Toys That Stand the Test of Time

Between my husband and I, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, Cousins, and friends, my kids are bombarded each year with new toys at Christmas.  Throw in a January birthday for my oldest daughter a few weeks after Christmas and our house usually ends up looking like a toy store threw up in it.  As much as I like to keep things simple at home, I will admit, we have an insane amount of toys.  I will also admit, that not all of them get played with.  There are several that I can think of off hand that probably haven’t been played with in the last year.  But there are also several that get played with weekly, if not daily.  I’d like to share some of those with you, in case you were looking for a little inspiration for gifts this year.

Wooden Train Set

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We have the Melissa and Doug Wooden Railway Set.  We gave it to my oldest daughter when she was two years old and it has been played with consistently ever since.  I love this toy because it has no batteries, is durable, and can be set up in countless configurations.  We’ve had many fun hours building the train tracks and racing the train cars along them.

Magnetic Tiles

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Last year, I really, really, really wanted to get my daughter Magnatiles, but the price tag really threw me off, so I went with a smaller version instead (Magformers) to see if she even liked it before shelling out the money for the better set.  Well, a year later and this is one of her favorite toys.  She builds different cars, robots, spaceships, all the time.  You can even play with these on any type of magnetic surface (fridge, dry erase board, etc).  I love that it came with wheels and little accessories to build things.  It has been such a hit that I decided to go ahead and get the Magnatiles set I was looking at last year.

Plasma Cars

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These were also a gift that we gave to our kids last year and we just recently made them even better by swapping out the plastic wheels for polyurethane (roller blade) wheels.  They ride so much smoother and faster now.  I’ll admit, even my husband and I like to ride on them!

Balance Bike

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This little bike is pricey, but it is awesome.  My mother-in-law bought it for my daughter when she was 2 and she really didn’t show interest in it until she was closer to 3, but once she started getting the hang of it, she really fell in love with it.  She zips around so fast on this thing.  She rides it all over our neighborhood when we take family walks at night.  Every time we meet friends at the park and bring this bike, all of her little friends take turns riding it.  It doesn’t have pedals.  She just uses her feet to propel herself along and once she gets enough momentum, there are bars on the sides where she can put her feet up and just coast (and balance) along.  It teaches kids how to balance on two wheels and transfer to a regular bike without ever having to use training wheels.

Snap Circuits Junior

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My 4 year old daughter received this as a Christmas present last year, and almost a year later it is still one of the most played with toys. There are so many possibilities with this toy. Not only can you create different circuits to do different things, but it also has ways you can set it up to play games and even create art. Currently she has spent this whole week making art circles by taping paper circles to the fan, turning it on and then using markers to draw while it is spinning. She’s also been creating her own designs on paper circles, then putting them on the fan to see what it looks like when it is spinning. I love this toy and highly recommend it.

Sorting Cupcakes

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These cute little cupcakes have been a great addition to our play kitchen.  Each cupcake has a different shape cut out in the middle of the frosting part that can be matched up with the same shape for the cake part.  It comes with a cute little tray that also has each shape in the cupcake holders, so you can match them there as well.  My kids have gotten a lot of play out of this toy and it is really high quality, not cheap plastic.

Shopping Cart

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This shopping cart is seriously like a miniature version of the real thing.  It is super heavy duty, has wheels just like a real shopping cart, and even a fold up seat to put a doll or other stuffed animal.  It is very smooth to push around the house, and my kids are constantly filling it up with all sorts of things and using it for pretend play.

Sleepy Time Tales

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I don’t know what it is about this book.  Whether it is the stories, or the art in the book, but my kids love reading this one.  It’s got 12 different stories and each one is very captivating.  Not too long (my youngest could sit through the stories at 18 months old) but not too short like a board book.  Perfect for children 1-5 years old.

Pretend and Play Animal Hospital

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This toy gets played with daily.  It is a huge hit in my house.  It is a little mock up animal hospital and comes with a dog, bandages, casts, collar, stethoscope, xrays, syringe, medicine, a chart, treats and more.  The whole thing folds up and has handles so you can easily take it somewhere you need to keep your child entertained (doctor’s office, etc).

Plush Rocker

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We got this cute pony rocker for my daughter when she was one and both of my kids still play on it.  It is really good quality and super cute.  I will definitely be hanging on to this for grandkids.

Dump Truck

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A friend of mine gave this to my daughter when she turned 2 and it gets played with just about every day.  She rolls it around the house, collecting things to put in it and then dumping them out where she sees fit.  Every kid should have a dump truck.

 

So, there are our toys that have withstood the test of time!  What toys have been hits at your house?

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Holiday Traditions…

Let’s talk holiday traditions here.  I love hearing about the things people did growing up and what they are now doing with their families.  Here are the traditions we do every year:

  • Photo Christmas card – Each year we get professional pictures taken and have Christmas cards made with our family photo on them.  I always save one of the cards and with my kids, we make a scrapbook page out of it.  I let them decorate it however they want (and yes, even if it means putting a sticker over one of our faces).  I love pulling out that scrapbook every year and can’t wait to see how their art skills progress over the years. Christmas Card 2013
  • New pajamas on Christmas Eve – My mother did this with us, so I am also doing it with my kids.  Each year I get them new pajamas and wrap them up.  They get to open them on Christmas Eve and wear them that night.  This year, my 4 year old wanted to make her pajamas, so we are in the middle of doing that.  Stay tuned! IMG_5295  IMG_5223
  • Snowbabies collection – When I had my first baby, I wanted to start a collection of something for her that I could add to each year.  I looked around a bit and really fell in love with the Department 56 Snowbabies.  There are so many different figurines to choose from and each year I get each of my girls a new figurine that depicts something either in their personality or something that interests them.  Last year, I got Annalie this superhero figurine snowbabies and I got Stella this Mickey figurine. snowbabies2 This year, Annalie is getting this t-ball figurine (since she just wrapped up her first season in t-ball) snowbabies3and Stella is getting this cute little monkey figurine because this is about how the three of us look most of the time since she always wants to be picked up. snowbabies4
  • Baking cookies – When I was growing up, we made a massive amount of goodie plates every year for our friends and neighbors.  My mom has the absolute best recipes for holiday goodies.  My sister and I have attempted to recreate it several times and I tell you, it is a ton of work.  But, each year, even if I don’t have time to make everything that we did with my mom growing up, I try to have my kids help make at least a couple of things to give out to coworkers and neighbors.  When they get older, we’ll go for the huge variety. 392576_10150435443457509_1854831664_n
  • A real Christmas tree – I have never and will never, ever, ever get an artificial tree.  We never had one growing up and still to this day, we always get a fresh tree.  Unfortunately there are no Christmas tree farms in Las Vegas, but each year Costco gets one truck full of the most amazing Christmas trees (and you really have to be on it to get one before they quickly sell out), so we get one and take it home and decorate it each year.  Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree and when the holidays are over, we take the tree to a recycling center where it will be turned into mulch. IMG_5269
  • Ethel M Chocolate Factory – This is a great little place that we visit every year.  They have a cactus garden that they decorate with millions of lights each year and you can walk around sipping hot cocoa, listening to holiday music and even get a picture with Santa if you feel so inclined.  You can also walk through the factory and see all the workers making yummy chocolates and sample some inside.  It’s really close to our house and it’s free!  Definitely a must do if you are in Vegas. IMG_5294
  • Love Actually – Hands down my favorite holiday movie.  I mean there really are some other great classics (Elf, A Christmas Story, The Holiday, etc.), but this one tops my list. untitled

 

What are some of your holiday traditions?