This year may mark the beginning of a new console generation for PlayStation and Xbox fans, but the Nintendo Switch is still riding a massive wave of popularity as well, despite the fact that we didn't get a ton of first-party Switch game releases this year. The massive launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons combined with increased demand for consoles during the pandemic led to a huge shortage of Nintendo Switch systems for months, and while we were starting to see stock stabilize a bit this fall, Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday seem to have depleted stock at some retailers. You should still be able to find the Nintendo Switch available at MSRP somewhere, if you look hard enough, but don't wait too long, as you may face shipping delays. (See our guide to where to buy a Nintendo Switch for more details.) We expect the Switch will be at the top of many people's wish lists this Christmas.
Whether you're shopping for someone who wants their first Switch or someone who's owned one since 2017, there are plenty of Nintendo gift ideas out there that'll make this holiday season truly special. From this year's biggest Switch games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Paper Mario: The Origami King to handy Switch accessories and eye-catching merch, there's no shortage of options out there that would make any Nintendo fan's face light up with joy. So to make your gift shopping a little easier this year, we've rounded up some of the best Nintendo gift ideas for 2020.
Plus, see our full Nintendo Switch buying guide for more info on the console if needed and our guides to the best Switch controllers, carrying cases, grips, and screen protectors for more Switch gift ideas.
The limited-edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch was massively popular and sold out quickly when it first went up for preorder earlier this year, but just in time for the holiday season, Nintendo officially announced a restock. As of early December, the AC Switch is becoming hard to find in stock once more, but you may get lucky and find it at one of the stores below. This may be the last time we see this limited edition floating around for just $300, so it's worth snagging if you find it available.
While the main Nintendo Switch can be played docked on the TV, propped up on a table, or in handheld mode, the Switch Lite can only be played in handheld or tabletop mode and does not feature removable Joy-Cons. This smaller, lighter console comes with a lower price tag--$200--and is a great option for those who prefer to play handheld systems. Note that a small number of Switch games aren't compatible with the Switch Lite (unless you buy Joy-Cons), such as Ring Fit Adventure and Super Mario Party.
Nintendo Switch games
At this point in the console's life cycle, there are a ton of great Nintendo Switch games out there. Here are some of the best Switch games to gift this holiday season, from this year's mega-hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons to the new physical edition of Untitled Goose Game and the popular fitness game Ring Fit Adventure. See our definitive list of the best Nintendo Switch games for more options!
Though all the games indicated above have physical editions, there are so many great games on Nintendo Switch you can only buy digitally, including some of our favorites from this year like Hades, Spiritfarer, and Paradise Killer. An eShop gift card is another great option if you're not sure what game your loved one might enjoy, as it'll let them pick from any of the thousands of games on the Nintendo Switch eShop. You can buy eShop gift cards at various price levels up to $99. You'll receive a digital code via email that you can then print off and put in a card or stocking, however you want to gift it.
Nintendo Switch Online isn't as robust an online service as competing subscriptions like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, but it's much more affordable, and what you do get is pretty solid: access to a great library of classic NES and SNES games (with added online functionality), cloud save backups for most games, and, of course, online multiplayer access for games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. See our Switch Online guide for more details on benefits.
Two annual membership plans are available: an individual membership for $20 a year and a family membership for $35. If you're shopping for more than one person who plays Nintendo Switch or know someone else who'd be willing to split a membership, the family subscription is the way to go as it ends up being much cheaper. You can split the yearly membership cost between up to eight Nintendo Switch Online accounts. To set up a Switch Online family membership, log into your Nintendo account and click the Family Group tab on the left side of your account page to add additional people.
A Pro Controller is probably one of the first things a new Switch owner will want as it offers a more comfortable and conventional grip, but Nintendo's first-party controller goes for a steep price: $70. Just in time for the holidays, Walmart has an awesome bundle that gets you the Pro Controller and a digital copy of Super Mario Odyssey, one of the system's best games, for $100. Considering Super Mario Odyssey costs $60 on its own, you're saving a full 30 bucks on the pair. (Note: As of our last update, this bundle was on sale for $69, effectively getting you Super Mario Odyssey for free.)
Accessories brand PowerA makes some of our favorite third-party Switch controllers. The brand is releasing a new design for its wired controller line that features an adorable Pokemon holiday sweater design. Releasing November 15, the controller is up for preorder on Amazon. Though the first-party Pro Controller is a better option for general use, having an extra controller around for when your main controller is charging or for local multiplayer is extremely handy, and for $20, PowerA's wired controllers are worth every penny.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are another accessory that's been sold out regularly this year, but we're starting to see stock return to online stores. You'll still likely see shipping delays, so it's best to get your order in as early as possible if you want to pick up a pair for this Christmas. Of course, the Switch comes with its own pair of Joy-Cons, but if your loved one wants to play multiplayer games like Super Mario Party or Overcooked with up to four people, having an extra pair will come in handy. And if they have a Switch Lite, they'll need Joy-Cons to play the aforementioned games, since that console doesn't have detachable controllers. Plus, Joy-Cons come in all kinds of fun color pairings beyond the standard gray or red/blue the Switch comes with.
