The task of filling Christmas stockings finds many of us at the two dollar shop on Christmas Eve, frantically filling a basket with plastic fantastic … err … junk. We’ve set out to stop the cycle of stocking stuffer shopping procrastination by creating a handy list of little gifts chosen to delight, entertain and last. They’re the right size to fit in a stocking, and each one makes for a fantastically fun Christmas morning.
For your tiny shutter bug, Plan Toys My First Camera ($17.45) is just right for chubby hands to clutch, play at “taking photos” and probably to chew. Not to worry though, Plan Toys is a leader in Green Manufacturing, so all the paints are safe for babies.
Younger babies don’t need much – you can sit them in front of a window to watch the wind blowing in the trees and they’ll be hypnotised – but a little keepsake toy for a first Christmas is essential. The Haba Clutching Toy Jingle Train ($23.45) is a gorgeous wooden teether brightly painted with non-toxic colours, and it’s got a pretty tinkling jingle bell.
It’s hard to resist Sonny Angel miniature dolls ($13.95) from Japan. They’ve got pinchably chubby bottoms, sweet angel wings and animal dress-up hats so cute, you may be tempted to email the company requesting a version for your real life angel.
The Gift in a Tin ($24.95) series are brilliant compact sets of toys, ideal for when you need kids to endure trials like waiting patiently for restaurant food, or sitting still on an aeroplane. There are miniature tea sets, farm scenes or the surprisingly versatile Mini Mechanic set, which lets kids create at least three different vehicles.
Our Christmas always includes a post-presents wander down to the park, and the retro Tube Kites ($16) make for a great activity on a breezy, sunny Christmas day.
Whether your kids consider meal time a battle of wills or they chow down with gusto on anything (please, tell us all your secrets), gorgeous plates and bowls will make dinner better. Done by Deer’s dinner sets ($36.95) from Danish by Design are slightly quirky, subdued in colour and extremely stylish. We wouldn’t expect anything less from Scandinavian designers.
Seed Heritage pineapple lights ($29.95) make for a tropical take on traditional Christmas lighting, and when it’s time to take down decorations you can use them to festoon your child’s room.
We have three words for you: dinosaur building blocks. There’s a certain type of kid who would be over the moon with this and only this Nanoblock Stegosaurus ($12.95) for Christmas.
In preparation for a holiday season of testing out all your local yum cha spots, there are clever beginner chopsticks ($12.95) in t-rex or toucan.
If you can get your kids hooked on old-school Cat’s Cradle (remember? – that string game you played in primary school), you can guarantee hours of entertainment as they try to master the basics of wrapping their fingers and string into tricky patterns. This one is $12.95 from Jill and Jack.
Seedling does a lovely range of Pocket Money toys that are affordable and excellent quality. We love the Colour Wheel Yoyo ($5.49), the Double Dutch Skipping Rope ($13.99), the Bike Bell ($4.99) and the Jar of Beads ($13.99), perfect for rainy day crafts.
As a famous TV scientist used to say in a very nerdy voice, “Science is cool!” Indeed it is, particularly when it involves building tiny solar-powered vehicles and animals. The 6-in-1 Solar Kit ($24.95) has 21 snap together pieces, spring terminal wiring and a solar panel so kids can create things like an airboat, a windmill, a car, a plane or even a puppy.
To the dads out there, keep your man glitter, man tools and general man mess out of sight in the garage, but your “Sawdust is Man Glitter” Mug ($35) can stay in the house.
Giving a pair of bright socks each Christmas is a great tradition, and you don’t get much brighter than Happy Socks ($16.95). They’ve got sizes for kids and grown-ups, and some of the craziest, most joyful patterns we’ve ever seen.
Even makers of die cast vehicles know that food trucks are the hip thing, and this expertly detailed miniature Fast Food Truck ($11) would put a curl in the moustache of any hipster worth his skinny jeans.
We’re throwing this one in just in case there’s a bit (actually A LOT) of extra money kicking around this Christmas. What do mums want most? Time. But if you can’t find any for sale at the shops, an IWC Portugieser watch is almost as good, and it fits neatly in the toe of a Christmas stocking.
Now it’s time to go forth, shop, and fill up those stockings! Don’t miss any of our Christmas posts – you can catch up on all our past Christmas Gift Guides too.