Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas :: A Few of our Favorite Toys

I posted some of our favorite past Christmas gifts the other day in my Daybook post, but since I have recieved a number of emails regaurding gifts and toys, I thought I would answer a number of questions and mention a few more of our favorites.

Update:  I wanted to add that our Christmas celebration does not revolve around the gifts our children receive.  They usually receive three each, just like Baby Jesus, and the focus is on attending Mass and giving to others.   What you will see below is a combination of many years of gifts from Christmas and birthdays in an attempt to answer many questions all in one place. 


~ Play Kitchens, Tea Sets and Food ~


One Christmas our girls recieved an adorable Pink Retro Kitchen & Refrigerator.  It was during a year in which Hubby told me I had a budget of only $25.00 to spend on each child...   I saw the set at Costco and wanted to purchase it so badly, but it was $140.  I can't tell you how excited I was when we went to a St. Vincent dePaul Auction and they had this kitchen set!  It was "new" but it did have a little bit of damage to the fridge from the assembly - no big deal!  I won the auction for $40! YAY!!  Anyhow, I don't know where to send you all for a steal like that, but Amazon does have it right now at an affordable price.


That same Christmas, a friend of mine crocheted some darling food to go with the kitchen.  Since then we have added a number of play food sets, mostly by Melissa & Doug.  The favorites have been the Melissa & Doug Slice and Bake Cookie Set and the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Ice Cream Parlor Set (which you could see Rose playing with on her birthday).

As for tea sets, we love the little tin tea sets by Schylling.  We have the one that now reminds me of Serendipity (the Alphabet Path) every time I see it, and the other is covered with Roses (which is also available in a tin basket)!  They are so pretty - though they do tend to bend if they happen to be stepped on!  :-(




~ Fairies, Castles and Calico Critters ~


The girls' favorite toy is their Princess Castle!  I still can't believe that it is only $49.99 (50% off!) at Amazon right now!  (I think I paid around $60 for ours, and it has been worth every penny!) We also have the furniture to go with the castle, which is also 50% off right now! 


My girls mostly play with the hand-painted dolls I have made them when playing with their castle, as well as their Calico Critters.   I just LOVE all the little animal families.   We have the Fisher Cat Family and the Norwood Mouse Family.  My girls love the Kitchen Set that they have, but I don't think I will be purchasing any more tiny pieces anytime soon.  (Perhaps when the baby is a little bit older, or my girls are better about keeping the little pieces off the floor.)   I am thinking about getting the little Carriage for Twinkle Toes and maybe another family of critters for Chiquita.  




Last year Twinkle Toes received an adorable Fairy Forest Lodge. I just noticed that there are a number of new "furniture" pieces to go along with it including: Fairy Forest HarpBathroom SetFairy Forest Pianoand Fairy Forest Cooking Hearth! (You can find the new set available here.) They are all SO cute! I might have to order one of them for her. I also might order Safari LTD Fairy Fantasies Tube since my children enjoy playing with our other Safari Tubes.


~ Baby Dolls ~

Ever since the girls were little I've been purchasing them the sweet baby dolls by Corolle and Gotz.   For real little girls, a few of our favorites are the 8" with hat and 8" blond Mini Muffin Dolls by Gotz, the 13" Muffin Doll by Gotz, and Miss Rose and Miss Grenadine by Corolle.

My girls also loved the Poupette line of dolls by Corolle.  We currently have the "Fifi" and "Lulu" dolls.  For some reason Corolle discontinued this line and I can only find the Loli doll (which we do not own) but you can see the others here.    Twinkle Toes also loves her Elizabeth Cloth Doll (which she received on her 6th birthday), but it too seems to have been discontinued!  

Looking at these dolls, reminds me of when Twinkle Toes was a few years old and she was "trying to keep her baby dolls warm."   She lined them all up on the edge of out wood stove and Hubby & I ran to the living room to see what was on fire.  The backs of ALL her poor dolls heads were completely burned/melted.    The funny thing was that we lined them all on the front porch trying to decide what to do with them when some JW's came to the door.   (I wish I had a picture!)  I still wonder what they thought of all those "torched" dolls!   Needless to say, Twinkle Toes recieved a couple new dolls for Christmas that year.

As my girls have gotten a little older they are now very interested in the Historical American Girl Dolls, and they have a number of the mini versions.


My girls also LOVE the Faith Filled Friends they received last Christmas.  Many of you have emailed me asking where you can find these dolls...  Unfortunately, the only one I was able to find was the St. Therese Doll at Catholic Child which has recently sold out. :(

Though I haven't purchased one yet myself, another lovely option would be the beautiful Zélie Dolls from Family Cloistered Learning Center.  Someday I would like to order  a couple of these dolls for my girls.


~ Dress Up & Imaginative Play~

Our children all love to Dress Up!!!  We have lots of Saints Costumes, Vestments, Princess Costumes, Swords & Shields, Camouflage, Leather Vests and Chaps, Toy Guns, and the newest addition Play Silks!  Our children rarely go a day without dressing up for play! 

For young boys, I highly recommend the Miniature Mass Kits from Our Fathers House.  Our older two boys each have their own, and when Snuggles gets a bit older I would like to get him a set as well.  (Ooh!  They were quite a bit less expensive when we bought the set for Captain, and our second set was a gift. Still I think it is such a great thing for boys to have!) 