The Nintendo Switch doesn't allow headphones to connect to it wirelessly via Bluetooth, so one of the best gifts you can buy for a Switch owner is a headset that comes with everything they need for wireless listening. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 is one of the first headsets to meet this requirement and comes with a portable USB-C dongle that plugs into the Switch so the headset can connect. This is especially clutch if they like to take the Switch with them on long flights or commutes.
The Hori Split Pad Pro is one of our favorite Switch controllers for its comfortable, ergonomic design, excellent D-pad, and bigger buttons. The Split Pad Pro replaces each Joy-Con to offer a larger controller your hand can better grip onto, making handheld play much more pleasant. It also features more accurate analog sticks, programmable back paddles, and the ability to slide into the Switch dock while still attached. Plus, Hori released new colors and designs for the Split Pad Pro this year, including Midnight Blue, Volcanic Red, and an adorable Pikachu- and Eevee-inspired one.
The Satisfye ZenGrip Pro is another one of our all-time favorite Switch grips. The console simply slides into the grip whenever you're ready to switch to handheld mode, and silicone padding inside of the ZenGrip Pro prevents the Switch from being scratched or scuffed. This bundle comes with the grip and a carrying case that fits both the Switch and the grip, so it's a fantastic gift for anyone who likes to take their Switch on the go.
8Bitdo is one of the most well-known third-party controller makers out there, and its SN30 Pro+ is the best Switch Pro Controller alternative we've tested. The SN30 Pro+ is $20 cheaper than the first-party option and adds way more customization options, including extensive button mapping and personalized rumble functionality. It comes with a rechargeable battery but also allows for the use of two AA batteries. The SNES-inspired design also makes the SN30 Pro+ a fantastic gift for retro fans.
Every Switch owner needs a good carrying case to protect their Switch when they travel, and this Animal Crossing: New Horizons-themed case from PowerA is downright adorable. It features a sturdy outer shell, and on the inside, there's a zipper pocket for storing accessories and game card slots for taking games on the go.
The Nintendo Switch only comes with 32GB of internal storage, so sooner or later, you're probably going to run out of space for new digital games. SanDisk offers officially licensed memory cards, and its 128GB microSD is the best option for most people, instantly expanding your Switch's storage to hold more games. A memory card would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for a new Switch owner.
Nintendo released a limited-edition Animal Crossing Switch earlier this year that sold out quickly (though it was recently restocked at some stores). If you're shopping for an Animal Crossing fan who'd still love to add a little flair to their console, Switch skins are a great way of doing so for much cheaper. Accessories brand Controller Gear offers over a dozen different designs that can easily be applied to the Switch dock and Joy-Cons, and the skins can be removed just as easily without leaving any residue behind.
Nintendo is re-releasing the Champions Amiibo set to celebrate the release of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, an upcoming prequel game for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Each Amiibo (Rito, Daruk, Mipha, and Urbosa) is available to preorder for $16 each at Best Buy. Though no new Amiibo functionality has been added for Age of Calamity, the figures still unlock bonuses in Breath of the Wild and make great collectibles.
These mini backpacks are perfect for traveling with a Nintendo Switch and accessories like a headset, and they're available in three different Animal Crossing designs and a plaid Mario-inspired design. Water-resistant polyester and a zipper keep the contents of the backpack safe and secure, and the straps are adjustable to fit a child or an adult.
Nintendo is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Super Mario this year by releasing a slew of new products, and a new edition of Monopoly is available to buy now. In Monopoly: Super Mario Celebration edition, Toad houses and Princess Peach's castles replace houses and hotels, and the board game includes a Question Block that can affect a player's luck and makes sounds when you press it.
The popular tower-building game gets a Mario makeover this year. Jenga: Super Mario edition expands on the familiar gameplay by adding a spinner that determines how many blocks to stack, how many layers your Super Mario character must climb, whether you'll collect coins, or whether the game will reverse directions. Naturally, Bowser is waiting for you at the top, and the player with the most coins at the end wins.
The Lego x Super Mario collection featured some of the most exciting new products to come out of the Super Mario 35th anniversary celebration this year, including a Lego NES that's currently sold out. The Lego Super Mario starter course is the base product in the collection, letting you build a Super Mario course in Lego form. The Lego Mario figure has LED screens in its eyes, mouth, and belly that react to different movements, and it makes sounds as well, giving this Lego set a fun layer of interactivity.
Released October 16, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit takes the popular racing game to your living room with a physical Mario Kart that you can maneuver along an AR track using the Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite. You'll be able to follow the kart's movement on your Switch screen with added elements like boost pads and items. If you're shopping for someone who's already a big fan of Mario Kart, surprising them with Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit this holiday season is a no-brainer. The Mario and Luigi sets are currently hard to find in stock, but last time we checked, the Mario version was available at GameStop.
Another Nintendo product that's sure to be in high demand and sell out fast this holiday season: the Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. edition. The collectible retro handheld system released with limited supply on November 13 and comes loaded with the original Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, and classic Game & Watch title Ball. It also features a digital clock and working alarm for some practical use. For fans of Mario or retro gaming, this limited-edition Game & Watch would be a fantastic gift if you manage to get your hands on it.
It's always nice to have a new ornament for the tree, and Hallmark releases new ones every year. This new 8-bit Mario ornament is perfectly timed with Nintendo's 35th-anniversary celebrations, and it makes a lovely gift for any old-school Mario fan.
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