Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we are right in the middle of the Christmas shopping season. We’ve received the huge toy catalogs in the mail from the major retailers with page after page of toys for kids of all ages.
We’ve never really had to give toy shopping much thought before. Last year was our first Christmas as parents, but our little boy was only around nine months old. As such, we didn’t have to buy a whole lot. We did find a few baby toys that we thought he’d have a good time with, and bought them as Christmas gifts for him. But my wife and I both knew that our little boy didn’t have any clue what was going on. He somewhat got a kick out of tearing the wrapping paper, but we knew he was too young to understand the concept of “Christmas”.
This year at Christmas, he won’t quite be two years old. Much like last year, I don’t know how much of the holidays he actually comprehends. We put up our Christmas tree, and he thoroughly enjoyed that. He thinks the lights and ornaments are fascinating. He gets a kick out of pointing at the different colored lights and listening to us tell him the color of each light he points at. He has a little play nativity set with the manger, animals, and baby Jesus that he plays with. We know he’s still too young to understand it all, but it’s neat to see how much more he’ll take part in Christmas activities this year compared to last. We do know that he will really enjoy opening his presents this year compared to last year, which brings me to my primary topic.
It seemed like picking out toys was a bit more difficult this year than it was last year. Now, I know there are a ton of toy options out there. Look through the toy aisles of any store and the choices are almost endless. That said, we don’t want to buy “junky” toys. Now, I want to point out that “junky” and “inexpensive” are not the same thing. But anyway, I heard a guy on a radio program a week or so ago come to the same conclusion, and he had a great way of putting it. Basically, there are two classes of toys: legacy toys and landfill toys.
Two Classes of Toys
Legacy toys are those toys that really provide a quality play experience and hold up well to lots of use. We’ve all had toys like this. These are the toys that you played with all the time as a kid. And then when you outgrew it, it was passed down to a younger sibling, cousin, etc. When you factor in the countless of hours of play that these toys are a part of, you see what a true value they are. I know when I was a little kid I had this Little Tykes train set that I remember playing with a lot. It was a heavy-duty plastic and had the train cars, a tunnel, and a lot of plastic tracks that you could put together any way you wanted. I played with this a lot, and then it was passed on to one of my cousins.
On the flip side, landfill toys are those toys that kids open, play with for a while, but then the toy either (1) loses its appeal and ends up forgotten at the bottom of a box or (2) gets broken after being played with for a week. I’ve had a lot of toys like this as well, most of which I don’t even remember. Funny how that works.
Our Toy-Buying Thoughts
So, what kind of toys are we buying for our little boy? The thing is, it’s hard to know which toys your kids will really become attached to and play with the most. I’m sure that we’ll have hits and misses over the years. This year I know we’re buying some books and a nice wooden Melissa & Doug puzzle, both of which he really loves. He’s getting a little remote control Thomas the Steam Engine that we think he’ll enjoy and an iPhone holder toy that comes with some kind of kid-friendly app. Hopefully these get a lot of use and don’t end up in the corner of his play-area hardly touched.
Are any of you buying toys for a toddler? What are your thoughts and strategies for toys?