An Age by Age Gift Guide

Saturday, November 25, 2017

I can't help it, I just love sharing my gift recommendations! Looking around at the toys that are still on our shelves after purging, I wanted to let others know what has worked for us over the years and which toys get love from a variety of ages. Almost all of these toys in the 1+/2+ etc. age range get played with by 1-year-olds aaaall the way up to adults! So when you give one of these recommendations as a gift, it's going to last a long time. Happy gifting!

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1 & Up:

1. Duplos - mostly my babies and tiddlers are interested in the people and animals, so small sets are a great way to start your collection! These are one of the most popular toys at our house, and even the 8-year-old still builds with them.
2. Tool set (Green toys is our favorite, but for some reason only the pink one is in stock?) - I remove the nuts so nobody chokes on them, but this has been consistently played with for... 6 years now?
3. Rollipop - Like a marble run but without the choking hazards!
4. Stacking rings - There are a million out there but this one has been consistently popular for years for a reason!
5. Play silks & fabric scraps - I love the play silks we get from Ginny's shop, and I've also had excellent luck finding remnants of lace at fabric stores, which get used for peekaboo, tied around kids as dresses, skirts, and togas, worn as veils, etc.

2 & Up:

1. Magformers - These are a hit at our house starting at about 6 months up through adult! They get played with every day and are surprisingly soothing to fit together. I like to wait until they're on sale for less than $1/piece.
2. Ball pounding toy - This is the ONE toy we bought for our toddler when he turned two. He was SO HAPPY.
3. Play cookies - I don't know what it is about this toy, but it's a HUGE hit. The kids (and visitors!) will practice cutting the dough apart, baking the cookies, decorating them, and distributing them for hours!
4. Board books (Little Blue Truck, Freight Train, Bunny's Noisy Book are some favorites) - By now, I usually find the kids are ready to sit for longer stories but can still be pretty rough on books. Board book versions of classics are great, as well as collections from Sandra Boynton and Mini Masters.
5. Dress-up clothes - These dress-up skirts have been in heavy use for years and wash well, but the best part is that toddlers can put them on themselves! These shoes are pretty fun as well, these butterfly wings are beautiful, and this knight costume is a favorite.

3 & Up:

1. Schleich animals - These frequently make their appearance in Easter baskets and Christmas stockings. They're so fun, and the anatomically correct aspect has inspired some interesting conversations, that's for sure! If you buy them in multi-packs, you can usually get better deals.
2. Geoboards - There's probably some sort of legitimate educational advantage to these, but the kids just love making houses and shapes and then pluck the rubber bands and pretend they're musical instruments. These always buy me enough time for a shower when I get them down!
3. Pattern blocks - We have this set, which everyone loves, but I've heard good things about the magnetic version, which I imagine cuts down on the potential mess aspect!
4. Wooden puzzles - By age 3, my kids are usually pretty much over the "first puzzles" and ready to move on to jigsaw puzzles and more complicated (but pretty enjoyable) puzzles like this one.
5. Hopper balls - These are easy to master, get kids' energy out, and are HILARIOUS to watch them use! They come in multiple sizes for different ages, so even adults can get in on the action.

4 & up:

1. Art supplies - By age 4 I trust them a little better with things like crayons, stamps, and scissors. Paper edgers are a fun easy way to do art projects, and you can get yourself a dustbuster to make cleaning up all those paper scraps a little easier!
2. Calico critters - These are just plain adorable. None of the dollhouse dolls I've seen are particularly cute, so we use these in our dollhouse and they're so fun! Keep them away from babies, who will chew the pretend fur off their bodies...
3. Board games -  By 4, our kids have started to take an interest in young versions of board games (sometimes earlier). Our favorites are Hoot Owl Hoot, Blokus (also fun for older ages), and Boggle Jr.
4. "Big" Legos - Yes, everyone's still happy with the Duplos at this age. But they start getting more adept and ready for "big" Legos at this age, which is fun for grown-ups, too!
5. Scooter - So much easier to learn to use than a bike, and adjustable enough that the grown-ups steal them, too!

