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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas: Ages 2-4 years

By Ashley H, Charlotte Smarty Pants

Happy Thanksgiving! And today's topic is such a F-U-N age to buy for, little people with an insatiable curiosity about the world around them. Jenny & Jen (from Charlotte Smarty Pants) have both covered this age group in years past and have suggested gifts that you can add to over the years to come. I incorporated some of those ideas along with some top gift ideas for this year and others that work well in our own girl/boy twin home. I hope you find these helpful. Please weigh in with your own recommendations, we pull those into these lists so we have comprehensive resource each year. TIA! Keep in mind with any of these gift ideas, it's best to look around for the best price. I find my best buys on Smart E-Place, Craigslist, eBay, Amazon and buy from friends.

Dollhouses- A Smarty girlie gift favorite each year! Some top picks include Pottery Barn Kids WestPort House, the PBK Townhouse, PBK School and others. Jen loves Ryan's Room, Home Again, Home Again A-Frame for around $100 and 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. Be sure to search eBay and other sources, you can often find nearly identical items for a fraction of the price. Also consider asking family members to buy room pieces for the houses and those can also be found on eBay for less.

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 Girl are great for girls 3-5. Other relatives can buy clothes or accessories. A great idea is matching nightgowns for your daughter/doll.

Groovy Girls- mermaids are new to the collection this year and splashy sassy! You can buy outfits for these dolls, a horse, beds, etc. Jen's girls LOVE these!
Stable and Pasture Pals- we love both of these from Melissa & Doug and this is perfect for the horsey gal (like myself)!

*I don’t have a girly-girl daughter so we have more luck in our family with many of the toys listed under “both” since these are more of the toys my girl/boy twins both enjoy.

Books, books and more books- you can never have enough of these for any child. See Tracy's post from earlier this year for ideas on Smarty book pics from her and you Smarties on some great titles for your little ones!

Sippy cups Smarty style - you can't ever have enough personalized sippies and check this super cute MudPie sippy/snack holder combo all wrapped up with a presh mono, available at our Smarty fave, Alphabet Soup in Morrocroft.

Fropper- a new gift for 2009 and looks so super Smarty! 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 to fraction of size and great for inside or out!

Melissa & Doug Standing Easel Melissa & Doug's easel is great because it is very sturdy, made of durable wood construction, folds up easily for storage and adjustable height for your growing child. A beautiful gift for your budding artist!

Battery Powered ATVs A favorite in our twin household, we own one each for my daughter & son and they have nearly ridden the wheels off! Attracts kids from all over the neighborhood for a ride, so you can’t go wrong with this gift! The John Deere Tractor is great for your down home boy or girl (Smarty tip: Check out Wal-Mart, they offer site-to-store with free shipping if they don't have in stock which is sanity during the holiday madness).

Legos- A steadfast classic that most every child loves. A great way to foster creative manipulation skills in your child. I like the bigger legos for small children, no choking hazards and less mess.

Play kitchens - Got a lil Top Chef in training?! Play kitchens are perfect for little helpers that love to cook, brew tea, stack dishes and wash plates. I just bought a great used play kitchen set for my twins this Christmas and can’t wait to unleash their culinary curiosity this holiday! Consider a presh kids apron to accompany this gift idea.

CD Players- perfect for the little Smarty groover! Consider one with microphones so your child can live the rockstar in themselves. Now Santa can stuff their stockings with CD's and they are living the dream! Jen's Santa makes a special cd mix customized just for her kids – a huge hit each year!

Vtech Digital Camera- Just right for small hands, a kid-smart digital camera with fun movies and games, 1.8" color screen, double viewer or LCD screen. Includes connector cables for TV or PC connections to a personal computer with printer and TV for photo and video playback. SD card slot for memory (16MB internal memory).

Leapster is another gift that Jen mentioned in years past, 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 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.

Fisher Price Smart Cycle -No matter what the weather outside your child can still exercise inside while having fun. The Fisher Price Smart Cycle combines the fun indoor activity of video game playing with the physical activity the great outdoors will give you. Designed for kids ages three to six, the Smart Cycle "physical learning arcade system" is an all-in-one stationary bike, video game console, and educational tool.

Games and puzzles- Candy Land, Memory, Perfection, Sorry Jr., Rush Hour, Boggle, Zingo, Hiss, kids Cranium, Hullabaloo and Pre-school Uno are some Smarty favs. We love Melissa and Doug puzzles for kids this age.

Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper - An award winning top toy recommendation for 2009. Drop balls on track and watch them pop out of top, roll down and pop out again. Air-mazing action is accompanied by silly sound effects and groovy eight tunes. Encourages repetitive play and stimulated motor development skills.

