Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kidlet Gift Guide: Crap Everyone Likes! {18 months through Preschool}

*Amazon links used within this post are affiliate; all other links are "clean.

As promised / threatened, today I'm kicking off a few gift guides for the tiny people in your life.  I doubt I'm reinventing the wheel here, but hopefully these prove helpful to my like-minded consumer peeps out there! 

I'm an aspiring toy minimalist... My KonMari playroom dreams may not manifest in reality {if only tiny pieces of goodie-bag shit didn't spark such joy in my small fries}, but we do try to be pretty purposeful in our toy acquisitions.  My chicklets end up playing more creatively when the playthings available are fewer in number as well as multi-purpose.  I'm also the asshole parent who is constantly searching for items that both our monkeys will enjoy...and then just purchasing one to share. Sharing is caring, kids!  And less junk for me to trip over! 

Anyhoodle, here's a list of items L & B might find under our tree that they'll joyfull bicker over for months and years to come!


My in laws are gifting L her very own Gymnic Rody Horse, but B will surely be shoving her off {a taste of her own medicine and all that} at every opportunity for a bounce on this friendly fellow.  Anything that wears my brood out while looking adorable is a-okay in my book, and both youngins go apeshit over these at friends' houses... so much so that this was the one "shared item" on my list wherein I seriously contemplated procuring twin ponies.  But! Mean Mommy strikes again! Whatever, turn-taking builds character.


A more sophisticated art set-up has been a long time coming for us, and I'm oh-so-happy Santa will be bringing this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel as a joint gift, along with the corresponding accessory set as well as some chalk markers. This is one of those instances where I fretted entirely too long over which brand to buy, and, honestly, I really love {and might actually prefer} the Hape Easel, but I got a helluva deal pre-Black Friday on the M&D model. I like that it is adjustable, and there's no denying it has great reviews so I'm sure we'll be quite pleased with it!  I do wish the dry erase side was also magnetic {the Hape has this feature}, but otherwise, it suits our needs beautifully. 


Christmas lists wouldn't be complete without a selection from B. Toys {not in any way sponsored}! In fact, I believe there are two other B. Toys items on B's wish list in addition to this Critter Clinic I requested for both kids.  Dr. McL will geek out over more medical implements, and B could play with locks and tiny doors for hours {two of his current favorite things are the key locks on my parents' buffet and the minuscule compartments on our advent calendar}.  I believe I've mentioned this tip in previous posts, but I recommend scoping all B. Toys out at Target; most stores have a great selection, and the red bulls-eye always seems to have the best prices.  Amazon's listing prices are laughable in comparison. 


This summer, prior to the start of school, we spent many-a Saturday morning playing on the playground at L's nursery school.  It was a total novelty and we figured it'd help L get comfortable with her soon-to-be new environment.   The area blocked off for the littlest kids had an old plastic mailbox in it, and, for whatever reason, both kids loved playing with it.  I think this Melissa & Doug Stamp and Sort Mailbox is mega-cute {Bonus Points for me if I get my act together and copy Laura for even more post office fun}, and I anticipate major mail mayhem in the playroom long after the holiday delivery rush has subsided.  




Hey!  Look at me!  I'm suggesting expensive-ass magnetized STEM toys like every other parent on earth!  No ingenious new ideas here, but Magformers and the like are where it's at!  L received a set last year, and we're looking to add to it.  B loves to play with these on the fridge, and I am always happy to help L build habitats for all her little figurines... Forget adult coloring; I'll be in the den with my iced wine, building some sick 3D hexagonal globes!  I know many folks go with the Magnatiles, but I think these are a bit easier for littler hands. Plus they are also very popular bracelets at our house. 


Another pick that seems forever-popular... B will be getting a Plasma Car from Santa.  With a big deck, sport court, cul-de-sac, and fabulous park right up the street, outdoor toys are currently at a premium! These are so easy to propel and steer... our minions are constantly swiping them from friends at the playscape.  With a weight limit of 200 lbs, us old folks can get in on the action, as well! 

Need more ideas? Here's the quick and dirty on toys we already own that get major playtime with both preschooler and toddler...



Melissa & Doug Cook's Corner Wooden Kitchen- Still the best 6 hour project requiring an electric drill I've completed whilst 28 weeks pregnant. Totally worth every single swear word and desperate wish for a vodka-soda wingman.  I love that it's relatively small compared to many of the more popular play kitchens, but it definitely gets the job done! The timer is particularly entertaining. The companion shopping cart and play food felt sets from IKEA round out our farm-to-table playroom experience.


