Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I should have a lot more done than I do, especially considering I’m 33 weeks pregnant and starting to slow down fast, but unfortunately I’m a little behind! Tonight I’m hoping to hit Hallmark with this coupon for $5 off a $10 purchase, and maybe I’ll find something for someone on our list there! I have another identical coupon that came in the mail, so my husband and I can each do a transaction, if needed. Last year, I used that same Hallmark coupon to score this adorable puppy for Gresham, and it has been one of his favorite toys all year!

Here’s my 2 cents on Christmas shopping:

  • Stick to a cash budget.
  • Don’t overlook the simple things! Army guys, rolls of tape, small flashlights, crayons, rubber bands, etc. work great for stocking stuffers. Gresham loves his $7 stuffed puppy more than most expensive toys I could have bought!
  • Don’t buy a lot – stick to a few things that will be fun to play with together on Christmas, thus creating some fun family memories in the process!

As far as toys go, I think that most manufacturers have really taken a dive in the quality department in recent years. We have thrown away SO many broken toys, and it just seems so wasteful! Here are a few recommendations for toys that have held up well in our home.

All links are to my Amazon Affiliate account. Shop around for the best prices, but if you’re going to buy from Amazon, I’d love it if you go through my link!

For toddler boys:

We love the Playmobil 123 series – they are very sturdy and encourage creative play. No batteries, sounds, or lights, which is a big plus in my book! Owen owns this truck and garage and this train set. My boys like to use our homemade wooden blocks (that Aidan made himself!) to build tunnels over the track.

Another toddler boy staple is Duplo legos. You can’t go wrong with any Duplo set!

If the toddler on your list loves to be read to, here’s a list of our favorite picture books for toddlers.

For 3-6 year olds:

Fisher-Price Trio building sets are definitely on our recommended list for preschoolers! Gresham made this dog and kennel set-up this morning! He got his first set when he was 3, and he still plays with them almost daily at age 5. Owen started really building with them at 2 1/2. Aidan even enjoys them still at age 8. The boys make swords and shields with them, all types of guns, rockets, animals, etc. The possibilities are endless. A good basic set (we have this one) will go a long way. I also thought that this set that builds ramps for Hot Wheels looked like a lot of fun!

Gresham also enjoys Imaginext dinosaurs from Fisher-Price. These dinos come with all kinds of weapon-type accessories and one figure per set. Gresham really doesn’t care about the accessories at all, but he loves the fact that the dinosaurs are jointed and you can pose them different ways. The triceratops is the favorite, but I don’t know what’s up with the price on this link – we paid about $16 at Target!

For ages 6+:

All of my boys love superheroes, but toy figures are one of the areas in which I think quality suffers the most! We still have GI Joe figures intact from the 80’s, yet Aidan’s brand new ones broke almost instantly!

These two guys have stood the test of time – Wise Cracking Spiderman and Captain America. Spiderman says all kinds of “wisecracks” when you push a button on his chest, but he’s pretty tame as far as the annoying factor goes! Captain America also talks and shoots a dart out of his gun.

Aidan (age eight) also really enjoys building sets. He’s really into Lego Star Wars and Toy Story sets at the moment. All three boys also enjoy Tinker Toys – we’ve have some trouble with some of the smaller pieces breaking (and being chewed by the dog, but that’s not the manufacturer’s fault!), but I would still recommend them because of the endless play possibilities! Aidan likes to make droids and catapults with them!

What toys have help up to the boys at your house? What are your recommendations for good toy purchases?


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  1. Lindsay @ BytesOfMemory Nov 30, 2011

    I love this list of ideas! I had forgotten about tinker toys! That can definitely go on our eventually list!

  2. Marilyn Nov 30, 2011

    My boys love legos. We got a wooden train set years ago and they still build stuff out of that. The train table is limiting and they often build bridges off the edge of it with boxes. This year it's smaller legos for the 5 year old and Take and Go Thomas for the little one. I love your blog. Thank you.

  3. Terri Nov 30, 2011

    Good choices! (says this mom of 2 girls) I'd have to add a nice, quality set of wooden blocks to the list. It works great for both girls and boys!

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