Gifts that won’t piss parents off

Sometimes I wish I could be down with Barbies and mini pink computers and whatever else is being marketed to our kids these days. It would certainly make parental life easier. I’m really picky when it comes to toys for my child, and I’m not alone.

I mean, I have a 4 year old daughter who is impressionable. Everywhere we turn, there’s some image of a made-up princess prostitute nightmare for preschoolers. I mean, are toy-makers trying to screw us all over? Because it sure seems like it.

But don’t fret because there are actually some original and creative toy choices out there for kids. I asked around and came up with a bunch of gifts that are totally PPA (picky-parent approved).

(The list of gifts we hate is way longer.)

1. Things that go (and stay) outside

Many parents said they preferred toys that go outside versus inside. That way, even in the cold months, they remain outside or in the garage and never make their way into the house — woohoo! Playhouses were a favorite among PPs. They can range in price, especially if you’re looking for a wooden model, and though we like to represent the smaller shops, the Neat and Tidy Cottage (Sam’s Club, $136) is by far the most bang for your buck. For the summer months, a good old plastic pool is always a winner, as are simple gardening tools (For Small Hands, $17) for those little diggers.

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5 Girly toys I don’t hate

Once in a while, someone gives my kid a gift that makes me cringe. I’m instantly wondering how long we’re going to have to keep it and what covert operation I’m going to have to pull off to sneak it out of the house. My biggest pet peeves are things that are super gender-specific, electronics and things that come with a million-trillion pieces (except on the extremely rare occasions when the awesomeness of the toy outweighs one of those traits).

While we don’t have a strict no-technology rule in our house (we watch TV and movies, although at a minimum), we prefer to keep electronics out of everyday play items for our daughter so that she can spend her time being creative with her toys. The truth is that she much prefers it this way. A toy that can do many things is much more fun than a toy that only does one thing (i.e., go beep-beep-boop and drive Mama crazy). So I really have come to appreciate it when people give her gifts that don’t pigeonhole her and that also let her explore her creativity. I also love it when I don’t have to stand over her, supervising her every move.

photo (10)

We recently celebrated Christmas and my daughter’s birthday (two weeks later — yes, shoot me). It was major toy overload, as expected, but we made it out alive and luckily picked up some pretty different and creative stuff.

Here are some of my daughter’s favorite new (mom-approved) toys!

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DIY, Uncategorized

How to: Make A DIY Felt Board

How to: Make A DIY Felt Board

All you need to make this super easy gift is:

  • a cork board
  • a staple gun
  • a pair of scissors
  • assorted felt

Start by wrapping your cork board with felt. I chose white. Actually, I originally wanted to do green on the bottom half and light blue on the top for grass and sky but Michael’s did not have large enough felt to cover my board. In the end I was glad I went with white because then I had more options for scenes (a beach scene, a farm scene, a castle scene). Pull the felt tightly so there are no wrinkles and staple gun the felt all the way around the back of the board. Cut off any excess. Then, all you have to do is cut some lovely felt pieces of your choice. I seriously had way too much fun doing this, though my hand did get tired from cutting (it’s kind of tough to cut felt. I recommend investing in some sharp scissors!).

I made this board for my daughter’s fourth birthday and she adored it. And I have to admit, it felt so good to watch her play with it for hours on her birthday morning. She hugged me and said “thank you for making this for me, Mommy!” I can’t wait to make more felt pieces with her to stick on.

Happy felting!

P.S. Kids love it if you include their own face (or your whole family’s) but you could make it a bit simpler by skipping this step. I printed these pictures on plain paper, then used a little modge podge on the back to adhere them to the felt.