Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ideas for little people presents

Around this time of year a lot of people ask me what my kids would like for Christmas, the truth is they love anything that comes wrapped in cheerful paper with their name on it, but I understand that this isn't very helpful for those doing the asking. So let me first reassure you that anything you give is lovely, and like wise you are not obligated to give anything at all as the greatest gift you can really give them is your time. And with that out of the way let me give you some more specific suggestions to help you buy gifts for the little ones in your life.

The perfect present to me is something that fits on the shelf, that is self contained, and that the kids can take off the shelf, do something entertaining with, and put back on the shelf easily on their own. Where possible I prefer items that are made from materials other than plastic and that do not require batteries.

Nature Play Toys have an amazing assortment of items all made from natural materials. Many of their wares are available to order through their website which is very convenient, but if you are able to visit their store in the Samford Valley it is a beautiful experience.

Like wise, Dragonfly toys have a lot to offer in their online store. Check out the cable car basket!

Within Australia I find Aldi to be a good source of toys, their jack n jill range has lots of appealing wooden, felt and tin toys, though these are randomly (well, semi randomly) available throughout the year, so this is the kind of thing you have to collect when it appears and then put it away for later.

Australia post is often a good source of affordable and entertaining items. On my visit today I saw a junior gardening kit, a microscope and what looked to be some interesting 'make and do' books. I am sure the exact items vary from store to store, but post office shops seem to regularly carry things in that kind of spirit.

The Early Learning Centre, though it has a lot of plastic, has toys with purposeful play in mind. They arrange their toys in age range and chances are that anything you buy from here is something that your giftee is going to get a lot of use out of. They do have a selection of wooden toys, most of which carry a forest friendly wood logo. I particularly like their balance bikes for younger kids, the trike with the wagon, and best of all the little post box. The post box is brilliant value at $25 and is something I know both my girls would play with over and over, even though it is in the toddler section—what can I say, kids just love posting stuff!

Books are always a good gift, this can be tricky though, as we are avid readers there is always a chance we have the more common titles. A book that you yourself loved as a child and a personal note about why you liked it always goes down well though. I like the book depository because they have free postage, which means you can send them directly to far away friends for hassle free gift giving. Miss Moo the elder is particularly interested in this sewing book.

We are particularly fond of dress ups here and have a dedicated dress up rack. Dress ups are great because you can get a ready made outfit straight off the shelf at most department or toy stores, or you can collect bits and pieces or even sew your own. A little bag with an eye patch, some coins and a sash is an instant pirate kit, some sparkly shoes and a necklace tucked in an old handbag becomes an outfit for a sophisticated lady. I also love the idea of play silks. These are simply rectangular pieces of silk, finished at the edges and dyed in beautiful colours. Play silks can be dress up skirts or capes or sashes, they can be fort covers or picnic blankets. Very versatile and great for imaginative play.

Craft kits are another great thing, again you can make your own by filling a container with assorted bits and pieces, or you can buy ready made kits from most department stores, toy shops or discount/two dollar shops. As long as these are self contained (i.e. come in a box that they can be put back into) these are a gift as much to parents as they are to children.

Happy shopping everyone!