Monday, October 20, 2014

9 Tried & True Toys for Girls

In case you didn't know, I LOVE Christmas!
Did you notice my countdown??? -------------------------->

So, are you thinking about shopping?  I have girlies ranging in age from almost 18 months to 9 years.  Every now and then I take a look around us to all the toys we own and think about what I'd buy if I had to do it all over again.  The choices on this list are what has proven to be tried and true thus far, what has been well-loved and more than frequently played with.  Maybe this will help you with your Christmas toy shopping.

These dolls are worth it.  Period.  And, as most people know, if something happens, you can send them to the American Girl's Doll Hospital.  There's nothing worse than a little girl's broken heart because Mommy had to throw away a cheap doll that had only one leg and an arm hanging by a thread.  Besides, the one American Girl doll that they own (which we buy them around the age of 5 or 6), is about the only one they play with anyway (with the exception of #2 on this list).  I buy accessories for the dolls at a local doll clothes store, but have found doll clothes at craft shows, Wal-Mart and Target.  I repeat though, the doll is worth it - sturdy, lovable and age-appropriate (Get lost, Barbie!).  One of my favorite little side notes on these dolls is how much they encourage reading.  Almost all American Girl dolls come with books.  Just another way to get your little girl reading!
Aside from their American Girl doll, the Blossoms each own one Bitty Twin Doll or Bitty Baby Doll.  American Girl knows about making dolls that hold up to real life play.  Seriously!  As far as accessories go, I've found that the same clothes for the 18" American Girl Dolls usually fit the 15" Bitty Twin or Bitty Baby Dolls.  Do the math - 4 Blossoms at 2 quality dolls a piece that get tons of use - AND all the clothes fit all the dolls.  That's way better than countless cheap dolls laying around, unused and clothes that only fit 1-2 dolls.

(Side note: The American Girl doll is an 18" doll that is a girl.  The Bitty Twin doll is a 15" doll that is a baby with short hair, which the girlies love.  The Bitty Baby doll is a 15" doll that is a bald baby.  Just in case you are not an expert on the world of American Girl, as we are.  He he. :)

Blossom1 received this castle for her 4th birthday (I think.)  I'm pretty sure that it has been played with every day since then.  They love the figures.  They love the princesses.  This thing sees a lot of wear and tear.  It was worth the bit of the higher price tag.  Since I'm also a (closet) princess fan (Long live Cinderella!), Mommy thinks it's uber cool too and doesn't mind plopping down on the floor to set up a ball.  Like a car that's gets great gas mileage, I'm pretty sure this toy will be ran into the ground.

#4 – Classic Books
I'd spend more money in a heartbeat for all the classic books - Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, Trixie Belden, Beverly Cleary, American Girl and Boxcar Children.  The girls have a pretty well established library, but now that I see what it does for them and how much they read, I'd buy even more.  We're not book snobs either - yard sales, book sales, and ebay have great deals on used well-loved books. 

#5 – Doll House
We bought Blossom1 the Fisher Price Loving Family Doll House when she was 2-3 years old.  Each of our girlies have played with it a lot, along with the huge basket of furniture sets that we own.  It holds up well (and ours has been CLIMBED and sat on!) and all the accessory sets are still in stores, which is more than I can say for a lot of toys out there.  Now that I realize what animal lovers they are, if I had to do it again, I might have spent a little more money and invested in a Calico Critters doll house collection.  But, how was I to know that we'd have FOUR critter-lovin' girlies and it would have gotten more than average use?  I guess my point is, all girls need a doll house.  If you're going the Wal-Mart route, try the Fisher Price Loving Family.  If not, try another nice option, but always make sure it's quality so it holds up. 

Three of the Blossoms currently own a Razor Scooter.  They are holding up fabulously.  Despite the ideal that girls are all sugar and spice, our girlies play hard.  Still, I'm confident the scooters will be kicking when they're in high school.  I find that impressive.  AND, they fold up, making them super portable for throwing in the back of the truck in a heartbeat.  I'm looking forward to buying one for Blossom4 when she's old enough.  I also love that they are a terrific price point for what you're getting.  We spent $27-$40 on each of the scooters.  They were so pleased because each of the Blossoms owns their favorite color (it's like it's personalized!).  I would note that we did purchase non-Razor beginner (three-wheeled) scooters for Blossom1 & Blossom2 when they were about 3-4 yrs old.  I wouldn't do that again.  They weren't worth the money for the very small amount of time the girlies used them.  They weren't high quality.  They broke easily.  It really didn't take much for the girlies to learn to use the Razor Scooters (at the age of 4), which are a hands-down buy again product. 

We own 3-4 of these books that work well for baby to toddler to preschooler age.  One Mom I know said that her daughter's speech therapists use these books for speech therapy with children.  They're that good!  They are sturdy books with vivid illustrations of things like first words, the alphabet, opposites and animals.  Blossom4 will bring me one of these books about 90% of the time if she wants a book read to her.  I've purchased them for our church nursery and would give them as a gift any day.  I've found them in store at Walmart also. 

We own three sets of these fantastic magnetic dress-ups and I've purchased a huge set for our church nursery.  We own the princess, horse and bear family dress-up sets.  Melissa & Doug keep coming out with more versions of it.  EVERY one is a winner.  The girlies love the creative play.  It's a tried and true toy that last for years and years.  Plus, they come in a convenient wooden storage container.

#9 – PAPO Animal Figures or Schleich Horses
We have a family full of animal lovers and I've picked up these horses from Pet Stores, Tractor Supply and even yard sales.  We've got a basket full of el-cheapo models in addition to these brand name figures.  I'd buy the brand name PAPO or Schleich figures again.  They are so true to life.  They keep their color.  They hold up to play super well.  We haven't had one break yet.  I can't say the same for the countless tears that have been shed over the broken horse legs and such on the el-cheapos.  ("You're going to throw away Whitey????  Sob."  "Yes, Honey, his leg is sharp."  "But I can GLUE IT.  Wail!!!!")

#10 - Kitchen Toys
I really wanted to put kitchen set on the above list, but I hated to admit (as my husband so succinctly pointed out), the kitchen set just doesn't see that hard, everyday use.  When I overhauled the girls' toys and rooms over the weekend, I actually moved the kitchen set out of Blossom3 and Blossom4's room because it was seeing so little playtime.  (Their auntie graciously pointed out that why would you want to play with it, when Mommy lets you work in the real kitchen?)  In any case, the kitchen set will have a little break in the basement for a while.  What I had to admit though, was that the plastic tote of kitchen toys that includes tea sets, dishes, cups, utensils and pretend food HAD to remain in their bedroom.  I was right on!  About 10 minutes after everything had found its new place and lesser used toys made their way elsewhere, Blossom2 came in and shyly said, "What I really miss is the kitchen stuff, Mama."  "Don't worry Honey, it's right here on this shelf!"  (Happy smile from Blossom2)  And Mommy realized that while the kitchen set sees only occasional use, the kitchen accessories factor in to virtually every play they concoct.  So, how bout it?  Pick up a set of cute little pots and pans or dishes and cups for the sweet little miss in your life!  In this case, most any brand will do.  It just has to hold imaginary soup!
Mothers of boys, I'm sorry.  I've got zero experience there.  Um, can I recommend Legos?  
Happy Christmas shopping!