Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Toy Ideas: Our Favorites

Here's an updated (2015-new things mixed in!) list of our favorite, most-played with, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.

And here are our favorite games.
Here are some great teen gift ideas.

For all gift post ideas, click on the image in my sidebar, over there to the right.

I know that finding good, classic stuff can be difficult...there seems to be so much straight-out junk for kids in the stores today. I do end up spending a little more on toys I know will appeal to all ages and will last through the years, but to me it's worth it, because it just gets handed down from sibling to sibling (I've had 21 years of Santa visits and birthdays at our home already!), and really really played with-it's not just broken and thrown away. 

I have always loved adding to our collections (and always have something to offer when those relatives ask, "What should we get them?)...whether that collection be Legos, or a train set, or Magna Tiles.

Baby/Toddler Toys
Ours is slightly worn out after 21 years because they loved this so much.

Great for hand/eye coordination.  They can do this at about 3.

Janey (3) loves making necklaces and once again, great for hand/eye coordination and color recognition.

I usually try not to buy lights/sounds toys, but this was a gift and Janey loves it.  The teapot sings cute songs (and has a low/high button) and we've all memorized it.  It comes with little cups and a cake. She plays with this all the time.

These are all classic and used for each of my babies. I love the cups the best.  My babies have played with them, and Janey at three still does.  I think "baby" toys last a long time-we are sometimes eager to replace them with big kid toys, but they love them for a long, long time.

This was another gift we received that Patrick and Janey LOVE. 

There are probably cuter wooden shape sorters out there, but I've found those usually aren't as simple as this (they have cut outs on all sides.)  Janey still plays with this.

Alphabet blocks and the corn popper are others we've used for two decades.

Janey LOVES this little car, and the boys love pushing her around on it.  Now she can ride herself around. It's perfect for almost-walkers also-this is what really helped cautious Janey.

Patrick loved this truck as a toddler.

Jumbo Zoo Animals-This is a cheap little set of BIG zoo animals.  It's really hard to find big models of animals and I searched high and low.  These go in the bath tub, the pool, the sandbox.  Sometimes it seems that they all get along so well, and sometimes there are a few battles.

Super duper soft and cuddly stuffed animals.  

Wood peg puzzles-we have so many, most of them for years and years.

Janey loves this purse, we call it her "church purse".  I found it at Target in the girl's department. It's the perfect size for her. What is it with girls and bags? 

Love the emotion in the bear's faces.

This is so inexpensive and I love these stickers!  I've already purchased a new one for us, as we've used the entire pad up.  We use a blank notebook and make our "girls" in that, and then name them. Janey (3) can really manage well with peeling the stickers off and I help her put them on to get them straight.

KidKraft Vintage Kitchen - White ($112 which is more than half off-they have red, pink and blue also for a few dollars more. )
Janey loves this kitchen and it's really really on sale right now-for less than Santa might have paid his elves to make it last year during prime-sale-season. :)
I researched kitchens like crazy when I thought Janey was old enough for one, and this is what we chose after my cousin gave it a glowing review, BUT with this warning:it comes in a lot of pieces! If you wait till Christmas Eve to put it together you will be sobbing at 4 a.m. from exhaustion.  This is a job for a grandparent or an uncle or a Dad (or a teenager you might hire for twenty bucks to lock himself in a room and assemble it one afternoon.)
It is sturdy and the knobs turns, the shelves move, the little doors open and close and the little phone is a sweet touch.  The storage capability is great also for easy clean-up:

These were a gift to Janey-they do have batteries but I haven't had to change them yet in more than a year.  She LOVES these.  They really "work"-she uses marbles to mix up, and blend and pour, and has used real water in the percolating coffee maker (not sure if you are supposed to do that but it still works.)

We bought these accessories (plates and utensils and wooden food) for her kitchen-just the right amount (I didn't want a set with 1,000 items!)

Love this velcro cutting food, board and knife.

Zingo-One of my favorite games to play with the little ones, all the kids enjoyed it through the years.

Janey's favorite things are her hand-me-down babies and her hand-me-down crib and her little cheap stroller.
When Patrick was a toddler he loved his stroller also-inexpensive but such good use out of it!

Children's Toys 

PlasmaCar-Andrew and Patrick wore this thing out with miles and miles of riding-they can reach at three (but it is for all ages, even older children enjoy this.) They would also wear out the tops of their shoes with dragging, but I didn't mind.  That energy burning exercise is all I'm looking for. And they "fit" on this for a long long time, so it's worth the investment.

