So one more weekend till Christmas. If, like me, you are a bit last minute, then hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in this year’s gift guide from Babies & Toddlers.
This year I have imposed a new rule on my family and friends: Don’t buy for us, just buy for the kids. I have a boy and a girl close in age so in reality they will play with each others’ toys so I’ve given the grandparents, aunts and uncles another rule…buy something that they will both enjoy and share, can play with together or get two of the same!
Nurturing imaginative play
I had a good discussion with a friend about how branded gifts hinder the imagination. The story is already there in their little minds, from what they have seen on TV. This is true but I also believe that seeing a story on screen can stimulate the imagination. However, I have Playmobil on our kids Christmas list this year. I had it as a child and I do like it for its free association from any film or TV programme . In theory, it should allow for more free imaginative play. You can buy much of the range from Amazon or Bunyip Toys have a great selection. www.bunyiptoys.com.au
So imaginative play gifts are high on the wish list for this year. Granny has already sent one of these lovely Teepees from Mocka. I am hopeful that it will provide them both with hours of enjoyment both inside and out. We have gone for the unisex stripes. I will bring it inside in the winter months and it can be my little girls retreat from her little brother. www.mocka.com.au RRP: $99.95
Educational Experience also have wonderful gift ideas for children of all ages. I like the ethos of mixing fun and creativity alongside teaching them a thing or two as well. The Volcano Making Kit is on it’s way to my seven year old second cousin in Malaysia. I am sure he will have fun watching it erupt with bubbling and fizzing lava. www.edex.com.au RRP: $19.70
This stick on chalk board is another nice present for both to use. It’s also well suited to our rented home as an alternative to black board paint. It’s self- adhesive removable and reusable and the kids can design their own shapes. www.shirls.com.au RRP: $19.95
With two under four at home all week, we are often lions, horses and dogs in my house, so I think the kids would love Kigu.me onesies. Whether they’re a roaring dragon or a cuddly bunny, Kigu.me has the perfect onesie to suit your kids personality. I could even get one as they do adults sizes too but I think I will just wear it behind closed doors! www.kigu.me/shop. RRP: $69 – 79
Bilibo is a new kind of toy – the elementary shell leaves room for a childs imagination. It can be a racing beetle, a spinning top, a boat in the tide of a bath tub, a treasure trove, a game piece, a sliding puck, an exotic shell, a designer’s seat for a doll. Instead of imposing a specific play pattern, Bilibo is open for a wide range of interpretations and encourages children to invent their own games, to play and have fun in an active and creative way. Indoors and out-doors, the sand-pit, at the water or even in the snow – Bilibo is full of surprises. Available from all good toy shopsThey are also available online at www.goldfishtoyshop.com.au; www.urbanbaby.com.au; www.metromum.com.au and www.cowtrees.com.au to name a few. RRP: $44.95
In this Christmas gift quest I stumbled across Littleville, created by mum Bec Butler with the intention of bringing together Australia’s favourite boutique retailers and sellers on one website. The website is full of unusual products. Not necessarily expensive, but reliable, fun and different. The type of product you find in your local children’s boutique.
We often end the day dancing in the living room so one gift that they should both enjoy is the Confetti Ukulele by Janod for $44.95. I like the different take on a predictable guitar toy. www.littleville.com.au RRP $44.95
Littleville also stock the brilliant Le Toy Van range. I am a big fan of their wooden toys. This Breakfast Tray for $52.95, although appears a little pricey, it is well worth spending that little bit more on quality. I have bought their products before and they are really hard-wearing, as long as they don’t end up in the bath overnight! The set includes a tray with a coffee pot, a mug, a croissant, a plate, a knife, a grapefruit, a bowl, and a spoon and a fabric flower in a wooden vase. I am going to have to wait a few years for the reality of my kids bringing me breakfast in bed but it’s great toy for role play. www.littleville.com.au RRP $52.95.
I also just love the Miss Kate Play Cosmetics, especially as my make up was destroyed a few months ago by my little Miss…she is forever in my make-up bag and the wee man wants to do everything she wants to so I am thinking they will both love this set. I don’t know what’s in a lot of my cosmetics so, not only is it a bit dangerous for her to be playing with some of my products, it’s just plain irritating and expensive!
The Miss Kate range is a great way of letting them both role play ‘mummy safely and cheaply’. It includes a range of eco-friendly and non-toxic lip balms, body lotions, bath wash, pillow spray and play makeup suitable for children of all ages. www.misskate.com.au RRP: From $15.
Two can play that game
Scooby-Doo has entered our house in a big way. My three year old is obsessed and even the one year old is giggling away at Shaggy. I was a little reluctant for them to watch it, as it is quite scary, but we are experiencing the reverse effect. She laughs at the silly men dressed as monsters, ghost, witches etc and it’s helped me explain and reinforce to her that there are no such things.
