2016 Holiday Gift Guide for KidsOn St. Nicholas Day, Isla and I wrote a letter to Santa and put it in her shoe. She dictated, I wrote. She first and foremost wished Santa a Merry Christmas and then proceeded to create a very specific wish list: “A raincoat, Peppa boots, a bunny, a dog, a kitty cat, a piggie, a rabbit, a balloon and a scooter for Theo.” It appears Isla wants to jump in muddy puddles, move to a farm, have a birthday party and would appreciate it if her brother would stop stealing her ride. I think we can make some of that happen.

We’re really big on make-believe and learning toys around here, though it does appear Isla’s Paw Patrol collection multiplies every time we go to Target and her cats must be breeding while we sleep. Kids know what they like.

Here are a few cute things for the toddlers on your list:

(quick PSA: If you live in Philly, our favorite stores for kids’ toys, clothes, gear and more are: Tildie’s Toy Box, Cloth and Occasionette. I know the owners of all three of these shops and they are lovely. If you can support them, or the small shops in your own neighborhood, please do. Many of the things on my list (or similar and probably even better items) are sold in these shops.)

1. Micro Mini 2 Go Scooter. We bought this one for Isla when she turned two and she was already a bit too advanced for the seat. So we put just the seat in the basement and she’s been riding the regular scooter ever since. This Christmas we’re going to buy just the scooter for Theo and finally put that seat to good use until he’s ready to ride like his big sis. Though he’s pretty good already! He loves that thing and has learned to propel himself a couple inches with the kick of a foot and loves to balance on it … to Isla’s great frustration.

2. Dino Ears + Paws + Tail by Opposite of Far. I’ll never stop including Opposite of Far’s adorable animal masks and accessories in all my favorite kid toy blog posts. We really love this shop and the owner is ridiculously sweet. She may not be local, but she’s a small shop and is our favorite place for make-believe. Also, Isla and Theo are both currently obsessed with dinosaurs. Isla’s preschool spent a whole week learning about these prehistoric monsters and Isla came home and told Theo everything. He now rawrs like a dinosaur and it’s pretty stinking cute.

3. The Learning Journey Match It! Spelling Puzzles. We’ve had this box of three and four-piece puzzles for about a year and Isla loves them. She dumps the whole box on the floor and then digs through to find the pieces that match so she can put each puzzle together. I thought at first she would have a hard time, but she figured it out quickly and has gotten really good at matching the pieces and even recognizing the letters. So many skills to learn from one small box.

4. Binoculars. Isla loves to explore. She wants to go on adventures like Dora and be an animal rescuer like Diego so I think she’d love binoculars. They’re great for people watching in the city, too! Can’t go wrong.

5. Softcover Photo Book by Artifact Uprising. Isla was given an empty photo album for one of her first holidays so I printed pictures of all of her favorite people and filled it for her. She carries it everywhere and even sleeps with it. She loves that thing. It’s filled with cousins, grandparents, friends, adventures and even my aunt’s dog, who is no longer with us. Her excitement when she looks at it is still as strong as it was the day I put the pictures in it. But of course she and Theo have ripped a few of the pictures and those albums are flimsy so it’s falling apart. I love the idea of printing photos into a softcover book. It’s inexpensive and this way the images can’t be removed and torn.

6. Peppa Pig Rain Boots. Isla asked for Peppa boots so I had to include these. There’s just something about that Peppa and her muddy puddles! To be honest, I love that show, too!

7. Little Doctor’s Suitcase Wooden Playset by Janod. We don’t have this exact set, but the kids love playing doctor and Janod makes really great toys. Isla’s kitties are always getting sick and our little veterinarian makes them all better. Theo just likes to eat the little scope thingy that checks out your ears. Isla is actually sick this week so she’s been carrying around her stethoscope and listening to her own heart to make sure she’s okay. She also checked my belly yesterday morning for some reason and gave me a clean bill of health. Phew!

8. Ukelele by Janod. Our kids are music lovers, especially Theo, so absolutely any instrument or toy that plays music is a hit in this house. I thought all these loud toys would drive me crazy, but it’s pretty cute and anything that keeps the kids entertained long enough for me to actually eat a meal or do a load of laundry is a keeper.

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