By request, here is the annual Fisher Christmas present gift idea list: 40ish things our family actually bought for each other and actually enjoyed. Our kids are now ages 6, 9, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, and 23, so Christmas morning is not the toy-a-palooza that it once was (although we did break down and buy some of those insane life-sized stuffed unicorns and dragons from Walmart, and I haven’t seen the bedroom floor since).
If you want present lists geared more toward younger kids, you can check out previous years’ lists at the end of the post, and the further back you go, the younger ages the list will be geared toward. (I’m sorry about that sentence. It has been a week.)
Last year, we bought customized masks as stocking stuffers. If you are looking for excellent, well-crafted, comfortable masks with the most interesting fabrics, I heartily recommend browsing around in Door Number 9 or Stitchcraft Yarns.
Okay, here’s the present list! Random as heck, hope you like it.
Not gonna lie, this is a terrible product, in that it works very well, is very loud and bright, and is hard to break. It’s a real, heavy microphone, not a toy, with a speaker built into it, and puts on a little light show when the music plays. Links up to your smartphone. It’s just terribly obnoxious. The kids love it. You can also use it just as a wireless speaker.
Corrie had a mania for “disco parties” for a while, so this was for her, paired with:
We got two of these, one in black and one in blue:
Also comes in pink, red, and other shades.
Gonna be honest, I don’t know anything about guitars, but two of our kids taught themselves how to pick out some songs using this exact set-up, so it definitely comes with everything you need to get started, for a very reasonable price.
Amazingly soft, subtle, and adaptable to dress up or down. Lots of colors and varieties at the site, but this one has little bits of different colors in it, so it goes with anything. For Christmas, we paired it with:
This is a representative sample. We bought so many of these stupid dolls over the course of the year. It’s fine. BTS is fine. These are detailed little guys who will sit on your shelf and not make any trouble.
For our first kid who moved out. This is a great cookbook to launch you with all kinds of basic recipes, as well as general information about how to select, prep, and store food. Marion Cunningham has a reassuring, no-nonsense style that’s great for young people learning how to cook and bake. Includes recipes I’ve been using for thirty years or more.
A big hit. Put these magical glasses on and wherever you look, light sources turn into heart shapes, so the world is swimming in multicolored hearts. The more lights, the more hearts, hooray! The glasses themselves are quite sturdy, and are large enough for an adult to wear. They look like sunglasses in the picture, but in real life the glass is clear like reading glasses.
As you can see, this is one of those hoodies where you bend your elbows in front of you and, if you move them right, they become the chomping, slavering jaws of a hungry dinosaur! Amazing! Chomp chomp chomp! Thick nylon material, runs rather large.
Just an elegant little dress with realistic birds of various kinds. Thick, soft stretchy knit material, falls gracefully, plenty of fabric in the skirt so it flares prettily when you spin. We bought an adult size small for our nine-year-old and it fit her nicely.
For when they’ve outgrown the little red Swiss Army Knife, above, and are maybe a young woman going to college and you never know who might need stabulatin’. (I jest. These are handy for opening packages and cutting fruit and whatnot, though, and are satisfyingly heavy knives that fold up with a good snap.)
One awkward final note: I used make a little commission every time someone bought something using my links, and boy, would I clean up! Heating oil all winter long, let me tell you! Tragically, I fell out of Amazon’s good graces, and don’t earn commissions anymore. So if you do happen to go through this list and think, “Dang, Simcha really saved my bacon this year with that idea about the kalimba!” you could always drop a tip in . . . honest to goodness, I thought I had a tip jar on this site. Well, my PayPal address is firstname.lastname@example.org, my Venmo is @Simcha-Fisher, and it’s gauche as heck, but I’m definitely accepting tips, if the spirit moves you. And of course if you want to become a regular patron of the site, that’s excellent.
It’s fina-lully here! My Christmas gift suggestion list for 2018. These are all (with a few exceptions, which are noted) gifts our own kids received and enjoyed. They are in no particular order, and they are almost all from Amazon. Hoping to get an Etsy/handmade list up soon.
