Many parents, myself included, struggle every year to get our kids what they want for Christmas.
Children have become very material oriented and toys have become cheaper and more disposable. Because of this, children have learned to expect to get lots of toys throughout the year and thus no longer “need” anything because they have everything!
We ask ourselves, what can I get my kids that they don’t already have? So, to make our lives easier we ask our children… What would you like for Christmas?
Well, if your kids are anything like mine, they will circle almost everything in the catalogs and run down the isles saying I want it all! What we (I) have to remember, is that what are our little shoppers are doing is getting caught up in impulse buying. (Great job marketing department!) In reality, if you bought 3/4 the toys they asked for, they would get really board – almost instantly!
So, how do we, as parents sort through all the toy chaos and buy the “right” toys for our kids?
Before we go shopping, it is important to pay attention to the items our kids are really, truly, are super excited about. There will be a few toys that your kids will probably really want and ask Santa to bring it.
Don’t make the same mistake I made of not listening to what the kids ask Santa for and telling Santa to bring something we want for the kids. Oops- my bad! I still hear about that year.
I don’t have any magical advice for you but do have some ‘food for thought’ questions you can ask yourself when tackling the gift buying extravaganza.
What do my kids need? If anything.
What are my kids asking for?
What have they started playing with recently?
Have they been consistently interested in a type of toy for 1 or more month? (this will help you decide what toys they are really into it)
Can I afford what they are asking for? (don’t break the bank for a toy; it’s not worth it!)
Those questions should narrow down your options a bit, crossing off the “I wants” by eliminating:
• The “fad” toys- they never last
• Non-age appropriate toys- for the too young or too old
• The toys you know your kids are won’t be into (based on your child’s history of similar toys)
• The toys that take more attention than your child has (know your child’s attention span)
• The toys everyone else has… your child says they should have it too, but they aren’t really into it.
So, after you have eliminated some the toys circled based on the above questions, you can now begin to decide what to buy.
Here is a list of types of toys your kids will thank you for:
Toys that you believe your child will be interested in playing with more than once; pay attention to what your child is playing with
Depending on your child’s age, toys that use several senses with colors, textures, sounds, buttons, zippers, doors that open, etc.
Toys that evoke the child’s imagination like play kitchens, dolls, toy animals, dress-up, chalk, markers and special paper, books and so on
Toys that can be transported easily when on the go like puzzle books, coloring books, markers and crayons, small toys such as animals and dolls
Toys that use gross and fine motor skills, like sewing boards, building toys, blocks, manipulative toys, Lego’s, construction toys, arts and crafts kits
Toys that will last for years and you believe will be enjoyed for years to come
Toys that asks your child to problem solve like puzzles, shape sorters, games, science kits
Toys that encourage your child to use in a variety of ways, like blocks and Lego’s, that they can line up, stack, knock down, create environments with for their other toys etc.
Toys that encourage your kids to go outside and play like swings, bikes, skates, balls, scooters etc.
I want to share two of the unique toys we have that my kids come back to over and over again! Now, don’t laugh. They are pretty unusual but I swear – my kids and all their friends love them and find all kinds of ways to use them.
Rollable balance beam by Tiffin Mats
This is a great, inexpensive item to have around the house. My kids have used it for gymnastics but it also becomes a home for toys animals and dolls, a maze for toy animals, cars and dolls, a car racing arena etc.