As much we love to spotlight those big-ticket items on the top of every wish list, we also like to pay fair tribute to the smaller guys: those companies that fuel kids’ imaginations and give us yet another reason to wish we were little again. Urban Canvas is one of our latest favorites. They make eco-friendly toys fashioned out of recycled and reusable cardboard, including trains, buildings and even bugs. We love their Build 52 Playing Cards, a full deck of blank (save for standard numbers and letters) cards that kids can design and customize to their hearts’ content…and then use to assemble their own house of cards (thanks to their interconnecting edges). Not only is this toy a cool craft, but it lets kids show off their building skills. The set comes in its own drawstring tote, making it an ideal when heading to Grandma’s house for the holidays. It’s one of those gifts that works for boys and girls alike, and is great for any age (4 and up works best).
In a Nutshell: Calling all cardsharks…a perfect stocking stuffer idea that beats a boring old gift card any day.
When my now-preschooler was an infant, her pacifier was her best friend…and mine. It seemed like the only way to stop her frequent crying jags was with a translucent green pacifier that quickly soothed her spirit and helped dry her tears (even if it was only for a short time), as she suckled away, Maggie Simpson-style. Sometimes, my husband and I would hold our breaths when it inadvertently popped out of her mouth, and the sleeping babe failed to notice its absence, her little lips moving back and forth, no different than before. As she matured, but had not yet grown out of the pacifier stage, we feared those moments when she would realize exactly what had happened and cry her head off. Lucky for us, she kicked this habit long before it became a problem. But those babies who are still attached to their all-day suckers, it helps to have a friend in the right place. Paci Buddy, a pacifier holder/stuffed buddy, is one first friend you and your little one will come to appreciate. This snuggly pal named MochiKo (whose endearing name means “rice cake nose” in a Japanese-Korean translation) holds a pacifier atop its head via a simple loop. Made from eco-friendly bamboo, it’s a safe way to keep your baby’s pacy contained. And when your little one has bid adieu to her pacifier, it also doubles as a snuggle buddy. We love the hidden strap that lets you secure MochiKo to your car seat or stroller, so you can take it with you, wherever you roam.
In a Nutshell: You learn quickly just how important a pacifier can be to your baby. With Paci Buddy, you don’t have to learn that lesson the hard way. Approved by smiling babies everywhere…
When my husband was a boy, he had a wooden rocking horse on which he happily rode off into the proverbial sunset. Well…not exactly, but I believe that horse had something to do with his signature sign-off, “Happy trails.” Today, we have that same treasured horse in our own home, so our girls can rock to their hearts’ content. Among all their other toys, it stands out as a treasured childhood favorite and is in sharp contrast to the high-tech gadgets and brightly colored plastic playthings of today. If you’re a fan of the toys of yesteryear, you can step back in time with a classic favorite that returns to the modern world. Woody Rocking Horse is a simple, but elegantly designed rocker just begging for new riders to grab hold of its reins. We love its fresh, clean look; green-minded moms will appreciate that this rocker is fashioned out of 100% birch tree from an approved harvested forest (that means all natural). Eco-friendly nomenclature aside, we know this is one toy that kids, parents and grandparents alike will enjoy. Cowboy-approved, too.
In a Nutshell: Take a walk–or should we say, ride–down memory lane atop this rocking horse, destined to be a family heirloom.
My 1st grader is so excited for her upcoming class trip to the aquarium, she can hardly contain herself. A recent trip to the local fish hatchery was enough to whet her appetite…now she’s ready for the big time! (Why do I foresee a follow-up trip to the zoo in the near future?)…It’s only natural that kids love animals. Think about it: they do what they please, eat without the use of napkins or utensils and spend their time either playing or sleeping. Did I mention that they can do what they please? When watching my girls play with their stuffed animals, they act out the silliest scenarios, so it only makes sense that they are drawn to playthings that mimic the very behavior they want to exhibit, be it wild or mild. The newest addition to the animal kingdom, Anamalz, is as fun to say as it is to play. Not only are these creatures incredibly flexible, so little hands can bend them into any and all positions, but moms will love their design. Crafted in a maple wood/cloth combination, Anamalz are eco-friendly, durable and stand up to hours of imaginative play. The line currently comes in a variety of different species–farm, prehistoric, wild and Australian–and also includes a playmat and other accessories. No aquarium creatures just yet, but that doesn’t mean my kids–and yours–can’t envision the next animal kingdom.
In a Nutshell: It’s a jungle out there…your kids can embrace their wild side with these well-made poseable pals.
Tomorrow is my daughter’s 3rd birthday, and I can hardly believe it. Actually, I take that back. Some days, she tells me what to do so often, I feel like we’ve already skipped ahead to the teenage years! Seriously, though, I know that by the time we get to her next birthday, she’ll come home from preschool donning a homemade birthday crown. (My older daughter has a collection of them from over the years.) While I appreciate my girls’ teachers’ efforts in fashioning these hats from paper, the paper construction never quite holds up to the wear and tear of make-believe play. What a wonderful idea to have a smartly designed birthday crown that can be used again and again! Organic Birthday Cotton Crowns are just that. Lined in super soft cotton and adorned with sparkly sequins, these sturdy hats rest easily atop your birthday boy or girl, thanks to their stretchy fabric and hook-and-loop closure. Each hat comes with Velcro-backed fabric numbers 0-9, so your child can wear it to commemorate each year. And if your little partygoer has enjoyed too much cake and ice cream, just pop the crown into the washing machine and it’s as good as new.
In a Nutshell: Just the right fit for the little queen (or king) in your kingdom, this sturdy crown will last for many birthdays and dress-up extravaganzas to come.