I’ll add links to lists from previous years as soon as I can. I have to remove a bunch of defunct links, boo.
It has pulsing, multicolored lights and makes space laser noises. Everybody loves this gun, not just the three-year-old. Sometimes we sit around at night and talk about why it’s not more annoying than it is. It’s a space laser mystery!
We’ve bought many CowCow dresses in the past, and this one may be the coolest. It flares wonderfully, and the colors hold up after years of washing. CowCow dresses come in a bewildering number of patterns, some of them truly bizarre. The material is a thick, stretchy synthetic fabric, almost like swim suit material.
I bought a bag of these on a whim over the summer, but my kids did not actually end up using them, to my surprise. They are plastic screws designed for attaching cardboard together, so you can build all kinds of awesome things, with moving parts if you like. If you have a kid who’s always building stuff and getting frustrated with the limitations of tape, this could be awesome.
Again, we haven’t gotten around to playing this yet, but I bought it because it was recommended by so many friends. It’s supposed to be easy to learn, suitable for people who aren’t super into gaming and fun for all ages, even little guys. We’ll crack it open over vacation and report back!
Cute, kinda weird. Easy enough for my six-year-old to play. You don’t absolutely have to know how to read, but it helps. Not terribly noisy, but the creatures make strange twittering noises instead of talking.
Okay, we have bought a lot of walkie talkie sets in our day. A lot. These have held up the best. They are on the small side, but they are not toys. They’re easy to use, stand up to a lot of abuse, and don’t gobble batteries. We haven’t tested the limits of the range, but the reviews say 16 miles.
*sigh* This is not a good toy. It’s a bad toy. But oh, do they love it. It has dozens, maybe hundreds of terrible, pointless little games with squalid little graphics and meandering, senseless tunes. THEY LOVE IT.
This is not razzle dazzle, but for the price, it’s a fine little digital sketch pad. Press the button and the lines disappear in a wink, which is satisfying. Good for car trips, waiting rooms, etc. It feels very flimsy but is surprisingly long-lived.
This is actually mine. I got it with my birfday money. It’s way bigger than I was expecting. It always makes me think of the Flannery O’Connor line: “she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away.”
Cute and durable. Note: This is not a full-sized tea set. The cloth it’s sitting on is the size of a kerchief. The kid we got this for saw that as a bonus, luckily, because smaller is cuter; just know what you’re getting!
OH THE BABY. Ahem. This is a neat toy. Fill it up and it empties itself in a dome of water. Fascinating for the little guys. We’ve found that TOMY toys hold up very, very well to hard use, and don’t get moldy easily, either.
A cooperative strategy game, unpredictable and spooky. Kind of like Scooby Doo with better graphics. You gradually build the map of the house as you explore it, but can you really trust everyone? (NO.) Doesn’t drag on too, too long. Good party game.
This is the best game for little kids I’ve ever seen. Suitable for pre-readers. You spin the spinner to collect different elements of a story (a scene, a hero, a magical helper, a rival, a magical object, transportation, and a treasure), and the first one who collects them all gets to tell a story using them all. It’s adorable. The pieces are very stout and durable cardboard, and they are just lovely. Just lovely. Of all the games they want me to play, I’m least unwilling to play this one. 2-4 players
I hope you know about Dover coloring books. There is one for every conceivable interest, and they’re all done in that same blandly reassuring style, with tons of carefully-researched detail. Dover is awesome.
Can I just pause a moment and express my delight at the nice little wooden boxes that Melissa and Doug sets come in? They really hold up. You can’t depend on anyone, but you can depend on Melissa and Doug wooden boxes. *sniff* Anyway, these are pleasant wooden beads painted carefully with a good gloss for that kid who loves to string beads.
Many, but not all of these are from Amazon. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
This . . . is a little hard to explain. The stem is a touch-sensitive electronic music-maker, so if you press or slide your finger along it, you can make different tones. Then, with your other hand, you squeeze the flexible sides of the mouth to open or close it, to change the volume, to make the sound staccato or give it vibrato, etc. It. Is. Hilarious. It looks like the little guy is singing. It’s the cheesiest imaginable synthesizer sound.
