VancouverMom.ca asked some of its favourite local merchants to name its top picks for the season. Joanna Mileos and her awesome staff over at Granville Island Toy Company offered up this list of Top 20 Gifts. And while we had girls in mind, most of these items would be appropriate for that boy on your list too.
1. Plan Green Dollhouse (with Furniture)
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Really popular with an environmentally friendly look.”
I personally have been oohing and ahhhing for a Plan dollhouse for a few years now (it happens to be under the tree for my daughters this year). I love the modern aesthetic of these dollhouses, as well as Plan’s eco-vision in everything they make. This Plan Green Dollhouse features a wind turbine and solar cell panel with electrical inverter for generating electricity, as well as little touches like a rain barrel and shade canopy, for the little environmentalist in your family.
2. Corolle Dolls Lia Interactive Doll
Granville Island Toy Company says: “All of Corolle’s dolls are fantastic and really well-made.”
Corolle is my brand of choice for traditional dolls for my girls. I love this collection of dolls from France. My youngest daughter has had her beloved “baby” since she was about a year old and has carried its plush squishy goodness around with her everywhere since she received it. Joanne recommended Corolle Dolls’ Lia Interactive, a doll that not only speaks four languages, but also responds when your child interacts with it. Lia will laugh when you tickle her feet and cry when she’s hungry. Comes with eight accessories: a bib, plate, bottle, spoon, potty and three bracelets to allow you to change the language.
3. Calico Critters Cozy Cottage
Granville Island Toy Company says: “A sweet dollhouse that any little girl would love.”
Measuring 12” x 10.75” x 8”, this adorable house comes with an amazing amount of furniture and accessories, including Bell Hopscotch Rabbit, bed with matching sheets, table with chairs, kitchen counter with sink and oven, along with moveable stairs, cookware and food! Terrific for children ages 3+.
4. ThinkFun Hoppers Junior
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Teaches the kids problem-solving.”
ThinkFun’s series of games are terrific for kids. In ThinkFun’s Hoppers Junior, a single player helps Red Frog Freddy win the leaping contest by being the last one on the pond. Players choose a challenge and place the frogs on the playing board to match the picture shown. To win, players hop all of their frogs around the pond until only the Red Frog remains. Ranging from Easy to Super Hard, this game will keep any five- to seven-year-old busy.
5. Kids of Carcassonne
Any person that plays the adult version of this game knows just how addictive Carcassonne can be. In Kids of Carcassonne, sheep, chicken and cows have been set free in the town of Carcassonne and children have to catch the animals before dusk. Two or four players can play (although the game is ideal with four). Appropriate for children aged four and up.
6. Bloco Horses and Unicorns Set
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Made in Canada.”
Bloco has some amazing 3D building kits. This set allows for the simultaneoius creation of three models: a horse, a unicorn and a filly. Accessories like a saddle, blanket, mane and bridle are included. The filly can also be mounted on cradles to create a rocking horse. Or kids can use their imagination and build whatever suits their fancy.
7. Teaching Cash Register
Granville Island Toy Company says: “The absolute best play value. Works with Canadian money – fake or real.”
Joanna couldn’t say enough about the Teaching Cash Register. One of her customers even joked that his kids could use the cash register to figure out how much money they raided out of his spare change. The Teaching Cash Register talks, lights up and makes other rewarding sounds. Games help kids practice basic math skills such as addition and subtraction. Comes with Canadian money and also works with really Canadian currency!
8. Little Tikes 8×8 Bouncer
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Easy to pack.”
I couldn’t believe that you could have your very own bouncy castle for your backyard. This inflatable bouncer is built with durability in mind – a double-stitched entrance and made with puncture-resistant material and a durable mesh netting. Includes stakes to anchor the bouncer firmly to the ground and a heavy-duty blower. For ages 3 to 10 years.
9. Crazy Forts by Crazy Forts
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Stable. Kids can easily make their own tents.”
I’ve been eyeing Crazy Forts for some time. If your kids are struggling to make their indoor forts with blankets and furniture, use this fort system instead. Children can connect the balls and sticks to make a structure and then cover it with bedsheets – solving that dilemma of not having enough chairs or tables to create a substantial fort.
