The Man vs. Pink Alternative Christmas Gift Guide For Girls (and Boys)

Choosing gifts for girls should be easy. If you know what they’re into, buy something related to that. If you don’t know, then try and find out.

However, when the buyer (whether relative, classmate, or family friend) doesn’t know them well enough, they often chance it – and this is when gender stereotypes come into play.

Not wanting their gift to be unwanted, people often opt for what they think is the safe option of traditionally ‘girly’ items – whether it’s a Princess sticker book or a pink fairy costume.

Last years Alternative Gift Guide for Girls proved very popular, so I thought I would publish an updated one. What I wanted to offer here again is a collection of alternative gifts you may not have considered for girls.

1. Kano Computer Kit Bundle


This fantastic machine is topping the list for the second year in a row, but this year there is a brilliant additional element that has really enhanced our daughter’s experience in using it.

To summarise, the  Kano computer is a wonderful device – not only a build-your-own computer kit, but the finished product is a gateway into coding and the creativity of computing. With coding and computing literacy high on the educational agenda, imho this is one of the best presents you could buy for your child.

The additional element in this package is the Kano Screen kit, an HD screen that you make yourself. It is fairly simple to put together, but as with the computer kit doing so helps understand the elements and process of this technology.  And there remains a great sense of ownership from your child in the finished product.

While the screen is available separately for those who already have the Kano, both are available as the Kano Computer Kit Bundle.

The screen really is a brilliant extra element that I highly recommend. From a practical point of view, the screen kit casing houses both the computer and the keyboard, making storage easy. It visually matches the Kano, with the transparent housing keeping all the blinking lights visible.

It also make the Kano more portable & versatile. Previously we were using it on the main family TV, but now is can be used anywhere, which has really increased our daughter’s engagement with the device. And engaging our children with computing is really the whole point of this marvellous machine.

It doesn’t come cheap, but I’ll reiterate – if you purchase only one present for your children this Christmas, I urge you to make it the Kano computer.

The Kano computer kit has an RRP of £299.99, and can be purchased directly from Kano.


LEGO Marvel Superheroes Spider-Man Web Warriors Ultimate Bridge Battle 76057
Our daughter enjoying our favourite set of the year – the Spider-Man Ultimate Bridge Battle, with a Spider-Girl minifigure

While LEGO Friends was once the preserve of most female LEGO minifigures, the Danish plastic brick company has made great progress in featuring more female characters in all their lines.

This year, we had some terrific licensed sets that included some cool female minifigures.

In the superheroes there was the Avenjet (with Captain Marvel), DC Sky-high battle (Wonder Woman), Gotham City Cycle Chase (Harley Quinn), Avengers Hazard Heist (Black Widow), and Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (the Ancient One). For children aged 2-5, we also had a great Duplo set, DC Super Hero Batman Adventure – which featured a Wonder Woman DUPLO figure & bike.

In Star Wars there was the Battle of Takodana (Maz Kanata) and the recent Rogue One U-Wing set (Jyn Erso).

But the top set – and probably the best Marvel LEGO set we have ever built – is the Spider-Man Ultimate Bridge Battle. It features six minifigures, Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, the Scorpion, Kraven the Hunter – and female minifigures Aunt May, and best of all Spider-Girl.

It’s a fun playset when made – a section of a classic New York bridge, with various moving elements from a web trap to a crashing taxi. It has LEGO studs everywhere so you can place your wall crawling superheroes all over the bridge. But it is also great to build, and a fun engineering project to share with your kids. I certainly enjoyed making it as much as my daughter.


3. LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack PS3

Combining aspects of 1 & 2  on this list, LEGO dimensions has been a big hit in our house this year.

It’s one of the toys-to-life genre made famous by Skylanders, and the soon to be defunct Disney Infinity. But for me this is the premiere fusion of toy and game, combining the best elements of LEGO the toy and the LEGO video game franchise to create something marvellous in its own right.

The basic set is the starter pack, which is console specific. It includes the game, 3 minifgures (Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstye), a minikit (the Batmobile), and the game pad – which is how you transport your minifigures into the game.