The library editions are compilations of the comic books bound in heavy, oversized hardcover. My son rather heatedly explains: “Hellboy is Catholic. He fights monsters. He helps save babies. He gets help from priests a lot. It’s mythology based. The art is pretty gory, appropriate for age 13 and up.” And that is a direct quote.
We don’t have this particular piece ($45), but we have several necklaces, bracelets, and a rosary from Kyra Matsui’s studio, and they are all fantastic. Beautiful, original, strong, and striking. Chainmail and vintage watch parts.
COUPON! Get 30% off storewide with coupon code: NARKNON Good until Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.
We have two of these (one for a college kid, one for a reporter). A good option for all-purpose computering, fine for movies and streaming. We used to buy refurbished, but now we get cheaper new machines so we can get the warranty. You have to get used to storing everything on Google Drive or saving it on a disk, rather than on your machine. A solid choice that doesn’t cost a million dollars.
Help a dead murder victim remember details about his grisly demise, using clues from arty and deliberately confusing “vision cards.” Lavish and complex cooperative game. Comes with an app to play spooky music to add to the atmosphere. (Full review here.)
These come in hundreds and hundreds of amazing, unexpected, sometimes inexplicable patterns. The material is clingy but not thin, and has a bit of a sheen and stretch, like a bathing suit. Gathers fall nicely, and flares way out when you spin. On the short side, as you can see.
Every single person in my household loves these pillows. (NOTE: The link above is just the pillowcase! You have to buy the pillow insert separately.) We have a blue-green-purple/black one and a few silver/gold ones, but there are many color combos. Draw with your finger to flip the sequins over, and reveal another color. Endlessly fascinating and soothing to play with, and they have held up remarkably well. Remarkably!
The much-anticipated sequel to Hatke’s graphic novel Mighty Jack, which follows a boy who has to spend his summer helping his single mom care for his sister, who has autism, and who doesn’t speak — until she does. Good stuff, with an exciting twist at the end for fans of Hatke’s other work.
We got this with great reluctance, thinking it would be flimsy for the price, and that the kids would get tired of it soon. Nope! They use it a lot and have a lot of fun. It’s great for parties, and fun for the little kids to play with their big brothers. Kinda loud, but it’s air hockey. They just stand it up on its end to keep it out of the way.
For the kid who can’t stop doodling. Also great for car rides. Write with the stylus on the black screen, press the button to erase. That’s it. Surprisingly durable for the price. We have a couple of these in different colors.
Toddlers really can control this simple RC croc. It does play manically cheerful music, flash lights, and chomp its mouth while it runs, but darn it, this thing does not break. It’s been in constant use for a year and is still going strong. Lots of fun to watch the little guys use it and baffle the cat with it. Good battery life, too.
Exciting, frustrating, some teamwork required, but lots of competition. Very entertaining to watch. Kids have to decide if they should push themselves a little further to do more and more challenging, silly tasks.
Our beloved kindergarten teacher introduced us to these lovely colored pencils. I balked at the price at first, but they are quite good. Vivid colors, nice and smooth, and easy to grip, even for lefties, and the tips don’t snap off.
Bright plastic tubes you whack to make different booming tones. You can arrange them in different orders on the mat and hit them with sticks, hit them with each other, or use them to hit other things. Music and hitting things! Sounds like a happy childhood. Longest tube is about two feet. These have been stepped on and mangled without any ill effects.
We looked at many, many shopping carts, and settled on this one because it has a little seat for your little friend to ride along. Irresistible. This gets constant use. The bigger kids have managed to take it apart, and then put it back together again, with no ill effects.
Uhhm, check the price on this one. The price currently listed is insane, but it seems to fluctuate. The game itself is nice for MLP fans and gets lots of play. Pony game pieces are heavy and well made, not flimsy.
