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2012 Gift Ideas

I always get asked for Christmas gift ideas so I’ve updated last year’s list to include some of the our favorite toys from this year.  Since Sweet Pea has outgrown some of her old toys and discovered new ones, I’ve also put down a suggested age range next to each item.    All of my toy ideas listed below were purchased by us or received as gifts from friends and family.  They are the toys that Sweet Pea uses and likes the most.   I hope this helps you!



  • Haba – My First Orchard   –  (3 to 6 years old)
    My husband and I love board games.  Orchard was one of Sweet Pea’s first games.  It is better than Candyland, but is still easy enough to be played by preschoolers.  


  • Gamewright Hisss Card Game  –  (3 to 6 years old)
    Another fun one is Hiss, which is very simple and involves matching up the correct colors to build a snake.  Also the game “cards” are made from very thick cardboard.  They are much sturdier than the usual cards you find in a typical game.


  • Perplexus   –   (5 years and up) 
    I actually bought this for my husband last year, but lately Sweet Pea has started playing with it too.  We all enjoy trying to move the little ball through the tricky maze.   

  • Dixit   –  (5 years and up)
    This is a bluffing game and is a little bit like Balderdash (or The Dictionary Game) except instead of words, you play with beautifully imagined picture cards.  This game says it is for 8 and up, but since it doesn’t require any reading, Sweet Pea was able to play it with us with very little extra help.   We always buy a game for the entire family every Christmas and if you do something similar, I would highly recommend this one.   From 5 to 65, all of the people in my family loved this game.




Pretend Play

  • Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Water Tower Figure 8 Set  – (2 to 5+ years)
    The all time best toy we have ever given to Sweet Pea is a Thomas the Train Wooden Railway set.  She played with it almost every day for 3 years.  We bought Sweet Pea this Figure 8 Set  and then slowly expanded our collection with gifts from relatives and via Craig’s List.   I strongly prefer the “Wooden Railway” pieces over the other sets.


  • Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Wooden Playtable and Island Adventure Playboard  – (2 to 5+ years)
    If you have a train set, I recommend also getting a sturdy train table.  Originally I made the mistake of thinking that she could just play on the floor, but that didn’t work very well.  The pieces ended up all over the place and Sweet Pea often would want to leave her track set up just when I was ready to pick up.  We bought an old train table from Craig’s list, but this official “Thomas” one has great reviews.  Note that you have to buy the table and the play board separately.



  • Playhut Thomas the Tank Pop Up Toy – (3 to 5+ years)
    Sweet Pea has spent many happy hours running up and down our hallway in this pop-up Thomas.  She loves it and my only complaint is that it takes up quite a bit of room.  If we had a large basement play room, it would be perfect.  It does fold up flat for storage though, so we usually keep it stored that way and just bring it out when she asks for it.

  • Play Kitchen   –  (3 to 5 years)
    Sweet Pea _loves_ her play kitchen.  She’s had it since she turned 3 and still plays with it.  The problem with play kitchens is that they take up a lot of room.  I saw this one that folds away, which might be nice.  I also couldn’t find the exact playset that we have so I just linked to a highly rated one, but I think almost any pretend kitchen would do the job.
  • Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart and Pretend Food Basket  (3 to 5 years)
    In addition to a play kitchen, Sweet Pea has a shopping cart and a basket of pretend food that she loves.  She often goes shopping and then uses the pretend food to cook in her kitchen.


  • Melissa & Doug Doctor Role Play Costume Set  –  (3 to 5+ years)
    We also have a pretend doctor kit, which has been fantastic for Sweet Pea.     I can’t locate the exact one we bought anymore, but the best part of it the white doctor coat.  A lot of the kits just seem to have a box of plastic instruments, but Sweet Pea really likes to dress up in the coat.  This Melissa and Doug version got good reviews, although it isn’t the one that we have.


  • Discovery Kids™ Indoor/Outdoor Princess Tent    –  (3 to 5+ years)
    Sweet Pea received this castle tent from her grandma last year for Christmas.  It was easy to set up and has made a wonderful little reading nook for Sweet Pea.  


  • Primary Science Set (4 to 6+)
    Sweet Pea has had a lot of fun with this  lab set.  It even comes with some nice cards that list easy-to-do science experiments on them.  (My only real complaint is that the tweezers don’t fit in the test tube.)



  • Bear Stays Up for Christmas (3 to 6 years)
    We love the whole Bear series by Karma Wilson, but we read this one every Christmas Eve.  It’s perfect if you are looking for an easy-to-read Christmas picture book.


 Art & Crafts

  • AquaDoodle Mat – (2 to 4 years)
    Sweet Pea spent hours drawing on an AquaDoodle Mat.  It allows her to draw on a really big space and I love that there is no mess because the “ink” is just water.   


  • Melissa & Doug Easel  & Easel Accessory Set  – (3 to 7+ years)
    Sweet Pea received this from her Aunt for Christmas last year and it has been a big hit.   I love how sturdy and versatile it is.  When she isn’t painting on the easel,  she is using the dry erase or chalk board to play school.  Our only problem with the easel is that it is tricky to pull the paper out of the paper holder so I usually have to do that for her.



  • Crayola 25-count Washable Glitter Glue  –  (4 years and up)
    Glitter glue is probably Sweet Pea’s all time favorite crafting material.  The Crayola glitter glue is much less messy than regular glitter, but is still sparkly and exciting.


  • Wii Console with Mario Kart Wii Bundle – White  (4 years and up)
    Sweet Pea has been playing our Wii for years.  It is a great “active” video game system for kids.  Sweet Pea loves playing Mario Cart with the rest of the family and can even navigate and play WiiFit totally on her own.  Now I wouldn’t buy this just for a preschooler, but it would make a great gift for the whole family.


  • Vtech Kidizoom Plus Digital Camera  – (3 to 6 years)
    We bought this Vtech Kidzoom Digital Camera for Sweet Pea 2 years ago and she still uses it.    She often runs and grabs it to take pictures.  The pictures are a little blurry, although before we bought this one, I did a lot of research and it seems that was a common complaint with all of the kid cameras.



  •  Gerty Balls Nobbie Football  – (3 to 6+ years)
     This is the best “easy to catch” ball I’ve ever found.  It’s soft, squishy and easy to hold.  Great for toddlers.

  • Strider PREbike Balance Running Bike  – (2 to 4 years)
    Sweet Pea got a Strider Running Bike from Santa when she was 2 and has used the heck out of it.   She has used it for over 2 years and is just now getting too big for it (and she is very tall for her age).   The reason I like it so much is because we take so many family walks and when Sweet Pea rides, she can keep up with us and doesn’t get too tired.   I would highly recommend it for 2 or 3 year old tots, but I am fairly sure Sweet Pea will be too big for it by the time she turns 5 next spring.

  • Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Kit  – (4 and up)
    This is a super fun outdoor toy.  We bring it to the lake with us and everyone (adults, too!) has a great time with it.







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