Friday, December 27, 2013

Best Christmas Gifts for Kids Under 5

When I have to purchase gifts for other kids or even my own, I get sweaty palms, my stomach usually hurts and my brow is furrowed.  Pathetic?  YUP.  Pretty normal?  Yup.  It really makes me anxious to pick "just the right thing" because I feel frustrated to spend money that isn't appreciated, and I don't mean the "Thank you so much for buying my kid SOMETHING," appreciation, I mean the holy sh*t, that occupied my child's attention for at least thirty minutes-appreciation.  When you have children- this is a godsend.

Here are my ideas for the best gifts so far- and yes- we are SO grateful for every gift ever given to our children, these are the ones that might be a little more hidden in stores.... or only online, or just something so freaking new those of us over 25 don't even know what it is, like a YOLO.  What is a YOLO?  (I kid, I get it- because I GOOGLED it.  Hangs head in shame.)

So here's my deal- my kids can play with ride on toys inside our home, we have beautiful cabinets and nice floors- but we're just careful.  My son is a bull in a china shop- seriously, trust me.  If it can break, he already broke it.  The only trick I have is to check all wheels before they come into the house- be sure they're free of stones and your floors should stay pretty nice.

So if you're looking for the best gift for a kid, maybe you'll find something here.  These are just my suggestions, based on my limited experience- and I'll add to this list if I find more things, because I know you care SO MUCH.

Active Play Under $50/over $25:
Super Skipper- 3.5 years+ active indoor or out (My 3.5 year old cannot do this how it is intended just yet- but she LOVES trying and it is hilarious to watch her play)
Ride on Scuttlebug- walking+ active indoor (if you don't mind toys like this inside- we sure don't!) or outdoor (Our son is a large 1.5 year old and he thinks this is the best ride on toy in our home, his almost 3 year old cousin, who is smaller than him, wouldn't get off of it!)
Play Vacuum 1 year +, Not really active, but my kids do run around with this thing like they're on a new "Supermarket Sweep" or something.  It is an annoying noise, but it makes them so, so happy.
Scooter 1 or Scooter 2 3 years +, these scooters offer different experiences to the rider, the first is for a more advanced child, while the 2 is probably better for a younger child.  We don't own either of these, but my daughter is always borrowing her friends' when we're out.  One is definitely on her birthday list this year for the big FOUR!

*$100 Trampoline This is the most played with toy for all kids 1.5 years and up at my home.

Active Play Under $25
Grow With Me Rollerskates- 3 years+ indoor or outdoor play- Our daughter refused to take these off on Christmas morning.  The 3 different settings that lock certain wheels truly helps teach children how to roller skate.)
Bilibo Seat- 1.5 years +, although younger kids could enjoy this, I feel 1.5 is the youngest to really purchase this for.  This toy encourages imagination- is it a turtle shell? seat? sled? bucket? chair? stool? caterpillar (when put with others)?
- Costumes- think capes, princesses, doctors, construction worker, artist...
Stomp Rocket 3 years+ The little lady at our house gets a kick out of this in the yard with her daddy- they often misplace the arrows in neighbors yards as they play, but it just adds to the time they share together, pretty fun toy!

Quiet Play Under $50/over $25:

Go Go Smart Wheels- 2 years-4 years (my guess), Our son is very intrigued by this toy, espeically the train that runs on its own.  He loved watching it go on the track, and the older kids all helped put it together at Christmas.  Although our son tends to just destroy train tracks, this held his attention for 30 minutes before we moved on to something else after breaking apart the track.  I'd suggest purchasing a few more cars to make it more fun, too, but that will take you over $50.
Ball Popper- 1 year + Although this is not really quiet, it gives mom a few minutes.  My kids LOVE this toy, and I love that I can use ping pong balls after I've lost all of the ones that go with it.

Quiet Play Under $25:
Magnetic Mosaics- 3 years+ quiet time play (My 3.5 year old loves this toy, we bring it to places she needs to sit and play quietly, I consider this educational as it is matching colors to numbers using a "legend/key."  A sweet memory is now attached to this toy as we bonded with a distant 4 yr old cousin and great grandma over this the first time we met.)
Kinetic Sand- 3 years+ quiet time play.  This magical sand is so fun- and a winner at our house as it held our daughter's attention for 1.5 hours- no getting up, no fidgeting, no asking for anything.  I set her up at the kitchen table with play dough toys, and she had to be pried away.  No, really.  She played again with it for over an hour the next day until her little brother tried to eat it, yup, that happened.  *I'm intrigued by Shape It! Sand- this does not "move" as you play with it, and it can get wet and not have to dry out to be played with- might work well in an outdoor play bin.
- Barbie Shoes and a Barbie Tackle Box- 3 years +, My three year old could play for hours just taking Barbie's shoes on and off- and to get a plethora of the shoes- ow baby!
- Barbie- 3 years +, As soon as our daughter turned three, her fascination with Barbie began, and I don't mind one bit.  She is creative and I hear more of what's going on in her little mind by listening to her play with her Barbies and have them talk to one another.  The little sister barbies are great, too!
Dump Truck 1 year +, Our son loves this truck.  It is big enough to tote around other small toys and crash all over the house leaving walking hazards for the whole family.  It seems to be built well- and I appreciate that it is USA made of recycled plastics!
Airplane 1 year +, We wanted something that wasn't a car for our son, finally!  This airplane is fine, nothing special, just different!
Snap Together Minnie- 2.5 years + Our daughter loves to dress and undress her barbies, but sometimes I get sick of helping. This toy is just right for her, and when stored in a cute metal lunch box, it can go anywhere with us!  We're temped to leave it in the car for those random trips places that aren't kid friendly.  It is a very simple toy, but great for fine motor skills and allowing her imagination to soar.
See and Spell Puzzle- 3 years + This toy has been played with over and over at our house when I need some quiet time on the phone with Comcast (duh.... that's at least a 45 minute conversation).
Tea Set 3 years optimal, with a working tea set (we use water) a little girl can get lost playing this for hours.  Her little brother might, too.  And although towels better be on the stand by- it is so worth the time they share!  You can even find little measuring sets, too!
Small MarkersTwistable Crayons, and stickers!  Age 2 + they all seem to love artsy stuff, and these are the best markers, crayons you can get for them!  The amount of stickers stuck to my floors because I don't have long enough nails to pick them off is embarrassing.  Don't judge.  Again, this affords me time to throw in a load of laundry, put away a load of laundry for the love of Pete, or maybe even take a quick shower.
Bath Toys, and more bath toys, and more bath toys 6 months+ Kids love bath time, and toys make it better- but healthy toys make it rock.  Most toys grow mold inside- these can be opened and cleaned- that is so rare, people.  Pay attention, don't buy sh*t for your family and friends.
Backpack 2.5 + Every kid likes a place to put their things, backpacks are wonderful!  We no longer carry diaper bags, because our kids have backpacks with what they need in them.  Pottery Barn Kids, LL Bean and Lands End all have great backpacks that are wonderful quality.  You can usually find these on sale $25 or under.

And that's about it... for now.... or at least what my post-Christmas-madness brain can remember.