The Young Children’s Super Fantastic Holiday Gift Guide of Glorious and Ample Proportions, 2007 Edition

I couldn’t show my face around the baby and toddler product blog clubhouse if I didn’t publish a gift guide pointing you to the coolest toys and gadgets for the holiday season. I’ve looked over three years of work, more than 700 articles, and boiled it all down to five hotter than hot toys for young children.

These toys are classic. They are ageless. But most important, you only have a time window of 2 to 3 years in which to give these gifts before your child thinks you daft. These are the salad days. Enjoy them.

Now, the top five gifts…

5. Shoebox — Make a doll bed or treasure storage box.

4. Tissue box — Create a finger puppet stage (cut a window in one side, stick hand in tissue opening).

3. Toilet paper tubes — One throws your voice. Two make binoculars.

2. Paper grocery bags of all sizes — Create a costume (decorate the outside and cut a face hole), or roll up a medium-size bag to make a  hat.

All of the preceding gifts have many other possibilities as gluing-taping-cutting craft and toy projects. Can you suggest some?

1. Cardboard box — It’s brown. It’s rectangular. It’s in the National Toy Hall of Fame. A giant box is a house, cave or space ship.  A medium box is a car, boat, train or plane. A small box is a hat, helmet or play environment for other toys.

We bought a new dishwasher this week. I lowered my 3-year-old daughter into the box and she jumped, screamed and giggled. Turned on its side, the box was a home for her and her stuffed animals. She went to bed talking about playing with the box the next day.

I know you’ve heard all of these “low tech toy” ideas before. My first inclination was to post only a photo of an empty box as the gift guide.

What got me on this issue was my ruminating about the first three years of a child’s life being the most fertile in terms of parental spending on developmental toys.

The life spans of the educational toys you buy are often measured in months, and so you buy toys when they are needed. The idea of a gift guide for babies and toddlers strikes me as odd. I’m buying “gifts” all year long. If I find a cool product in November, do I really want to wait a month before giving it to my kid, wasting a whole month of its limited time in our home?

Plus, I have the whole “Christmas is too commercialized” thing running in my head.

Yes, I’m buying my daughter gifts this year, but I’m not going overboard. We’re halfway through her third year now and haven’t yet reached the “gifts only on your birthday and Christmas” stage. So, I feel a bit hypocritical in producing a gift guide when I think you probably are treating every month like I do — as if every month contains a gift-giving holiday; we just don’t usually wrap the gifts.

Photo of my daughter standing in a dishwasher box, gripping the edge and smiling.


23 Responses to “The Young Children’s Super Fantastic Holiday Gift Guide of Glorious and Ample Proportions, 2007 Edition”

  1. Anji says:

    Best. Gift guide. Evar.

    December 7th, 2007 at 1:44 am

  2. RobMonroe says:

    I would agree with Anji!

    Our daughter is (almost) six months old and I refuse to buy her a Christmas gift. We probably won’t buy her anything specifically for her birthday either. We’re still in that developmental-toy-purchases stage.

    Oh yeah, and my Mother In Law is crazy and buys things for us before we realize we need them.

    I really do look forward to the cardboard box days!

    December 7th, 2007 at 5:34 am

  3. adrienne says:

    You rock!

    December 7th, 2007 at 7:53 am

  4. nrbp says:

    Terrific gift guide!
    The main thing my 4.5-year-old son has asked for as a Christmas present this year is his very own laundry basket. He likes to use them as rockets, submarines, cages, etc.

    December 7th, 2007 at 10:52 am

  5. judy says:

    That is the happiest, most gleeful, cutest picture ever. It makes me want to play in a cardboard box myself! I’m not even kidding that you could start a whole movement based on that image!

    December 7th, 2007 at 5:48 pm

  6. Michael says:

    A modification on toilet paper tubes: Wrapping Paper Tubes. They make the best voice throwers. (And they seriously freak out the dogs. This was my little sister’s second favorite thing to do with them when he was little. The first was sword fighting.)