Christmas 2005


~ Folkmanis Puppets ~


Last year, I purchased a bags of Folkmanis Puppets at a local going out of business sale.   My children's stockings were filled with them last year and they are played with all the time!  They are so cute and fun and make great little gifts/stocking stuffers.  

I saved the Gray Squirrel Puppet I bought last year for this year, and we will give it to either Snuggles or Rose.  They would both love it! 


~ Lincoln Logs ~


My boys have loved Lincoln Logs since they were little.    I am always amazed at some of the things they will build... They made the Church above back in 2007.


~ Playmobil ~ 


We haven't yet branched out into Legos (I'm still trying to convince Hubby since he is hesitant about all the little pieces...) but our boys really love their Playmobil collection.   I love that it ties the sets we own tie so well into their schooling, and we often find the boys reenacting the stories they have read in their History books!


The boys also love setting up their Playmobil Romans for Good Friday and Easter, and the Nativity Set for Christmas!   I haven't purchased any of the Egyptians yet... Perhaps in a couple years when we are studying Ancient History again.  


~ Board Games ~


We have a lot of board games...  In years past each of our children would receive a game on Christmas, and they added up QUICKLY! Last week, I gathered all the games from all over the house - they were in 5 different spots - and moved them all into my hall closet, getting rid of a few that we do not play.   Now that we have a pantry in the kitchen, I don't need this cupboard for food!!  Anyhow, our family really does enjoy playing board games together.

Our family favorites are Settlers of Catan (Hubby & I play this with our oldest two boys - though we do have the extension pack for when we have guests!), StrategoBattleship, Lionheart, Sequence, and my children especially love playing the Game of Life and Mancala!  Captain's favorites are Risk (we have the Lord of the Rings version) and Axis & Allies - he has the D-Day version and the Spring 1942 version - and I will often find him off playing whenever he has the chance!

This year the boys will be receiving Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan Seafarers Game Expansion (for Settlers of Catan).

 *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Well... That pretty much sums up most of the toys we have in our home at this time - though you'll run across a bunch of others in my our Alphabet Path posts!

We do have a collection of Little People, a great Wooden Train Set that has been boxed up for awhile, but will come out again soon for Snuggles, a cute little wooden doll house,  and, of course, a couple drawers filled with Army Guys and Matchbox cars.  Now, I need to get back to checking off the last few items on my own list this year while there is still time to order online!


I would love to hear what toys your children love to play with!  

Also, you might have better luck leaving any other toy related questions in the comments and I will try and answer them here... My inbox has spiraled out of control once again and I can't guarantee a response (or at least a quick one!) if you send me an email.  ;)

9 comments:

  1. Thank you! Thank you! I am so sad the Saint Dolls are no longer available. I've been wanting to get one for my daughter since you posted about them last Christmas. I guess I shouldn't have waited. The Zelie dolls you linked to are sweet looking and I will have to think about ordering one of those. Thank you again!

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  2. Yes, I wish I could still find the Faith Filled Friends. They had a couple other dolls I would have liked to add to our collection. Perhaps they will start making them again in the future! If you can crochet, my friend Amy sells the CUTEST saint doll patterns.

    You can find them here: Knit Together Designs

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  3. On board games, we love Apples to Apples Junior, Blockus, Settlers of Catan, and Bananagrams. This Christmas we got Telestrations and Quelf after they were recommended by a friend.

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  4. Oh I love this post! My daughter is looking ahead to lots of crafty gifts and some Calico Critters, while her brother has a few science items on their way.

    I wish I could crochet - I love those saint dolls and would LOVE one of the St. Margaret dolls!

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  5. Thank you for this great post, Jessica, it was exactly what I had in mind when I sent you an email earlier this week! :)

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  6. Hi Jessica,

    We have many similar toys in our house.

    When our oldest began to play with legos I had to figure out, fast, how to keep all those pieces in one place. Our local IKEA store sells clear plastic tubs that work well to organize the legos by color. Easy to see and clean up.

    We just purchases the Axis & Allies game for Lucy and Max...they love to play Risk so I'm thinking they will enjoy the new game.

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  7. Dear Jessica,
    We love the Zelie dolls and own several of their dolls, St. Pio, Therese,Michael,Anthony, Bernadette and Our Lady with the Fatima children. They are beautiful. They even tucked a green scapular in my now deceased daughters doll as we used to bring it with her when she went into the hospital. On one surgery occasion, I could not find her green scapular but put it in God's hands.The day after her surgery,I found out they had tucked one inside her St. Pio doll. Her scapular was with her the whole time. A beautiful family and apostolate!!God Bless and Merry Christmas.
    Maureen

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  8. Hi,
    I love reading your blog! As the mom of 4 including 2 boys now 12 and 10, I would really encourage you to start investing in Lego for your boys. Legos are brain food! The sets and the loose tubs of blocks have kept both my boys busy and happy for many years. They are definitely worth the $$
    Cathy

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  9. Great ideas! They'll love Carcassonne....family favorite here! I think our families have a very similar taste for gaming :)

    Loving your blog! Such a great resource for Catholic mamas!!

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