Basically, the included minifigures and mini kits have special platform bases, which are encoded to transport them into the game via the game pad.

Here they are playable as part of the included narrative game or in freeplay mode in various worlds unlocked by each character.

From this basic set, you can expand the game with new special LEGO dimensions minifigures and level packs. There are way too many to mention all, and they are releasing figures regularly (currently seven waves of multiple sets), but I wanted to highlight the available range of female characters, which are awesome.

As well as Wlydstyle, we have Wonder Woman, UniKitty, the Wicked Witch, Lumpy Space Princess & Marceline the Vampire Queen (Adventure Time), Harley Quinn,  Tina Goldstein (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and a Ghostbusters (2016) Story Pack, with an Abby Yates minifigure, brand new game pad set, and a playable LEGO version of the entire movie.

LEGO Dimensions is a great way to bridge the divide between LEGO and LEGO video games.


4. The Amazing Colouring Book for Awesome Girls

The Amazing Colouring Book for Awesome Girls, The Amazing Coloring Book for Awesome Girls, Colouring Book for Girls, Coloring Book for Girls, Girls Colouring Book, Girls Coloring Book

More of a stocking filler is this great colouring book, featuring simple pictures of women and girls in a variety of different roles and activities.

It’s the perfect antidote to the more usual princess themed books targeted at girls. While I have some issue with labelling it a girls book – most notably because it will prevent many boys from being bought this – I understand why (because of the existing market), and love the finished result.

Just 3 of the inspirational illustrations to colour in - a girl being a pirate, astronaut, and sculptor.
Just 3 of the inspirational illustrations to colour in – a girl being a pirate, astronaut, and sculptor.


5. Anime and related


While there has been progress, Disney Princesses continue to dominate the ‘girls’ market, so I have always been keen to source alternatives for my daughter to balance out this ubiquitous brand.

Studio Ghibli continues to be a rich source, and this year we saw a couple of ‘new’ ones. When Marnie Was There is purported to be their last movie, and is an engaging, rewarding, but also melancholy tale. An earlier classic, Only Yesterday,  was also re-released, with a brand new english language dub including Daisy Ridley. It sees a woman in her twenties reflecting on her modern life and reminiscing about her life as a little girl. It is a mesmerising tale from Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata.

We were also pleased to discover another anime classic, but this time not from Studio Ghibli. Wolf Children is a wonderful film that centres on Hanna – a young woman who has a passionate relationship with someone who turns out to be the last of his kind, a mythical Japanese wolf. Their kids, the children of the title, struggle to find their way in a world that has different callings for humans and animals. There is also a beautifully illustrated manga based on the movie. Both film and comic have become beloved favourites of our daughter’s – and mine too.

Our final ‘discovery’ was also anime related, the saga of Avatar: The Last Airbender and especially it’s sequel The Legend of Korra. Debuting over a decade ago, this animated TV saga has enthralled both my daughter and I this year. While the protagonist of the first show is a young boy (Aang), strong female characters are prevalent throughout (though it has to be said, my daughter adores Aang).

We started by watching Korra, which is magnificent, and while it was easy to follow we realised some of the references would hold greater relevance if we watched Avatar: The Last Airbender. We then rewatched Korra from the beginning and finished the show. The seven series epic is truly magnificent, and in the UK it is all part of Amazon Video. There are also follow up comics that I can’t wait for us to explore.

Sadly, there is also a movie of The Last Airbender. I say sadly, because frankly it’s pants and a pale shadow of the cartoon it is based on – but my daughter really enjoyed it. Make of that what you will.

6. Star Wars

Rey Lightsaber Toy Review from Star Wars The Force Awakens HasbroStar Wars, as ever, has loomed large in our house. Much of it centered around LEGO Star Wars, and as well as the sets mention above, we also really enjoyed the LEGO Star Wars Force Awakens game. It is (unsurprisingly) Rey centric, and features actual dialogue from the movie. Daisy Ridley (as well as much of the cast) also recorded additional dialogue for the game.

Rey has also added another character for little girls everywhere to dress up as, so my daughter’s Rey fancy dress outfit – with essential Rey’s Lightsaber accessory – was welcome.

