I have a love-hate relationship with toys. Good, well made toys are a delight that you never grow too old to enjoy; cheap plastic toys that easily break, and then clutter up your house for forever because your daughter loves everything and can't bare to part with even the most awful piece of junk- well, let's just say hate isn't a strong enough word.
Christmas brings it's own particular set of challenges, since I don't like buying cheap toys, yet I don't have the money to buy lots of expensive ones. Now that we are buying toys for three kids, it's an even bigger challenge. Notice I said "challenge" not "problem", since that's really what it is. How to get the most play for the least money. In order to do this, I first try to figure out what my children really love and play with the most, and then work my Christmas list around that. I also have a few criterias that a toy must meet.
#1 It must have aesthetic appeal. This is particularly true for dolls. There might be no such thing as an ugly baby, but there are plenty of ugly baby-dolls. Think Cabbage Patch dolls.
#2 It must be well made. A toy might be awfully cute, but if it breaks it's not a good investment. I also like the way well made stuff looks and feels. It's something I would want in my home.
#3 It must encourage open ended play. A good example of the opposite of this, is a toy I saw advertised the other day. It was a pig that you could "feed" until it's tummy popped out. And then that's it. Who comes up with an idea like that anyway?
#4 It can't be annoying. I don't care how much the kids love it, if it spontaneously starts beeping or talks at all, it will end up in the trash.
#5 It has to be age appropriate. This is something I have learned the hard way. It might be the greatest thing ever, but if your child isn't ready for that particular toy or activity, it's will frustrate your child or end up broken, or both.
So that's it! Five things a toy must be before it makes the cut. Monday I will write a post on my favorite toys, as well as ones on my, umm... I mean my kids, wish list for this Christmas.