Vintage Fisher Price (from Ebay or your mom's attic :). They don't make them like they used to.  I know that the vintage people can be choking risks so they made them bigger and chunkier nowadays but I love the old versions (and I can't see a child attempting to swallow an entire Little Person?).  We have the garage, the farm, the house and the school room. 

Trains, of course!  This collection started 17 years ago and I just love it.  We started with the most basic set (and I think it was maybe just a Melissa and Doug-not a Thomas brand) and added to it slowly and surely over the years.  (I don't know if you still can but I used to get the engines at Michael's with a 40% off coupon.) Even with all the boys, I think it was one of Abbey's all time most played with set.  I just love those little Thomas characters.  My Dad built us a train/coffee table and we still use it in our family room.

Duplos- Some of these blocks are 17 years old, no kidding.  All the kids played with these.

This is a neat building set, that comes with lots of little cards so the kids can match the diagram. Janey at 3 loves this just to stack, but Patrick (7) and Andrew (12) will play with this also so it appeals to a wide range. 

If I am honest, these light sabers are at the top of our list of most-played-with-toys, you can see how battered and worn they are!
What is it with lightsabers?  I don't get it. 

Of course Legos are a huge favorite here.  My favorite is the Eiffel Tower that Matt built.  I am glad that we bought it when we did because it now sells for $1,189.  No joke.  I think Andrew's favorites are the Star Wars Lego and Lego City series.  I can't imagine life without Legos.  As you can see, they can quickly take over a room.  At the time I didn't realize it, but Legos help teach so much-following directions and lots and lots of concentration.  Although sometimes they can be pricey, I don't regret one bit the money I've spent on Lego, and they usually have great sales this time of year. My kids have spent hours and hours of winter days putting these things together, and Lego sets have always been on their Christmas and birthday lists.

If you have a child who likes to really play with their Lego models after they are built, but gets frustrated when they fall apart, these Technic sets are great.  They are much sturdier in the way they lock together.

This is SO much fun!
Definitely for junior high and high school kids this hovercraft thingy was a huge hit last year. It has a rechargeable battery and takes some skill and a little practice to get the hang of.  (There are some YouTube videos that show how to work these.) 
My now sixteen year old really researched which brand was good, and this is the one he chose. He was able to get so good at working it, he could follow someone around the entire house with it hovering right behind them which was funny. It is NOT funny if you get it tangled in your older sister's beautiful long hair though.  
If you order this make sure you look at the estimated delivery time, as some companies ship from out of the country and it won't be here in time for Christmas.

Andrew (6th grade) begged for this last year and I really did my research on it and though long and hard about it. I wanted it used only for reading and nothing else. (It has parental controls.) It really has been great.  He uses this about 50% of the time, reading "real" books the other 50%.  I bought it because I just could not keep up with his book reading. He can download books from the library by himself this way and always have something to read.  Again, it is a nice "gadget" gift to appease a tween whose mom does not allow video games and cell phones and computer games.

A great robotic toy for a 10-15 year old. Matt enjoyed this-it takes some time and skill to put it together, but it was worth it.

I'd call this the year of the Rainbow Loom at our house.  
The initial set is about $15, and it comes with a starter package of bands.  You can buy refill bands (about $3-4) in all sort of colors.  It helps to have an organizer box, and they sold cute ones at the local toy store but I also found the Stanley organizer (meant to be for screws and nails I think) works well also.

This is so much fun!
Once you get the kit, you send away for the caterpillars, and then follow the easy instructions for care, till they turn into butterflies.  We've done this a few times, and it has always worked perfectly.  (Remember it has to be warm outside for the caterpillars to be sent in the mail.)

Patrick loved this puzzle when he was an older toddler-I think it was his most-played-gift last year.  

Everyone should have a big ugly plastic basketball hoop in their living room, don't you think? :)
I don't mind it as much when I think of all the energy the four boys burn during the 5 long months of winter.
We've tried a few different brands but this one has been the only one that has really held up to all the dunking it endures daily-even from teenagers and college aged adults, and old dads also.

A great marble run that comes with a nice booklet of different configurations.  (I have to help Patrick with this one-Andrew at nine could figure it out on his own.)

