I love Christmas. I’m one of those people that many of you can’t stand. Every year I have to make myself wait until the beginning of November before I start listening to Christmas music. I never make it all the way to Thanksgiving. I dislike Halloween because it just seems like an obstacle blocking the way to the “real” holidays. I would hang my head, but I can’t bring myself to be ashamed. Last week, I was in Costco and noticed that they had a lot of Christmas decorations out already. Instead of being annoyed by the fact that the holiday season is being moved earlier and earlier each year, I was super excited.
In honor of the fact that tomorrow is the first day of October (also known as the beginning of my holiday shopping season), I thought I would talk about the best kid’s gifts that we have received to date. My boys are 3 and 1 and we’ve bought and received some great toys over the last few years. Some are educational and some are just plain fun. In typical kid fashion, some of the gifts that I’ve been most excited about have been the biggest flops or have been excitedly played with for about two days and then discarded. Below is our list of the best. These are the toys that have been played with for a solid year and that have held up and stood the test of time. If you have a toddler or pre-schooler on your Christmas list this year, you won’t go wrong with one of these toys.
This little gem has been a member of our household for about two years now. The boys love playing in it together and always have a great time. It is one of the few toys that they do not fight over. I don’t keep it out all the time. Instead, I put it away for a month or so and then on a day when it’s rainy or when we are just having a quiet day at home, I bring it back out and it provides hours of entertainment. And here’s the beauty of this ball pit “tent.” As opposed to many of the other ball pits of its size, it folds up completely flat and can be stored anywhere. It requires about 5 seconds to set it up and 5 seconds to take it down. It can slide under a couch or hang out against the wall in the closet and you don’t have to blow it up and leave it to take up space in the living room. We love it!
This is a gift that we have both given and received. My three year old has always loved to color cardboard boxes. This cute little playhouse is an art project and a clubhouse in one. For $30, you get hours of artistic entertainment. We’ve painted, colored, used markers, eventually cut out the windows, and finally just used it as a playhouse. For boys and girls alike, this is a fun gift. I have also seen these shaped like castles and other buildings, too.
These trucks are admittedly a bit expensive, but let me just say that Ian is very, very rough on toys and the Bruder line of trucks have held up wonderfully. Added to that, they are incredibly realistic. The crane itself extends to over four feet tall and has provided hours and hours of entertainment. The same can be said for the cement mixer. Add to that the dump trunk and his Tonka bulldozers and we keep quite a construction site in our playroom. I’ve had a word with Santa and we plan to add the Bruder excavator to our collection this Christmas.
In our house, it’s hard to go wrong with books. A fantastic read for my boys is Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker. It is a story of a construction site that is finished with it’s work for the day and as you turn each page you get to say goodnight to each piece of construction equipment. It is a super cute story and keeps Ian entertained through the end. This is the one I most often hear him “reading” to his animals. The Curious George books have been another favorite with Ian and we have bought/been given three of the “Treasury” collections, which contain eight stories each. Ian loves to open the book to the Table of Contents to pick his bedtime story.
These magnetic blocks are something I had never had any previous experience with until I found them while browsing through a consignment shop. They are basically just magnetic rods and balls that can be used to build things. Ian refers to them as “magnet blocks” and we play with them daily. These can be a bit expensive as well, but I only paid $7.00 for them used and a quick Google search turned up a lot of these on eBay for cheap. Let me tell you, we have always loved playing with Mega Bloks, but these are much more entertaining. By the time he was three, Ian knew all about magnetic poles and how to properly balance and fortify the garages and car washes he was building.
The final gift on today’s list is the Alphabet Sound Puzzle by Melissa and Doug. Nothing has done more to teach Ian his ABC’s than this wooden puzzle. It is also great exercise for those fine motor skills. When a letter is correctly placed, the puzzle names the letter and the corresponding picture (“W is for Watermelon!”). We were shocked when, by the time he was 2 1/2, Ian could not only work this puzzle but could also identify quite a few of the letters. It has an honorary place on the bookshelf in the playroom and comes out multiple times a week. Lately, even Declan has been showing quite a bit of interest.
Okay folks, get to shopping! Only 85 days left until Christmas!