As a toy designer and a parent, this time of year is fraught with not only finding the usual Christmas gifts, but finding gifts that I admire both as a designer and a mom. It can be a tall order. I have high expectations! Until recently I felt like I had most of the control over what my daughter would play with. These days, as she approaches the ripe old age of 4, I'm realizing my hold on our curated collection of toys is slipping fast. But I have a couple of aces in my pocket to help me along.
One of the easiest ways to funnel her toy interests is to simply show her catalogs from some of my favorite toy shops. Magic Cabin and Fat Brain Toys both send catalogs this time of year. She has fun circling, well, everything, and I feel comfortable letting her dream big with toys I mostly approve of. Or, we look at things online together once in a great while - for the shops that don't have catalogs. Here are my go-to resources when looking for toys, links to these sites and their goodies appear frequently on my own blog too.
Of course, last week she saw a beautifully ugly pink motorized kid-sized car from some randomly discarded Sunday paper ad ... so it's not foolproof! How do you manage holiday gift expectations at your house?
My Sweet Muffin - beautifully curated selection of the best boutiquey toys.
Oompa Toys - European toys in the US, with a great selection of Plan Toys, Haba, etc. Good baby selection too.
Romp Store - Focusing on the art of play, this carefully selected bunch of playful things includes expensive heirlooms and unusual stocking stuffers you won't find anywhere else.
Hearthsong - with a wide selection of Waldorf-inspired toys, there are lots of imaginative choices for kids, but don't forget their games, puzzles, and outdoor choices too.
Fat Brain Toys - The best selection of specialty retail toys out there - from babies to teens. You'll find something for every kid you know at this great site.
Mindware - This site is great for budding brainiacs and older kids, filled with kits, games, and science-inspired play.
(Images: As credited above.)