I wasn't sure about this-it's about $30 for a strip of plastic, and there are no gadgets or gizmos with it-except for a suction cup (to stick one end on windows) and another piece to make a loop.  The kids have to find books, chairs, etc and be creative, but we've had hours and hours of play with this and they've had tons of fun racing.  To see it in action you can watch here. 

This is another really cool marble run that the boys get really creative with.  I often find it wrapped around my living room.

We've had this forever and it's about the only toy that makes noise that I don't mind.

Patrick and Andrew were introduced to Playmobil by their cute neighbor friends.  
Legos will always be a favorite of ours, but this collection is a little relief from the thousands of little pieces and parts, while still being "buildable" and great quality.  
They decided to start with the popular dragon land set.
Patrick also plays with the zoo set (PLAYMOBIL Large Zoo with Entrance)often.

The Razor Rip-Rider-These things are crazy and give me a heart attack but all the kids love them.  ONE OF MY BEST PURCHASES! They go really fast and the wheels in the back allow you to spin in circles.  The boys love these and ride them constantly.  Ages four-teenagers.  They even play crashing games with them and they've held up forever. When friends come over this is the toy they gravitate towards.

Ripstiks are probably one of the favorite outdoor toys we've purchased.  They do take some co-ordination and core muscles to master-which means it takes kids about 5 minutes to figure out and if you are older than thirty you might put yourself in the hospital ;).

This basic ancient scooter has suffered so much abuse from all ages of children, poor thing, but it has endured it all.

For teenagers, longboards are all the rage.  

Pogo Stick  (this is close to what is pictured above, but not the exact match)
  I think Andrew's record is several hundred, no joke. It gives me a headache just watching him.

I don't even remember who asked for this once, but it's now in Patrick's closet hiding his treasures.  He loves that it is all under lock and key.  The kids have used it to play store too.

Here's another brand that is smaller but locks.

Snap Circuits -Matt (12) has always loved these and I saw Andrew (8) had it out the other day.  I have never figured it out but the kids seem to be able to make things work.  I know they've tricked me with a door bell sound before.
This maze is a great toy for bored kids.  From Isaac to Patrick, it's been a hit, and there seems to be a new version every year (we have three now!)

Isaac brought one home from college and the boys all loved it.  It's more difficult than it looks. Video of how it works here.

A nice reader left a comment about this toy being a favorite with her sports-crazy boy and I bought it for Patrick and he plays with it constantly. He is always setting up games-one time I thought he was cleaning up because all the guys were in a big pile, but he corrected me and told me he was just waiting while they all fought over the ball.  
His Christmas/birthday list this year asks for the Football Guys and the Hockey Guys .    

A few of you asked me what in the world these cool blocks are when I posted this picture in one of my Ordinary Day posts.
Patrick and Andrew and Janey probably play with these the most out of any toy we own.  Honestly, they are really irresistible even to me.  All the sides of each tile are magnetized so they click together. We initially bought the 32 piece set,  but this year I'm going all out and getting the 100 piece set which I would have bought in the beginning had I known this was going to be an all time favorite.

The boys also love Zoobs. We have thiscase of them.  They come with a huge set of instructions for all different types of models.  Andrew loves these (he is 8.)  Patrick (almost 4) just started being able to snap them together. Andrew is asking Santa for the Zoob car designer kit.

Build A Road -It has little cars that DO need a battery in them just so you know, but the batteries seem to last forever, and the cars really zip around.  The kids can snap the track into all different configurations.

Magna Doodle-A cheap old magna doodle has always been a favorite with each of the kids.  Patrick and I play a game where I draw something and then he guesses what it is and then he draws something and I guess.  I never get it right, go figure, and he loves that.

My parents had a set of these at their house last year and at first I thought, "What's the big deal with a whole set of little planks?"  Well, my kids (and my husband!) played for hours with these things and Santa brought us our own set.  It takes concentration and skill to build with these blocks.  The set comes with a big book of ideas.

(The one in the picture isn't available but the one I linked to is the newer version.)
This year's all time favorite-thank you Aunt Tracy! It has gotten many a boy tired before bed time and my boys playing together-ages 17-3.

We used to use this on our dining room table, but when we had the island built in the kitchen it fit this set up almost perfectly. We use it often.  The net grips under the surface and is flexible in terms of thickness.

Drawing books and sketch pads.  Once in awhile Michaels will have a 50% sale for their nice sketchbooks.  I have found all sorts of drawing books at book stores.  

