Oh it's really snuck up on me this year but Christmas is truly just around the corner! I've been far more organised than previous years - nesting, pregnancy hormones and Christmas planning are apparently a winning combination when it comes to organisation! We are planning on spending our first Christmas as just us three (but hopefully four!) in Paris. This will be the first time that we haven't spent it with one of our families but we are excited to make some of our own traditions with our own children!
As always when you have young kids, the question of presents comes up early - how many to give, what type of toy, are we doing Father Christmas presents, are we doing multiple presents from everyone? This will be Arthur's third Christmas and quite honestly, he wants for nothing. I decided, for the purpose of this blog post to take a look at what he already has and loves in the hope of inspiring you, if you're reading and struggling to buy for your toddler. At the end is a little list of things we've bought for this year that you might want to consider. I've split it into a couple of categories for ease: Toys, activities, and games.
- Wooden animals: these gorgeous, solid animals are always a winner. They're a brand called Holztiger and I've seen them around in a fair few independent toy shops in Paris. They have a few ranges (farm animals, etc.) and they're just lovely for promoting imaginative play. At this age, any kind of toy animal fascinates Arthur, and he can spend a good hour playing with them.
- Wooden Cars: we have a set of Janod wooden cars that Arthur is completely obsessed with (seriously - he sleeps with them!) I love them because they've proved themselves really really durable, he received them for Christmas 2015 and has played with them practically every day since. Janod is stocked all over France and can be found in most toy stores.
- Grimms Rainbow: this classic, beautiful toy from Grimms (pictured below) is one of our more pricy toys, but honestly worth every penny. It has provided hours of imaginative play at our house and gets used as a tunnel, roads, boats, bridges, cradles for baby dolls and everything inbetween.
- Brio: self explanatory, if you have a child into trains, I can't recommend Brio train tracks highly enough. It's an absolute classic and, happily connects with IKEA train tracks too so you can combine collections.
- Cleaning: most little kids love copying mummy and daddy and last year Arthur received a beautiful wooden broom and dustpan & brush set from Nature et Decouvertes. (pictured at top of page) It gets used every day. Sometimes we pour out things like coloured feathers or conkers for him to sweep up, sometimes he just helps sweep the kitchen but, either way, he loves it.
- Sorting and ordering: from six months and up, lots of babies like to sort and order different objects. We have a set of stacking pots from Grimms that Arthur liked to put objects into, and take them out. Now he uses them for counting objects like pegs, conkers, little balls and people. They're pictured above and you can find them here.
- Crafts: Generally having a well stocked craft cupboard has held us in good stead, particularly through the winter months when outdoor time is limited. This really doesn't have to be anything fancy. We keep things like lolly sticks, yarn, coloured paper, glue, paints, chalks and beeswax crayons, play doh, salt doh ingredients and beeswax for modelling.
- Dressing up: This is a new thing that Arthur is into and oh, it's making my heart swell! I loved dressing up as a child and my mum made amazing costumes for us (she also loves dressing up!) if you wanted to read about some great benefits of dress up play you can do so here. At the moment we have a relatively small dressing up selection; bird, wolf, tiger, mechanic - but are looking forward to growing it over the years. The bird costume pictured above is from Okaidi
- Story cards: I've written about these fantastic cards before when discussing our toddler's morning and evening routine but they're always worth a mention. There are far more cards in the pack than pictured above and they can be used to make up stories. Arthur particularly loves the one about the tree growing. You can find them at Nature et Decouvertes in their Montessori department.
- Lotto: Arthur plays this at his Mamie's house alot and we've got a beautiful set here too. He loves looking at the little pictures and matching them up to the cards. I love that it's the first game we've been able to play together as a family too. Worth a look & you can find our set here.
I've spoken before about how we try to limit the amount of toys that Arthur is given. We live in a very small space and just don't have the room. I also believe that it's not healthy in terms of development for children to be overwhelmed by toys. At Christmas and birthdays therefore, we tend to send a list to grandparents and others of things that we know he will love and play with and ask them to choose one gift each to give. It generally works very well (with the exception of my mum this year who just returned to England yesterday having dropped off SLIGHTLY more than one gift for Arthur...) and we try to work on the four gift principle of: something you WANT, something you NEED, something to WEAR and something to READ. With that in mind, here's our Christmas list this year.
- WANT: some wooden beads for threading onto shoe laces
- NEED: a child size yoga mat so that he stops stealing mine!
- WEAR: a musketeer dressing up costume
- READ: the Koala who could (We have the Lion inside and LOVE it)
I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration if you're feeling stuck. We're trying to make Christmas more about starting our own traditions this year than gift giving but it is undoubtedly part of making your child's (and your!) Christmas magical!
What's Father Christmas bringing down your chimney this year?