The 2011 Smarty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Toys & Co in Cotswold and Park Road Shopping Center. Find everything on Santa’s list at Toys & Co! And, they will wrap every gift BEAUTIFULLY and oh-so-expertly. They are the toy experts so they will help you source a gift if you are not sure what to get.
Today’s Smarty Loot List is for the preschool set, ages 2, 3 or 4 years old. This age group is so much fun to buy for so bring on the imaginative play, games of all kind and any toy that gets them moving!
PLAY KITCHENS & TOOL BENCHES
Team Bowman has gotten miles and miles of use out of the play kitchen my daughter received for her 2nd Christmas. It’s been in the rotation for 3 years and both of my children still play with it. It’s time to add a grill set or tool work bench to our kitchen. You can also have family members buy food (Melissa and Doug makes some great wooden food sets), dishes or a monogrammed kids apron. There are so many types to choose from so set your budget and get to researching!
- Mack daddy…Cook Together Kitchen, Kidkraft
- Budget version…Maxim Wooden Kitchen
- “I don’t have that much space” version…Alex Wooden Cook Top Playstove
- Melissa & Doug Cutting Food
- Melissa & Doug Food Groups
- Backyard BBQ with Food
- Little Tikes Get Out and Grill
- Educo My Backyard BBQ Grill
- Educo My Professional Workshop Tool Bench
- Black And Decker Junior Power Tool Workshop
- Little Tikes Little Handiworker Workhorse
DOLLHOUSES, PIRATE SHIPS & ANIMAL HABITATS
The possibilities are endless. You can spend a fortune on a dollhouse or not. If you are going all out, then consider asking family members to buy room pieces for the houses. This was the year of the pirate at our crib so lots of swashbucklin’ and “Arrrrrs!”. My son is digging all things pirate. My daughter is really into animals and playing vet.
- Pottery Barn Kids WestPort Dollhouse
- Ryan’s Room
- Kidcraft Dollhouses
- Fisher-Price Little People Pirate Ship
- Fisher-Price Imaginext Serpent Pirate Ship
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Pirate Ship Play Set
- Battat Dalmation Vet Cage & Kit
- Critter Clinic
- Melissa & Doug Wooden Stable
- Melissa & Doug Fold and Go Mini Stable
- Don’t forget the horses and horse carrier! Great for family members to buy.
Melissa & Doug Pasture Pals 12 Horses
Melissa & Doug Horse Carrier
DRESS-UP & PRETEND
Dress-up clothes are always a hit. Target usually has a hat box set that is filled with shoes, tutus and all kinds of clothes to build the perfect dress up outfit. Toys & Co. has beautiful gowns and Disney princess versions.
- Superhero capes – My kids are constantly fashioning towels and blankets into capes. These are perfect!
- Masks – All superheros need a super cool mask to go with their cape.
- Doctor kit – We have the Fisher-Price version and it’s still a fave. Boys and girls will love this. Be sure to stock up on bandaids for those faux shots.
- Tents – Pre-schoolers love to pretend and a play tent will become their own world and allow for hours of creative play. The best part about this gift is it can be used repeatedly as they grow. We have the Playhut Big Red Fire Engine Twist and Fold Pop Up. Best $20 ever spent!
- Bitty Babies from American Girl are great for girls 3-5. Relatives can buy clothes or accessories. A great idea is matching nightgowns for your daughter and her doll.
- Our Generation Dolls – If your daughter wants an American Girl doll and you are not digging the hefty price tag, try Target’s version and save the real deal for a few years down the road.
- Groovy Girls – These dolls have secured their spot on the scene and are sassy! You can buy outfits for these dolls, a horse, beds, etc.
- Kidcraft Doll cradle
- Kidcraft Doll high chair
- A home can never have enough books! Check out Amazon.com’s amazing book list for children ages 3-5.
- Leap Frog Tag – The Tag Reader now holds audio for up to 10 books at a time. Simply connect the Tag Reader to a computer and drag-and-drop up to 10 favorite stories into the Tag Reader. With more than 40 books and games based on favorite TV, movie and classic tales, the Tag library has something for every reader (books, games and accessories sold separately).
- PlasmaCar – This ride-on toy is super Smarty! No batteries, pedals, gears or electrical parts…you move by turning the steering and the forces of inertia, centrifugal force and friction get you going.
- Ezy Roller – if you have a tall 3-yr-old or 4-yr-old then try the Ezy Roller. Holds up to 200lbs, so as long as their legs can reach it will provide many years of total fun! The Ezy Roller is like a hybrid between a bike and scooter. Your feet are positioned on a push bar and as you snake your body left and right this lil wonder takes off! Comes with extender bar for the push bar so it grows with your child.
- Fropper – Kids bounce with foot power or simply glide along. Caster wheels make for easy steering and 2-level seat means it grows with your child. Folds up and is great for inside or out!
- Fisher-Price Grow With Me Skates – There are 3 settings: Walk in the skates with one wheel locked, wheels roll forward only or freewheeling!