Andrew (6th grade) is really into these and uses them for drawings and projects.

A vintage typewriter from Ebay.  Abbey loved this when she was younger and her friends did also.  Make sure you get one that comes with tape-they don't sell that at Office Max anymore. :)

One of Abbey's all time favorites- she played with it from about 3rd grade till about 6th grade.  (I have seen this book at Michaels also.) She received it with a big sketch book and a little pair of scissors-it comes with the all the cute paper.  She filled a big folder with fashion designs.

Shrink Art Jewelry Kit-Abbey also loved this craft book. She even had a little business going in 7th grade selling earrings to her classmates.  I spent many an evening, baking shrinky earrings, thinking, "Oh boy what did we get into here?"  She loved it though and could hardly keep up!

Abbey loved these little rag dolls! She had some of the clothes that are made for them, but she would often just sew or pin her own together out of little quilting quarters I would pick up, or just plain felt. Her and her friends would put together the cutest little outfits on these girls.

Oh I wish I could say they made this sweet Madeline set but they don't anymore. (You can still find them on Ebay.) These were the perfect substitute for Barbies or those other dolls that look like you-know-whats.  Ick.
If any mom of girls out there knows of a nice sweet replacement (these are about 7" tall) that is available in stores or on-line please suggest in the comments!

I love this doll house.  When I bought it for Abbey I don't think I paid over $200, now it's $600 which is ridiculous.  I bought a little wooden family, and lots of accessories at Hobby Lobby using coupons. Now I've put some of those more delicate furnishings up, and Janey uses the house and furniture for some Calico Critters I purchased in addition to the little family. She loves it and plays with it all the time.  If anyone can suggest a great durable beautiful wooden doll house in the comments?

and one more thing...
All American Girl, of course-Abbey played with her dolls into middle school, and loved all the books.  Janey is still too young at three for them, but she has Abbey's old Bitty Baby that she loves.

Here's some things that wind up in our stockings on Christmas morning. Lots of these things you can just find during your weekly grocery shop. Mrs. Claus I'm sure is in charge of this aspect of Christmas. :)

-flashlights/headlamps for reading in bed
-new pens and pencils for school
-cheap gloves (the kind that cost $1)
-gum/breath fresheners
-socks and underwear
-for girls: little make up items, hair bands and ties, nail polish
-new toothbrushes
-card games

Feel free to ask any questions in comments or email me.


  1. thanks for sharing this! you just took some of the legwork out of my shopping for the boys. {my sons are 4 and 2}...

    sharing this at pinterest.

  2. Such fabulous suggestions! Thanks Sarah! Don't stop doing this yearly post. Ever!

  3. My kids love the Ed Emberley drawing books. We got Zingo last year after you recommended it - a hit with my youngest 2. Great list!

  4. I like your list. We have many of those items, and you are spot on. They are toys that get played with. Most of the stuff sold these days is total junk.

  5. I am up at 4:30 because my son had an accident and decided to check my google reader account while the sheets and blanket washed. I am SO glad I did.

    Due to this list my 4 1/2 yr old twin boys (between Grandparents, Aunt & Uncles & us) will be getting the Zoob build a road kit, magna doodles, indoor soccer set, plasma cars & possibly zingo. AND I feel as if I may survive a Michigan winter inside with my 3 kids. YAY!

    **I plan to get the magna tiles for their b-day in April and we will be all set for years of play. I appreciate the idea of not buying junk. I just added up what we would have to spend (around $100 from us and Nani & Papa can get the Plasma cars)and it is about the same amt. we'd planned but for non-junk toys. Thanks!

  6. wow - I struggle to know what to buy for my two - so goodness knows how you get on with 'THE list'.

    A great post full of nostalgia, recognising stuff that my boys have had and even me, my sister and brothers when we were kids (lego, magna-doodle). It's not the same any more.

    i'm new to your blog - came from 'Todays creative blog'... Kim did a great job of describing you blog, so I'm going to read on...

    Paula x x x

  7. Great list Sarah!
    Funny, I just looked up your list from last year to find the name of that magazine/book you recommended...Between! I am getting that for the girls this year!
    have a happy day

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE your list - I so agree with you, so much JUNK out there. And the kids want every dang thing they see on tv - I need to switch to dvd's or something to avoid all the Christmas "I want that" shouts! One of my kids is a marketer's dream - he's always saying "oh mom, look at that you need that" and I just look at him and say "moon sand" or "blendy pens" and he'll look chagrined, because NEITHER of those things in reality were as cool and fun as they appeared on tv!

