BIC Mark-It permanent ink markers – $23
We bought the 36-count set ions ago. Likely before The Champ was even born. We still have all 36 and all of them work. There is no substitute for good markers. And no end to how you can use them. This year we'll be making tie-dye shirts with permanent markers and rubbing alcohol.
Optic Wonder by Toysmith – $7
It's not really a wonder … it's a binocular/compass combo that rarely gets used in our house for either of those functions. But this a $7 hunk of plastic (now missing the compass feature) has certainly repaid its price ten-times over … though I doubt I bought it. Honestly? I had no idea what this mystery gadget was. It just turned up one day and it's been an important tool for propping up toys, spying on sisters and viewing the opera from the living room ever since.
FurReal Newborn Chimpanzee - $14
We call him “Monkey Baby” and The Champ won't leave home (or sleep) without him. Luckily (because of temporary misplacement) we have three of these babies. The “real” part of the monkey – chittering, snoring and squawking have all lost their appeal (not to mention battery juice). Even I must admit it's creepy how cute he is.
Vintage camera, thrift shop - $1
The kids will always dig this baby out of the toy box.
You can find them at etsy, but I'd go to Salvation Army … or Goodwill … yard sales. You might also want to check grandpa's attic.
Haba Geomix blocks - $46
We received these Geomix block by Haba as a gift when Ittybit was two. I'm not sure anyone would outgrow these. Ever.
Hello Kitty Sewing Machine by Janome - $115
Cute. Versatile. Sturdy. Indispensable.
Santa brought a Sew Mini by Janome, ($60) which was handy and good for light-weight crafting, but ended up needing repairs after only a few months. Santa now recommends spending just a little more.
Wooden train set - $50
Their father had a small set … probably from the Brio company.
We went with Circo at Target. Got a 120-piece set for about $50. It's easy to assemble, fits with the old Brio set as well as another plastic model recently and lovingly handed down. I think the best part may be that it's a toy that won't end up in a yard sale.
And it's hours of fun.
Legos – Anywhere from $3 to a small fortune
You will step on them, sweep them up, step on them again … but you will never curse the day they were invented. Neither will your kids.
Littlest Pet Shop - $4 to $40
Ittybit got her first Littlest Pet Shop when she was two. I got an apology from the benefactor. “They're like crack,” she whispered so that her own daughter wouldn't hear. Now we have more than a hundred of these little bobble headed things. Parents hate them. Kids love them. Can't win every battle.
Superstar Mic - $1
Target dollar bin. Looks like the biggest piece of crap going: A plastic ice cream cone housing a metal coil. Batteries not even needed. Big whoop.
Yet … It's been the best dollar Santa ever spent.
This year Santa is looking into
A pottery wheel
A marble chute
and an ice cream maker
I'll let you know how my kids think they stack up against the best toy ever made …
The cardboard box.