A slightly odd present, but I knew my five-year-old would love it. These are just transparent colored paddles to play with, mix together, and look through. Despite they way they are arranged in the photo, they are not attached together. I strung six of them on a chain and put the rest away so I could replace them as needed. Kids love peering through them and seeing Purpleworld or Everythingisgreenville. It’s just cool! Good for car trips. There are also slightly raised different patterns on each.
I previewed tons of ballet videos, and this one is by far the best. It teaches the girls actual ballet positions, but is simple and easy to follow and has pleasant piano music. The teacher is cheerful and seems to enjoy children. It’s not manic or cutesy and has no unsettling mascots or animated characters (“Tinkerbell” appears to be some generic name; there’s no Disney fairy involved). Kids can use a chair back as a barre.
For the child who, for reasons of her own, is slowly building a collection of strange, oversized cat shirts. This is actually a men’s size, but that’s just not right, so I’m putting it in the kid present section.
Whew, that’s all for this year! Hope you find something good.
We have ten kids, ages eighteen to almost two. We buy . . . . a lot . . . .of gifts. Here’s a list of fifty that our kids tried and liked this past year. They’re mostly under $50, and are in order from cheapest to most expensive, so it’s a little book-heavy in the beginning.
I’d also like to apologize for the graphic.
Most of these items are from Amazon. I’m an Amazon Affiliate, and all of the Amazon links in this post have my code embedded, so I earn a small percentage of the sale price, which is how we buy more presents for ten kids next year, and on and on it goes.
“I’m meeting you halfway, you stupid hippies!” Possibly specific to the needs of my family. For the right person, it could be the best $4 you ever spent. When people ask how my kids deal with being one of the few Catholics in a giant public school, this sums it up pretty well.
This book came highly recommended by trusted friends for kids grade four and up, and it lived up to the hype. Original, exciting, and the author actually wrote it with care and wit, rather than just assembling a plot with the right keywords. Kids and I both enjoyed it. It’s part one of a series of four.
Another book my friends have been lauding forever. My first-grader just adores this series, which has ten books total. I admit I haven’t read it yet, but my daughter doesn’t put up with a lot of nonsense, so I respect her opinion.
This is the one of two items on this list that I haven’t actually bought yet, but it’s on my list — in this case, on my wish list. If someone gets it for me, I plan to grow ivy in it. Ivy will grow easily in water. I need green in the house to tide me over until spring!
This was a gift for the six-year-old, but everyone loves it, from the baby on up. Those orderly little drops, marching up and down the steps, hurrying or strolling, as you choose. Endlessly fascinating, miraculously never mixing. (There are any number of liquid motion toys to choose from. Great for babies, older kids who need calming down, or adults who need calming down. I once spotted a few of these toys in the waiting room at the washing machine repair shop, and I’ll be darned if I didn’t mind waiting.)
Matthew Alderman’s new offerings this year. Alderman’s style is so fresh and inviting, reminiscent of Trina Schart Hyman, who drew heavily on heraldry and illuminated manuscripts, nodded at the pre-raphaelites, and then opened the window to let some air in. Great stuff. Kids (and others) soak in knowledge as they color.
Corrie got this last Christmas, when she was teething hard, so it became known as the Corrie-o. The little ridges are perfect for sore gums. It’s bigger than a real Oreo, so not a choking hazard. Super cute, still a favorite after a year of gnawing.
How I adore this movie. It shows, without comment, everyday scenes from the lives of four babies, from just before they’re born until they’re learning how to stand. The families live in San Francisco, Tokyo, the Mongolian steppe, and Namibia, and their lives vary widely, but some things are always the same. Sweetness and a little melancholy, but mostly sweetness. I always feel restored after watching this short, gentle, agenda-free movie, and the kids love it.
Ben Hatke’s first installment in a new graphic novel series. It’s a reimagining of Jack and the Beanstalk, and it’s wonderful. You care about the main character right away; Hatke is generous with understated details that tell you what you need to know about the world they live in; and I have no idea what is going to happen next. Some serious themes — serious money troubles, danger, a younger sister who is autistic, and a difficult friendship — but suitable for kids age 7 and up, if they’re not highly sensitive.
