I’ve received a number of requests for a roundup of gifts for children. Below, my top picks — many of them tested in our home or in the homes of parents whose opinions I trust, or just solidly reviewed online (you know I love my Amazon reviews). (Also, the adorable boy above is wearing these monogrammed jammies. More great Christmas jammies here.)
+This little red riding cape is absolutely precious. Mini’s favorite part of “ballet” (must be put in heavy quotations — you can hardly call it ballet) is when she and her classmates wave wands and the teachers open up an enormous chest full of tutus and capes. She always goes for a cape. (This red one is so darling I might even have her wear it out on the street though!) There is also a super cute velvet wizard cape by the same brand if you’re shopping for a little boy or prefer something a bit more gender-neutral. (Imagine packaging it with a box of these classic wonder wands — remember them from when we were kiddos?!)
+The Nutcracker book. A classic. Would be darling paired with the cape given the cover design. Would you find it weird that mini absolutely loves The Night Before Christmas? We read it year-round in our house. Before bed, I let her pick two books from her bin. This is in heavy rotation.
+Tegu magnet toys. These are awesome for travel because the parts stick together. I also love the wooden design and the way they inspire creativity while teaching the principles of physics.
+Vilac Metal Ride-On Car. I mean, can you even imagine seeing this under the tree as a kiddo?! Classic and beautiful. The kind of toy I’d love to see in my house. For something chic but more affordable: this Janod style.
+Olli Ella kids’ suitcase. Per the note above, mini loves the part of ballet where they wave their wands and unlock a treasure chest. I can imagine her infinite joy in owning her own chest. (Conveniently triples as toy storage, room decor, and travel gear.)
+Giant Box of Crayons. Who wouldn’t love receiving a huge set of fresh crayons?! Mini spends a substantial portion of her day coloring; this would be a sight for sore eyes for her.
+Melissa & Doug Expandable Tunnel. Mini’s second favorite part of ballet: when the teachers set up an obstacle course including this tunnel, where she in turn spends the entire five minutes of gross motor skill development time. She loves it so much I have even contemplated buying one for our itty bitty Manhattan apartment — the beautiful thing is that this compresses, accordion-style, and can be tucked away for later use.
+Brio Pull-Along Dachsund. One of mini’s all-time favorite toys. Aside from her dollbaby and her Duplos, this toy has gotten the most use in our home since she received it. She has multiple pull-along toys, but this is easily her favorite, and for good reason: because of the design, it’s easy to pull without flipping it over or dragging it on its side. It has a low, squat shape that makes it easy for toddlers to wheel behind them without a glitch. The wheels are also super loose in a good way — I have found that her other pull-along toys are kind of janky/creaky. She used to take this dog to Central Park with her in the summer, running through the splash pads with it. She still occasionally asks to take it on walks outside.
+Wooden Magnetic Shapes. A fun toy to preoccupy your kiddo when you’re trying desperately to make dinner/pack lunches and she/he insists on standing with you by the fridge.
+Magnatiles. I plan to buy these for my nephews, who are a year older than mini, this year. These get insane reviews. They are pricey and most kits start at $49; I like this slightly less expensive starter set because I think it has enough tiles to get a kiddo started without seeming dinky. Not shown here, but another classic brand/set to consider: Brio’s wooden trains. Mr. Magpie had an entire set when he was little and he still talks about them.
+Vilac Frog Umbrella. I feel like every kiddo can’t wait for the day to hold his/her own umbrella. This style from an old-school French brand — known for its well-made wooden toys — is darling.
+Micro Scooter. This is the top pick on my list for mini this year, but Mr. Magpie thinks she’ll be a little young for it. I’ve seen her attempt to use them at the playground when kids momentarily abandon theirs and feel she’d get it pretty quickly. We shall see — if not for Christmas, certainly her birthday.
+Bingggooo Helmet. No explanation needed. How freaking cute?!
+Pig the Pug book. I know I’ve mentioned this on the blog a few times, but this book is one of mini’s all-time favorites. We’ve read it to her since she was maybe three months old. The pictures are enormous and whimsical and dynamic, the rhyme is catchy, and the message is solid. I feel like not as many parents know about this book as some of the other classics — it’d be a good one to add to your bookshelf!