Our daughter also enjoyed this interactive Stormtrooper toy, and I was a fan of the Star Wars novels Bloodline (a political thriller featuring Princess Leia) and Ahsoka.

7. DC Super Hero Girls

DC Super Hero Girls Action Figures - Supergirl and Batgirl SM

In what seems to be an attempt to combine the popularity of superheroes and Disney Princess, Mattel & Warner Bros. have created the brand DC Super Hero Girls.

As well as toys, there are books, cartoons, stationary and fancy dress outfits.

We only have a couple of toys, Supergirl and Batgirl action figures so these are the only ones we can personally recommend but the range has everything from fancy dress outfits, to accessory toys and homewares – and with LEGO on the way, I hope this brand does well in 2017.


8. Lottie


Lottie dolls are an ever popular toy in our house. To be honest, check out their range for the ones that best suit you/your child – but these are the ones my daughter has received this year.

We chose the School Days Lottie and scooter accessory pack because our daughter started school and scooting there is encouraged. The palaeontologist Fossil Hunter was to help support an interest in dinosaurs before any ideas that ‘Dinosaurs are for boys’ crept into her thinking. Same for the Girls United Football clothes set, and the Raspberry Ripple dress clothes outfit was simply one my daughter liked the look of.

But there are lots of different dolls and accessories to choose from, and it should be easy to find the right one for the lucky child.

While you can purchase them via the Amazon links below, if you head to, and use the code ‘bloggerambassador’ at check out you can get 20% off your order.


9. Sewing Circus


This label – from Let Clothes Be Clothes founder Francesca Cambridge continues to blaze a trail for unisex clothing, which also promotes active and STEM themes that are perfect to undermine negative girl stereotypes. There’s also plenty of Star Wars and superheroes.

She also does bespoke work – such as the all-time fave Star Wars skirts our daughter often wears!

Head to the Sewing Circus website and browse the selection.

10. Miscellaneous


Ok, I ran out of room to mention these fully – but any one would also make a great gift for a girl (or boy).

The Natural History branded pocket microscope is a great affordable STEM toy, that works really well too.

Rory’s Storycubes are a wonderful way to encourage creative storytelling in young children, and we love these Batman ones. They also feature a good selection of female characters.

We’re big fans of the work of writer & illustrator Charles C. Dowd, and his A to Z Guide to Jobs for Girls is a must have for anyone raising an empowered little girl. Our daughter is also particularly taken with his Lilith Dark comic.

A great introduction to the most iconic female comic book character of all can be found in the Wonder Woman: An Origin Story picture book, with nice animated style illustrations.

Also going down treat are a selection of Batgirl comics – Batgirl: Year One, as well as the hipster revamp Batgirl of Burnside and follow up Family Business. With plots involving dating apps, computer algorithms, transgender issues, and same sex marriage, some my not think of these as suitable reading material for a 4-year-old girl – but my daughter and I would disagree 🙂

Also skewing a older is a childhood favourite of mine – Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I read it to my daughter earlier in the year, and she enjoyed it immensely and is now being read it again by my wife.  If you know a child who has never read (or been read) this classic, we all highly recommend it.


Want more ideas? Check out more of my gift ideas for girls (or boys).

There you have it, my alternative gift guide for girls. What alternative gifts for girls would you suggest?





Alternative Ideas for Gifts for Girls (and Boys)

Choosing great gifts for girls shouldn’t be that difficult.

But it seems that it is. While you may know what your child likes, others may not and often they will revert to the same tired stereotypes of “what girls like”.

One of the things I want to achieve with my blog is broadening the spectrum of what people think will appeal to girls. So I thought it might be handy to detail some of the great things my daughter has enjoyed over the past year, as potential new ideas for gifts for girls.

These suggestions are of course fine for boys too, but I just wanted to counterbalance some of the traditional gift guides I see aimed at girls. However, as a former boy – and I love all the things on this list too, so I have no doubt they will appeal to them too.

I’ve mostly used Amazon affiliate links, but all these items are available from a variety of other retailers too.

1. Kano – the DIY Computer Kit for Kids

Girl coding, Kano
Learning to code at 3-years old with her Kano

If you and your family purchase only one present for your child, I would strongly urge it to be this one.