We loved The Pirates! Band of Misfits movie so much (made by the same folks who make the excellent Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep), and recently discovered that it was based on a series of books that are even odder and nuttier than the movie. These books do include some bawdy jokes and some violent details, but I feel that the most inapwo-pwo stuff goes over the little kids’ heads, and it’s just edgy enough to give the older kids a little thrill, without crossing any lines.
My fashion-minded ten-year old would wear this every day if we let her (which we do). Pair it with the TARDIS hat (which she does) and and maybe the TARDIS dress, and you have a themed ensemble. The scarf is a stretchy rayon, machine washable.
This toy distracts the baby from your actual smartphone for maybe ten minutes. Worth every second. I like B. Toys because they make sounds, but they are intentionally soft; and they have an off switch. This one has held up well, and doesn’t gobble batteries too badly. Also records your voice, so the older kids are always pranking each other.
The large wooden balls are linked with elastic, so you can wear it like a bracelet, or you can roll and twist them to make all kinds of lovely clusters of color. Each ball is painted a slightly different shade, it’s pleasantly heavy, and it makes a soft clacking sound. Fine, I bought it for myself, and sometimes I let the baby play with it. We’ve had good luck with this brand, Manhattan Toy.
Whenever my kids put Calico Critters on the list, I grumble and complain about how stupid and pointless and expensive they are; and then I start shopping, and then I go, “AWWWWWWW.” They really are adorable. These are very small toys, so not great for kids who lose stuff; but they are sturdy and sweet, and come in dozens of different species. We also have the pool and sandbox set.
I actually resisted buying this kit, because it seemed dumb (ALEX toys are hit or miss) but one kid desired it greatly. It turned out to be quite good. The headbands haven’t broken after a year of use, which is almost a miracle; and she had a surprising amount of fun making different combinations.
My current favorite read-aloud. This book has an unusual focus for a children’s book: a very old couple, so poor they have to share everything, including a chair, a blanket, and the one last potato in the garden — or so they think. A simple and hilarious story of unexplained magic, but so much to unpack about what you really need in life. The illustrations are understated but extraordinary.
My ten-year-old daughter worked to earn her very own ice cream and candy dress, but maybe you’d prefer beetles, constellations, or cute ghosties. More varieties, some of them truly bizarre, than you can shake a stick at. These dresses are on the short side for adults of average height, but work fine for shorter folks. They come with or without sleeves, and are made of a stretchy rayon material.
Oh, I lied, this is another thing I haven’t bought yet, but friends say it’s lovely. I’m a sucker for little worlds under a dome, and I love how this comes with a hanging hook. Friends say it’s brighter than you might expect. We recently redid the little girls’ room with two sets of bunk beds, so we may be investing in individual lighting for individual preferences.These come in three different colors, and you can get either the rabbit thing, or a plump little bird.
By far the nicest instructional ballet video I’ve ever seen. The music is pleasant, there are no bizarre mascots or intrusive animation, the teacher seems to actually like kids, and you will learn some true, basic ballet. We put a broomstick between two chair backs to make the required barre.
The premise is that, when night falls in the village, a werewolf comes out and kills someone; and everyone else has to figure out who the werewolf is and what to do about it. Everyone closes his eyes, and the leader instructs one person at a time to wake up, take a look at the card that reveals his role (werewolf, bodyguard, witch, villager, etc.), and then go back to sleep. There are several rounds of play, in which the players anonymously decide to kill, save, protect, or silence each other.
Quilling is making a comeback! A lovely, old-fashioned craft where you roll up thin strips of paper, loosely or tightly, then pinch them into various shapes. No end of possibilities here. You can make free-standing 3-D ornaments, glue the paper to eggs, make cards, or even jewelry. A very pleasant way to spend time. My nine-year-old needed a little help to get started, but she caught on fast.
With eight daughters, we’ve tried a number of jewelry boxes. A number. This one is by far the sturdiest, but it still looks delicate and dainty. The ballerina still pops up, the music still plays, the hinges still function, and the box is still a box. Pretty, silver-satin quilted design. Plays “Fur Elise.”