Duplo Building Sets - I mean, duh.  We are particularly fond of the ice cream set and the My First Number Train.

Fisher-Price Bubble Mower - Auntie Lyndz gave this to L for her first birthday, and it remains a hot commodity.  Most of the time, we don't even have it filled up with bubbles, but it is apparently still a blast to push all over the yard.

Circo Doll Stroller - Another First Birthday Gift, this time from Auntie Rory.  This has been used daily since Feb 2013... and daily x2 since B could walk.  I'm talking inside, outside, pushed down stairs, banged into walls, pushed around the block, jammed into the basket of our jogger, used as a hammock {BRADY}, clipped and unclipped a zillion and twelve times, and the thing is still in pretty great condition.  Not too shabby for a $10 toy.

Doctor's Kit - This one from Fisher Price was a 2nd birthday gift to L and the gateway drug to her doctor obsession.  I wish we had this one instead, but we also have the set that came with L's  doctor's coat so a third bag of medical tools seems a little excessive.  The ones we have most certainly cure all imaginative ailments, and I suppose that matters more than pure aesthetics!


B. Meowsic Keyboard - Kinda obnoxious to adult ears and a few of the "original songs" are a little WTF, but everyone under 42 inches loves this damn "kitty cat piano."


SweetPea 3 MP3 Player - Mentioning the SweetPea again on this blog is likely overkill, but this thing saves our lives on the regular.  L still really likes hers, but B has been swiping it more and more lately.  This is one product of which I wouldn't hesitate to buy two for car trip sanity!

Still want more gift guide goodness?  Here's some linkage to past years' compilations...

- 2014: Older Babies
- 2014: 2-3 Year Olds {relatively girly}
- 2013: Older Toddlers {L's 2nd Christmas}
- 2013: Crawling to 2 Years
- 2012: L's First Christmas {10 months}

Be back soon with individual picks for tinkering toddlers and dress-up crazed preschoolers!

In the meantime, L's #1 request for Santa this year is a bike {I am admittedly totally skeptical about this, but she's very determined}, and I haven't a clue where to start.  I don't think we're interested in a balance bike; I'm talking a 14 incher training wheels throwback like we had in 1988.  Any leads for me?  We'd like to steer clear of anything Disney themed, but it doesn't need to be anything hardcore {re: stupid-expensive}. 

30 comments:

  1. http://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/magna-girls-12-jewel-bicycle?repChildCatid=3091803

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  2. I am not sure if it was a birthday or a Christmas (Good Lord, don't I sound creepy)...anywhoodle, I think you may have purchased a scooter for L...I have a scooter crazed toddler and am wondering if you did purchase and if so...was it a flash in the pan toddler obsession (meaning i can gift other things like look...here's something else!!!) or if i should bite the bullet and plan to add scootering and all the gear to the pile of crap we own.

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    1. Yes! She got it for her third birthday and looooooves it! We scooter on the sport court almost daily! This is the one we went with:

      http://www.academy.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10151_10051_3145009_-1?cm_mmc=pla-_-Recreation+Leisure+Scooters+Manual-_-Google-_-Yvolution+Kids+Glider+Deluxe+Mini+Scooter

      It is easy enough for B to maneuver as well!

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    2. Hmmmm that's not clickable. It's the Yvolution Glider Deluxe Mini Scooter.

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    3. Thanks now my scooter woes are solved. Now on to researching helmets

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    4. We have a nutcase and really like it! Love the magnetic chin strap and that it is adjustable!

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  3. We've had a rody since 12 months - it's best with the rocker base for that young but our 22 mo uses it without now and loves it.

    Her big present is a balance bike but if she can't get the hang of it we will go for a plasma car.

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  4. We bought our daughter who is L's age a bike last spring for her birthday and she loves it. It's plain pink with a basket for her friends to ride with her at Walmart or Target for $25 ... She still rides it regularly and is almost out of needing training wheels ...no princess things for us either!

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  5. Can't believe you have the nerve to try to make $0.85 off my click. I will take your suggestions, open my browser, and type Amazon into the address bar myself. 😜😜😜😜

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    1. FUND MY EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLE, EMILY

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  6. I love gift guides! Ty found Jack a huffy bike at Wal-Mart that is character free. It was pretty cheap...maybe $30. All I could find at Target in his size was covered in characters.

