Toy Association Unveils New Holiday Shopping Insights & Trends at Toy Fair 2023

Toy Fair Association 2023 trends

Kids won’t be the only ones unwrapping toys this holiday season! 89% of parents say they will also buy toys for the grown-ups in their lives, according to new consumer research and play trends unveiled by The Toy Association at Toy Fair in New York City. The findings announced are based on extensive, year-round meetings with toy companies of all sizes and a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of The Toy Association that gauged 1,000 U.S. parents’ views on toys, play, and holiday shopping habits and budgets.


“Even as families tighten their wallets amid an uncertain economy, toys and play will be top-of-mind this holiday season,” said Adrienne Appell, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association. “Our findings indicate that parents are looking for feature-rich toys that offer a lot of bang for their buck, as well as toys that will bring the entire family together through play. In fact, 64% of parents we surveyed said they are looking to make connections with their kids this holiday season by buying toys they can play with together. And kidults will be getting in on the fun, too, with 43% of parents even buying toys for themselves, in addition to toy purchases being planned for their spouse and adult friends.”


Leading up to Toy Fair, The Toy Association trends team previewed hundreds of products to identify the toys that will be dominating wish lists this holiday and get a sneak peek at early 2024 must-have toys. This research culminated today at Toy Fair at a “Toy Trends Briefing” for media, buyers, and other show guests. The presentation was held at the Javits Center and featured toy examples straight from the show floor, including those hitting stores in time for holiday 2023 and a select few items for next year.


Cool to be a Kidult Young kids won’t be the only ones adding toys to their holiday wish lists — 89% of parents surveyed are toy shopping for grownups this holiday season, with 43% shopping for their spouse or significant other. More than half of the men surveyed (53%) will also buy themselves toys, as well as 48% of millennial parents under the age of 40.


As the data indicates, the spending power of kidults is growing and giving way to new opportunities for toymakers on either end of the kidult age spectrum – from tweens to the elderly. With nearly 4 in 5 (79%) parents agreeing that there is less stigma today than when they were growing up around tweens and teens playing with toys past a certain age, we are seeing a surge in toys and toy-adjacent products that inspire play among teens and tweens (from collectibles, games, and fidget toys to toys inspired by social media). Thanks to the now well-known and proven benefits of play for all ages, 20% of parents said they will also buy toys for aging relatives this holiday, with 70% noting that mental stimulation is one of the most positive impacts of play for the older adults in their lives.


Conscientious Consumers Parents are more discerning than ever when it comes to choosing which companies they support, with 31% stating that they want to be sure the company they purchase from has core values that align with their own – especially dads (38%).


This holiday season, key themes that will have an impact on toy purchasing decisions include sustainability, diversity, and representation. Nearly a third of parents have already purchased toys designed to teach their children about diversity, equity, and inclusion, while 45% of parents under the age of 40 are prioritizing the sustainability of toys when making decisions. In response to these evolving preferences, we expect to see more toys that not only prioritize these social issues but do so in authentic ways, such as through strategic partnerships and the adoption of innovative techniques and technologies to ensure diverse backgrounds and cultures are thoughtfully and realistically represented in dolls and other toys.


Playing it Smart Parents know that play is crucial to kids’ learning and development – that’s why 81% are very or extremely likely to make sure they buy at least one toy with educational value. Whether kids are coding their own pet, playing a game that boosts their reading skills, or roleplaying in the kitchen or as a caregiver and building important social skills in the process, toys offer a proven pathway to learning through play. Nearly 2 in 3 parents (65%) will consider how the toy they choose helps build a skill set, particularly when it comes to helping boost kids’ understanding of STEAM concepts and even skills like cooking, sewing, baking, and cleaning. Just over half (51%) of parents also consider whether a toy promotes mental well-being when shopping for their kids.


Pop Culture at Play Toys have an enduring impact on pop culture (and vice versa), bridging generations and evoking feelings of nostalgia. Against the backdrop of a banner year for blockbuster toy-related movies like The Little Mermaid, Barbie, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 38% percent of parents expressed an interest in buying toys inspired by movies and popular entertainment franchises.


As in the world of fashion, we are also seeing a revival and reinterpretation of toys from the 1990s and Y2K era as they gain traction among a new generation. In fact, nostalgia is an increasingly significant driver in the resurgence and expansion of specific toy categories and brands, with 2 in 5 parents stating they are likely to buy toys they played with in their own childhoods.


Franchises tied to gaming and anime are becoming more mainstream as well, with 26% of parents likely to buy toys based on gaming or anime content.


“The toy trends and research we shared reflect some big societal shifts related to the growing importance of play,” added Appell. “We see that playing with toys past a certain age is becoming further destigmatized, the significance of creating an inclusive and eco-friendly toy box, the critical role of toys as tools for learning, and the reimagination of classic play to bring generations of toy lovers together in new ways.”


Additional information about these trends is available on-site at the Toy Fair Press Center (through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 3 in the South Concourse, above Hall E) or via e-mail to The Toy Association’s public relations contact listed on this release. A video of the presentation will be available for viewing at in the coming days. Visit to learn about the many developmental benefits of play.