    Thanks for some real mom tested ideas. I'll definitely be getting some of these, except the soccer net since my husband would just about lose his mind at the chaos that would ensue.

  9. The wooden Thomas the train set is my all-time favourite toy. My oldest son (who turns 20 today) played with that set for years. Today I keep it in my tv room in a cupboard and it is always popular when my little nieces and nephews come over.

  10. Thanks Sarah, I appreciate this! Last year I took one of your recommendations and got E the "Find and Say It" book. I found it on Amazon for 50 cents and it's still a favorite! :)

  11. Great list! Thanks for sharing!! I am so glad to see toothbrushes on your stocking list. My husband thinks I am the only one that puts things like that in stockings. I am glad to know I am in such good company!!

  12. sarah! i'm loving this...i have two of the SAME items on my list that will post tomorrow! :) :) i think when you have lots of kiddos you weed through the crapola and stick with the good toys that will last..... good post!

  13. I agree with your feelings about the toys that are available today....they are cheaply made and just not the quality that I want for my kids. I have some of my old Fisher Price Little People sets and I haunt ebay and the Goodwill for more. They are still holding up after 30 plus years.
    I also like to get my shopping finsihed by Thanksgiving....Preferably the kind of shopping that is delivered to my doorstep!

  14. Thank you for the ideas! I'm at a loss what to give the kids for Christmas - the boy is swimming in Lego and the kiddos have a lot of Thomas (courtesy of the boy).

  15. So funny...Will has been begging for a real typewriter for months!

  16. Love it, and thanks for the ideas. Another favorite in our home is

    Santa brought three boxes last year b/c of the seven kiddos. Even the uncles are on the ground building faster/better marble routes during family gatherings.

  17. These ideas are great. You and I think a lot alike when it comes to kids' gifts, but there were a couple new ideas here for me- thank you! I'm going to have to think about those Zoobs!

  18. A Great Post. Thanks for all the ideas! I'm with you, I think the classic toys get a lot more use than the fad plastic toys. And we have two Plasma Cars and they are the all time classic!

  19. That indoor soccer will be a great gift for my 11 yr old daughter. She is really hard to buy for and getting to the age where she is not as interested in toys any more. But she loves soccer and really all the kids will get in on that one!! I am also considering the jewelry and fashion klutz books for my other daughter for bday and Christmas. I'm going to tell my sister about Kaplan for her teenage boys, they still love legos so that might be a fun change for them. Great list!!

  20. Thank you so much for doing this have some great ideas. I think you just helped me get most of my shopping done! Great help.

  21. Thanks Sarah! This is just what I needed! I've been trying to think of fun things to get my 8 year old son. What do boys"play" at that age anyway? He loves Legos but sometimes when friends are over, the friend doesn't have the same interest. I think the indoor soccer looks like such a blast and will be a great friend game.

    My husband and son were actually playing last night with a real soccer ball and I just had to hold my breath! Thanks for the tips! Your blog always inspires me!

  22. Thank you! Your lists are wonderful and I've referred to older ones often.

    We've been on the e-bay typewriter hunt. Any suggestions or trouble finding the ribbon/tape or other accessories?

  23. Great list Sarah! Thanks! My children are Zoob fanatics too. The Zoob Car Designer set is on my 6 year old's list too. :)

  24. Thanks for the great ideas! A lot of things just got added to my boys' wish list!

  25. Wow Sarah,
    Great mines think alot. LOL I just blogged this morning about stuff. Stuff we don't need nor want.
    My gift giving this year is going to be much diffent.
    Have a wonderful day.

  26. What else would you suggest for little girls--mine are 7 & 5 and I hate everything that is out there for this age. I know you have done other favorite toy posts so I will look in your archives, but if you have other ideas please share!

  27. thanks for sharing that was so helpful! Maybe you can show us how you store them, you're house looks so tidy!

  28. Thanks for all the ideas. I recently was admiring your cool duplo set and think I might get that one for my almost 4 year old little one.

  29. Love the suggestions! We already have a few of those like the Kapla blocks. I've been looking for more building type stuff since that's what my boys love to do. Great ideas!