+Melissa & Doug See and Spell Puzzles. I actually ordered this as a Thanksgiving gift for mini this year. She’s a little young for it but she’s very into demanding that we spell her name when we color with her. “Eeee” she says, pointing at the page, waiting for the first letter of her name to be written. She then skips “m” and demands “ooooohhhh.” When she sees a string of letters together, she will start singing the ABC song, too. So it’s not all gelling yet but there’s something there that intrigues her. I think she’ll enjoy this from the puzzle standpoint alone, and can grow into the letters with time. For the price, I think this is an excellent gift — $20 and it’s a big, heavy box of beautiful, wooden puzzles! Solid pick!
+Russian Nesting Dolls. I had a set of these growing up that I loved. I think mini would be into these, too, as she’s loved her nesting wooden blocks since a young age, and these have faces for her to point at. Plus, any toy that nests within itself is a positive in my book. #spacesaving
+Mukikim Roll-Up Piano. Run, don’t walk — this classic piano is for some reason marked 50% off on the site! This is a classic and a nice addition to the deafening drum set your child probably already has. I love that it can be rolled up and stowed away. Can you tell I am overly concerned with space issues?! HA! #ManhattanProblems.
+Duplos. OK, mini has loved this set since the day she received it, which was maybe when she was a year? A little younger? She loves the little dog (named, for no reason I can recall, “mini benson” in our household?) and the car, too. The car comment reminds me of a REALLY GOOD STOCKING STUFFER YOU MUST CONSIDER. I bought my godson this little taxi cab as a memento for his first visit to New York City. Mini saw it and loved it, so I bought her one, too. My God, the mileage this little cab has gotten! She loves that it winds up and speeds across the floor, and that the doors can open and close. I love that it’s tiny and portable and can entertain her in waiting rooms and restaurants. Encourage you to add one to your stocking this year!
+Bathtub crayons. My sister sent mini a set of these out of the blue and they have been the hugest hit. She doesn’t play with any of her other toys in the bath — only these. Strongly encourage adding a pack to your gift!
I tried to make the above choices gender-neutral, but had to include some frou-frou-fairy-princess-pink stuff, too…
+Maileg Ballet School. My mother-in-law and I went in on this the minute we first saw it — like, a year ago. Maileg makes the most adorable mouse toys, and mini has multiple little sets already. They are darling and well-made and just so clever.
+Ballet Shoe Tight. I mean, the cutest.
+I Love Plum tutu. Mini owns a few of this brand’s tutus and I love the classic, timeless styling.
+Every princess needs her wand. (A good stocking stuffer!)
+Corolle baby doll. The classic. Mini has the mini size and a full size and she adores them both. She has this set of doll accessories. I prefer these to the Corolle brand (which she also owns…) because the bottles have that “magic milk” in them that makes it appear to disappear when you tilt it upward — and this is endlessly entertaining to mini. This set also comes with a little diaper wipes box that opens and mini jars of food whose tops are removable, details that fascinate mini.
+Love Is a Tutu. This book finally came back in stock and I ordered it immediately. I’ve heard good things about it!
+Plan Toys Fairy Tale Blocks. This is on my shortlist for this Christmas, too. She loves blocks/building and I like the creative scenes we could build with this set.
+The Monogram Studio Widgeon. The owners of this lovely e-boutique sent me this monogrammed fleece when mini was born and we got SO MUCH USE OUT OF IT. Let me sing its praises: a) holds up excellently in the wash; b) hood can be “cinched” with the bow at the top to fit the baby’s head perfectly and keep ears/face warm; c) no zippers or buckles or snaps. Did you hear that?! NO ZIPPERS OR BUCKLES OR SNAPS. Just two easy to pull on/pull off strips of velcro. Absolutely genius. Clearly designed by parents. Her prices include monogramming — but if you want one plain, you can get one here. GREAT baby gift!
+The cadillac of doll strollers. OMG how darling?! Another toy I’d love to see in my home. I wanted to buy mini this but we ended up with the more affordable Corolle. Either way, mini loves her stroller and uses it constantly.
+Me Too Stuffed Animal Doll. People rave about this brand — check out the link to see all the different colors/options and linger over the reviews. I might gift these to the little ladies in mini’s life — they’re decently priced and would be pretty all wrapped up with a big bow.
+Petite Plume Sugar Plum Nightgown. I bought this as a gift for one of mini’s friends already — and now that I’ve seen it up close and personal have convinced myself mini needs one, too. Absolutely adorable!
P.S. If you’re looking for books as a gift: here is a roundup of my favorite books for mini. Throw in some of these sweet personalized bookplates from my favorite Etsy resource for children’s stationery.
P.P.P.S. Don’t you grow up in a hurry.