Saturday, November 17, 2012

Which Toy Was Worth the Money?

I'm a little bit of a toy hater. My kids have more than they need and it seems that most of our toys don't really get played with, just strewn about. The pig sty that is our playroom seems to indicate that my kids favorite game is called "Total Destruction". Don't rush out to the store trying to find it. It isn't a board or computer game. It's a made up game, where my kids dump out all the adorable storage bins that I bought before I understood that organization is a pipe dream. Sometimes, if it's dark outside, they turn on the disco light and use that as their only light source during this game. Music will be blasting out of the stereo and I'll hear nothing but squealing joy. I call that version of the game, "Axl Rose at the Plaza".

When Christmas or a birthday approaches, I try to make smart decisions about toy buying. How would my kid play with this? Would it be a treasured toy or a bore? How long could this item entertain my child? Are there batteries, because mama hates changing batteries? Could this be used a weapon in a cat fight? Are there tiny pieces, because mama hates hunting for tiny pieces?

That list of questions helps me with decisions, but it also eliminates everything. I'm shopping smart this year. I'd love to know what happened with your kids Christmas toys after the New Year. I have a short list of the toys and games that really get some regular use. Let's learn something from each other. What was a hit at your house?

Jensen House Toy Success

  1. Mega Blocks- The huge building blocks that really young kids can handle. They are like legos, only a million times easier to clean up. Sasha got a small package for her first birthday and we added a few more over the years. These are used frequently to build castles and towers. We love them.
  2. Lego Friends- a.k.a. Girl Legos. My kids have two sets of girl legos and they love them. These entertain them for a while. They have also allowed some of Dave's Star Wars and Indiana Jones legos to mix with theirs. It's pretty common to see a storm trooper eating in the Lego Friends Cafe, or Indiana Jones riding with two girls in the Beach Cruiser Jeep.
  3. The Nintendo Wii- My girls could bowl or play table tennis on the Wii for hours. Wii Resort, Wii Sports and Wii Play are our favorite games. The whole family enjoys these. Mario Kart and Mario Galaxy are also frequently played games. And I personally love the Michael Jackson dance game.
  4. Princess Dresses- My girls are three and six. They can't get enough of the princess gowns. They also go nuts for princess heels. Sadly the heels are hidden in Dave's night stand right now. They had to go to toy prison for causing violent riots.
  5. Dollar Store puzzles- If you didn't know that the Dollar Store sells puzzles, well now you know. My kids love puzzles. 24 pieces up to 100. Always a hit.
  6. Tiny Nerf Footballs- These too can be purchased at the Dollar Store and they are great. My girls love to play catch with these. Inside or out, the Nerf ball gets a lot of play.
  7. Water color paints with the waterproof coloring books- Princess themed, Barbie themed, it makes no difference. They like to color, but painting is their favorite. Lyla could paint for a few hours and it's not really messy. It wipes up with a wet towel and it disappears in the laundry. I have a plastic place mat for each kid and those help with the mess as well. I give them several tiny water cups too. Save a few small applesauce or mandarin orange cups for this. They are just the right size.
  8. Play Doh- I know, I know. It's such a mess, but seriously they love it.
  9. Bubble wands-  I've found these super long, super narrow bubble wands that dip into their own narrow tube of bubbles. What kid doesn't love bubbles? These are a hit and easily refillable.
  10. Doll Strollers- Every kid that walks into my house goes immediately for the baby carriage. Who can blame them? I'd do the exact same if I were a kid.
  11. The Tiny Barbie Laptop- It is a great learning tool. I can't recommend it without saying that it is way too loud. If you put a piece of duct tape over the speaker, it really helps with the loudness. I hate when a toy can't be turned down, but my kids love that toy, so it makes the list.
  12. Dream Light- You know, those pillow pets that do a light show on your kids bedroom ceiling. My kids love "pets", and they were thrilled to get a dream light. It turns off automatically after about 10 minutes, and I like that. Plus, if your kid wakes up from a bad dream or something, turning on the dream light seems to calm that situation quickly. More sleep for me!
  13. Automoblox Car- My mother in law found the coolest car at a garage sale. It was still in the box when she bought it, and I'm glad she got it. This car is made of wood, but it has rubber wheels. This car is so cool because it can be taken apart and kids love to reassemble it. It rides like a dream on the wood floors. There's just something cool about it. Even I love to play with this thing.

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