5 & Up:

1 & 2: Magazine & gift box subscriptions (Kiwi Crate/Little Passports) - Ranger Rick and Ranger Rick Junior are our favorite magazines, and Kiwi Crate (currently 60% off your first month) is SUCH a fun subscription box! I'm interested in trying Little Passports, as well - a subscription box based on geography is right up my kids' alleys. Until 11/28, you can get $10 Off Monthly Plan With Code: BF10, $20 Off 6 Month Plan With Code: BF20, $40 Off 12 Month Plan With Code: BF40.
3: Keva blocks - We started with the brain builders version and the kids love them so much they want more! They're open-ended, but give some ideas for projects.
4: Snap circuits - These are AWESOME for older ages as well, but we got a Junior set when our oldest was 5 and he went to town and still plays with them!
5: Beautiful picture books - I don't think there's any time when beautiful pictures books aren't good gifts, but 5 seems to be the age when they're most appreciated here. We love Barbara Cooney, Jan Brett, Trina Schart Hyman... So many good illustrators out there!

6 & Up:

1. Sewing & embroidery kits - We got this one for Cecilia's 6th birthday and almost a year later she still uses it all the time! I'd shop at Michael's or Joann's and use one of their high-value coupons to get a nice sewing box, and a starter sewing kit like this one is great for any crafty kid! Seriously, you teach them how to thread the needle and tie the knot and they're on their own for everything else.
2. *Nice* art supplies - Once they're old enough to handle things without making a huge mess, it's nice to reward that with nicer art supplies. Prang watercolors are inexpensive but effective, and you can kick those up a notch by getting some extra brushes in different sizes. Actual watercolor paper makes a huge difference! And we adore Prismacolor pencils, which go on sale pretty frequently (HUGE deal today, so hopefully you read this in time!) and have a richness that's unmatched by other brands.
3. "Bigger" board games -  Games with more complex rules are fun to add to the mix now! No Stress Chess, Ticket to RideQwirkle, and Bananagrams are some good ones.
4. Science kits - It depends on the kid, but we've had great luck with these in our family! Magic School Bus kits have worked nicely, and everybody always loves when we've done fossil digs and dinosaur digs. They've been begging for the gemstone dig next!
5. Lego creator sets - These sets are fairly small and inexpensive, but contain pieces to build three separate creations. The kids love creating them and then dismantling them to build something else, and it's amazing how often they're willing to build the same things again and again! We keep these separate from the rest of the legos, since you really need to keep the instructions and individual pieces.

7 & Up:

1. A ukulele - I'm still pretty amazed at how quickly the kids have picked this up, and also how fun it is for adults! We have this one, which I picked over the cheaper ones because I didn't want an instrument that looks like a toy. It holds its tune well, looks lovely, and has nylon strings that are easy on little fingers. You can start kids with this method book and also play lots of songs from other books once they have a few chords down.
2. Marble run - This is one item we don't own yet, but it's number 1 on my oldest child's list, and another trusted friend told us how much their family loves theirs! It's good for a variety of ages, and I've wanted one for years!
3. Weaving loom - We've been using handmade looms and doing stick weaving all year, and I think we're finally ready to upgrade to something that isn't made out of cardboard or sticks! I'm hoping I can get a whole bunch of placemats woven by the kids to use up my mom's large supply of yard.
4. Real tools - After all those years playing with toy tools, maybe it's time for you to upgrade to the real thing! This model gets great reviews, although this one looks like it has a little more room for extra tools. I would definitely recommend adding a hand drill, that's the favorite tool in our house!
5. Nice chapter books - Older kids who appreciate beautiful books may be ready for some heirloom-quality (but not the REALLY pricey volumes) books. This Enchanted Collection is on my list after we scored The Adventure Collection for a steal last summer. The Puffin in Bloom books are gorgeous as well!

And that's all I've got! If you're looking for adults, I'm less help there - my go-to gift for men is Drinking with the Saints, and maybe a cocktail shaker to go with that? Maybe Star Wars ice cube molds and cookie cutters if you've got a devotee!

I vote you shop hair accessories for the ladies you know, since there's a big sale this weekend! Or you can't go wrong with a Stitch Fix gift card. Blanket scarves are also still totally in, so if you know someone who's perpetually cold, help warm her up!

Hopefully this helped narrow down your search! Don't forget to order early to avoid price hikes and slow shipping - it looks like Amazon is already a little slower than usual, and it tends to add 4-5 days of lead time the closer Christmas gets. Don't end up scrambling!

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