Probably the most-used piece of furniture in our entire house. This lived in our living room for at least five months, and saved my sanity while Miss Insano clambered up and threw herself down hundreds and hundreds of times. Folds for storage.
This is the absolute last untested item on this list! We’ve bought many items from The Little Dress-Up Shop, and have always been completely delighted, so I’m confident that this sweet, poofy ballerina skirt with rosebuds will be well-received.
42.Portable Bluetooth speaker, about $37
Exactly what we needed. It works with my kid’s phones, and lets them blast music while slaving away in the dirty dish mines or cleaning up the yard after the last raccoon garbage party. Easy to use, and a good value for the price.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one sword. This one is long, shiny and seriously heavy. Not sharp, but you definitely could kill someone if you tried. Not meant for heavy fighting, but good for stage or costumes or just swaggering around with a big-ass sword.
Greatest inspiration I’ve had all year. We now have two sets (they come rated for different weights), and they are adjustable. First kid went from zero skill to wobbling across the floor in a few minutes, and now she can jump, run backwards, spin, and do all kinds of terrifying stunts. Good exercise, good for improving balance, and great for building confidence. Excelsior!
Yes, this is the second trampoline we’ve bought. We finally destroyed the mat of the first one, and after several unsuccesful attempts to replace it (we kept buying the wrong size, the wrong spring size, etc. etc.) we just threw in the towel and bought a new one, upgrading to fifteen feet. I know all about the horrible stories of mangled faces and splintered tibias, but we are still a trampoline family all the way.
Baby loves it. Kids love playing with the baby on it. It’s instant entertainment at birthday parties, with or without water balloons and a sprinkler or Easter dresses.
Grouchy or sullen teens discover that life is worth living after taking out their troubles on the trampoline. And it’s a perfect spot for stargazing or sunbathing or lying down while the kids run around you, blissfully under the illusion that you are playing with them.
You really need a trampoline. (And if you happen to have a spare trampoline frame, you can wrap some chicken wire around it and make a garden fence, or maybe a chicken coop.)
Okay! That’s it for this year. Happy shopping! Thanks again for using my link when you shop on Amazon.
A trip last weekend to my childhood home has made me nostalgic. It’s far too early to share a list of Christmas present ideas, so how about this list of toys I remember from my childhood? Many are still popular, in one form or another. Here’s ten of my favorites, most for under ten dollars:
1. Sparking wheels!
The ones from my yoot were made of tin, and were very sturdy. I liked to sit at the bottom of the stairs, at the darkest spot in the house, and just crank that wheel, watching a mesmerizing little red and blue galaxy flash in and out of existence in the palm of my hand. The scratch and catch of the mechanism was very satisfying for the hand and ear, too.
Shopping around for a sturdy version that didn’t cost a million dollars, I came across this sparking toy:
If you haven’t seen one of these in action, it’s hard to explain what it does. The axles of the wheel have little magnets in them, and if you hold it by the handle end and flip it around the right way, the wheel goes whizzing around and around the frame, and, I dunno, it’s fun.
3. Siren whistles!
My migraine-plagued father had an inexplicable drive to buy us wonderful toys that drove him crazy. One perennial favorite was siren rings, which (like everything in my childhood, it seems) used to be made of metal. You could wear them like ordinary rings, and whenever the time seemed right, you would blow into the round window in the top and it would go “wwwweeeeeEEEEEEEEeeeooooooooooo,” and it never ever ever ever got old.
The closest I can find is siren whistles built into lips or mustache, or just in little tubes.
It’s from the Acme company. THE ACME COMPANY. Wile E. Coyote c’est moi. The description also points out that it’s “a useful and unusual warning signal for small boats.”
4. Chinese drums!
Oh, my gosh, these are fun.
You roll the handle back and forth between the palms of your hands, which makes the balls swing on their strings, whacking the drum on both sides. Very satisfying! These are about $7, and they will send you a randomly-chosen design.