The Scooby-Doo Activity Book Range from publishers Scholastic and Warner Bros Consumer Products is a nice stocking filler, and reasonable enough to buy one each. RRP: $2.99-$5.99 from all good book retails across the country, and Big W stores.
I also think the Scooby-Doo! Trap Time Monsters Goo Pod will be fun and appeal to both my little monsters. I am sure it will be messy but fun for them to dip their little hands into gooey slime to find the eerie characters submerged within! RRP $9.99.
I hate stereotyping toys and as sharing is an issue in our house, these Mini Racer Toys from Bamboo Village at just $8.95 are reasonably enough priced to buy two. I like the fact that they are eco-friendy and made of bamboo, a renewable resource. www.bamboovillage.com.au RRP: $8.95
Giving a little back
We all know that this time of year isn’t just about presents and I like to do my bit to give back alittle. Here’s a trio of companies that sell gifts that do just that.
Gifts from the online Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia store fund the work of Australian obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin and her team in Ethiopia, treating and preventing birth injuries. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and five regional centres treat, cure and educate more than 2500 Ethiopian women every year.
The unique range of gifts include adorable hand‐knitted Hamlin Toys made in Zimbabwe by a wonderful project which empowers local women with meaningful employment. Each Shamwari comes with a tag naming the knitter and the Shamwari. Sales support women in Zimbabwe as well as the women of Ethiopia. www.hamlin.org.au RRP: $34.00 – $40.00 each.
The Little Earth Collection product range includes baby toys, organic baby blankets, alpaca hats and hand block Indian print quilts. Again they are created by local artisans who work in small villages. Little Earth source our products from around the world choosing only fair trade suppliers. www.littleearthcollection.com.au
These cute coin purse from Oxfam by Swajan who are based in Dhaka in Bangladesh where some of the most vulnerable people suffer in extreme poverty. Swajan provide work for women’s groups both in urban and rural areas of Bangladesh. Specialising in one of Bangladesh’s famous traditions, embroidery, Swajan work with about 850 women. www.oxfamshop.org.au
The little men in my life
I find choosing gifts for other people’s children difficult but Hasbro has made Christmas easy this year for a gift for my nine year old godson. I was a teenager in the 90s and remember my Gameboy fondly. I was slightly addicted to TETRIS® so I competely love the Bop It! Tetris. It sees BOP IT! join forces with the iconic 90s game to provide and all-new light game challenge. www.hasbrotoys.com.au RRP: $39.99
For my little football fans back home in the UK, I like the idea of sending them a AFL or NRL Jersey from Aussie online sports website On Sport. It’s a nice memento from Aunty Dom in Oz and its going to really annoy the British football fan Dads. www.onsport.com.au RRP: $144.95
This week we have had a huntsman scare so everythings seems to be about spiders. I’m not sure, living in Australia, whether this spider puppet from Entropy is an appropriate gift but I think I will send one back to my friend’s little boy who was obsessed with the concept of biting spiders when he visited. It’s very lifelike. www.entropy.com.au $29.95
Not forgetting something Christmasy
Christmas songs have taken on a new meaning this year and it’s lovely to see the kids react to Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer etc. I like the sound of this book, The Naughtiest Reindeer, from Australian online kids bookstore Storymama. The company specialise in picture books for little kids and all the titles have been recommended by mums so a great endorsement. RRP $13.60 with flat rate of $6.50 delivery Australia Wide
Along with Rudolph, Santa is also a new fascination this year. Like all kids the older one is asking: How does he get around the world in one night? And how does he get into your house if you don’t have a chimney to come down? Well Made With Love — Cards and Crafts has found the answer to the latter — with their unique handmade Santa Key. This gorgeous key is the cutest thing this Christmas. Featuring an original Christmas verse and a tag that reads “Is that you Santa?” It’s $30, including standard delivery Australia Wide. International orders can also be placed and $1 from every purchase will be donated to the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal.www.madewithlovecardsandcrafts.com.au or www.etsy.com
And a tip for Dad…
Twinkly Tots provides gift boxes for mums and children up to three years of age. Each box comes with four – five great quality children’s gifts along with a beauty treat to pamper mum. Boxes start from $25 and shipping is free throughout Australia. www.twinklytots.com.au/gifts RRP:$25
Still not inspired…
If all else fails, and you haven’t got any inspiration from the above then check out the App – Gift Club. It’s another mum of two, like me, sharing her thoughts on gifts particularly to preschoolers. The App allows parents to create wish lists from any source including non material gifts and experiences (eg Cooper wants nothing more than a trip to Australia Zoo or Ruby would love a toy stroller or some ballet lessons from the Small Ballet School). www.facebook.com/GiftClubApp.