  30. Great list! We have several of these (the same big Zoob set, lots of Legos, drawing stuff, Thomas the train) but you gave me some great ideas. And I am with you on shopping of those things I love about modern technology.

  31. Thanks for this post! It may have just saved Christmas at our house.

  32. Thanks for some good ideas! I literally lol'd at the vampire hooker dolls because I had a "fight" with my 6 year old last week over those darn things. Did you happen to see them in the Walmart toy catalog? We got it in the mail last week and it kept the kids quiet for hours....and then I heard, "Can I have these dolls mom?" I took a look and almost passed out! It was the vampire hookers! I told her absolutely not, that they were not dressed modestly or appropriately and Santa won't be bringing them to our home. Of course I'm , "the only mom who won't let her have them, blah, blah, blah...."

  33. Thanks a million...just placed an order on Amazon and now I just have a few more things for the big kids. You saved me so much time! Hello, Amazon, where have you been all my life? Love the part about the hooker dolls they have these days, sheesh...seriously people!?

  34. Great ideas! I have never heard of Zingo before but I am adding that to my 3 1/2 year old daughters' lists. It looks like a fun one. Thanks for sharing.

  35. Thank you so much for your list! I will be returning a bunch of plastic and ordered Magna Tiles and the Rip Rider instead. I think my 5 year old will be so much happier. Thank you also for the helpful links...Amazon must be loving you!

  36. Thank you so much for these ideas! I have two boys-almost 3 1/2 and 1, and I think you just helped me with my Christmas lists! I love reading your blog and your perspective on life. It always seems like you write about just the thing I am thinking of/worry about/contemplating...Thank you :)

  37. I don't know what it is with 6 year old girls but mine is head over heels about the vampire hookers too!! She knows there's not a snowball's chance - along with Bratz dolls, they are on my "never, ever, ever, EVER, not in a million years" list.

    My boys' list mirrors yours Sarah, though one thing you didn't mention that you might like are Superstructs - along with magna-tiles, they are an everyday toy around here!

  38. I really enjoy your round up of good Christmas gift ideas. I've been thinking about plasma cars for my two boys, and your info about them just about sealed the deal! Thanks!

  39. These are AWESOME ideas. I forwarded a few to my parents and plan on buying a few of these myself. I LOVE the idea of indoor soccer for my friend's little boy who lives where it snows all the time.

  40. Great ideas. We love Zingo. We give it as a gift all the time as well.

  41. Thanks for this. Always good to know the tried and true gifts...

  42. Thank you for your list. I'm ordering very soon a few things for my son off of your ideas! I love ideas from a pro-mom! :) I think we have enough legos and Thomas for now..I wanna play with something different as well! ;)

  43. I LOVE it when you do this post and this year some new things I hadn't seen! Thanks.

  44. What an amazing list! I am off to explore Amazon and check out a few things on your list.

  45. What a great list!!
    Magna-Tiles are amazing. My son's preschool has them and they are his favorite thing!!

    Merry Advent!

  46. This is the best Top 20 Christmas gift ideas list I have ever seen! Thanks for these fantastic.

  47. This is the best Top 20 Christmas Gift Ideas list I have ever seen! Thanks!!

  48. Sarah- LOVE, love, love this post. YOU are the best! Just ordered a bunch of these toys. Thanks so much! I, too, so the hooker dolls last week- Seriously? What is wrong with our society today that ANYONE would even consider buying one of those? It makes me SO sad.

    Anyway, rant over. But thanks so much for all the helpful hints. LOVED this...

    Have a happy Thanksgiving:)
    Your loyal reader, Amy W, from the West. Suburbs of Chicago.

  49. Oh...I'm so thankful for your post! Do you recommend American Girl dolls? Are they worth it!?! My daughter wants one! What about dollhouses? What type? Do you recommend doll houses? Did you build one from a kit or make your own or buy a certain brand?

    This post was so helpful for a Mom tired of buying plastic useless junk!

    ~ Ali

  50. Sarah, Thanks a million. I, too, love to shop online. Suffice to say I just hit "add to cart" several times. Due to your post, our 5 year old, Luke, is gonna be sooo happy Christmas morning :) Deb

  51. I've listened to your advice for almost everything since I became a mom. Your Christmas list is so great! You wrote it the day before my daughters birthday and we happened to see the plasma car in the toy store that day. Now I want one for our entire family. It is so fun. What awesome suggestions. Not only are so many toys such junk, but kids including mine have soooooo much stuff. I am petitioning for a pared down Christmas. Another suggestion I have is sleeping bags, an indoor tent and flashlights for winter camp outs inside!