5. Clacker balls!
Did I ever get the hang of these? No, I did not. But they were enough fun that I tried for years and years; and I liked walking around the house looking at the world through the transparent balls with their tiny captive bubbles, too.
The trick is to loop the middle of the string around your finger and sort of jerk them in a rhythm so they smack together at the end of their strings until they start arcing up and down, clacking against each other high and low. (One of the reviews here shared a video, so you can get an idea of how it goes.)
Okay, so these are plastic (about $5 a pair). We had dark blue glass ones when I was little. Nostalgia aside, I can’t shake the idea that maybe it’s okay that today’s kids are pampered and coddled and aren’t generally encouraged to make glass balls crash against each other. Old ways are not always the best ways. Either way: not recommended for kids with short tempers.
6. Magnetic scotties
I’m not gonna lie to you: these are magnetic scotties. That is, they are two plastic dogs with magnets in them. See?
They put farm animals on this item (about $8) to make you think it’s a toy for children, but it’s actually for anyone who just needs to hear a little moo from time to time. I believe it works with a weighted rubber membrane inside, and when you tip it over, it creates a suction that pulls air through the . . . you know, I don’t know how it works. But it’s hilarious. If you shake it really fast, it sounds like the cow is hysterical!
8. Color paddles
The one I had just had the three primary color, but kids these days are lazy, so get their purple, green, and orange handed to them on a platter.
The perfect toy to feed into an introspective child’s Heraclitean confusion.
About six bucks. I understand how it works. Really, I do. The ribbons hold it in place, and the thing flips over, and I understand how it works. But damn! How does it do that?
I should note that all of the links are to Amazon products because I have an Amazon Associate’s account. If you buy any of these products, or if you buy anything at all on Amazon after getting to the site after clicking to one of my links, then I earn a small percentage of the sale. This is so helpful to my family, you wouldn’t believe it.
If you shop on Amazon, won’t you consider using my link? I’ll have a button on the sidebar here soon. In the meantime, here is Simcha’s Amazon Link. Be a peach and bookmark it for me! Thanks!
And now tell me about the toys of your childhood, especially the lovely, low-tech ones that keep on going through generations.
We are doing some Christmas shopping today, and I just discovered that Melissa and Doug make what look like very nice dolls for girls. We’ve always had good luck with Melissa and Doug products. They are sturdy and pleasant. (Not a paid endorsement or anything. We just like Melissa and Doug.)
These dolls are 14″, so a few inches taller than Barbie – but Barbie clothes wouldn’t fit anyway, because the M&D dolls aren’t rail thin with giraffe legs. Don’t get me wrong. With seven daughters and steadily declining standards, we have collected approximately 3,487 Barbies, including mermaid Barbie, fairy Barbie, chef Barbie, vet Barbie, surfer Barbie, miscellaneous fashion Barbie, and of course several incarnations of that perennial favorite, Soulless Streetwalker Barbie.
So, no judging. I would just rather see my kids playing with this:
Are you buying dolls this year? Come across anything nice?
Don’t forget, if you shop Amazon, please consider going through my links above. There is also a blue Amazon ad on the right sidebar, and if you can’t see that, I’ve added a page called “Shop Amazon Here!” at the top of the blog. Thanks so much!
Today for 7 Quick Takes, hosted by Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary, I’m sharing what we’ve learned from years of research in the field of toy-buying. If you want to do your own seven quick takes, add your link to the list at Jen’s website, and don’t forget to link back to Jen on your blog.
7 Quick Takes: Toy With Me edition
From the beginning of April to the middle of July, five of our eight kids have birthdays. I think we spend more money on spring and summer birthdays than we do on groceries for the whole year. Any rational person with eight children would try and scale down birthday expectations, right? And I know many of you will say, “Oh, we’re trying our best to raise our little Wyatt in a non-materialistic way, so for his birthday, we just put a soy candle in his organic kefir, and let him use the pillow that night. If he remembers to say ‘thank you’ for the kefir.”
