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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Smarty Gift Ideas for 3-5 year olds

By Jenny D, VP of Mommyhood and Ad Guru, CharlotteSmartyPants

Christmas can be overwhelming for parents and kids. I like to find gifts that allow the family to contribute to (additional pieces, rooms, etc), This seems to be less overwhelming for my daughter Zoe and it makes our list for her easier. Ironically, when Jen P. did this post last year, she said the same thing so it must be a good idea!

As with last year's list, dollhouses are still on the top. I loved the WestPort House from Potterybarn Kids. They didn't have it last Christmas, but they brought it back this year. They also have the Townhouse, School and others. Last year, I searched eBay and found one that was almost identical and 2/3 the price. I asked family members to buy rooms for the house so that she would have all of the pieces. You can sometimes find those on eBay for a little bit less, especially this year.

Jen mentioned the following houses last year: Ryan's Room, Home Again, Home Again-A-Frame for around $100. I also like the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Dollhouse for $80-ish or a smaller version (Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Fold & Go) for $50-ish. Melissa & Doug also sells cool rooms and dolls separately.

Dress-up clothes are always a hit for girls. 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.

Bitty Babies from American are great for girls 3-5. Other relatives can buy clothes or accessories. A great idea is matching nightgowns.

My girls love music and Zoe wants a Hello Kitty CD Player. I found one at Costco for $10 cheaper than Target. Now Santa can stuff her stocking with CD's. Jen's Santa makes a special cd mix customized just for her kids - huge hit!

Leapster is another gift that Jen mentioned last year, and everyone can pitch in to buy a game. Comes in pink for girls and there is green for boys.

Leap Frog Tag is a great new gift for kids learning to read. Children read aloud by dragging a pen over words. Additional books are sold separately which make nice gifts from others.

Zoe also loves to play games. We play Candy Land and Memory almost every night. So I am going to look into some other old school games like Perfection, Sorry, Jr. Boggle and Pre-school Uno. We also love puzzles, and Melissa and Doug have wonderful puzzles for kids this age.

Three-year-olds are also ready for their first 3-wheeler scooter. You can find a bunch of them on Amazon. For girls, there is a cheap princess one or you can order a Kettler version in primary colors. 4-or 5-year-olds can get their first Razor scooter with helmet and elbow/knee pads. And 3-year-olds may be ready for their first 10" bike and 4/5 year olds would need a 16" bike.

Another fun gift is a digital camera for little ones. Vtech makes a great one that hooks up to the computer so that kids can download their pictures and play games. I also saw in a Little Tikes catalog that they have video camera for kids this year.

A great year-round gift is a personalized lunch box. Alphabet Soup, Lands End, etc. have great flavors!

Thomas or Brio wooden trains are great. We would not recommend the plastic versions. Melissa and Doug also make wooden track that you can buy for $1-$3 a piece and build your own track. These are available at toy boutiques like Toys & Co.

I have been told by one of my friends with a 4-year-old, anything superhero is a hit. Look for Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Speedracer this season.

And finally activity gift certificates are a great idea, especially from Grandparents. YMCA dance/gymnastics/sports programs, My Gym, Little Gym, etc.

And please check out CharlotteSmartyPants’ Green Queen Dana's article on wooden toys. We all should consider putting more green into our gift-giving.

Happy shopping!


Anonymous said...

Both my children have enjoyed the classic Light Brite. You can find it for close to $10!

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