Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Toy #3: Christmas Shopping Guide

The children in our family love to pretend. Truly, they spend about 85% of their playtime pretending they are someone else. So, whether they like to play superheroes, or become a cowboy, a princess or a gourmet chef, toys that help kids with pretend play are a great choice at Christmas.

Some of our best pretend toys are wearable. We have received many costumes from older cousins. My daughter got a box full of princess dresses from her cousin in Maryland earlier this year -- what a thrill! My boys have inherited superhero costumes complete with stuffed abs and biceps. If you don't have older cousins, garage sales are a great place to find costumes, especially now that Halloween is past.

A few years ago, Santa brought my five year old (then three) a whole box full of hats. He was so excited to become a race car driver, a cowboy, a viking, a pirate, or a fire fighter just by changing his hat! If you think Santa might want to do the same for your preschooler, I would recommend buying new rather than used. One website with a great assortment of hats and costumes for kids is Daddy's Toy Shop. Mastermind Toys also has a good selection.

Of course, there is more to pretend than just the clothes. My daughter loves the play kitchen she got last Christmas. I paid half price when Target was clearing the shelves to get ready for after-Thanksgiving shoppers. Now is the time to look for big items if your local stores haven't already stocked the shelves with Christmas toys. Many of the big-ticket toys may be on clearance.

We also enjoy classics like the Fisher-Price Cash Register and the Fischer-Price medical kit. The pieces of these toys are easy for young hands to hold and are the perfect tools for children to set up their own store or hospital. Because these classics are indestructible, they are easy to find at garage sales or on ebay.

Last year, my children got the Medical kit for Christmas. It comes off the shelf any time any of us are sick. I think they like giving pretend shots the best. At the time of this writing, I've been vaccinated about 6 thousand times.

To me, the best thing about pretend toys is that they give parents a chance to experience the way their child views the world. It is easy to have fun with your kids when they are pretending to be just like Daddy or their favorite superhero (or both... SuperDad!)

Admit it. Don't you like pretending sometimes, too?

-Midwest (Super)Mom


  1. Alexis loves her dress-up clothes and she loves to play office and grocery store too - you are right!

    Take care - Kellan

  2. My girls are constantly pretending it seems. From princess's to kittens their imagination knows no boundaries and we love it. Great post.

  3. I love to watch the kids pretend! It's usually worth a hoot - until they start sounding like me.

  4. Our favorite toys require a little imagination as well: Hali loooves her huge dress up collection. And her cash register. And her teepee, her collapsable house, etc. She gets bored and she just goes into la-la land to pretend anytime. It's hilarious.

  5. Thanks for this series! It's really helping me get ideas for shopping. (I had no idea that toys went on clearance *before* the Christmas rush! I just was at Walmart and got a play kitchen for half price -- there was only one left. I only paid $35!) I am amazed. Great tip.

  6. Those are great suggestions. I actually have fond memories of playing with the Fisher-Price medical kit. Your tips are great too. We've already started shopping and will be watching for toy sales.

  7. Oh my gosh I loved the cash register!!
    By the way I posted you on my blog for an award, come get it if ya want it!

  8. And what better way to learn to be frugal than with a cash register! Maybe I should put one on my own list.

  9. For Matt's first birthday we bought him a kitchen set off of Craigslist. A couple Clorox wipes later it was as good and new and Matt is always cooking up Goldfish or Pretzel soups and sauces.

    I'm so happy you are already writing about Christmas.. I can't wait.. will there be any posts about dealing with company and unexpected behavior on the big day? Lol, listen to me I sound like I'm writing a letter to the editor of a magazine.

    Oh and about the crash, yes the other driver's behavior was way more scarier then the accident itself.. on the upside I sort of like being driven around this week while my car is in the body shop.. it's nice to know how the other half lives (we're too cheap to get a rental car so Bob has been driving Mrs.Rodak all week)

    I'm going to go read the previous christmas gift guides now. I am in the mood to be all christmasy now. ..


  10. Hello,

    Great post! Lots of gift ideas for my grandson.

    I have an award for you. To accept - come on over to my site for the details.

  11. Kellan,
    Thanks! I hadn't even thought of 'office' and 'school'... my children play those all the time!

    I remember when we were kids and my brothers and sister and I would spend the afternoon building a tent city in the playroom and then pretending we were all horses. For some reason, it seemed like fun at the time. Now, I look back and think - ow! hard on the knees!

    You've got that right. When ever I hear one of them saying "Young Lady..." I know I'm hearing my own voice on playback. Thanks for coming by!

    What, no cowboys?!? Aren't you from Texas? :) Pretend can be such a great escape for our kids. It's neat to think they have such an active interior life.

    You're not the only one who's amazed! Good shopping, honey! Thanks for sharing your success!

    Glad you came by. It never hurts to have one eye open for bargains. That's what good Christmases are made of!

    Thank you so much for the award. I'm touched.

    Ha! I didn't even think of that. Who knew I was so fixated on cash! It's what I get for living in the land of Frugal... :)

    This is the editor speaking. Thank you for your story ideas. We will keep them under advisement. ;) (I'm also thinking of writing a list of "Worst Gifts Ever"... so be prepared!) Glad you and Matt weren't hurt.

    Thank you for that hilarious award! Lemonade is one of my favorite beverages of all time. Your post made me smile.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

  12. I had the original version of that cash register when I was a kid-- I've got to find out if my parents still have it!

    If they don't, it's because they gave it away to someone-- like you say, that thing was a tank.


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