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  7. I LOVE gift guides, so keep 'em coming! We got a play kitchen for S's big Xmas gift this year...it's a bigger more involved one (KidKraft Uptown Espresso...personally I like the style of their Vintage White one more, but it's tiny and she is tall for her age) but glad to know kitchen gets lots of play. I think I may have bought it more for me than for her, hehe. :) Also glad to know that the Circo stroller is a goodie...just purchased a $27 stroller from Costco for her 2nd bday but I think I will return it after seeing how big it is in the store. The Circo one seems nice and small and should do the trick.

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    1. That Circo stroller is a work horse, man! It just keeps going and going and going! I do wish it was slightly easier to fold, but, hey, it's ten bucks!

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    2. Embarrassed to say that we've never gotten ours to fold up! I guess we tried once years back and never again. tips?

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    3. Cursing a lot under your breath and then making your husband do it works well for me ;)

      (No, but seriously, you have to yank those Lift tabs and also pop that back bar somewhat simultaneously. A third hand would help tremendously.)

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  8. Check out First Bikes - we got one for Elly last year and I was super impressed with it! You can also check out any bikes by Norco, there more of the traditional style with training wheels - we've procured one of these as well and Elly happily goes back and forth on both.

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  9. I love the gift guide! We thought about Rody this year but all I could imagine was the toddler boxing matches over the one damn horse (we are a one toy family too) while I was pinned down nursing an infant and he got booted from the cart. If it makes you feel any better, we have the B.Toy doctor kit and the box is insanely giant. It takes up a ton of space in the toy basket which annoys me to no end!

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    1. This totally makes me feel better ;)

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  10. The B toy doctor kit is obnoxious. Most of the stuff in ours is almost broken or now hard to use after 1 year (was a Christmas gift last year). Love the B toys but hate that damn kit. All that said it still makes an appearance every two to three days to cure whatever is ailing the stuffed animals these days

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    1. Glad to hear I'm not missing out on doctor kit greatness!

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  11. Love this, thank you! My girl is almost 2.5 and I have 5 month old twins so definitely looking for items that are workhorses since I hope they'll be played with for awhile. And as a very tired mom I appreciate all the thought you put into this as my Christmas shopping plan was to just wander around Target and buy whatever shit looked cool. Much appreciated!

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  12. We bought our 3.5 YO a 14" bike with training wheels this summer and its a huge hit. I thought it would be too big, but after some initial wobbles, she is a pro.

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  13. We bought our 3.5 YO a 14" bike with training wheels this summer and its a huge hit. I thought it would be too big, but after some initial wobbles, she is a pro.

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  14. You always find the coolest stuff...basically just added all of these to my amazon cart! I love the mailbox and have been eyeing the cat piano.

    Are Magnaforms aggressive for a new 2 year old? I have never heard of them but can't seem to resist such a highly rated item..starter pack or just go for a big set?

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    1. Brady played with them some last Christmas at only 8 months! He could pull them apart if we snapped them together! And he plays with them all the time at 20 months now -- he doesn't build with them but he puts them on the fridge and moves them around! I would totally buy them for a 2 year old; they are the ultimate "toy to grow on!" I'd go with the big set; we did the starter last year and I wish we had more!

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    2. Well there's no way I'm not buying them now! Sounds perfect and I will take all the brain growing benefits as early as possible. And I may play with them too..

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  15. Check out the Lil Dutchie bikes from Linus, I got my 3 year old daughter her bike on her third birthday and it's our absolute favourite thing that we own, I might even get one myself! I think they will deliver it to you, just check out their website, it's a retro looking bike, so adorably cute, there's a pink/coral colour which we got that's perfect, but the red ain't too shabby either! Or you can get the cream and then B can use it? Plus it's good to use until age 6 and the accessories (mainly, the wicker basket) is to die for. It's serious art!

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  16. Yay for the gift guides!! This is our first Christmas and I'm reading this while walking a crabby baby to sleep, so THANKS so much for putting in the links for the younger set! Now I don't have to search bar that shizz

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  17. Had to come back to comment that Public brand bikes just released a kids bike in addition to their balance bike. I think it's a little stupid expensive, but it is adorable and plain.

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happy little comments!