    December 7th, 2007 at 7:32 pm

  7. Kelly says:

    Love it!

    December 8th, 2007 at 7:03 am

  8. CM says:

    Great post. People keep asking what I’m getting my 9-month old for Christmas, and I think exactly what you said — we’re always getting him stuff, and it’s not like he understands what Christmas is. I think I will splurge on a nice toy, though — I saw one I think he’ll really like that will encourage him to crawl around. Most of his toys are the fifty-cent garage sale variety.

    December 8th, 2007 at 8:24 am

  9. SJ says:

    I am fortunate enough to have a father-in-law that works for an appliance store. We get the motherload, multiples of refrigerator boxes, dishwasher boxes, and microwave boxes make entire towns. All three of our kids have benefited. I’m sure if you asked at a place that sells those items, they’d be happy to give them to you.

    December 8th, 2007 at 6:15 pm

  10. Chief Family Officer says:

    A few months ago, we started collecting these types of items for fun activities – but yes, every day/week/month is gift-giving time around here. Whether it’s from us or the grandparents, our kids get a pretty constant stream of new toys. Which is why we’ve bought one gift for each child and don’t plan on buying any more – and even those were only because Amazon had some amazing deals that made us say, “Oh, we’ll get $10/$15 use out of that (which originally cost more than twice as much).”

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I wonder when the gifts only at birthdays and Christmas/Hanukkah will start! (not for a long time, I’m guessing – at least not in our house!)

    December 9th, 2007 at 7:35 am

  11. kirsten says:

    That’s funny and oh, so, true. Every so often I think about posting infant toys for sale on CL:

    wooden spoon, $19.95
    measuring cup, $10.95
    4″ piece of yarn, $5.55

    December 9th, 2007 at 1:33 pm

  12. Paula says:

    I love this! Thanks. We included it in our web wrap at

    December 9th, 2007 at 4:51 pm

  13. Jessica says:

    I only wish my stepson had the imagination to play with these! Instead it’s power rangers and swords. Ohh I wish it was this easy!!!

    Hopefully my 4 mth old will appreciate Mommy’s imagination and we’ll build a cardboard town together!

    Happy Holidays to all!

    December 11th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

  14. Vivian Jao says:

    I JUST said the same thing to my husband! My siblings and I didn’t have many toys growing up and our best toy ever was the box the new refrigerator came in. We decorated it and rolled in it down the slight slope of our front yard for days.

    December 11th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

  15. Tiffany (Life on the Road: Home Business, Homeschool and Cats!) says:

    This is without doubt the best Gift Guide out there.

    Thanks so much for the dose of sanity!

    December 11th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

  16. QuietMom says:

    This is a great post!!!

    December 12th, 2007 at 6:05 am

  17. CM says:

    Another $0 and under toy that kept my 9-month old occupied for quite a while yesterday: Take a shoebox. Cut holes in it. Put a cloth inside. He had so much fun sticking his fingers in the holes and pulling the cloth out and shoving it back in.

    December 12th, 2007 at 6:23 am

  18. JMS says:

    This was great. My 15 month old has been having so much fun playing with the presents Grandma sent her. They are 3 wrapped boxes and she stacks them, climbs on them, pushes them around, etc. I will hate when we have to open them next week.

    December 12th, 2007 at 3:55 pm

  19. Samantha says:

    This is a fabulous gift guide! Great job. :-)

    December 14th, 2007 at 11:06 am

  20. Kim says:

    Thsi is great! I’m putting this up on my blog at BabyCenter later this week.

    December 18th, 2007 at 11:52 am

  21. Kim says:

    This is great! I’m putting this up on my blog at BabyCenter later this week.

    December 18th, 2007 at 11:52 am

  22. Victoria says:

    How true this is! I remember playing in the refridgerator box as a kid, my kids place it underneath our tree house and drop into it as if it were a bottomless pit! They loved it so much that come fall and winter they drape it with plastic garbage bags to shield it from rain and snow.
    Too cute!

    February 27th, 2008 at 5:35 am

  23. josie says:


    July 6th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

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