She Says… Gifts that will keep on giving

I hope your holidays were filled with cheer and happy little faces!


And plaid, in our case.

Ours certainly were, despite a vomitrocious Christmas Eve Eve (for both boys), which meant no school on Tuesday for either one and no work for either parent, which consequently means work hanging over our heads for these precious few vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

On Christmas, though, none of that mattered. A wonderful day was had by all. And somehow we avoided the massive sugar rush/meltdown/holiday craziness that I was pretty much expecting. A Christmas miracle, perhaps? Whatever the reason… I’ll take it.


One thing I never got around to posting this year was a holiday gift guide. I always love it when others bloggers do these because it gives me some good ideas for my own kids, and I really enjoyed sharing what was going to be under our tree last year. But alas, the busy-ness of the season took over and I didn’t. And, frankly, those lists are all well and good, but we all know that sometimes kids have the weirdest reactions to things we think they’ll love, or fall in love with things we thought were pretty meh. So I thought I’d do a Top 10 of Owen’s favorite Christmas presents this year AFTER they were opened and the wrapping paper was cleaned up.

A huge shout-out to all of the grandparents and family members who filled our tree! “Santa” brought each of the boys one present and a stocking, and Benjamin and I got the boys 2 little presents each. That’s it. And still, our tree looked like this:


There were LOTS of presents. For everyone.

Top Ten Christmas Presents for 3 1/2 Year Olds
(Links below are to the This Place is Now a Home Amazon store, where I keep lists of all of my favorite kid-related products. I get a teeny kickback if you order from these links.)

10. Walkie Talkies. This was the one thing Owen asked Santa for. He saw them in a book about construction workers and decided he had to have them. The funny thing is that in this iPhone era with texts and video chats… who needs walkie talkies?! He hasn’t yet mastered (read: CANNOT UNDERSTAND) how to hold down the button while he’s talking, so so far they are a bit of a bust. But he was so excited about them and I think once he gets the concept of how to talk, they will be really fun.

9. Pogo stick. Hilarious. Owen is surprisingly good at it! Great way to burn off some energy inside in a small space.

8. Water pen books. A laughably simple idea, and yet, he colored two entire books cover to cover and wanted to do them again and again.

7. Magnatiles.We already have Lego Duplos and MegaBlocks, but these are different enough to be completely novel. They can build super tall and bring to light lots of lessons about magnets and gravity and physics. Benjamin and I didn’t want to put them down either.

6. Leapster. Or, as Owen calls it, his “lapper”. Yes, we caved and got (asked for!) the ubiquitous kid’s tablet. Given that I am a mean parent who is really strict about screen time, I imagine there will need to be some pretty firm rules about when and how this present can be used. But it has already given us some much-needed still/quiet time and I can tell Owen is learning a lot. Also, using the stylus and touching the screen challenges his fine motor skills more than most other toys.

5. T-ball T, baseball bat and “real” catcher’s mitt. Owen loves to try to play baseball in the backyard (his favorite way is with a tennis racket and tennis ball – ha!). Given that it’s really hard to toss it to him perfectly every time, I thought a T would be a perfect present. It was too cold to really enjoy on Christmas but I think it will be a huge hit come spring.

4. Giant piano mat. ‘Nuff said. For my little budding musician whose favorite game is playing “band”.

3. Flying, screaming slingshot monkey. This silly stocking stuffer turned into one of the best gifts of Christmas. Owen can’t quite get the finger slingshot motion, but (thankfully) the monkey still screams if you throw him across the room. Owen spent a ton of time throwing him around the house and laughing hysterically when the monkey screamed. Endless entertainment… except if Emmett is napping.

2. Aquadoodle mat. I was afraid this might be too “young” for Owen, since it’s really simple and not that exciting. Boy was I wrong. He rolled around on the floor drawing for a long time. And I could leave the room knowing he couldn’t paint/color on anything other than the mat. Hooray!

1. Games. We knew this was going to be a big game Christmas, since Owen’s favorite thing in the world is to learn and play board games (and cheat… but that’s another blog post for another day). He got Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Elefun, Tumblin’ Monkeys, Hungry Hungry Hippos and Twister. We’ve played each one at least twice and he can’t get enough.

And, lest you think I’ve forgotten about my 2nd child, he got some presents too. But realistically he didn’t need any toys (since we already have more than enough for Owen), or clothes (since we have those too), so he mostly got upgraded things that weren’t very exciting (a diaper clutch for Mama, baby food containers, new bibs, fleece booties). But the one cool, new thing for the almost-6 month old set that he did get is a Go Pod. It’s a travel jumperoo that folds out like a camping chair. SUPER easy to set up and really fun to be able to pop him in it on the go.

Ho ho ho. What was your kid’s favorite present from Christmas?


7 responses to “She Says… Gifts that will keep on giving

  1. We celebrate chanukah, but my daughters favorite gift, she is 22 months, is the little peoples play farm… She LOVES that thing!!!
    She also loves her new stand up front facing bookcase, she stands there and moves all the books around and tells me “I’m busy organizing mommy!”
    Glad you enjoyed your holiday!

  2. My 3.5 year old also got magnatiles this year…he loves them! (So does my 1.5 year old.) Have you ever heard of making the kids a light table for the magnatiles? (Wait, I just assumed your magnatiles were see through like mine were…maybe they’re not!) I made one for my kids this Christmas and this seems exactly like something you would make too. 😉 If you google “Light table Ikea hack” you’ll find the instructions. I made my table for under $100 and the kids love it!

  3. Does Owen have Pop the Pig or Hi Ho Cherrie-o? My 3 year old got them for Christmas (as well as Hungry Hungry Hippos). All three were huge hits.

  4. Thank you Kate for this post. I do find hearing what Owen loved so helpful. My son also received Chutes & Ladders and I’m finding it so far a bit beyond him. I suspect though that over the next 6 months, he’ll get the swing of it. I really love board games for them at this age. It’s great Mommy & E time together.

    My 3.5 year old has enjoyed a Melissa & Doug Reusable vehicle sticker book IMMENSELY:

    He spent about 15 minutes with it today and that’s a REALLY long time for us here!

    The toy doctor kit was also a hit. We also got him some more Duplo (this time it’s a Planes set). He has enjoyed playing with that on his new IKEA Lillabo play mat which I thought would be too young for him but that’s definitely not the case. Finally the last real winner was this tractor set:

    I put out the barn he received last year with this new tractor set and they both (I also have a nearly 2 year old) entertained themselves quite happily with it.

    Happy Holidays!

  5. We got our 4yo a foam balance beam. It looks like half of a big pool noodle and we didn’t think it was all that great until we gave it to her. She LOVES it.

    We also got her some Connectagons, which are a building toy. Very nice independent work. And they are flowers and butterflies, which are great if your kid is girlie (mine totally is). (They have other kinds too)

  6. I love #3 because in my family someone gets one of the screaming slingshot monkeys every year. When my brother and I were completely grown, my mom stopped buying new stuff for stockings every year, and she keeps everything and re-distributes it. It’s hilarious to see who gets what each year, and the screaming slingshot monkey is always one of the favorites.

    And as a teacher, I fully encourage you to support the Leapster. It’s such a fun way for them to start learning so much, and it really helps as they get into preschool and kindergarten!!

  7. Ryan got a lot of those same toys, including the same pogo stick, which is our absolute favorite thing to do right now. So hilarious! He also got a lot of new games and puzzles. He really seems to like the Doc McStuffins version of Operation. It’s pretty cute.

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