Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Toddler Gift Guide, Christmas 2011!

Early on in Greyson's life (maybe even shortly before he was born!) I was reading through one of my favorite blogs, Mama the Reader, written by the lovely Katie. I believe it was nearing her son Jude's first birthday and Katie mentioned that she'd rather not have a lot of cheap plastic toys in the house, so she was requesting that gift givers bring books instead!

This philosophy stuck in my head, and it kind of lodged itself there. While I don't limit my shopping to books, I do try to buy toddler items deliberately. We certainly have our share of plastic toys floating around, but I'm proud to say we don't have rooms full. In fact, we don't have more than a large diaper box full of toys!  It's pretty manageable at this point. When I'm readying myself for Christmas, I do try to buy more hardy wooden toys than plastic. And I always throw in some cool stocking stuffers, and certainly books.

I also try to remember that Greyson doesn't play with his toys as much as he plays with wacky household items. This will likely change at some point, but right now his favorite things are a small kitchen broom, a 4th of July pinwheel my colleagues in Student Services gifted to him last week, and he loves scribbling with crayons.

My first purchase for my kiddo this year is a handmade crayon roll from madebylisah (also the awesome author of Books, Lists, Life). One surefire way to keep G busy at a restaurant is with crayons, so this handy crayon roll is super cool for carrying in a diaper bag or purse. Lisa asked if I'd like something a little more manly for my tike, and while I'm not opposed to orange and pink in a boy's wardrobe, we went with pirates or dinosaurs (it's shipping now!).

I'm also a big fan of Montessori toys. For Greyson's first Christmas, I ordered a set of beautiful handmade toys like the ones pictured above. While they were a little pricey, he really enjoyed them. They were sanded beautifully and not painted, so they were fine for him to put in his mouth (no small pieces he could chew off). They were also a good size for him to maneuver at 8 months old. While he doesn't play with them so much now -- mostly because the dog chewed one up (!!!) and I put them away -- they're also a nice keepsake for when he's older.

If you're interested in more toys in this vein, try Natural Kids and Toys over at Etsy.

When I feel like physically walking through a selection of toddler toys, I've discovered that Barnes and Noble is a great place to do it! They have a decent-sized section of learning toys grouped by age. I went in to browse during some down time a couple of weeks ago and took some iPhone pics of toys I'm thinking of buying for Christmas this year. They run the gamut from musical toys to pull toys to racing toys!

A dancing alligator, because he loves pulling things around.
A giraffe xylophone -- colorful and sturdy.
Mayyybee this percussion table IF I feel like torturing the neighborhood.
And I like this ramp racer because it's an Earth-friendly company and I think he'd love the fast car action!
I had my doubts about pricing at B&N at first, but I've seen these toys at other establishments for the same price, or sometimes even more! I'm perfectly happy browsing for toys at the bookstore, and if a new Nook falls into my basket, I can't be blamed. :)

There are tooooons of toddler buying options out there from books and toys to homemade items and clothing. This is just what I'm looking at for Christmas this year, and I'd love to know any other ideas you all might have.

In the meantime, if you're interested in decorating ideas, toys, or other toddler ideas, follow my board over on Pinterest.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! I really really appreicate it. Also, I just emailed you.

  2. That's great that you haven't succumbed to that parent disease that makes you buy so many toys for the toddler that they take over the whole house! Greyson is lucky to have you for a mommy!

  3. Great post! I remember the days when my kids would rather play with the pots and pans than their toys. Now they want iPods and cellphones. Is there a way to reverse time? ;-)

  4. Our two oldest daughters, born within 16 months of each other, were the first grandchildren on both sides of our family. You can imagine how many toys we had...they were everywhere. It just about drove me bonkers. We have long since donated most of those toys away, and the girls would rather have clothes for Christmas (or even better, gift cards). My youngest though, still thinks toys are a must. We limit what we buy and I am always scooping up extra items and storing them in the garage for a month or so. If she doesn't notice it's gone, off to the Salvation Army it goes. When kids has so many toys that they don't have places for them all, it's time to re-evaluate. I love the wonderful handmade things on Etsy...thanks for bringing us Lisa's...those little crayon caddys are perfect little gifts for nieces and nephews! :)

  5. My granddaughter seems to forego toys and play with household items. I tend to buy books for her rather than plastic toys.

  6. Thanks for the nod, Andi! As you know I totally agree with you on this. You have such great ideas here, especially that crayon roll. Jude would love that. We just bought the Ikea play kitchen and some of their play food and tiny pots and pans. As much as my kid plays in my kitchen cabinets, I'm hoping he'll love it. But when Christmas is over, I need a Goodwill run for sure. Even with my sparse toys philosophy, we seem to accumulate too much, and after Grandparents and Xmas toys, it will be so much worse, I know it!

  7. No problem, Lisa! Your shop is totally worth shouting about!

  8. LOL, Kathleen! Thank you. I hate clutter more than anything, and my child honestly prefers household items. I think I'm super blessed.

  9. Thanks, Natasha! I'm not looking forward to the iPod and laptop days. I fear I'm gonna be one of those persnickety parents that bans them from electronics until an embarrassing age. lol

  10. Patti, aren't the crayon caddies great?! She has a wallet style that's really cool, too, with room for a pad of paper. Loooove 'em!

    I remember having a scandalously large number of toys as a child (only child). It was a byproduct of adoring grandparents and famiy members. My mom was also lucky that we had an extra "play room" in our house, so all the mess was stashed away. :)

  11. Right on, Ann! Greyson's book collection has been growing since even before his birth. :)

  12. Katie, let me know how Jude likes the kitchen setup. Greyson is ALWAYS in the kitchen cabinets playing with pots and pans, plastic bowls, etc. I'm glad he's easy to entertain, but it'd be even easier if he had his own kitchen. lol

  13. I know I'm biased, but I have to agree. B&N really does have some fabulous children's toys. We expanded the Educational Toys & Games department in our store this past summer and it's been a huge hit with the parents and teachers in our community. Definitely seeing a lot of purchases from that department this holiday season!


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