Review: Best Christmas Gifts for Kids

Now that the boxes and paper have been thrown away, I thought it would be appropriate to see how the gifts we gave our kids are measuring up. And by “measure up” I mean how much time the kids have spent playing with them.  Christmas break was two weeks, and we all needed our diversions (the moms got hers and hers iPhones, which were PLENTY diverting).

Top Gifts of Christmas 2009:

1) Bikes! This was a bike Christmas for us.  My daughter has been coveting her brother’s bike all summer, deeply annoyed that she cannot go as fast as he can on his bike when she is on her little scooter.  So we started shopping for a 16 incher.  For girls, they’re pretty much all pink at the affordable level (between $60-$90).  You can get more color variety at the $200 level.  It seemed crazy to spend that much on a transitional bike, so we went for the craziest pink princess bike you ever saw.

Disney Princess Bike, $69 on

She loved it.  Yes, other parents give us weird looks because this one is so over the top, but we figured, if you’re going pink, might as well go all out.  It’s made by Huffy and so far is great.  If it hadn’t snowed or been frigid outside most of the holiday, she would have been riding this thing everyday.

We hadn’t planned on getting our son a bike, but the Greek chorus that are the grandparents (“doesn’t she have a hat?”, “that coat is too small” etc) decided that his beloved Magna “Major Damage” bike had become too small for him.  A second opinion from a bike shop confirmed this was the case.  So for him, it was a second hand, Raleigh MXR 20″ bike (like this, but an older model and in black).  Perfect, as it had both a coaster break and hand break.

2) Castles. Castle mania reigned over the holidays.  And so it can be written that we highly recommend both the Melissa & Doug Folding Princess Castle and the Playmobil Knight’s Take Along Castle.

Will the medieval knights lay siege to the princess castle (populated entirely by Disney princess figurines)?  Or will they lay down their swords and seek the hands of the fair Techicolor maidens?  Stay tuned.

Melissa & Doug folding castle, $65

3) Legos. Jasper graduated to real Legos this year.  He’s a tinkerer, and these are perfect for his tinkering little hands. After years of Duplos, I was shocked at how tiny these things are.  The downside of real Legos: I foresee many becoming lost in the cracks of our house. And 405 barely fill the case (which means there’s plenty of room for MORE…and more tiny parts around the house).  But he does love them, and they are fun for me, too.

405 piece lego set in tub, $30 on

4. Books! Books played a big part in the holiday show.  Some hits of the season: the Magic Treehouse chapter-book series (books 5-8) for Jasper, and The Silver Slippers for the ballet-focused Magnolia (complete with its message on determination and practice, but with a real silver slipper necklace to soften things up).

5. Crafts! Last year it was all about Play-doh. This year we are loving a terrific Mosaic art kit (simple, fun, and hours of playtime).

My First Mosaic: Pets kit, $10-$15 on

Also a hit with the three-year old brain was the magic pen coloring book.  Truth in advertising: this thing IS kind of magic;  Magnolia uses the “magic pen” to make the colors appear in the picture that is on the page (takes all the guess work out of drawing in the lines). Another bonus: these books are cheap-o. This is good because it doesn’t take long to get through them.

Oh, the toys still to be played with!  And with the temperature staying in the teens, we need plenty of things to keep us busy.

There’s still all the dress up clothes (princess, boas — everyone needs at least two — a cowboy outfit).  The Thomas the Tank Engine roundhouse, a fixture on Christmas lists for years.  Shock of actually owning it has so far gotten in the way of play beyond setting it up and making it “snowed in.”  The Lincoln Logs and the “April,” i.e. the “apron” filled with crayons.  Both have had some play but are now hibernating until their time comes again.

And next year, I’m vowing not to let the cool science calendar for kids get away again, selling out before I could buy it.


4 Responses to “Review: Best Christmas Gifts for Kids”

  1. 1 Amy Winegardner January 11, 2010 at 2:50 am

    The Roundhouse??? Lucky! Loved your list. One thing Peter barely glanced at after opening but that has gotten major play 2 weekends later…Wedgits. He had fun following directions and – best of all – even some solo play! Whoot whoot! Mama’s got to play with her iPhone too, ya know?

  2. 2 Chrissy January 11, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Ah, thanks! Not so much on there for boys. Christmas was big on princess action.
    The roundhouse is a hit (those trains need a place to park at night, you know), but it’s a lot of setting up the scene.

  3. 3 sarah G January 14, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Greek chorus???

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