Children are usually not too shy about telling you the big stuff they want: Xboxes, scooters, skateboards … or you just know that it’s time for a bigger bicycle (they do grow right before your eyes). Great little stuff for the stocking on the mantle might be a little more challenging, especially since you might start thinking about it a little late. We here at AL are ready and willing to give your our suggestions (in the nick of time):
1. Kikkerland Wind-Up Toys – We’ve posted about these before. Their appeal is universal – adults, too, love to watch them in action. The classic clockwork mechanism is a refreshing change from sealed electronic gadgets, and there are many different ones available.
2. Automoblox Minis – We’ve posted about these before, too. They are well-made with strict quality control, and they look good. The interchangeable wheels and connectors give them lasting play value.
3. Gift Cards – A bit lame by themselves, and better for older children, but a welcome extra to throw in. I was thinking Barnes and Noble while we still have real bookstores, but there’s always iTunes and GameStop if you just want them to have fun.
4. Crayola Crayons – Kids have crayons, and they have them at school, but you can’t beat a nice fresh box of genuine Made in U.S.A. Crayola Crayons in the colors that get used the most. A true classic that will remind you of your own childhood.
5. Darda Pull-Back Cars – Another favorite of ours. The standard 1:64 toy car size, but pull them back and they take off like little rockets. Not everyone knows about them, but they are a lot more fun than Hot Wheels (although we like Hot Wheels, too – they’re easy to find anywhere, anytime).
6. Socks – If you roll up a kid’s size pair of socks, they’re small and you can throw them in, too. Socks in a stocking have a nice meta effect, and you can get them in patterns that are sure to please (you know what your child likes).
7. Buzz Magnets – If you’ve never seen these in action, they’re a little hard to describe. They do all sorts of fun things, but they make a hypnotic buzzing sound when you snap them together. Plus they’re a little safer than those tiny magnets they don’t sell anymore.
8. Slinky Jr – These are small and cute and are a great introduction to the mid-20th century classic. They will fit great in a stocking, but if you have room, go for the full-size one that walks down stairs.
9. LEGO 8833 Mini-Fig – To paraphrase the late Duchess of Windsor, you can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many LEGO mini-figs. These seem to be everywhere right now, at checkout counters and in the LEGO aisle. Part of the fun is that there are different ones and you don’t know what’s inside until you open them, so feel free to get more than one.
10. Rubik’s Cube – Whether you can solve it or not, a Rubik’s Cube is colorful and fun to twirl around. It’s a little piece of the 1980s that is fascinating to everyone, and your child will get a great experience learning about math and 3D space.
We promised ten, but we’ll keep going:
11. Silly Putty – Remember Silly Putty? Another great old toy to just fidget with in your hands. Make it into a ball that bounces, squeeze it flat or smash it with a hammer. The old Sunday comic newspaper trick sadly doesn’t work on modern newspapers with soy-based ink, but that’s OK, it won’t work on a computer screen either …