Holiday Gift Guide, Sensory Edition by Prader-Willi Syndrome Association

Holiday Gift Ideas: Sensory Edition

Prader-Willi syndrome is a spectrum disorder, and the spectrum is broad. Developmental milestones don’t always apply to our loved ones with PWS, not in the typical ways. That certainly does not mean they aren’t developing and learning new skills. It simply means that sometimes, especially for our emotional well-being, we need to toss those “age-appropriate” expectations out the window and look at our loved ones as the individuals they are. So, for this holiday-inspired gift idea post, we’re categorizing differently. Below are gift ideas for individuals of all ages, based on levels of stimulation, some with an additional note of how these gifts may enhance the development of your loved one.

You will also find two links to online shopping resources for individuals with disabilities. Fat Brain Toys offers the search option categories “Special Needs,” “Development Goal,” and “Active Play.” Enabling Devices include categories for “sensory products” and “switch-adapted toys and games.”

Gift shopping for the holidays can be stressful and overwhelming. Sifting through gift guide after gift guide that categorizes by age group and the developmental assumptions that go along with those can bring even more frustration. This sensory level-inspired gift guide can help you curate a successful, appropriate, and fun list for your holiday shopping.


  • Books
    • Sensory, Discovery:
      • Board, textures, pop-ups, indestructibles, lift the flaps, animals
    • Themes, Characters, Education:
      • colors, numbers, letters, rhyming, life lessons, favorite characters
    • Interests, Educational, Adventure:
      • Choose-your-own-adventure, graphic novels, biographies, book of facts, historical, science experiments
    • Involved Plot Lines:
      • Series, graphic novels, YA or Adult adventure or fantasy
    • Assisted:
      • Audio Books, Audible Subscription, Reading Pens (scans words and transfers text to audio)
  • Puzzles (A popular past time for many individuals with PWS and varied enough for all developmental ages)
    • With shapes/letters/numbers recognition
    • Animals with matching sounds
    • 300/500/1,000 + pieces
    • 3D puzzles (Ravensburger makes a 3D globe puzzle)
    • Personalized puzzles with the letters of your name or made from photos of your choosing)
  • Journal or Lockable Diary


  • Musical instruments
  • On the go speaker
  • Piano mat (also great for movement)


  • Busy board (with latches, zippers, buttons, and other bits to help develop fine motor skills)
  • Stackable toys (blocks, shape towers)
  • Art supplies (These can range from art boxes with multiple supplies and built in art easel to markers, paints, drawing pads, coloring books, or a stand-alone easel.)
  • Art kits (Some examples include kits with figurines to paint, sticker books, string art, rocks to paint, bracelet making kits, simple crocheting, etc.)
  • Sewing or Knitting Kits
  • Lacing Toys (Melissa and Doug Lace and Trace Activity Set is a good example)
  • Magnetic tiles (for creative and colorful building activities)
  • Light Bright
  • Transformers
  • Playdoh
  • Aroma Spinners (Dual purpose fidget spinners with calming essential oils.)


  • Mini trampoline
  • Swing
  • Ball pit
  • Balance board
  • Magnetic dart board
  • Scooter
  • Tricycle/Bicycle/Balance Bike

Pretend Play

  • Vet Kit (Melissa and Doug makes a kid’s veterinary play kit)
  • Make up or Nail Salon
  • Tool Belt (Vextronic makes a wooden Montessori toy tool set that includes a work bench with gears and screws and actual toys to build)
  • Cash register
  • Dress Up Clothes
  • Baby Dolls


  • Science Kits (wide range of science kits from growing crystals, building and erupting volcanoes)
  • Plant growing kits (Design and grow a fairy garden or plant seeds in see through container and watch the roots grow.)
  • Story cards/cubes. (Shuffle and lay out the cards or roll the dice and piece together the images into a story.)
  • Hand-held travel microscope


  • Dominoes (counting, comparison, recognition of patterns)
  • Jenga (fine motor skills)
  • Banangrams or Boggle (Jr.)  (letter recognition, word building)
  • Matching cards (memory)
  • Math Island (addition and subtraction)
  • Balance Board Game (number recognition, counting, adding)
  • Headbandz (descriptions, categories)
  • UNO


  • Tickets for Local Event:
    • Live Music
    • Art festival
    • Comedy or magic show
    • Traveling theater or dance production
  • Tickets to a Theme Park
    • Disneyland/Disneyworld
    • Sesame Place (in Philadelphia and San Diego)
    • 6 Flags, Kings Island, other amusement park
  • Tickets to a sports game
  • Pass to the museum, zoo, science/discovery center
  • Tickets to a ski or water park
  • Sign them up for special karate or art classes
  • Pass to the local movie theater


  • Weighted blanket
  • Custom tea mug
  • Indoor Tent (can become a comfortable sanctuary)
  • Bean bag chair
  • Custom stuffed animal of their pet
  • Custom T-shirt or hooded sweatshirt
  • Essential Oil Diffuser
  • Special Light (There are so many to choose from. Some involve moving sand that is soothing to watch while others project stars or waves onto the ceiling.)

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