Holiday 2019 Toy Recommendations & Gift Guide

It’s October and you know what that means. The shelves are almost already cleared of the Halloween and Thanksgiving decor before these holidays have even arrived and retailers are currently stocking Holiday decor and toys….. yes, already! A little soon? Maybe, but I have always loved the holidays so I have no complaints here. So I know I can’t be the only one thinking about the holidays and gift giving.  So if you are like me and already thinking about holiday gift giving, Amazon is the most “mom friendly” way to shop.  You know…. while you are in the bathroom trying to take 2 minutes for yourself while your children run into each room screaming “Moooommmm” as loud as they can.  So you know that finding toys that will occupy them for the longest periods of time will be vital this year.  And to make things easy, everything in this blog post is available to purchase on Amazon.  So thank you to  Amazon for partnering with me on this list and as a disclaimer, I do get compensated on qualifying purchases as an Amazon Affiliate.

As a mother and former teacher, I have always shopping for open ended, natural, and colorful toys that will encourage imagination, experimentation, and sensory play as opposed to all of the sensory overloaded blinking flashing, and noisy toys that are stuffed on shelves throughout conventional stores such as Target and Walmart.   I have chosen mostly wooden Waldorf and Montessori inspired toys for this reason.  Wooden toys are more of a natural and a healthier option for children as opposed to some chemically laced plastic toys that may contain BPA and or BPS.  Exposure to these endocrine disrupters thru the skin if touched or thru the digestive track and or if put in the mouth are linked to an increased chance of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity,  and negatively affecting growth, development, and early puberty.  But how can you tell which plastic toys are safe?  Look at the bottom of the toy.  Each will have a number on it with arrows around it.  

Here is a quick list:

2, 4, 5 = Safest Choices

1, 7 = Be Cautious

3, 6 = Avoid

For a more comprehensive guide on plastic numbers, click here.

My gift guide and toy recommendations list ranges in prices range from $5-$200 and to make the shopping a little easier: If you click on the corresponding numbers to each toy below, it will take you straight to the Amazon’s listing.  

I plan on adding onto this list in the upcoming weeks to include some more of our favorite toys so make sure you subscribe to my blog here.

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What toys will sell out quickly?

I will tell you that one of my favorites on this list gets sold out in December every single year so if the Grimms Rainbow (#4) interests you at all, I highly recommend purchasing it ahead of time.  This has been one of my children’s favorite toys that we gifted our daughter on Christmas when she was 2 years old.  We have built it in so many different ways between stacking them from large to small, to creating a ball run and tunnel, to creating a dollhouse, and more.  On Pinterest, you can search from 100s of other building ideas from this toy itself.  Another one of our favorites that seems to get sold out every December is the Gonge Riverstones (#18).  We missed out on this the year before in 2017 because I waited too long to order and no one had them by the second week of December and I mean no one.  I even called stores in Canada and overseas.  So last year I was not going to miss out on these.  This is something I thought would get played with once a month or so but it has been a daily activity in our home as our children love to lay them out and play “The Floor is Hot Lava” while skipping on each stone.  

What toys are a great gift ideas for under $16?

Tegu Blocks (#19) is one of my favorite gift giving ideas.  These magnetic wooden blocks come in various shapes and sizes.  I will usually gift these to children from ages 1 thru 4 and the small travel set is priced at $12.  Another toy I love to gift give is the Sew n’ Sew Wooden Toy (#14).  My daughter loved this toy and it would help keep her occupied in the car for a long period of time.  She started playing with this at age 1 but I believe it’s recommended for ages 2+.  For infants, the Haba Wooden Rainbow Sun Teether (#20) has been one of my favorites.  This nontoxic teether can even be spun on a table surface too and it is so beautiful to watch it as it spins.  For older children,  the Wooden Marble Tree (#34) is so fun and it is only $5 including shipping.  

What toys are educational?

The Wooden Cylinder Blocks (#1) can be introduced at 18 months and continue to grow with the child to teach depth and diameter.  These always occupied our son for at least 30 minutes at a time.  The Balance Beam Scale (#31) is also a great option to grow with a child as you can introduce different objects to weigh and later teach lessons on mass.  If you are just introducing colors, shapes, and numbers or maybe you are working on addition or subtraction, or less than or greater than, the Shape, Number, and Color Sorting Puzzle (#30) is a great educational toy to grow with your child.  If your child is old enough to introduce fractions, the Grimm’s Fraction Puzzle (#27) is also a fun learning tool.

What are my favorites?

My favorite toys usually include those that keep our children occupied and learning for longer periods of time.  But if I had to choose, here are my 5 favorites:

1. Grimms Rainbow (#4) – This rainbow is so fun and open ended.  We display ours in our playroom as it is really such a beautiful hand crafted piece.

2. Haba Ball Run – I could literally sit for hours and play with this toy.  There are so many different ways to set up the track and there is something so satisfying listening to the large wooden marble ball hit the bell at the end of the track.  In addition, it’s so easy to assemble that an 18 month old would be able to put this together him or herself once it is introduced.

3. Hape Marble Run (#12) – Okay so this one is for the big kids.  I always end up building this toy myself.  It is quite complicated and if you don’t have it put together properly by following the instruction manual, the marbles will go flying.  Also, if you accidentally knock a block down, it usually knocks more down and you need to rebuild.  So now you are probably wondering why this is one of my favorites?  And it’s because it’s so so so fun!!  Once it is built, watching the marbles roll down the run and listening to the sounds is just so satisfying and even more so than the Haba ball run.  From experience, I do not recommend building this near infants or toddlers.  They will want to get in on the fun and it’ll increase the chance for your creation that you spent 20 minutes building, come crashing down.    But this toy is great for any future engineer or builder of any kind.

4. Grimms 4 Elements Puzzle and Stacker (#9) – This has been on my… I mean my children’s wish lists for a few years now.  This puzzle is everything!  The puzzle pieces represent the 4 elements: water, earth, water, and air.  They can also be used as stackers and more such as the Grimms rainbow.

5. Grimms Mandala Puzzle (#7) – I love mandalas.  I love everything about them and what they represent.  And this puzzle is just so beautifully crafted.  The puzzle is open ended so the possibilities of creating a masterpiece is endless.  Our daughter created a dollhouse using these puzzle pieces.  And like all Grimm’s pieces, this one is handcrafted in Europe.

So come on, spill the beans! What is your favorite?  Leave in the comments below. 

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