spot for the reindeer and the penguin.

Our child testers really liked that each one comes with its own name and birthday.

Available at: Smyths Toys

best under £8

7. SnoBall Battle Pack, £5.50

SnoBall Battle Pack

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: W13cm x H20cm (pack); snowball size customisable | Batteries: None

Want more of the white stuff? Here's how to get some – without the cold fingers! Each pack contains 4 sachets of Gelli Snow powder that you mix with water to create mouldable 'snow'.

The mixture is stain-free and 100% degradable powder and each 20g sachet contains enough to make around 15 snowballs.

Huge fun – but do be careful if you have your snowfight indoors: as some of our child testers found, it can make the floor pretty slippery.

Available at: Amazon

8. Little Tikes Crazy Fast Cars Assortment in PDQ Wave 3, £5.99 for 4

Crazy fast cars with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: H8cm ‎(roughly; designs vary) | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Each pull-back-and-whizz wooden car is chunky to hold and brightly coloured and they go fast – but not too fast for a toddler. They also go an impressively long way.

We particularly like the electric one, which is super-whizzy and goes faster than all the rest. We have a minor quibble with the very US-style markings (a red car that says 'Fire Dept' or a police car says 'state trooper') but they're undoubtedly great value.

Our child tester Louis, 2 (pictured above) loved his cars so much he took them to bed with him. (Although the age suitability is 3+, we reckon they're fine for a 2 year old to play with under supervision.)

Available at: Little Tikes, The Entertainer and local toy shops nationwide

9. Marvel's Spidey and His Amazing Friends Disc Dashers, £5.99 each

Marvel Spidey and his amazing friends disc dashers with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L16cm x W13cm x H10cm (vehicles vary slightly) | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This little toy vehicle with its Marvel and Spidey-character driver has a slot in the bonnet where you load a 'web disc' (2 are included). Then you can press down on your driver in and the disc shoots out. "Awesome!" as our child tester Caleb, 3, declared.

The car rolls along smoothly and the disc-loading mechanism is simple and effective but do note that the driver doesn't come out of the car. It's a robust car for the price: Stella, mum of our other child tester, Damian, 3 (pictured above) confirmed that the car's strong enough to handle being dropped multiple times!

There are 5 different vehicles in the range, with drivers ranging from Hulk and Ghost Spider to Spidey himself but you may not be able to choose which one you get when you buy.

Available at: Amazon, The Entertainer and Smyths Toys

10. Pop-A-Tops, £7.99 each

Pop a Tots with child tester Aanya

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: 10cm (base diameter) x H12cm | Batteries: None

These dinky games come contained in a small tin with a see-through lid that you press down to roll the dice. Choose from Match-a-Martian (pictured, above right), Bake-a-Cake (pictured above left with our child tester Aanya), Dino Scores, Pet Factor and Best in Snow.

The games themselves are fun, fast-paced, require almost no set up and are fantastically portable. We also like that you can't lose the dice!

Our other child tester Kieran, 7, said, "I liked playing these games as I love winning! My favourite was the dinosaur game – it was a bit like Top Trumps but better, and I learnt some good dino facts. My brother liked the Martian game: he was very speedy at it. We loved playing these and are going to play them regularly at our family games nights!"

For 2 players or more.

Available at: Amazon and Play Monster

11. Orchard Toys Pigs in Blankets, £5.50

Pigs in Blankets game with child tester Gregory

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L14cm x W15cm (box) | Batteries: None

This mini-matching-pairs game on a Christmas theme features 32 cardboard pig shapes tucked up in differently patterned festive blankets.

It's beautifully made in sturdy cardboard and the Christmas theme is great fun – although it's not so overpowering that you couldn't play the game all year round. Laura, mum of our child tester Gregory, 4 (pictured above), was impressed that it "craftily combines memory, matching and turn-taking skills, while still being fun to play with."

Gregory's verdict? "It's really good fun to play – I like the pigs and want to match them all so that I can win!"

For 2 to 4 players.

Available from: Amazon, Orchard Toys and JoJo Maman Bébé

12. Magic Box Toys: T-Racers Turbo Wheel, £6.99 each

Magic Box Toys: T-Racers Turbo Wheel with child tester Isaac

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: Car sizes vary (approx 6cm long) | Batteries: None

This mini racing car collectible has parts that can be mixed and matched with other 7 T-racers in the collection. Inside each Turbo Wheel are 5 paper envelopes containing a cab, front chassis, rear chassis and wheels for you to put together, and a driver figure.

These little cars are fun to build – and discovering what's in the little envelopes extends the thrill (you might need to stand by with scissors for this bit, as they're not super-easy for little fingers to tear open). And we really like how you can mix and match all the different parts if you have more than one.

Our child tester Isaac, 5 (pictured above) said, "This car is awesome and really cool and I love it. It is easy to take apart and put together and I like the bright colours and the wizard driver. I will play with this at least 2 million times!"

Available at: Amazon

13. BigJigs Safari Animal Cube Puzzle, £5.99

BigJigs Safari Animal Cube Puzzles

Age suitability: 10 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L10.5cm x W10.5cm x H3.5cm| Batteries: None

The 9 wooden puzzle cubes in this square wooden box can be arranged in 6 different ways to reveal 6 different safari animal pictures.

It’s colourful, cute, well-made and very portable. And the cubes themselves are nice and chunky for toddler hands to hold and turn. Our toddler testers were all drawn to the bright colours and the animals' friendly faces.

For a wooden toddler toy puzzle, it's really not bad value at all.

