Top Christmas Picks for Littles 2014

Today I'm bringing you our 2nd edition of Top Christmas Picks for Littles!  Last year's list proved to not only be awesome for Christmas, but year round when so many of you were looking for unique gifts for birthdays and celebrations.  You can check out last year's list here:  The Well Styled Child Top Christmas Gift Picks for Littles

Don't get me wrong, I will be doing my fair share of shopping at American Girl for Christmas this year and my little one loves her Disney Princess Cupcake Game and her My Little Pony Rainbow game, but my goal is that these lists contain special, high quality toys.  I love toys that inspire imagination, are well made and beautiful.  Most often, I include toys we already have and play with faithfully!  I want to bring you things that you can't find in the toy aisles at Target or Toys-R-Us.  Toys that will last for generations.  I hope you enjoy this list as much as I enjoyed compiling it. 

Remember, each of the pictures below is a direct link to shop for each of those items-- just click away to your heart's content! 

And without further ado... 

 

KidKraft Art Easel 

We've had this easel for several years now and it is well loved and used often.  There's a dry erase board, paper roll and the flip side is a chalkboard.  I usually keep this upstairs in my little one's art niche, but recently brought it downstairs and she has played with it every single day.  

The Land of Nod Road Trip Soft Wall Map 

We don't own this toy yet, but it is on my list for Holiday for Christmas this year!  I love that you can show your little ones where each of your family members live and this is a toy that can truly grow with them for years to come.  Not to mention, it's an awesome decor piece for a Play Room or Bedroom! 

 

Haba Doorway Theater 

This puppet theater makes an appearance just when you want it to!  It has adjustable tension rods to fit any size doorway.  

Haba Glove Puppets 

Haba makes all different puppets, but these are some of our most favorite!  They are the perfect size for little ones, made well and big enough for mom and dad to join in on the puppetry fun too! 

The Land of Nod Kardboard Kingdom

Heavy duty cardboard castle provides hours of play and imagination.  You could also paint this in advance or allow your little ones to color and decorate it themselves.  I love the versatility as a mighty king's fortress or a pretty princess palace-- the possibilities are endless! 

PoshPaperCreations Handmade Bean Bag Set 

I ordered this set of ten custom bean bags from PoshPaperCreations on Etsy (the glass storage jar is from Ikea).  You won't see this exact set in her shop, but she was WONDERFUL to work with it coming up with custom fabrics and contrast stitching to give me just the set I wanted.  There are absolutely countless ways to use and play with these and they are such a fun, custom and beautiful gift.  

Custom Wooden Barn Set by Jacobswoodentoys

This barn set from the Etsy Shop Jacobswoodentoys absolutely makes me swoon.  One of our sweet neighbors has a beautiful handmade, wooden barn set for her boys and Holiday loves to play with it when she visits.  It's like the counterpart to the beautiful dollhouse that was on last year's list.  I love that this set comes with those adorable crochet animals as well. I'm sure you could find other, more realistic animals (like the Schleich ones) if your child would prefer them.  We don't currently own this set, but it is #1 on this year's Christmas list! 

Pottery Barn Kids Wooden Eggs and Milk Sets 

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/wooden-milk-container-egg-set/?pkey=e%7Cmilk%2Band%2Beggs%7C1%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules

Last year's list included a lot of play food sets that we love, but wanted to add these two items to this year's list.  We have many play dates and all of our play kitchen accessories are WELL used and the wooden ones just stand the test of time.  The eggs are actually velcro so you can "break" them open!  I notice that some toy food items get used more than others and these two sets are definitely on the top of the list! 

The Land of Nod, If I Had a Hammer and a Work Bench

I know that Holiday would love this toy just as much as any boy-- it is certainly gender neutral.  I love how well made it is and of course, I'm a sucker for beautiful wooden toys.  

The Land of Nod, Plush Tools of the Trade 

Ummm... I think every little man NEEDS this toy!  How absolutely adorable is this?!  Definitely on the top of my gift list for giving to little ones! 

The Land of Nod, Chunky Checkers 

 Beautiful wooden checkers set.  Beautiful gift for your slightly older little ones from The Land of Nod! 

 

Educational Insights Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

http://www.amazon.com/Educational-Insights-Sneaky-Snacky-Squirrel/dp/B00486ZVC4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410407754&sr=8-1&keywords=sneaky+snacky+squirrel+game

If you have little ones and don't already have this game-- you don't know what you're missing!  This is the first game Holiday really learned how to play and still LOVES. I love how it teaches taking turns and the ability to have fun even when the wind blows all of their acorns away or if the Sneaky Squirrel comes to steal a snack! Using the squirrel "tweezers" also reinforces fine motor skills and the multi color acorns help with color recognition.  

Educational Insights Shelby's Snack Shack 

Any lovers of Sneaky Snacky Squirrel will also be delighted with this very similar game!  Even though it focuses on simple counting, it is still very engaging and well loved.  It says for ages 4+, but in my opinion is age appropriate for a smart 2.5 year old who isn't going to put the bones in their mouth! 

Nancy B's Moonscope 

The Nancy B's Moonscope is a real, operating telescope.  You will have to read the instruction manual, but what a fun family toy-- especially for your slightly older littles.  This toy telescope is highly acclaimed and gets awesome reviews! 

