Simple, Thoughtful Christmas Gifting: Busy Kiddos

Welcome to the second installment of Simple, Thoughtful Christmas Gifting!

Many of us are shopping for the little people in our lives. Andrew and I have learned that often times the simpler, less expensive gifts keep our toddler's attention more than flashier items. Here are our family's favorite low tech toys that make wonderful gifts (and why we, the parents, love them too)! 

Megablocks! We have a regular set, a "pastels" set, AND a set with a wagon. I keep these things everywhere. We keep the large set in our playroom, but I also keep a small stash in my diaper bag (think- doctor visits and other appointments), the car, and in Maggie's backpack for travel. She loves to build and tinker and uses them daily. They're basically indestructible, yet if you lose a few it's no biggie since they're so well-priced. 

Not only can you build with them, but Maggie loves to "wash" them in the sink with soapy water. (I bought these paint smocks to protect her clothing). She will do this for an hour if I let her - a fun activity AND gets the blocks nice and clean. WIN!

BONUS: Megablocks don't make you scream expletives if stepped on (spoken from experience). I am a little worried about when we step into the Lego phase.

Water Table. With that being said, I will be purchasing a water table next year for outside that the girls can share. This past season, we just used our kitchen sink (with a kitchen helper stool) or plastic bins on the deck with cups and spoons. Water play is amaaaaazing.

Melissa & Doug Water Wow. All I can say is "Thank YOU, GG" for introducing our toddler to these reusable coloring books. The first time GG gifted Maggie with one of these, she giggled and doodled for over an hour, and she continues to love these over a year later. She has the standard set, along with the fairy tale/mermaid set. We are buying a six-pack for one year old's birthday. Each book comes with a water pen that is easy to fill and doesn't spill. The pages dry quickly and are truly reusable. No mess - fit easily in a diaper bag - WIN!

Crayola Color Wonder Books. Like the Water Wow, Maggie loves these different coloring books featuring her favorite characters (Daniel Tiger and Anna and Elsa. Although she has only made it through the first bit of Frozen because the snow monster scares her. I'm kind of glad she's not too obsessed with the movie itself.) These aren't reusable, but they're great for letting her use markers while I'm not watching her every move.

Toddler "Workbooks" and Flashcards. We aren't one to push "school" early - playing is the best learning at this age! But these keep our girl busy and she really enjoys using them! The workbooks have a page for each letter, shape, and color and encourage tracing, matching, etc. Flashcards are a lot of fun for the car to pass the time (we started her on simple "name the object ones" and she now likes letters, colors, shapes, and numbers). You can find a lot of these at Dollar Tree- yay!

Doodle Water Mat Clearly, we are a coloring-crazed family ;) This will be under the tree for Maggie from us this year. We've heard WONDERFUL reviews from other parents. Our girl loves to color and doodle, so we are excited for her to try this out!

Play Kitchen and Accessories. She LOVES her play kitchen and uses it daily to make meals and coffees for everyone. She loves to put things in the fridge and to cook on the stove (that makes sizzle sounds!). When friends come over, this is the first thing they run to. There are so many kinds, I don't think you could go wrong with any of them. I've also seen on Pinterest where you can make a play kitchen from an old TV cabinet - cute!

First Tool Kit and First Doctor Kit  Two other toys that get played with at least daily. Maggie loves to "fix" parts on her kitchen and furniture. She loves using the doctor kit to check up on her dollies and animals. The doctor kit came in handy during her latest check-up, and seemed to help ease some of the shot anxiety! 

Puzzles! Another daily toy of which she never seems to tire. I love how sturdy the Melissa & Doug puzzles are, and they seem best for tiny hands. We are adding a few more to her gifts this year - and grabbing this "laugh and learn" zoo puzzle for our youngest.

Stamps, Stickers, and Window Clings. Another CHEAP attention-keeper. I'm always picking up stickers at the Dollar Spot and online. She loves placing stickers on her "chore chart", "grocery list", and "menu". These are wonderful for travel, too!

Play Doh! Play-Doh is another way to create and play for hours on end. They make so many different colors now, even sparkles! with lots of fun accessories. (Tip - place a damp paper towel square on top of the dough before closing the lid to prevent cracking.)

Safety Scissors and Construction Paper (or old papers). This child will CUT and CUT until the cows come home. Who needs a privacy shredder when you have a three-year-old? 

  Once Christmas is over, don't forget the boxes these new toys came in! We use every shipping/packaging box to make a "rocket" or "sleigh" before sending it to recycling. I give Maggie a box of crayons and stickers and let her go for it!

Please share - what are YOUR favorite low-tech toys/items to give? We'd love to hear!


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