I included the above picture not necessarily to talk about the toy (its a teeny cheap-o train set from TJ Maxx), but to demonstrate that mainly kids don't need much AND will enjoy playing with toys in an....unconventional way...before they get into what they are actually supposed to do. For example, Beck prefers to have an adult assemble the train track in this set, then lifts it up and yells NOOOOOOO while letting it crash all over the floor. Then she proclaims "do 'gain!" and the adult has to start over. The adult never gets to play with the actual trains.
But! Tis the season, and we definitely love this season around here because Beck's birthday AND Christmas are within 3 weeks of her. We still have a few methods for spreading out the love that I imagine we will keep for years to come (asking grandparents to do one present per event, or one thing one time and contribute to college the next, holding toys from her party to distribute throughout the year, etc) to keep this time of year from getting more out of control than it already is, but it definitely still is fun to shop for little people.
Here are my ideas for this year! Some of it we have, some of it we want, some of it we have loved and passed on. I tried to stay away from necessities, gear, etc, and move more toward gifty things. None of this is sponsored, just things we actually love or have heard great things about from friends with kids.
- For babies, I adore this jumper. Beck used it for months, then we passed it on to another friend, and our bigger kids still love messing with it even though they don't stand in it anymore. Totally worth the money.
- Dream Blanket: I didn't see myself as buying more blankets after Beck was a baby, but I LOVE this blanket from Aiden and Anais and have found that this year as Beck is able to stay up longer we are needing bigger blankets for stroller outings. I also like having a separate one for just outside stuff - stroller and carseat, mainly, so I know which blanket needs to be washed the most often, etc. I love this pattern and am thinking of getting it for Beck soon!
- Manhattan Toy Company stuffed animals: We have two of these - one was given as a gift and Beck picked out a new elephant just this week when she was sick and being particularly pleasant on errands. They are affordable and I've found them at Target and online, and they seem a little softer than some brands even though they are mostly under $10 and sometimes on sale!
- Trike/Bike: Beck actually DOESN'T have one of these yet, and I think it's going to be on our list to get her this year. We have two friends who have this trike, though, and they adore it! It can be used as a stroller, then a trike, and has a few levels in between while the toddler is figuring out which way is up. Beck has tested it out a few times at friends' houses and loves it, even though she's a little old to start with it now.
- ANYTHING Melissa and Doug, but we have this house that Beck really likes, and it's growing with her. It has people that go in and out, doorbells, AND a key for each door, which she can't figure out yet but loves trying. We also have this food play set and it is a huge hit.
- Play Kitchen. Duh, and for heaven's sake, FOR BOYS AND GIRLS. Beck actually just got one last week that my Grandmother found at TJ Maxx, which is one of my favorite places to find great deals on kid stuff, but this one is similar and it has been a huge hit every day since she got it, even while sick and miserable.
- Spinnyos: Ok, I had no clue what this was but bought one on consignment in a fit of genius because it looked brand new with no visible wear, and once we figured out what it was we wished we had had one sooner! The spooly things go down the tower on magnetic strips like magic and it looks like one big roller coaster. There are a few adjustments to make them go in different directions, and this is another toy that has been consistently popular for probably six months now.
- For clothes, I love Hanna Andersson PJs (only on sale, sheesh), anything from Primary for basics, and Petit Bateau for a few nicer items. I'm alllll about basic with Beck, though, so take that for what it's worth.
- Books! This Llama Llama boxed set with the stuffed animal would be a great complete gift, Beck has both and we read them almost daily, much to our chagrin. We also have the original book (my personal favorite) and I am hoping to get a few more for her at Christmas. We also love the Olivia books, and THIS book is perfect for new parents who are reading to someone who doesn't understand yet.
- We are travelling this year for Christmas, and I have my eye on this clean drawing set and this all-in-one magnetic doohickey. Both look super cool and I'd LOVE some suggestions for other small things we can bust out as a treat on the plane!
- Speaking of travel, I think it's time for Beck to have a little backpack, mainly because she likes bags and I'm sick of carrying her crap, even though, yes, I know that is my lot in life until she's 30 (or older, my parents are constantly dragging things around for me still, poor things). This one is adorable and not expensive, going in the Amazon cart today. And they have matching lunchboxes, which might be even cuter.
- Beanie-boos. I hesitate to mention this because I think the Beanie line is poorly constructed and God-awful to look at, but this isn't my favorite stuff necessarily so...ok. Jay got Beck the mini version of the turtle on his trip to New Orleans, and Beck refers to it as "tiny turtle named frog." ...whatever that means. She loves Tiny Turtle, though, and it's super cute to find anything that becomes kind of a part of the kid.
OK! That's it for our favorites. I'd LOVE some suggestions for educational, compact-but-interesting toys for big kids! I know of a few other big-ish things that are coming for Beck for her birthday and Christmas, and I'll share things we love at a future toddler update!
Also, what great timing of me to present this to you right after Cyber Monday? JK I kind of did it on purpose. I find that, besides the "it" toy of the year, sales continue all month and there are probably even BETTER deals on some of this stuff in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out!