I don’t know what to say. For some reason, it’s turned out that we’re trying to raise materialistic kids who expect to be treated like supreme galactic emperors on their birthdays (or, if their birthday falls on a day which is not convenient for a party, they expect that treatment on their actual birthday and on their party day).
Besides the cake, the candy, the party favors, the balloons and streamers, the games, the snacks, the craft, and the birthday throne, there are, of course, the presents. So I thought I would share with you seven presents that we really like (and which the kids seem to like, too!). Because I’m lazy, most of the links are to Amazon, but you can often find a better price if you hunt around a bit.
1. The glitter ball. It’s a bouncy ball filled with water and glitter. Everyone loves it. It’s beautiful, it’s low-tech and non-batterified, it’s satisfyingly heavy, and it bounces well. Use it as a prop in a play (the Princess and the Frog), use it as a way to soothe and mesmerize an overheated toddler, or just use it as, you know, a ball. It comes in different sizes, but I recommend the jumbo one. For all ages. About $11
2. Tribot. This one is the opposite of the glitter ball: it’s expensive and complicated and slightly obnoxious — but it’s also cute and appealing, and was pronounced the Christmas present that induced the most sibling jealousy, 2009. It’s a red, remote-controlled, interactive robot that has motion sensors, so it skirts around obstacles on the floor; and if it falls over, it yells, “Master! Master! Suddenly my floor has turned into a WALL!” It also has a funny alarm system, it lights up, it wiggles its eyebrows, it makes jokes — I don’t know, it’s just an appealing toy. Absolutely perfect for a seven-year-old boy, but the rest of the family likes it, too. Oh, and it has a fascinating wheels-within-wheels system of transport, so it is extremely maneuverable. About $40
3. Skwish. So many baby toys are exciting and attractive, but they are hard for the baby to grasp, or they roll or tumble away too easily. This one is super-easy to grasp, and it doesn’t get very far if the baby drops it. Just a nice, bright, pleasant toy with lots of possibilities. About $12
4. B. Toys FunKeys. Babies love car keys, but I guess they have lead or something in them? So you give them toy keys, instead, but babies can tell they’re just plastic. Plastic keys clatter, rather than jingle, and aren’t heavy and cold like real keys. So these particular toys keys are actually made of steel, without being sharp or dangerous, and our baby is crazy about them. They come attached to a holder with buttons for making car-related noises (mercifully muted in volume), plus a little light. They come in a slightly irritating “behold what a fabulously unique company we are” package, but that’s not so bad. About $10
5. Krazy Kar. We haven’t actually bought one of these for our kids — it’s $75! I had one when I was little, though, and I think I spent three entire summers inside this thing. You crank the wheels with hand pegs, and make it go wherever you want, including in circles (the wheels move independently, like oars on a rowboat). It’s hard to describe why it was so much fun — much more fun than a pedal car or a Big Wheel. I just remember feeling secret and powerful as I sat in the little seat between those two big, yellow wheels, and smelling that smell of plastic that’s been sitting in the sun, and feeling the static electricity crackle in my hair. It made a wonderful rumbling noise as it barreled across the grass.
6. Snorta! A non-board game with funny little animal figurines. Okay, so we lost the pieces and can’t play anymore, but it was fun while it lasted. You turn over cards, and have to rush to be the first one to make the animal noise of the other person’s animal. It’s a reasonably simple, entertaining game that isn’t too excruciating for adults (and it’s fairly easy to let younger kids be your “partner,” if they’re too little to hold their own, or if they’re the type who have slow reflexes and burst into tears when everyone else is faster. If.) About $18
Ha ha, just kidding! Only one of our kids really got interested in the Care Bears, and I think the Halloween costume I made, at her insistence,
cured her of that infatuation. The rest of our kids had no trouble discerning that the whole Care Bear franchise is one of the most stunningly crappy aspects of modern day America, and should be taken out and shot.
And now I have to go and plan one more birthday, and then we will be off the hook until the end of September! My daughter, who will be turning three, has requested a “wonky tonky.” We think this means “walkie-talkie,” but we are not sure–she might actually want a wonky tonky. I hope I can find one on sale.