- Kettler Trikes – Cruise Craiglist for a used Kettler and be sure that you get a push bar because toddlers just learning to peddle it’s a must!
- Radio Flyer Classic Tricycle – This classic is perfect for ages 2-5.
- Radio Flyer Grow ‘N Go Flyer – Suitable for ages 2-5. It has an easy to use adjustable frame that grows with your child. The durable steel frame is build for lasting use.
- Skuut (pronounced “scoot”). It’s a two-wheeled wooden balance bike where children ages 2-5 learn balance, steering and coordination while straddling the Skuut and without training wheels! It’s makes for a faster transition to a regular bike than using one with training wheels.
- Stomp Rockets – These are AWESOME. Go to the store now and buy them in bulk for every kid you know. Great for boys and girls of all ages.
- Art easels – We went the IKEA route and got the wooden IKEA easel that is a white board on one side and chalkboard on the other. Plus, it has a paper roll slot, too.
- Magna Tiles – A brilliant educational toy must-have for your pre-schooler! Develops patterning, shape recognition, building and motor skills. Available in a variety of colors, shapes and quantities.
- Magformers – We love these!
- Legos – We are finally going to break down and dive into Legos. I am not excited about seeing those 400 pieces all over my house but such is life!
- Cardboard building bricks – This is going to be under our tree!
- This is the age that you can start playing games with your child. These games are in heavy rotation at our house: Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Monopoly Jr., Memory, Perfection, Sorry Jr., Rush Hour, Boggle, Zingo, Hiss, kids Cranium, Hullabaloo and Pre-school Uno.
- Melissa & Doug puzzles – A must have on every pre-schoolers list! We love the ones where you can apply magnetic clothes to dress a family or a doll.
- LeapFrog Leapster2 Learning Game System – Everyone can pitch in to buy a game, the case or the re-charging station.
- LeapFrog Leapster2 Recharging Station
- LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Game Case – Green
- LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Game Case – Pink
- Fisher-Price SMART CYCLE Racer 3D – This combo stationary bike, learning center, and an arcade game system, now with a 3D race. Comes with the Learning Journey software and added 3D race experience. Games reinforce important preschool concepts like letters, numbers, shapes and colors.
- Melissa & Doug Band in a Box
- Highlights HIGH FIVE magazine – Little kids love having a magazine of their very own! Highlights HIGH FIVE invites young children to explore a world of fun and learning with fresh new stories and activities every month. For ages 2-6.
- Charlotte Activity Memberships – We purchased the Discovery Place as one of our family gifts and have loved visiting Discovery Place KIDS, Discovery Place Uptown and Charlotte Nature Museum. Memberships to Little Otter Swim School, Charlotte Swim Academy, Jami Masters School of Dance or Charlotte Junior Gym is a great way for grandparents and out-of-town family members to send a gift that gives all year long!
- Battery Powered Ride On Toys – We have the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and I also hear that the John Deere Tractor is great. Smarty tip: Check out Wal-Mart.com or Amazon.com to stay out of the stores during the holiday madness. Free shipping!
- CD Players – Definitely will be under our tree this year! You can buy CDs for stocking stuffers – my faves – Laurie Berkner , They Might Be Giants Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 123s.
- Bathtub toys – great stocking stuffers!
- Playskool Alphie – This fun and engaging electronic robot introduces your child to letters, math skills, special reasoning, cause and effect and more. Alphie sings, plays music and features light up buttons. Alphie comes with 30 double-sided cards.
- Vtech Kidizoom Spin & Smile Digital Camera – This is a real 2.0 megapixel camera with 4x digital zoom, self-timer and 5 included games. The rotating lens lets you take self portraits and photos with funny stamps, borders and silly effects. Comes with 256 MB internal memory and SD card slot for memory expansion. Also allows for video recording with sound.
If you have boys, then you know they love their trains, airplanes and cars. No matter what train flavor you prefer, there’s something for everyone. Thomas? Brio? GeoTrax? Chuggington? Got’em. Melissa & Doug also make wooden track that you can buy and build your own track. Train tables are great and keep boys occupied for hours on end. Check Craigslist for used train tables!
- Build a Road Race Track – this is one of the coolest race tracks we’ve seen lately. It’s flexible, bendy, easy to assemble – this thing rocks!
- Train options
- Fisher-Price Little People Movers Airplane
- Battat Take Apart Plane
- Playmobil Sea Plane
- Automoblox – A great green gift for your boy! It comes with a stylish wooden body and allows for kids to add wheels, windows and unique customizing details.
- Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set
- Bruder Trucks – Scope out Marshall’s! I’ve had great luck at both of the Marshall’s in Charlotte and I buy in bulk for birthday parties and Christmas gifts.
- Melissa & Doug Car Carrier
- Battat makes amazing, well crafted and affordable gifts for boys that they will not forget – firetruck, plane, cement truck, dumptruck,garbage truck.
Get to shopping, Smarties! Personally, I will do my holiday shopping online and at Toys & Co. Did I mention that they wrap each gift individually? If we’ve missed something that you deem a “must have”, post it here in the comments!