There are so many toys to choose from these days and its difficult to know what kind of toy a child will play with for the long term. I have found over the years that traditional toys get played with more than "fad" toys. As a parent, I like to receive toys for my kids that do not have a lot of pieces and that do not make loud noises. There are so many electronic toys that much louder than they need to be. Here are my picks for gifts from birth to the teens.
Babies to 24 months:
Board books (my favourite board book for this age is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown), playmats, blocks, stacking or nesting toys, nice quality stuffed animals or blankies, ride-on toys, toy keys, age appropriate toy phone, Fisher Price Little People sets, shape sorters, keepsakes (coin collections, piggy banks). If the infant is young and doesn't really play with toys, I am sure the parents would also appreciate getting diapers as a gift.
Play-Doh, Books (my favourite book for this age is Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak), large piece puzzles, age-appropriate board games, dress-up toys such as shoes, purses, hats, gloves, other pretend play costumes, learning toys (Leapfrog has some great learning toys such as the Tag Reader and Clickstart Computer), DVD's, board games (Candyland, matching games, fishing game, Mr. Potatohead), dolls, colouring books, craft kits.
5-8 year olds
Books (my favourite book for this age is any book written by Dr. Seuss), puzzles, video games (the Wii system provides lots of physical interaction), Lego is a big hit at this age but ensure that it is age appropriate, board games (Srabble Jr., Monopoly Jr., Frustration, card games, Tech Deck skateboards, DVD's, Hot Wheels, Barbie dolls, sleighs, snowboards, skateboards, colouring books, craft and art kits, dot-to-dot puzzles, word-find puzzles, activity books.
Books (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is good for a boy, or Judy Blume series for a girl), DVD's, board games (chess, checkers, Game of Life, Sorry, Operation, Rubiks Cube), clothes, sleighs, snowboards, skateboards, other sports equipment, Wii games, MP3 players, card games, Lego, K'nex, paint by numbers.
Gift Cards, iTunes cards, MP3's, clothes (kids are picky so ensure you know their size and style preference), watches, chains, rings, sporting equipment, musical instruments, boom boxes, cameras, cell phones, money, hair straigtheners and accessories, makeup, gift baskets with toiletrie items.
This is also a great guide if you are thinking of donating toys to your local Christmas drive. I know in my area that there is always a need for gifts for teens.
It is always wise that if you are giving a gift that requires batteries that you include the batteries with the gift. There is nothing worse than getting that most wanted toy and then not having the batteries to go with it on Christmas morning.