The 2015 Smarty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by our favorite local toy store, Toys & Co in Cotswold. Find everything on your child’s wish list and then some at Toys & Co! And guess what? They will wrap every gift BEAUTIFULLY and oh-so-expertly – so you don’t have to pull an all-nighter on Christmas Eve!
This is our BIG week here in Smartyland – our annual holiday gift guide. We divvy ’em up by ages and our Smarty bloggers get to work helping Santa figure out who gets what. To kick off our week of toy guides we’ve asked our “Baby Mama’s” Karly Barker and Jenni Strazzulla to compile a list of some of their family’s favorite toys from years past as well as what they’re getting their tiny tots ages 0-2 this year. Without further ado, let’s get to that shopping list!
My second baby just started crawling and I am quickly realizing how crucial it is to have baby toys around. It seems my three-year-old is not so fond of sharing her big girl toys (shocking, I know). I’ve had a blast perusing some Christmas possibilities and have added these to my list, if we don’t already own them! I am a HUGE believer in buying things right the first time. I’ve learned that just buying what is on sale is usually not the best financial decision, as I usually wind up buying the pricier item later on anyway. Save up those pennies, buy what you really want, and buy less! Those are my toy/product words of wisdom. Hope you find these toys helpful and fun this holiday season. Ho,ho, ho!
We bought this for my daughter just before her second birthday. At first glance it seems a little advance for a 1-2 year old. But she caught on super quickly and zips around like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve had several friends purchase cheaper versions and then later went out and bought these anyway because they are just that great. They steer easily and are very sturdy. Plus, they grow with your child. Here is a tip – buy one for Mom and Dad and make it a family affair – your child will love it.
The transition to a big girl/big boy bed is one of the most talked about changes among toddler moms. We bribed Annie by telling her she could sleep in ANY princess dress – but she couldn’t get out of bed. That was the princess rule. Well, whimsy tails has taken this to a whole new level! Check these out. I can hardly wait to get one for Annie for Christmas. Let them slip into a mermaid or shark tail for the night! Perfect solution and fun gift! Plus, they even have them for their dolls. Does it get any better?
Dada Book by Jimmy Fallon by Jimmy Fallon
Because Jimmy Fallon meets baby… need I say more? Darling book.
Fisher Price Classic Toy – Ferris Wheel
I have been pretty anti Fisher Price but these darling classic toys have completely changed my view. We just bought this Ferris Wheel for our baby and he loves pushing it around.
Fisher Price Classic Toy – Xylophone
On that same note, I am going to get him this for Christmas. He LOVES banging things and making noise. My 3-year-old also found this fun at a friend’s house.
This is the toy that receives the most attention at our house! The dresses clip off and Annie loves them. Keep in mind, they would definitely be for an older 2-year-old.
I love a good wooden toy – but the wooden walkers are my favorite. We have one that is no longer made but I found this VW bus walker and have been crushing on it all day. So fun!
I love the idea of having a kids nativity around the house that the kids can pick up, touch and not be afraid to play with as they learn the true meaning of Christmas. I am finally going to buy one this year.
Here is a handmade one, if that is more your scene.
Jenni Strazz’s Recos:
This newborn toy provides hours of fun for you and your little one. This adorable little stick is light-activated by a baby’s batting hand.
BabyBjorn Babsitter & BabyBjorn Wooden Toy Googly Eyes
I can’t say enough good things about this item!! My boys LOVED sitting in it and playing with the wooden toy. They would giggle and giggle and giggle. It folds down (making it great to store under and bed) and is super easy to travel with. We brought them everywhere. The wooden toy encouraged Jack and Christopher to use their hands and engage in play at an early age. BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!!!!!
Melissa & Doug Barns & Animals Nest & Sort
Twin tested – twin approved! You really can’t go wrong purchasing anything from the Melissa & Doug toy line. All of their toys provide so many varied educational benefits.
Best investment ever in my house! Stacking Blocks keep the twins busy for hours. They not only encourage cooperative play, they foster imagination, exploration and problem solving. I love to watch them build, stack, knock down and rebuild. They have been nicknamed “Strazzulla Brothers Wrecking Crew”. It is the gift that keeps on giving!
In my house, we have Melissa & Doug Wood Blocks both in color and wood.
A great alternative if you prefer a softer version is EduShape Wood Like Blocks.
This Christmas, we will be adding Tegu magnetic blocks to our collection.
Nat & Jules makes the BEST stuffed animals. They are so soft and cuddly. We are particularly fond of Mattie Bear in our house. Mattie Bear often joins us for our weekly chocolate milk, cookies and story time.
This is the perfect tea set for either girls or boys. My twin boys love setting up for pretend play with this tea set. They put all of their stuffed animals around the table and serve them tea and read them stories. It is the most adorable thing to watch!
Tickle Monster & Tickle Monster Mitts by Josie Bisset
If you want to get your giggle on – this is the book for you! Tickle Monster by Josie Bisset. I highly recommend buying the Tickle Monster Mitts that go along with the story. Get prepared for lots and lots of giggles.
Musical Instruments are very, very VERY popular among the little ones. I recently discovered the Mighty Mini Band by Hape and my kids cannot get enough of it. I might just have to go back and buy another one!
This is the perfect addition to the practicing walker in your house. It not only helps the little one get around, but it also provides a little bit of storage at the same time. If your children are anything like mine, they love to carry around several things with them at all times.
Radio Flyer Kid’s Steer & Stroll Trike
Out of all of our toys – this is the BIGGEST hit! Since we bought the Radio Flyer Kid’s Steer & Stroll Trike, there has not been a day the twins haven’t ridden it. They are perfect!!! They are safe, sturdy and lots of fun. You can guide your child or let them ride freely. It is perfect to take with you on the greenways or to the park.
Gymboree Bubble Oodles with Wand & Tray
Anytime there are bubbles, you are bound to make a child smile. At Gymboree, the instructor uses a special bubble wand and tray. I am not sure if it’s the design or the bubble recipe — it has an AMAZING ability to produce LOTS and LOTS of bubbles. I decided to buy one and my kids LOVE it!!! You can buy one at any Gymboree Play & Music Location (there is one located in Ballantyne and Lake Norman) or you can order them online.
A perfect alternative to traditional method of blowing bubbles is the Bubble Machine. You just fill it with bubble solution and turn it on and bubbles come out.
The Artful Parent Year: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes by Jean Van’t Hul
This is one of the best books for ideas to become more creative with your children. The projects are not complicated and produce amazing results!! We have nicknamed my one son, “Jack”son Pollack. He loves any and all art projects! My other son is Chef Strazzulla. He loves helping me in the kitchen. This is the gift that keeps on giving! It fits the needs of both of my kiddos.
For all of your gift needs, head over to Toys & Co!
You can find Toys & Co at:
Cotswold Village Shops
Charlotte, NC – 704-365-7980
Mon-Sat 9a-9p, Sun 12p-6p