Available at: Wooden Toy Shop, Bigjigs and Mulberry Bush

14. Hot Wheels 5-Car Pack Assortment, £7.99

Hot wheels 5-pack

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L7cm| Batteries: None

These 1:64 scale die-cast toy cars have sporty detailing, bright paintwork and are all slightly different, meaning you can build up a grand collection.

And 5 cars for just over £1.50 each really is great value, as all our child testers' parents agreed.

All you need to add is your best ‘vroooooom’ voice…

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

15. Eugy, from £8.50 each

Eugy

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: H11cm but sizes vary | Batteries: None

Slot the biodegradable-card pieces together in numerical sequence and secure them with the included glue to make a 3D animal to display or play with.

This is a great 20-minute craft activity that's not too fiddly and creates almost no mess. The finished models look really good and our child testers, who mostly managed to complete their models totally independently, were very pleased with themselves.

Choose from lots of different designs, including an alligator, a whale, a meerkat (all pictured above), a unicorn and 3 different dinosaurs.

Available at: Amazon and Hamleys

best under £10

16. Sea-Monkeys Ocean Zoo, £9.99

sea-monkey ocean zoo with child tester Emile Rose

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: L7cm x W15cm x H15cm ‎| Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

This is a cleverly designed little aquarium with a moulded seascape bottom (which many of you may remember from your youth!) in which you can watch the Sea Monkeys egg hatch and grow.

The Sea Monkeys take about 3 days to hatch and the set includes a water purifier, a food pouch, a feeding spoon and nice, clear instructions. Once they hatched, you can continue to feed them and watch them grow and take care of them.

"It's amazing watching my Sea Monkeys hatch and grow!" said our child tester Emilie-Rose, 8 (pictured above). Her stepdad Brogan added, “Emilie-Rose loves to learn new things and she was full of facts about what she's learnt from this. She said, 'Did you know they can grow up to 2cm long?' and 'They are actually a species of brine shrimp and they are really alive! I'm going to have real life pets!"

Available at: Argos and The Entertainer

17. Elf HQ – Puzzle Post, £9.99

Elf HQ -Puzzle Post with child tester Mason

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Inside a shiny red envelope are 6 paper-based puzzles to solve in order to unlock a secret Christmas message. The puzzles are well thought through and involve logical thinking, code cracking (elf writing), a word search, a maths puzzle and a (tricky) Spot the Difference.

The message your child unlocks can be personalised by you, although there is a standard one you can use.

"I loved playing this game with my brother," said our child tester Mason, 7 (pictured above). "We worked hard to solve all the clues and got it all right. Santa left us a message – how cool! He was so happy we helped him. My favourite bit was the Spot the Difference."

Available at: Puzzle Post

18. Bubiloons Confetti Party, £10

Bubiloons Confetti Party with child tester Olivia Rose

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: L12cm x W10cm x H13cm | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

Open up one of these little cupcakes and (if you've shaken it before), confetti will fly out to reveal your mystery Bubiloon figure, mini balloons and a bubble blower. Stick the bubble blower in the Bubiloon's mouth and squeeze its head and you can blow up the mini balloons, which you can then roll about in confetti, decorate with accessories and display on special sticks.

Our child tester Olivia-Rose, 7 (pictured above) was absolutely entranced by this, much to her mum Isabel's delight. 'I couldn't believe how much entertainment there was to be had with this toy," she said. "And I love the fact that even the case is great quality and will click closed to keep all the bits together, until the next time she wants to play."

There are 13 different Bubiloons to collect.

Available at: Argos and Very

19. Hexbug Junkbots Dumpster Assortment, £9.99

Hexbug Junkbots – Dumpster Assortment _

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5+ | Size: L6cm x W13cm | Batteries: 2x LR44 (included)

Open up the plastic dumpster to find 24 pieces (some hidden in mini rubbish bags) that can be put together to create 2 Junkbot robots (there are 36 Junkbots to collect) that light up and move.

Yes, it's a bit of plastic overkill but it's great fun digging through the dumpster and opening the rubbish sacks to find the pieces – and the little robots are rewarding to make. We also like that you can freestyle and fit the pieces together in other ways – especially if you collect other dumpsters – to make your own robot.

Zephy, 6, one of our child testers, said: "There is nothing I don't like about them. I made a robot that lights up by my own!"

Available at: Amazon

20. Unicorn Squeeze Popper, £9.99

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: H10cm | Batteries: None

This mini unicorn-shaped air-powered shooter shoots soft balls from its nose when you squeeze its tummy. Comes with 6 rainbow-coloured foam balls, which can travel up to 20ft.

We're not going to lie: it's pretty daft and, although the balls don't hurt when they hit, it has the potential to cause chaos. But that's why your child will love it, of course! A cross between a cuddly toy and a (hilarious) weapon – you may want to get 2 so you can defend yourself.

Available from: Wicked Uncle and Crafty Arts

And if you can stretch to an extra 95p...

21. Dinosaur Logic Game, £10.95

Dinosaur Logic Game with child tester

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7+ | Size: L8cm x W8cm x H2cm (box) | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2022

The aim with this card puzzle is to place all 9 tiles in the correct order by matching up the dinosaurs' bodies to make a square. The rules are simple but completing the puzzle is not nearly as easy as it looks.

"The cards look and feel really nice and the game is fun to play although it was harder than I thought,”" said our child tester, Harley, 8 (pictured above). Her mum, Jade, agreed: "My initial thought was, 'This is too easy' but we soon found out it wasn't! I helped Harley complete the puzzle for the first time. Since then, she's done it alone several times and has really enjoyed the challenge."

Made with FSC paper, using vegetable-based inks and vegan-friendly glue.

Available at: Happy Little Doers

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About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've more top toys, all tested and rated by parents and children...

Authors

Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies. Before joining MadeForMums over 7 years ago, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.

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