Kinetic Sand 

If you don't already own Kinetic Sand, you need it like yesterday!  This stuff is AH-mazing!  We don't have this specific set from Brookstone, though I think it's super cute and I love that it's already in this nice wooden tray!  I actually picked up two boxes of the regular brown Kinetic Sand from Target and then put them into 9x13 glass baking dish.  Holiday has so much fun with her mermaids pretending it is their beach.  I find myself sitting around at night (after Holiday is asleep) just playing with the sand for stress relief.  It is super velvety soft and sticks together really easily for building.  It's sticking quality keeps it from getting all over the place like regular sand.  An entire sandbox filled with this stuff would be heaven! I also found a mini set of sand castle molds on Amazon that works really well with this.  Lastly, don't confuse Kinetic Sand with Moon Sand-- there is NO comparison! 

Schoenhut Guitars 

Schoenhut also makes a very boyish (less pink) version of this same guitar!  It comes with the guitar strap and a fabric carrying case. Definitely a popular toy at our house AND it can actually be tuned! 

Pottery Barn Kids Doll Strollers and Pram 

I've had so many mamas ask me about the best recommendation for a doll stroller and Pottery Barn Kids wins, hands down! We have the pram version of this stroller as well as the jogging stroller.  They are easy to steer and maneuver and do not tip easily.  

Custom Hobby Horse from RusticHorseShoe 

Some mamas who regularly watch Disney Jr. might recognize this horse-- Sparky from Sheriff Calie's Wild West!  I ordered this one for Holiday's upcoming Sheriff Callie Birthday Party!  I love the custom, handmade details on this.  There are lots of others to choose from, but love that there was a Sparky out there already!  

Kids Fabric TeePee 

I found this specific teepee on a really high end kids online store and just realized it's made by KIDKRAFT! That means nice quality, great price-- and yeah, it's $79.99!  THAT'S A STEAL!  It comes in this orange color and turquoise too-- hurry before they're sold out!   I purchased our teepee around 3 years ago from StudioOFWhimsy on Etsy and have been very happy with it. If you're looking for a specific fabric combo or funky colors, be sure to check out Etsy.  Pottery Barn Kids also has some more simple ones, but they look to me to be larger than most of the others on the market.  Some of the teepees come with poles and some of them require you to purchase them yourself.  I had to purchase ours from Lowe's (you can do bamboo or PVC pipe) but definitely something to look for when ordering.  The ones from PBK do come with poles and it appears this KidKraft one does too!  What's really awesome about these is that they just literally fold up and can be stored in a tiny space, standing in the corner of the closet.  It really is a fun fixture in our play room and gets lots of regular play (especially with the S'more the Merrier Campfire Set from The Land of Nod I featured on last year's list)!

Kazam Balance Bike 

My husband has been doing Crossfit for almost 10 years now...looong before it was all the rage!  When I met him, he was always so passionate about natural body movement with exercise and told me all about balance bikes for kids-- long before we had a child.  I am here to tell you they work and they work well!  By the age of three, Holiday was riding with no training wheels-- and riding REALLY well, sharp turns and all.  It was funny to me that she liked it right from the start.  She would literally straddle the thing and pretty much walk with it-- but loved it!  She would straddle/walk it all the way to the little playground near our house.  Pretty soon she got herself going and would pick her feet up just to cruise.  Not longer after she turned 3, when my husband told me he thought she was ready for the "big girl bike with no training wheels" I was skeptical.  But sure enough, with having gotten the balance part down first-- she took off right away on the big bike and left me in the dust a long time ago.  I know there are quite a few other brands out there, this just happened to be the brand we researched about bought-- and it also happens to have been featured on Shark Tank! 

Radio Flyer Walker Wagon

If you have a little little one around-- you need this Radio Flyer Walker Wagon!  Holiday first fell in love with this toy at my sister's house.  She loved it so much that I bought her one of her own and I really do credit this wagon with her getting her walking down right around 10 months!  I love that it's nice, heavy and sturdy!  When they're little, the kids love to get inside and let the big kids take them for a ride!  Holiday still is constantly putting stuffed animals and dolls in here and pulling them around.  The wooden slats can be taken out and the kids really love taking them out and putting them back in for some reason.  It's also just a really pretty toy!!!!  

SquishyBee Custom Dolls and Animal Friends 

So I can't exactly remember when I first encountered SquishyBee, I just know that I LOVE her!!! It doesn't hurt that she's from my home state, my original stompin' grounds, PA!  I fell in love with these most adorable dolls and animal friends the minute I saw them. When I first emailed her to figure out the ordering process, I was on a waiting list for several months and then finally got notification that she had room for a custom order and then the hard part came-- figuring out exactly what I wanted!  She has a handy pricing sheet-- all of the outfits and accessories are a la carte.  These dolls are seriously SO cute!  The top picture of the fox is actually one of our customs.  We also have the doll with the Minnie ears, but our's has brown hair-- we call her Holly Dolly because I had her made to look like Holiday.  Everything is handmade, completely custom-- the possibilities are endless!  Check her out on Facebook and jump on her list in time for Christmas! 

My First Little House Books Set 

Who DIDN'T grow up watching Little House on the Prairie (besides my husband)?!  Holiday discovered these books at the local library and we both fell in love.  The books really do portray a bygone era and an important part of American history.  They are just as educational as they are entertaining.  I just knew they needed to be part of our permanent library.  

Custom Super Hero Cape Sets by Superkidscapes 

You never know when you're little one might be called upon to save they day and they'll be ALL ready with these adorable, personalized super hero cape sets from Superkidcapes on Etsy!  

Haba Petit Fours Set 

I am a sucker for every type of adorable play food out there.  Every tea party loving child at your home will love this soft, squish Petit Fours set!  Another favorite toy at our house!