Trikes- My family rolls with the Kettler Trikes (with pushbar). I saved by purchasing a used Kettler, just be sure that you get a push bar with purchase, for toddlers just learning to peddle it’s a must for neighborhood walks! The Kettler Kettrike Air-Navigator Tricycle includes a parental control steering system that locks handlebars for more control when using the optional pushbar. The auto-freewheel component on this trike allows your child a place to rest feet when you steer with pushbar.

Some other great options here include John Deere tricycle (extra Smarty cool cause you can get a cart to go with it), the Radio Flyer Classic Tricycle (and oldie but goodie, siblings love to ride on the back ledge), and Tracy loves the Radio Flyer Twist Trike (it serves as a tricycle when younger and then you can turn the handle bars & front wheel around and this converts to a big wheel when a little older).

Lastly, my all-time-fav in this category is the Skuut (pronounced "scoot"). My girlfriend's child, Teri (who is our Smarty mom Saturday so stay tuned for more), child owns this and let me tell you, it's the b-o-m-b. It's a two-wheeled wooden balance bike where children ages 2-5 learn balance, steering & 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. Teri found hers at REI.

Scooters- 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-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-year-olds would need a 16" bike.

Penguin Race- This is a retro toy that Rachel had when she was little and is a great recommendation from her for this age group. Last Christmas, Rachel’s 3 & 5-yr-old kids absolutely loved this sweet little toy, as well as many of their friends who came over to play.

Moon In My Room- Another great Rachel recommendation! Her family loves this. It serves as a night light as kids fall asleep, but they also learn the phases of the moon. It has a remote, too, so kids can change the moon phases themselves.

Zhu Zhu
Apparently, the hottest toy this 2009 holiday season is the Zhu Zhu faux hamster and all the accessories that go with it. For those of you not familiar, Zhu Zhu Pets are interactive, plush, and artificially intelligent hamsters that talk and move around in their own playsets. Zhu Zhu Pets include two play modes: nurturing mode where the hamsters coo and purr, and adventure mode where the hamsters explore their habitat with intelligent audio and mechanical responses to various habitat stimuli. Over a dozen add-ons can be purchased to build an ever-evolving hamsterworld for your hamsters to play in and explore. Click here to read Jen P's blog about this toy.

And for that ultimate holiday gift, you should consider an outdoor playset designed by Triad-based Perfect Playspaces. You may remember our blog about them, and how Perfect Playspaces will custom build your child’s dream castle, playset or fantasy treehouse to match your child’s favorite storybook, movie or toy. All you have to do is dream it, and they will build it!

Trains- As a mom of a son that is train obsessed (Thomas particularly) this is high on our list this Christmas. Thomas or Brio wooden trains are great. Melissa and Doug also make wooden track that you can buy for $1-$3 a piece and build your own track. Train tables are great and keep boys occupied for hours on end. Another Smarty recommendation is GeoTrax, they are easy for kids to assemble, offer endless layouts and a great gift idea for grandparents to add on to! Check out your mom's club or Craigslist for used train tables, it's such a waste to buy this new.

Stomp Rockets- Kids can get rid of some excess energy with this air-powered outdoor rocket toy. No battery or fuel is needed to get the rockets airborne--just some old-fashioned stomping power. Set up the simple launch stand in a clear outdoor area, connect the 38-inch-long vinyl air hose and blast pad, load one of the 9-inch yellow foam rockets--and watch out.

Playskool Tonka Bounce Back Racer - A wireless controller sends this car forward or backward. Soft, squishy body and oversized rubber tires on this car means no damage to walls & floors. Car flips over obstacles to reveal different colored racer underneath!

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.

Bruder Trucks- so unique and S-m-a-r-t-y! Check out Marshalls, Jen has seen these here for half of regular price but of course it's hit or miss.

Whew, that was a doozy! Share your Smarty faves!


Summer said...

We got on of the CD players with Microphones for our twins and it was a HUGE Hit. Not only did they learn all the words to Jonny Cash's Ring of Fire, but they used it to listen and read along with favorite books on CD. AWESOME.. I have been trying to convince my husband to get the balance bike for one of these kids.. but he is not sold. It definitely looks like an awesome toy. Pottery barn kids is selling a version for $99 this year. I am curious about the fropper, I saw it in a great catalog.. does anyone have it and love it/hate it? I also recommend the leapsters, we don't buy alot of electronic toys, but all three of our older kids have these. Educational, portable and totally engaging. Makes it a must have in my book.

gift said...

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alanna said...

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