Its that time again when the annual toy sales are on here in Australia and its time to think about Christmas. So soon I know! Well this is the first year I have thought about organising gifts for my kids so far in advance before. My first (almost 5 year old) is now at that age when she's anticipating her birthday and Christmas way in advance so more thought on our part goes into it. And yes it does make sense to buy at sales and not have that task to do so close to Christmas (December).
We also have two of our kids' birthdays in the next couple of months so I like to buy for those as well. First I need to explain though that we already celebrate Christmas in a fairly simple way. I don't spend a lot and the kids generally get two or three small things. My hope in that, is that they will grow up knowing that they are blessed and yet not expecting gift giving to be the major point of celebrations.
Anyway here's several questions I ask when deciding what toys to get our kids:
1) Is it well made or will it last? In having young kids we need toys that are tough and durable and not easily broken. We believe in having less but better quality things.
2) Will more than one kid be able to get enjoyment from it? I like toys that are versatile. Our kids are moving through developmental stages fairly quickly and its great if a toy can be passed on to a sibling when its been out grown. I also like if a toy can be played with by siblings together. E.g. games, puzzles.
3) Do we have a similar toy already or one that performs a similar function? Not much point in doubling up on what's already in the cupboard.
4) How much does it cost? I am amazed at how little some toys are selling for this season. That probably gets back to question 1. Also I try to keep to a budget for gifts for our own sake. Less stress and no debt! Another financial consideration is balancing my spending by what I'm giving, often to development projects through TEAR. I am uncomfortable with our children having lots of "stuff" when kids in other communities are struggling to have their basic needs met.
5) Is it safe? Most toys end up in my kids' mouths at their age. Better not to have things around with lots of small parts.
6) How much space will it take up? Our house is not huge and I don't like the idea of toys spilling out everywhere. So things like doll houses are out because we don't have room to put them away.
7) Can we borrow a similar toy from our local toy library? I love the toy library! We get to borrow up to 8 toys every 3 weeks. Our kids would have played with over a thousand dollars worth of toys since we became members 1 1/2 years ago. Great value and I get to say to my daughter, "We don't need to buy that because we can borrow it from the toy library."
8) Will it get played with over and over again? I like toys the kids will be interested in over a period of time. Things like blocks, sets of farm animals, cars etc. I tend to steer away from one use toys such as craft kits.
9) Does it replace the use of their imagination? It seems like you can get more toys these days based on real life. I would rather my kids used their imagination to say set up a kitchen and cook something than have their play area decked out in plastic appliances and plastic food. Better to have toys that inspire creative, imaginative play rather than stifle it.
10) Last of all will Mum and Dad be interested in playing with it? Yes!! :)
Hope you find these ideas helpful.