10. Melissa and Doug Shopping Cart
I don’t know what it is, but kids love shopping carts. Made with durable metal, Melissa and Doug’s Shopping Cart looks just like one from a real grocery store. Complete with pivoting front wheels, a folding doll seat, and protective corner bumpers.
11. Spatulatta Cookbook
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Recipes are easy to make yet impressive. Nice introduction to cooking.”
The other day, I noticed that my foodie sister had this cookbook on her shelf for her kids. Based on the concept of kids teaching kids, tween-aged sisters Belle and Liv whip up adventurous yet kid-friendly recipes like Berry Dip and Roll and Yumbo Gumbo. All the recipes include full-colour photos, easy instructions and playful commentary. Spiral binding allows the book to lie flat and its high-gloss pages mean that the book is stain and spill resistant. Perfect for kids ages 9 to 12. Also check out their award winning web site at www.spatulatta.com.
12. Project Runway Fashion Design Projector Kit
For the budding fashion designer, kids can create any look by using slides to project a pattern and tracing fashion combinations that they can embellish on their own.
13. Fashion Angels Hair Stylist
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Kids learn to make real – and complicated – hair styles.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible at doing my kids’ hair. I don’t really know how to get the perfect French braid and am not all that creative with the ponytails and barrettes – so this guide would surely help. This hair style guide gives your child step-by-step instructions for over 50 styles for her own hair – or using the wig that’s provided. Includes wig, hair extensions, 6 hair clips and hair colour streaking set and guide.
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Made from corn, Playmais is safe, has multiple uses and can be enjoyed by kids of any age.”
Joanna loves Playmais so much she gave me a box to bring home and try with the kids. I just happened to be heading to my sister’s and between the two of us, we have two two-year-olds, a four- and five-year-old and a nine-year-old. All of them were kept busy for well over 30-minutes and proudly boasted their creations when they were done. Made of corn and water and dyed with natural and food colours, Playmais does not contain toxic ingredients and is safe to play with (although the manufacturers don’t recommend eating it!).
15. Schylling My Secret’s Safe
When I was a kid, I had a miniature Canada Post replica mailbox where I could keep letters and other valuables locked safely inside – and loved it. With My Secret’s Safe, kids can guard their special keepsakes in this steel safe complete with combination lock and alarm. Hot pink with contemporary flower graphics. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
16. GoGo’s Crazy Bones Packs
Granville Island Toy Company says: “These surprise packages are the next big thing.”
Joanna’s staff insisted that she carry GoGo’s Crazy Bones – small one-inch high plastic figures that children can play games with. Each pack contains three Crazy Bones and three stickers, each randomly selected. With 80 different types and stickers in each bag, Gogo’s Crazy Bones are sure to be the hot thing that every little kid is collecting.
17. Wikki Stix
Wikki Stix are made of wax, bend like pipe cleaners but stick to surfaces so you can make pictures. Kids can bend, twist, cut and stick the sticks together to make jewellery or 3D creatures. While the kit comes with a playboard, Wiki Stix can stick to almost any surface like paper or the fridge to make pictures. No preparation required. Clean-up is just an easy wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel.
18. Slingshot Flying Monkey With Scream Sound
Granville Island Toy Company says: “We could not stock enough of these last year.”
I gave the Slingshot Flying Monkey away in place of goodie bags at the start of my daughter’s birthday party and they kept the older kids occupied for hours. Fling the monkey long distances using its elastic arms. Dressed in a cape and mask like a super hero, the monkey will let out two loud monkey calls whenever you shoot him. Warning! This toy has a high adult-annoyance factor (note the “with scream sound” in the title), but the kids (and adults at your office) will toss these monkeys with delight. Appropriate for older kids (five and up) who have the hand dexterity to place their fingers in the pockets and fling the monkey.
19. Elf on the Shelf
Granville Island Toy Company says: “Perfect for any child that believes in Santa.”
In this book, Santa reveals his biggest secret – just how Santa knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Each book comes with a scout elf, which the children name, register in the North Pole’s Hall of Registry at elfontheshelf.com, and print their official elf adoption certificate.
20. The Cat in The Hat Game
Granville Island Toy Company says: “An award-winning game that gets kids moving.”
This award-winning game combines balancing, jumping, sliding, giggling and more. Can you limbo under the trick-a-mas-stick will balancing the fish on your stomach? Hundreds of possibilities that encourage reading, physical activity and memory skills.