As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I have a really good start on holiday shopping this year. Honestly, I do most of my shopping online at this point - I rarely have the time or energy to shop in a store these days, and if I do, it's a day that gets planned a long time in advance, like my standing Black Friday outlet date with my sister. I could opt out of shopping that day, but the deals are great, and we have a nice time together.
This will be my first Christmas as a parent, and so instead of just buying toys and clothes for neices and nephews, I get to fill a stocking, play Santa, and the whole 9 yards for my own child. Yes, I'm aware that, at 10 months old she won't know the difference between a toy from Santa or from Mommy & Daddy, and the wrapping paper is sure to be the hit of the day. Humor me. I love to make traditions, and family Christmas traditions are ones I've looked forward to making for a long time.
This year, I decided to buy only North American and/or European-produced toys that met pretty exacting standards of child safety. Not only do I want to support smaller, specialized toy producers if I can, but I think that european toys are typically really cool. Much nicer than the plastic-y junk I see at Toys R' Us.
So I've put a lot of time and effort into finding neat toys from some pretty cool places at reasonable prices. Here's my list for those of you who have a White Christmas on the brain despite the hot, humid August we're having.
1. I like wooden toys for kids. Real wood blocks and pull toys are my favorites (note: anything that doesn't require batteries is a plus in my book). http://www.northstartoys.com/ has some really neat rolly animals and push toys. Plus the prices are very reasonable. Two snaps up for this family-owned business in New Mexico.
2. For about the best selection of neat stuff I've seen yet http://www.moolka.com/ wins hands down. Lots of european toys of the nifty sort one doesn't see too often in brick-and-mortar stores. I was especially impressed with their building blocks and stacking toy selection. 4 snaps in a z formation for this site.
3. Similar to MoolKa, the Oompa Toy Store is great. I thought their prices were sometimes a little higher than MoolKa, but they didn't have as much out of stock. http://www.oompa.com/
4. If you like toy trucks, check out the wood ones at http://www.dandmewoodtoys.com/. They have a great selection, along with pull toys and other cool stuff. Their prices are a bit high, but the Klickity Klacker Push Toy is only $39.95, and was chosen by 'Baby Talk' magazine as one of their toys of the year. I love it.
5. Last but not least on my list is http://www.childtrek.com/. Their toys are cool, they are green, and they have a good list of toys under $30.