  52. Loved this list! I've been instantly recycling all the toy flyers and catalogs this year. I feel like a scroogy mom, but they are just filled with junk, and my kids circle it all. Love the good for you toys you posted. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Thanks for sharing.
    We love Zingo too and now there is a new Zingo 1.2.3. for counting! Santa's bringing that one for us!

  54. Love the Kapla blocks - I've never heard of them before, but they look like they would be so much fun! And such a simple concept (I really like "real" toys that you have to play with, not toys that do all the playing for you while you watch!).

  55. Thank you so much for this post - it helped my online shopping for Christmas (and birthday - we have a Christmas baby) for our two boys. I'm so excited about Magna Tiles and Doddle Pad is our favorite "I'm pooping" distraction. =)

  56. Thanks so much for sharing your list! I totally used this to Christmas shop for my cousins' kids who we'll be seeing this year, and have some great ideas for the future :) (My own son is only 1 and will be most excited about the wrapping paper, but I can still plan for future Christmases, right?)

  57. Some great ideas! I hate when I spend money on things and then the kids don't even end up playing with them.

    My son loves to build things so several things on your list would probably be great for him.

  58. OK I'm so grateful you posted this list. We had just sat down trying to nail down a few presents for our son that is Patrick's age that isn't electronic or plastic or dumb. You just gave us some fabulous ideas.

  59. This list is wonderful! I really needed it. Thank you!

  60. Santa ended up bringing our 3 year-old an iplay build a road and it has been a HUGE hit in the past 24+ hours. I'm seeing hours and hours of entertainment in the future. Thanks for the idea! Merry Christmas!

  61. Love the snap circuits! GREAT toy list!

    sandy toe

  62. Sarah, thank you. You are so wise. I wanted to offer you a suggestion. Have you ever played the card game Spot It? It is seriously very fun for all ages. I have it and play it with my nephew who just turned 8. But it is great for younger and older kids. I don't think you will be disappointed in it. Also it is a game that offers more than one way to play.

  63. Love this post! I have it bookmarked so I can find it in the future. My little guy will be about 18 months at Christmas, and I'm so unhappy with most of the stuff out there for his age group. I don't want to buy him a little laptop...please. He has some Little People and some wooden blocks, but I have no idea what Christmas will hold. Eee. I wish I could just buy some Playmobile and Legos and be done!

  64. Does anyone know of a cute tea set for a 2 1/2 year old little girl? I am having the hardest time finding a pretty one that is actually usable with a tray, and is not teeny tiny or metal. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  65. I look forward to this post every year....I've gotten some great great great ideas from you! I just wanted to mention something to you about the "soccer guys" that Patrick likes... Did you know Playmobil has a soccer game?? It's AWESOME!! We bought it for my son years ago when he was 3. He's 9 and still loves playing with. It will be staying in our house forever. The soccer players feet are movable and "kick" the soccer ball so you can have a real match going on. Lots of fun! It's not a highly advertised item but still available. I have a feeling your kids would love it! :)

  66. I LOVED this ! Thank you so much for taking the time to put it together! My kids are 12, 9, and 7 and like you said its so hard to find quality, lasting toys. I have a cute boardgame for you that every single one of my kids love (still). It's called Allowance Game and it's from the Toys To Grow On catalog/ website.

  67. Does the typewriter plug in? I'm overwhelmed on ebay and wondering if you went the electric route or not.

  68. I love your lists SO much, because after two girls I feel really lost when it comes to boys' toys. THANKS! :)

  69. Thanks Sarah! I used so many of your suggestions in the past, the plasma car was great, the flexible car track is a hit, zingo, electric typewriter (they are on etsy too)...the list goes on and on. Love it, so helpful!

  70. This is still my go-to gift guide for my two boys! We just bought the zoobs for my oldest (who is 4) for Christmas and cant wait to see what he thinks. The Magnatiles were a hit last year as well as Zingo! We're in the market for a marble run, too this year. My 4 year old is really into Legos (my husband is, too) and LOVES the Lego Heroica board games. He asks to play them at least once a day - they are games intended for older kids, but we've made up our own rules to fit his age - so if you're in the market for a new board game I recommend those!