Monday, October 15, 2012

Toy shopping!

Otherwise known as something I don't enjoy very much.

At our house, birthday and Christmas come within 22 days of each other, so there is quite an inundation of "stuff". On top of that, add shopping for family, friends and the myriad of birthday parties that seem to be popping up and there is quite a lot of purchasing going on.

This year I started my birthday / Christmas shopping for Ellen in the summer. I am never, NEVER, that organized, but I really needed to be this year. I'm done purchasing for my nieces and nephew and our friends, with a few birthday party gifts stashed away. I thought it might be helpful to list a few of my favorite resources, as well as some of our most-played-with toys, for you sane people that haven't been obsessing about this for months.

Have you come across The Diminutive Review? It's a frequently-updated blog with great deals on children's clothing. So, not toys really, but still something you may purchase for your own child. Especially good for little bitty kids and/or atypical sizes, since it is all deep sale stuff.

I recently found Tinybop, Inc. - a blog / list of children's media (books, movies, apps, etc.). I haven't explored it much, but it seems there are some nice finds.

Also, to be redundant, Dinner: A Love Story has great lists of children's books if you are looking for inspiration (especially for girls).

I have one niece, in particular, who is an avid reader. I love buying her books and starting her on new authors or series. Around the holidays Costco often has inexpensive boxed sets of classic books for children / tweens. I have also found that Amazon can be helpful - search for a book you know they liked, then look at "what other's purchased" and chase it a bit. I think I found some good ones this year!

Also, Baby Cheapskate has nice lists of "Toys That Get Played With" by age. They are sort of generic, but I think that is kind of the point - the basic toys last the longest.

At our house, these things are in frequent rotation:
- Ikea child's table and chairs. This was for Ellen's 1st Christmas and has been used all day, everyday since. I should go back and pay more money for it, but I won't.
- Play kitchen / food / accessories. This was for Ellen's 2nd Christmas and gets played with all the time. She mostly likes to pack the food into bags and such and carry it around. The Haba Play Food is amazing (and a total choking hazard).
- Baby dolls. I think she got her first soft dolls at age 1, then bigger dolls and a stroller at age 2. The stroller is used all the time and Ells likes to diaper her babies. We (fortunately) haven't really gotten into all the baby accessories / changing of outfits, but I think that's coming.
- "Make believe" items - purse and accessories, doctor kit, vet kit. These were gifted at age 2 and 3 and she is really hitting her stride with the make believe play closer to age 4.
- Playdoh is popular, but it's kind of hidden away because it's such a damn mess.
- Art / coloring is probably the most popular activity at our house, and it's pretty basic - she is happiest with plain paper and markers. Coloring books are rotated in and out, but she is always happy with plain paper.
- Books, of course, and we have a million. These are mostly used at "quiet time" and bedtime. She can have a pile of books in her bed and read quietly until she falls asleep.
- Dress-up clothes. These are sporadically played with, but especially when friends are over or when she is avoiding quiet time (because it's all in her room). It's great to look for this stuff on clearance after Halloween!
- Games. These were gifted at her 3rd birthday / Christmas and do get played with quite a bit. Candyland is quite popular and tolerable to her parents. Spot It is a great card game that is fun for all ages (truly). Zimbbos is a fun building / balance game. Nice wooden pieces, will last forever. Ellen got Uno Moo and it has been pretty popular. I think we might be ready for the real Uno card game based on it's popularity with some of our friends.
- I also like the B. Toys line a lot with toys for all ages. The Pop Arty beads, in particular, are a favorite.

Anything we're missing? Any suggestions for 4-year-olds? I am mostly done with her holiday purchasing, but am always open to suggestions. :)

1 comment:

Catherine V said...

I'm printing this out to refer to later/as needed. Thank you so much. I have a nearly 1.5-yr old, and we keep the toys at a minimum (mostly due to space), so I'm always interested in toys that are going to get a lot of good, regular use.

P.S. Found your blog via the KC Bloggers blog. Fun!