Whether you're buying for your own children or for someone else, it's always tricky when it comes to birthdays, Christmas or special events when buying gifts.
We all know, more often than not, the children already have a houseful of toys and you just don't want to add to that pile. Also, toys are expensive! I only learnt this once I had a child of my own. Toys can cost a lot of money, and if they offer little opportunities for play then they can be a huge waste of money. And that's without talking about how ugly they can be sat in your once so beautifully decorated lounge!!
The thing is, we want to buy quality. By that, I don't mean just the expensive ones or just those made of wood. I mean, the ones that offer quality play. Those that you know will actually provide entertainment for longer than a day and can be used many times over for many years.
So below I have created a list of items, I truly believe will offer some inspiration. I cannot say I own them all as we don't and we don't have the room! However, I know from experience and the play opportunities they offer that these items are an investment piece for child's play rather than just another toy!
For me, the most important thing is that they offer a variety of ways to be played with. For example, the shop role play. Yes this can be a shop but it would also work great for a market, cafe, bakery, shoe shop and plenty of other things. Something like this would make a great gift. Some items are larger and some are smaller, it really depends on the space and storage you have available and who you are buying for.
At this point I would also like to add, gifts for children do not have to be new! You can pick up the most amazing toys, resources and play items from charity shops, car boot sales and my favourite is Gumtree. They cost a fraction of the price yet can be in excellent condition.
So, now I invite you to read through the list and see what jumps out for the child you had in mind.
- shop stand or till
- pot and pans
- food sets
- lawn mower
- car park
- dolls house/ car park/ castle/ shops etc for small world
- tea set
- small figures
- shopping trolley
- building blocks, lego, megablocks
- trike or ride on
- garden swing
- gardening set
- bath toys
- dressing up clothes
- Quality books
- teepee or pop up tent
- mud kitchen
- workshop and or tools
- camera (for older children)
- sand pit/ water tray
- tuff spot
- ball pit or paddling pool and balls
- art and craft items or box
- cardboard role play stands from Hobbycraft are fab!
- play dough sets with variety of cutters and tools
- sensory play items for babies
Please note, I have not attached age ranges to these toys as we all know children grow and their interests change all the time. Use your knowledge of the child you're buying for to make an educated choice.
And of course, a lovely gift to give to any parent, expecting parent, carer, child or educator is a pack of our lovely playPROMPTS, but I have to say that, I created them!! ha ha!
And if those don't inspire, a few places I would recommend you browse would be the Early Learning Centre, Orchard toys, Grimms wooden toys, Tiger, Melissa and Doug toys, Happyland or supermarkets now have great value toys for sale. Book shops are also fantastic. The variety of books on offer to young children now are stunning. Brilliant stories with pictures like works of art. Put books on your child's wish list as it's an investment building a quality book collection that will stay with them for many, many years.
If you are trying to avoid plastic, there are some wonderful alternatives that don't always cost much more. Wooden toys are lovely and widely available now, just remember not really suitable for messy play! And stainless steel items are great too, especially little pots and pans! There are also many small businesses on Instagram and Facebook making some wonderful resources for children. Handmade and lovely to know you're supporting a small business!
And don't forget, there are lots of DIY projects you can create for your little one. A busy board for a baby can be a wonderful gift, or ask family members who are handy to make it for a gift instead. My Dad made one for Mason for his first birthday. Play dough sets can also be a lovely gift to give to other children too and tailored to follow their interests!
Another gift idea to consider for young children are days out. Experiences can be such a great way of making memories as a family so days out, shows, visits, annual passes etc can all be special gifts to give your little one.
Finally, please don't ever feel under pressure to be continually buying for your children. It is so easy to feel this way when you see adverts and social media. I have said it before and I will continue to sing it from the rooftops many more, you can entertain a child using items from around the house and a chunk of imagination! Trust me, you have more than you think!! If you have bought items for your little one that have not been played with or forgotten about, you could wrap them up again, I bet you're little one won't remember and they may be ready to play with it now!
And if you are going to buy more toys, have a sort out of unwanted toys or try toy rotation. You can read more about that on the blog! Too many toys can be overwhelming, less is more!!
This is a popular topic of conversation over on the playHOORAY! Facebook pages so no doubt I will be returning to add more and more items as our wonderful community shares their ideas! Please feel free to join any of the closed playHOORAY! community pages. They cover lots of ages and themes of play. A supportive and positive play to share and support each other.