Your Guide to Feminist Holiday Gift-Giving: Girls Edition

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of University Women

With the holiday season fast approaching, shopping for the girls in your life might seem as easy as heading to the pink aisles of stores. But with several major retailers, including Target and Amazon, doing away with gender-based toy labeling, toy aisles are finally starting to blur the lines and challenge gender stereotypes.

“I would think that Target [and other retailers] wouldn’t make this kind of shift if they didn’t think there were enough parents out there that were encouraged by this type of change,” says Elizabeth Sweet, a lecturer in sociology at the University of California, Davis, who has written extensively on gender stereotyping in children’s toys. This shift emphasizes a public understanding that girls’ and boys’ toys need not be fundamentally different from each other.

“It’s important to think about the toys in terms of the skills they help develop,” says Sweet, because “some of those skills transcend age,” not just gender. It’s useful, then, to “offer a broad array of characteristics and themes [in toys] that apply to girls across interests.”

To help you find gifts that defy stereotypes, inspire creativity, and promote self-confidence in the girls in your life, we have created a holiday guide to navigating the evolving toy aisles. (Check out our gift guides from 20122013, and 2014 for more ideas.) New for this year, our guide also indicates the type of toy based on the following categories:

  • Defies Stereotypes
  • Builds Spatial Skills
  • Makes a Charitable Impact
  • Promotes Leadership Development
  • Teaches Empathy

From infants to teens, this guide has something for any girl you want to empower.

Ages 0-3

Peace Love Feminism Infant Bodysuit

Category: Defies Stereotypes

It’s never too early to show support for the feminist movement! In this bodysuit from Toward the Stars, babies can be feminists, too. Toward the Stars has numerous options for gifts that resist gender stereotypes and promote positive messages for girls. $18, Toward the Stars

Pink Is Just a Color and So Is Blue

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Teaches Empathy

A world defined by pink and blue is becoming outdated. Whether a girl wants to crash cars or play with pirates, or a boy wants to play with dolls or become a chef, this book teaches the importance of children being themselves and enjoying life’s possibilities. $8.99, Toward the Stars

Children’s World Map

Category: Builds Spatial Skills

The vibrant colors on this world map capture attention and interest in learning about different geographical features, including the Eight Wonders of the World, the solar system, and cloud formations. The map is perfect for hanging on a child’s bedroom wall or using as teaching tool. $16.95, Amazon

Ages 4-6

Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figure

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Builds Spatial Skills

GoldieBlox toys have made our gift guides for the past two years, and the gang returns again, this time with Ruby Rails. Ruby is a software engineer who loves photography and designing her own clothes with a program called Dress_Code. Ruby’s adventurous and creative spirit teaches girls that it’s cool to be smart. $24.99,GoldieBlox

Magformers Rainbow Set

Category: Builds Spatial Skills

For those days when two colors just aren’t enough, this Magformers rainbow set sparks creativity. From basic cubes and pyramids to more complex flowers and rockets, the vibrant magnetic pieces can be built into endless shapes for a fun learning activity. $38.88, Amazon

Dream Big! More than a Princess Coloring Book

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Promotes Leadership Development

This feminist coloring book brings color to girls’ dreams and aspirations. Dream Big! empowers young artists by teaching them about careers and opportunities and inspires them to be the trailblazers of the future. $6.99,Amazon

Makies Dolls

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Teaches Empathy

Manufactured using 3-D printers, Makies are totally customizable dolls that are created uniquely for their owners. The newest line from the British toy-maker features a more inclusive range of dolls, which can now be purchased with walking canes, hearing aids, glasses, or facial birthmarks. Price varies, Makies

Gears! Gears! Gears!

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Builds Spatial Skills

Building isn’t just for boys; this fun gear set from Learning Resources builds confidence, perseverance, and self-esteem, teaching its young constructors the real-world, STEM-supporting skills necessary to prepare them for future success. $24.49, Amazon

Ages 7-10

Rad American Women A–Z

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Promotes Leadership Development

In this alphabet book, A stands for Angela Davis and B is for Billie Jean King. From author Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl, Rad American Women A–Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History … and Our Future! teaches the ABCs of U.S. feminist history through the stories of 26 amazing women who inspired change. $9.51, Amazon


Category: Builds Spatial Skills

Jewelbots are more than just pretty pieces of wrist jewelry. These unique friendship bracelets show girls the fun side of coding. The device harnesses creativity by using basic engineering logic, allowing girls to program their bracelets to do just about anything they can dream up, from lighting up in different colors to sending messages to friends nearby. (Note: These items are available for pre-sale and will be shipped in spring 2016.) $49,Jewelbots

Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Builds Spatial Skills

Even if your child doesn’t have a lab coat, this microscope set is enough to excite anyone about science. With its accompanying journal and experiment ideas, the microscope shows children how fun scientific exploration can be, giving them the confidence to pursue science in school and later in the life. $23.00, Amazon

Lottie and Finn Dolls

Category: Teaches Empathy

With the vision to empower children to be themselves, Lottie and Finn dolls are based on 9-year-old characters. Developed after 18 months of research, the relatable, age-appropriate dolls stand on their own two feet (no high heels needed), an inspiring message for all girls, big and small! $19.95–$24.95, Lottie

IDO3D 3-D Printing Studio

Category: Builds Spatial Skills

IDO3D brings imagination to life. With the 3-D pen, users can mix colors and build layers to create three-dimensional artwork. Children can draw their own designs or be inspired by sample projects included in IDO3D kits and available for download from the company’s website. $19.99, Toys R Us

Ages 11-14

The Badass Feminist Coloring Book

Categories: Defies Stereotypes, Promotes Leadership Development

Not all coloring books are created equal. The Badass Feminist Coloring Book celebrates 40 modern-day feminists and includes bonus essays on feminism. This intersectional feminist tool is a fun, educational way to learn about some awesome and inspiring women. $20.58, Amazon

Feminist Alphabet Series Tote Bags

Category: Defies Stereotypes

Grow Wild was started by a studio design artist based in Washington, D.C. The ongoing Grow Wild art project, including baby onesies, T-shirts, and these tote bags, celebrates inspirational feminists, including Audre Lorde, Emma Goldman, and Simone de Beauvoir. $30, Grow Wild

UNICEF Kid Power Band

Categories: Makes a Charitable Impact, Teaches Empathy

The UNICEF Kid Power Band is a fitness tracker for kids that measures more than just steps. By being active, users earn Kid Power points, which are converted to funding that UNICEF uses to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. $39.99, Target


Categories: Makes a Charitable Impact, Builds Spatial Skills

Help girls unleash their #NaturalPotential with StemBox, a monthly subscription service providing at-home science experiments for girls. In an AAUW collaboration with Green Works, a portion of proceeds from each subscription during the month of March will be donated to AAUW to help further the advancement of girls in STEM. $28/month, StemBox

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Opening photo via Shutterstock