Friday, December 9, 2011

Shopping for Toys: Up Close & Personal

Out shopping with my sister* today we came across two almost identical products. It was a rare shopping moment like being at the nexus of a buying universe. We held almost two identical products in our hands and Melissa and Doug was clearly the better choice. We were able to investigate and inspect the two toys at the same time and my decision for this one was easy. I have been purchasing these for years and I own puzzles, games, sorters and fuits all from this amazing toys company and the quality is of the highest degree. I especially love the wooden toys which are the mainstay of our toy collection and a good portion of them are from Melissa and Doug. You can find their products all over but mostly at specialty boutique shops. Shopping online direclty from the manufacturer is extra convenient and they have super fast shipping as well.

I love these products so much that believe it or not I was not shopping for myself or my own children. Nope. Today, despite the holiday season, we were looking for the perfect gift for a birthday and I recommended my old favorite. The scenario was two gals about town looking for a total of three gifts with the instructions from the missing party to find a clothing item and a toy. Well, for me, when it comes to baby girl shopping, I purchase the essential item for all little girls. Dresses. I am a sucker for them and today I purchased another. But this post is not about my obsession to shop for little girls clothes. When it comes to purchasing toys for my children my husband and I will always try to buy, gift and give high quality toys, and yes there are some rules coming up here. Buying the best now will pay off and your babies will thank you.

A Few Toy Rules

1. Purchase essential toys
On my short list are: books, wooden toys, learning tools, and boards games. Shop for toys when appropriate: birthdays for children, gift giving, donations and lessen purchases in between. Parents have a tendancy to fill the house with them to compensate for whatever is missing from their lives but don’t give in. They play with a chosen few so you choose wisely and don't waste your money. Frequest second hand toy stores. There are plenty of Melissa and Doug toys that end up here because they last forever and, like all toys should, can withstand a disinfecting bath.

2. Purhcase sustainable toys
Look into where and how most toys are made and you won’t want to play with them I can assure you. But we all buy anyway. It’s time to wake up and buy the good stuff. I know that you strive to shop for the best in everything and your children are no different my friends. We chose to have them so we should choose to take care of them. They play with toys, put them in their mouths, take them in the car, share them at playgroups. We have an utmost obligation to try very hard to offer toys to them that come from good places and are made of good things. They cost a bit more, just like your brand new car or that fabulous designer bag so share the wealth with your children.

3. Give away overflow
The world has become mass consumers of the latest and best toys for the little ones and boy does it add up. We spend billions on toys each year. Landfills are full of loud buzzes, beeps, smiling faces, and discarded lovies and the sadest thing about it isn’t that some of these cuties may have gotten lost somewhere. As if the bitersweet circumstance of visiting the landfill wasn’t enough, I had to bear witness to the sadness that is the utter waste that goes on right here in America. Ok, enough. But here is this: Give back when possible. At my son’s birthday party, we recently donated a majority of the gifts to charity. Both he and the lucky recipient of these Eco Luxury blocks above have birthdays with a very close proximity to Christmas-perfect time to give back and teach some life truths. This is an especially grave time for some families and giving back in any way could never be better. Let them know some of the realities and how other children need toys. Also, my child had a wonderful time at his party so no worries there.

4. Re-gift when possible
I recently have been reading up on the idea of re-gifting and I’ve said it before-do it. Again with the overflow of toy purchases and landfills and all of it, when you get something you already have or isn’t age appropriate, and was never opened or used simply wrap-up that sweet present and pass it along. Oprah, ABC News, The View, Martha, CNN and pretty much every news outlet has reported on it. Choose your source, consider the times we live in and then re-gift. It’s good for everyone and Mother Earth.

*You know who you are.

Party photo by Ana Foulds Photography