We’re officially in the thick of the holiday shopping season, and this year’s toy selection is nothing short of awesome. While classic categories such as arts and crafts, puzzles, games, and educational toys never go out of style, new toy trends pop up each year that align with the needs and interests of kids and families.

After two (long) pandemic-fueled years, 2022 has finally felt a bit more “normal.” Families are gathering and traveling, and spending habits are returning to pre-pandemic levels. The new word on everyone’s tongue is now “inflation,” and families are looking to tighten the pursestrings as they try to keep up with price hikes on rent, food, and other necessities. Budget-friendly toys are super important this holiday season, and so are toys and games that provide meaningful value.

At The Toy Insider, we have evaluated more than a thousand toys while putting together our 17th annual Holiday Gift Guide, and we’ve identified seven toy trends to watch for this holiday season.


Tech toys have taken a backseat to classic playthings over the last few years, due in part to supply chain issues leading to chip shortages. But toy manufacturers have used the last few years to drum up new innovations in toys that incorporate technology in smart ways to enhance kids’ play experiences. Fun is getting an upgrade this year with interactive, motion-controlled tech pets, interactive headphones, and more. Kids will love LeapPods Max from LeapFrog, Osmo Reading Adventure by Osmo from BYJU’S, and Vital Hero from Bandai Namco Toys & Collectibles America.


So many facets of society revolve around food, from traditional dishes at holiday gatherings to entertainment staples like cooking shows and competitions. Food-themed toys have become increasingly popular in recent years, and this year, it feels like toys that inspire a love of culinary cuisine through roleplay, collecting, and creativity are everywhere we look. Key items include the Top & Bake Pizza Counter from Melissa and Doug and 5 Surprise Foodie Mini Brands Mini Food Court from ZURU.


People are (finally) beginning to care more about each other, the planet, and our future; and they are showing it with their wallets. Parents and kids are more aware of their social responsibility, focusing on inclusion, celebrating diversity, and caring for the planet. Toy companies are appealing to this new consciousness by putting their best foot forward with toys and games that are socially responsible, including eco-friendly playthings, dolls that represent multiple ethnicities and genders, and products for kids of different abilities.

Related: The Toy Book’s 2022 Innovation & STEM Issue is Here!

“Parents are looking for more ways to play responsibly and in return, we are identifying new ways to create more sustainable practices as a company,” says Michael Sheridan, product manager and sustainability lead at Educational Insights. “As an added bonus, when we create more eco-friendly toys and games, we create an opportunity for parents to teach their children about something bigger than any of us.”

Playfoam Naturals from Educational Insights, Baby Doll Asian Girl with Down Syndrome from Miniland Dolls, and the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Fresh Fierce Collection from The World of EPI and Dr. Lisa Williams are all great examples of socially responsible toys.


Toys and games bring families together, especially kid-friendly versions of things grown-ups love, games that multiple generations of family members can enjoy together, and playthings that are engaging no matter how old you are. Toys and games with mass appeal to kids — and even grownups — of multiple ages are highly popular this year. And when both kids and adults can truly understand a product, it’s an easy sell. Mario Kart 24V Ride-on Racer from Jakks Pacific, Nintendo Switch Sports from Nintendo of America, and Hasbro’s Monopoly Travel: World Tour Game are all fun products that will be well-loved by people of all ages.


While parents love to debate about how much screentime is healthy, there is no denying the fact that kids feel connected to the characters they see in their favorite movies and TV shows. Toymakers love to help the on-screen magic come to life with toys, games, collectibles, and more that feature all of those iconic characters. Popular selections include Dance & Play Bluey from Moose Toys, CoComelon Deluxe Clubhouse Playset from Jazwares, and Baby Shark’s Big Show! Ultimate Shipwreck Playset from WowWee.


Toys are about more than having fun. They keep brains engaged and learning, but they can also keep kids active and enhance their emotional well-being. Toy manufacturers are recognizing kids’ need for playthings that enhance their mental and physical health.

“Toys and games that promote social-emotional development in children have become a parent’s secret sauce – almost like hosting a mini therapy session right at home, in the exact moment your child is feeling BIG feelings, and with no co-pay!” says Talia Filippelli, LCSW, CHHC, CPT; psychotherapist and founder of Starr Therapy.

Better Than Yesterday from What Do You Meme?, Chuckle & Roar Mini Golf from Buffalo Games, and Express My Feelings Journal from hand2mind are all solid choices.


There are so many iconic toys and games that have been around for decades, and toymakers are constantly updating classic playthings for today’s kids, and bringing back pop culture staples in their original form for adult collectors
and enthusiasts.

Independent toy consultant and historian, Chris Byrne, also known as The Toy Guy, articulates the relevance and massive appeal of retro toys: “For the adult collector or the ‘kidult’ (that grown-up who never wants to give up play), these toys provide a touchstone to their childhoods and keep their spirit of fun alive,” he says. “These are toys that ended up defining moments in culture when they were first launched, and while they are still attractive to kids today, their multi-generational appeal provides incremental market potential.”

Related: Stay on the Pulse of Play with ‘The BIG Toy Book’ in 2023

Lite Brite Wall Art from Basic Fun!, Clueless Party Game from Wilder Games, and Koosh Flix Stix from PlayMonster are retro favorites that are available this year.

This year, there are hundreds of toys that will engage kids, families, and collectors alike. Our annual holiday gift guide is now available and it features more than 350 toys from more than 145 manufacturers. See all of our expert selections online at thetoyinsider.com.

This article was originally published in the 2022 Innovation & STEM issue of The Toy BookClick here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!

About the author

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva

Marissa Silva, AKA That Toy Girl, is the editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider. With more than a decade of experience in the toy industry, Marissa is a trusted toy expert, providing parents, gift-givers, retailers, manufacturers, and licensors with information on the latest news related to toys, games, kids’ products, pop culture collectibles, and licensed merchandise for adults. A board game pro and puzzle queen, Marissa spends most of her free time shopping for superhero T-shirts, dominating at Mario Kart, and anxiously awaiting her Hogwarts acceptance letter. She is also a new mom to her baby girl Lucy Jo and has quickly become an expert in high-contrast cards, wooden toys, and plush. Marissa has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, the Tamron Hall Show, Access Hollywood, Fox & Friends, ABC World News Now, MSNBC, CBS, NY1, WPIX, and more. You can follow her on Instagram @thattoygirl.