Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Kids Ages 8 and Under

Today I am jumping from one passion of mine (cooking) to another; kids!  While I am no expert in what makes a good toy or one that will end up under the bed, lost and forgotten, I do have a 4 1/2 and 2 year old who have more toys than I am comfortable admitting.  The reason for this has nothing to do with their father or I, but it has everything to do with our incredible and giant extended family.  My children have been blessed with four sets of grandparents, nineteen aunts and uncles and more cousins than I can count.  We truly have a "Modern Family" and there is nothing but love between us all and I would not have it any other way.  We strive to make sure our kids know that toys and material possessions are not what the holidays or life in general is all about, but it is hard not to get joy from watching your kids open presents.  With that said, my older daughter and I have gone through all their toys to come up with a list of the favorites that have been used the most for playtime both independently (yay!) and with a playmate.  Any toys that have been outgrown were donated to a local secondhand store in an effort to teach our kids that it is important to give back and help others.  This list includes mostly unisex toys of all sizes and prices and everything comes highly recommended from my kids and myself!  Happy shopping!

1.  The Original Toy Company Fold & Go Trampoline (ages 3-7)

  We have had this trampoline for almost 3 years and it is still going strong.  My daughter received it when she was almost 2 and has been jumping on it ever since.  It is relatively small at about 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall and has held up to multiple children jumping on it at the same time (not recommended).  The grip bar provides some assurance that the child will not go flying off and before my younger daughter could walk, she was standing on it and holding on to the bar.  This has been a great toy for us and has provided a lot of active fun for my kids and their friends, especially when it is too cold to go outside.

2.  Fisher Price Little People Disney Princess Songs Palace (ages 18 months to 5)

 This little princess castle has created so much free time for me, I can't recommend it enough!  Both of my girls, have been playing it with indepently or together since we got it last Christmas.  It is adorable with the little princesses that each sing a few versus of their most popular song and speak a few sentences.  It makes other sounds like birds chirping and a doorbell and there is countless accesories and additional princesses that can be purchased seperatly, making for great stocking stuffers or gifts down the road.  This is not a girls only toy either, as all of my friends sons have enjoyed playing with it too.  Worth every penny!

3.  Melissa & Doug Latches Deluxe Board

 When my first daughter was one, we used to go to Gymboree Play and Learn Classes.  In the waiting room there, they had this wooden puzzle that has different locks and attachments on it.  My daughter could not get enough of it and all the kids would line up to play with it.  We have had this for almost 4  years now and it looks brand new and both of my girls still play with it.  It is educational and helps teach fine motor skills.  Plus it is made of wood, which is more sturdy and has less chemicals than all the plastic toys.  This is a real winner and very reasonably priced.  Great gift!

4.  LEGO DUPLO 10572 Creative Play All in One Box of Fun (ages 18 months to 5)

 We all know LEGO's are a no-brainer, basically every kid likes them and probably some lying around.  What makes this set so special is it gears to a wide age range and it comes with its own nifty box so the LEGO's will not be as easily lost and wind up under your feet when you are walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  My almost 5 year old plays with this set and can follow the directions to build the houses and cars herself and my 2 year old just has fun stacking the LEGO's and destroying her sisters creations.  It is a win-win and at a great price for a LEGO set.  

5.  LeapFrog LeapReader Reading and Writing System (ages 4-8)

My older daughter has had this since she was 3 years old and it is still working great.  It really is such an educational toy that helps them practice writing numbers and letters and teaches reading by having them follow along with the rechargeable pen that talks and interacts with them.  There are many different books that have Disney and Pixar characters to help keep the child interested.  My 2 year old also plays with it (when her sister lets her).  I love this toy because I do not feel guilty or like I should be teaching them when they are playing with it.  They are truly learning and having fun at the same time.

6.  Little Tykes Shopping Cart (ages 2-5 years)

This toy has been with us for almost 5 years and it is still an old favorite that has not needed to be replaced in spite of being rammed into walls and hurled down stairs.  Both of my daughter used this as a walker to learn to walk and they love to put anything and everything in it and cruise around with it.  If you are buying a gift for a baby or young toddler, I would highly recommend this unisex toy.  Little kids love to do what mommy and daddy do and pushing around a shopping cart is one of their favorites ways to emulate us.  Great toy for a great price!

7.  Thomas the Train: All Around Sodor (ages 18 months to 6 years)

This is the perfect first train set for any kid.  Both of my kids love to play with this together and love how Thomas talks and how the eyes and mouth move.  It is super easy for my 4 1/2 year old to control the settings and the train and my 2 year old is getting it too.  It is a great learning tool for following directions and putting things together.  The best part is that Thomas can move off of the track too, so they love following him around and think it is hilarious when he ends up under the couch.  This is a sturdy toy and that has provided endless playtime for both of my kids.  Would be a fantastic gift for boys or girls.

8.  Melissa & Doug Standing Art Easel (ages 3 and up)

 You really cannot go wrong with art easel for any kid of any age.  This particular one is fantastic because one side is a chalkboard and they other is white board that a roll of white paper goes over.  It is great for painting, coloring, markers and very sturdy.  Ours has been with us for over 3 years and survived a moving van ride.  There are so many cute accessories to go with this that can make perfect stocking stuffers.  Your little artist will get hours of play time with this that you can feel good about.

9.  Kuhn Rikon Kinderkitchen Dog Knife with Teeth (4 year and up)

 You know I had to include something that involves cooking!  This little knife is so adorable and is super fun for my 4 year old to use.  It is serrated so it is easy for her to cut things like pepper, cucumbers, bread and even carrots and cooked meat.  She just loves helping me in the kitchen and this knife gives her confidence and some Independence in there.  It is still a little sharp, so we do have to keep an eye on them, but this knife would make a perfect first one for your preschooler.  A great price for a fun stocking stuffer and is dishwasher safe!

10.  Radio Flyer Classic Red Dual Deck Tricycle (2 years and up)

This is obviously a classic that you just can't beat.  Not only is it unbelievable sturdy and solid, it is a absolutely beautiful as well.  It is a shiny cherry red made of heavy duty metal.  This thing has lasted us for 2 years with countless kids riding it.  Both of my daughters learned to ride a trike on this and it still looks brand new.  There is almost no way it could tip over which makes me feel more comfortable with them playing on it.  We have others trikes, but this one has stood the test of time and is still holding strong!

Hope this list was a help to you!  Now, you tell me what your kids or grandkids favorite toy is!  I need ideas!!  Happy Holidays!

**For more gift ideas geared to adults, check out My Top 10 Holiday Gifts Ideas for the Kitchen**

**All opinions and reviews are my own, and I am not paid for them.  Amazon affiliated**