Kano is a fantastic build-it-yourself computer and coding kit. While intended for kids age 6-12, younger (like my daughter) and older (like her parents!) will love this too.

This is a wonderfully simple yet complex product. As opposed to the pretend computers that kids often have, this is an actual bona-fide computer for kids.

With this, your child will have a wonderful journey of discovery, and will also be engaged in the fundamentals of our increasingly digital culture.

The kit contains:

Coding for kids, coding for girls, girls in stem, Kano


    • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, ARM 900MHz Quad-Core CPU and 1GB RAM
  • 8GB micro-SD Card preloaded with the latest Kano OS full of projects and games
  • Kano books, illustrated and intuitive
  • Wireless Kano Keyboard and mouse (USB RF & Bluetooth)
  • DIY speaker
  • Custom case, stencils and stickers!
  • HDMI cable
  • Wifi dongle
  • Mini-USB power supply (UK plug)

You put the computer together in LEGO-like fashion (no soldering required), connect it to a screen (via HDMI), fire it up, and you’re ready to go.

It is also a great family activity – my wife and I are as excited about using it as our daughter.

If there was any justice in this world, the Kano would be the number one toy this christmas.

The RRP is £119.99 – but you can get it for a holiday price of £89.99 until 31 December 2015.

It’s available from the Kano website and Amazon.


LEGO Star Wars, Rey's Speeder. Princess Leia, Lego for girls, Girls lego, star wars girl, ideas for gifts for girls

Everyone loves LEGO, right? It’s probably one of the greatest toys ever invented, LEGO is certainly a perennial plaything at our house. When considering LEGO gifts for girls, please don’t assume you have to limit yourself to LEGO Friends.

We’ve had some exciting new sets this year, but our highlights were these ones that also featured some great female characters.

We loved Rey’s Speeder from The Force Awakens. It’s a simple set with a really funky looking vehicle.

Other LEGO Star Wars sets we had included the Imperial Shuttle and Imperial Assault Carrier. Both were wonderful sets that each featured important female characters – Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels, and Leia in her non-slave Return of the Jedi look.

With a little LEGO invention, you can also make this Leia look a bit like General Leia from The Force Awakens. (Han looks pretty good with a beard too.)

General Leia, Old Han Solo, LEGO Star Wars, The Force Awakens, Gift ideas for girls
One of my daughter’s custom LEGO creations – old Han & Leia.

But our top set is Jokerland. It gets played with the most and also has the most female minifigs.

Batman, Robin, Beast Boy, Starfire, The Penguin, The Joker, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, LEGO, minifigs, minifigures, gift idea for girls

Jokerland is a wonderfully loopy LEGO Batman set that features a theme park taken over by the Joker and his criminal pals. The set features 8 minifigures, and the female ones are Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Starfire. As well as Joker, you also get Batman, Robin, The Penguin, and Beast Boy.

Having female figures in these sets is important. For my daughter, it helps hook her into playing with these sets. But once she does, she enjoys both male and female characters alike. She’s a big fan of Batman and Robin at the moment.

3. Lottie Dolls

Lottie dolls, girls gift guide, gifts for girls age 8, gifts for girls age 5, gifts for girls age 9, We love Lottie Dolls. From their childlike appearance to the range of outfits and accessories , my daughter is constantly playing with them. The other day she professed that they were her favourite toy!

Choosing a favourite Lottie Doll is like choosing your favourite child (though I only have one of those to choose from), but my top ones would be Pirate Queen and Rockabilly.

To be honest they’re all great, and the key for us is the range of outfits and accessories you can get. They lead to great imaginative play, and show that girls can be dancers, engineers, athletes, or whoever they want to be.

Lottie is a doll that isn’t defined by being one thing. That is a great message for children to learn.

These are the dolls we have:

And these are the accessories:

4. The Films of Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli, gift guide for girls, Disney princess alternatives, alternatives to disney princesses, anti disney princessOur lives would be culturally bereft without the joys of Studio Ghibli movies.

