Friday, November 13, 2009

Holiday Series: Toys (and Other Gifts) With Staying Power

Some toys last approximately 3 nanoseconds - or less - after Christmas. You know the ones I'm talking about: they have teeny tiny, breakable, and/or irreplaceable pieces that are lost before that second cup of coffee on Christmas morning. Or they don't match your child for age-appropriateness or size. Buying Christmas toys for today's marketing-savvy kids only adds to the challenge. We are a million light years away from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmases featuring a single penny, and orange, and a tin cup.

With this post, we're kicking off a holiday series on toys (and other gifts) with staying power. Generally speaking, the items will:
  1. Be a good value
  2. Be long-lasting/resilient
  3. Inspire creativity
  4. Span age groups
Without further adieu, here are some toys with staying power:

Makit's Make a Plate Kit

My brother and I made a few of these back in the day, and they are still in their original format today on "Each Make A Plate® Kit contains 5 drawing sheets and markers, plus one pre-paid certificate for processing artwork into one (1) 10 inch melamine plate at the Magic Factory™."

The recipient can send one sheet they have colored with the kit's markers in to the Magic Factory, and after about 10 days, their design comes back in the mail emblazoned on a melamine plate that they can use again and again! These plates are oh-so dishwasher safe, and I am proud to say, still hold their colorfast properties decades (eek!) later - remaining bright and enduring (not to mention useful) tributes to the child's artwork. (My mom still treasures the ones she has at home that we colored for Christmas way back when.)

At just over $12 for one Make a Plate kit, this could be a stocking stuffer or part of the gifts under the tree - OR you could collude with the kids to color and process their own plates as a Christmas gift to their parents.

IKEA Lillabo train sets
$14.99 for the biggest basic set (found in the Woodbridge IKEA)
$9.99 for 12-piece train/track set

$6.99 for 10-piece supplemental track set
$3.99 for the basic 3-piece train with engine and cars

Let's face it: shopping for train sets for your kids can be like shopping for cars - there is a basic A to B function, and if the set delivers on that, most kids will be deliriously happy to build, rebuild, and choo-choo away for at least long enough for you to grab a shower or rustle up some dinner. Train sets that go beyond this A to B function with extra options and characters are cool, sure, but the costs can run away quickly, as any parent whose child owns an entire complement of Brio or Thomas the Tank engine sets will attest.

Word on the street (and on the IKEA website's Lillabo page) is that the IKEA train track sets, including the main Lillabo set, are compatible with higher end toy train engines, like Thomas the Train engines. So if the little one on your Christmas list is nuts about Thomas, consider buying some Thomas engines, and one or more of the extra track sets from IKEA.

And:'s OK...we won't tell if you're buying the train sets for the kiddos so that you can choo-choo on Christmas morning. Find your local IKEA here.

Note: We have not been paid or asked to endorse the gifts in these series; we just plain like the gifts!
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1 comment:

Amy Rainey said...

Thanks for both of these! I always assumed that the artwork would fade from those plates. And I had no idea IKEA had train sets...great info!