If you haven’t seen them, I cannot stress enough how utterly magical and glorious these films are. I am immeasurably grateful that they exist, and that my daughter gets to experience them in her childhood.

Some are more age appropriate than others, but bear in mind I will happily watch any of these with my 3-year-old daughter (who adores them).

Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbour TotoroWhisper of the Heart, and Ponyo are our most watched.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, and especially Princess Mononoke may be too intense for younger children – but I say again, my 3-year-old loves watching them.

We also have story books of Kiki’s Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro, which have been excellent ways for my daughter to engage with these stories without constantly watching the movies (it would be every day if I’d allow it).

Little Girl Dressed as Kiki, Kiki cosply, Studio Ghibli cosplay We also bought her this great Kiki dress up outfit.

While it’s simple, it’s a high quality outfit (unlike most kids fancy dress outfits).

The dress is nicely tailored in cotton, and the bow is delightful.

My daughter always gets smiles whenever she’s out wearing this – mostly from people who have no idea who she’s dressed as.

You can top the outfit off with a Jiji cat toy too.

5. Katie Morag – books and TV show

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My daughter was actually the one who introduced us to the wonderful Katie Morag books, stumbling upon one at a charity shop.

These delightful picture books, written and illustrated by  Mairi Hedderwick, are all set on the Isle of Struay, off the coast of Scotland, and center around the independent minded Katie, and her family and friends.

Our favourite books are:

I was pleasantly surprised to find that a live action Bafta Award winning TV series had been made, which captures the spirit of the characters and stories perfectly.

You can get series one of Katie Morag on DVD.

6. Tara Binns

Tara Binns Books, Lisa Rajan, gifts for girls, books for girls, best books for girls

The Tara Binns series of books are a fun way to introduce different professions as valid choices for little girls to aspire to.

So far there are three books in the series, and in them the hero of the title explores the likes of being a pilot, and engineer, and a doctor.

They are fun to read and have already sewn the seeds of big ideas in our little girl.

7. Star Wars – Little Golden Books

Star Wars books for kids, Star Wars for kids, Star Wars early reader, Star Wars episodes I II III Little Golden books, Star Wars girl, Star Wars books for girls,

Like many parents of a certain age, Star Wars has been something I have introduced my daughter to from an early age.

However, I know some parents – while wanting to introduce their child to Star Wars – feel that the films are inappropriate in terms of action and violence for very young children.

These Star Wars Little Golden Books are a perfect solution. With pared down narratives, simple prose, and cute illustrations, this series of Star Wars books for kids is a wonderful way to introduce a small child to the galaxy far, far away…

These Star Wars books for kids are available individually or as a boxset.

8. LittleLife Gruffalo and Spider-Man Backpacks

A cut above the usual cheaply made kids backpack, the LittleLife collection are well made, with thoughtful designs that look great and are comfortable for your child to wear.

Spider-Man DaySack, Spider-Man backpack for kids, Spider-Man backpack for girls, Spider-Girl backpack

The Spider-Man Kids Daysack is a great looking bag, that has enough room for the essentials a 3+ yr old would need to carry.

LittleLife-gruffalo-toddler-daysack-stock imageWe also had a Gruffalo Toddler Daysack, for kids age 1-3, with a rein that some parents may find useful, plus there is a Gruffalo Kids Daysack for children age 3+. Both are wonderfully designed bags that will please any tiny Gruffalo fan.


9. Clothes from Sewing Circus

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We are big fans of Sewing Circus, who have a great range of skirts, dresses, tops, and accesories. The themes include dinosaurs, science, space, superheroes, and much more.

Founded by Francesca Cambridge, as a campaigner for unisex clothing (Let Clothes be Clothes) she would likely balk at being included on a gifts for girls list. Just to be clear – boys can wear her clothes too.

My daughter is the proud owner of the Star Wars skirt pictured above, that was the basis for a ‘How to make a Star Wars skirt‘ tutorial Francesca guest blogged here. I think it must be the most worn item of clothing in her wardrobe this year.

Some of my other favourites on the Sewing Circus site include this Batgirl dress, an Iron Man pinafore, and a Marvel Comics skirt.


These are my alternative ideas for gifts for girls. What are yours? Please comment below.