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The holidays are approaching and the gift giving season will be here before we know it! I've shared already how we keep our spending in check during the holiday season but before you start spending the money you've budgeted you need to have an idea of what to spend it on!
This year we have two two-year-old boys to shop for in our own family plus a nephew that will be two in early spring. We've also had three other kids turn two in our parenting years ;) What are our go-to toys? What do we recommend time after time?
I'm sure this is no surprise if you've been around for a decent amount of time but we are a LEGO loving family. We own every type of brick LEGO has produced over the years including the types that are no longer in production. Some people are concerned that they are smaller than other brands bricks but don't underestimate your child's abilities! Give them a chance and they will pick up the skills. Anders and Cade were putting Duplo bricks together around a year and a half old, possibly sooner. They are little sponges from watching their siblings.
Duplo is such a versatile toy! Sure they can build towers and cars but Parker used to create dinosaurs out of his Duplo and they actually resembled the real creatures. We've built towns, playgrounds, giant people, and countless other creations. We use them for practicing color sorting, size matching, and 1:1 counting. We can build the numbers and letters with the bricks. Even the older kids still grab the bricks when they play. It's a toy I will hang on to long after the kids are grown to save for future generations.
There is a huge variety of sets available. You can get the basic blocks or if your child has a specific interest you can find sets for those as well! Trains, animals, super heroes, princesses, construction, and space are only several of the themes out there.
My kids all love helping in the kitchen but it isn't always a safe place for them to be. Hot appliances, spattering oil, sharp knives, raw meat... all disasters waiting to happen! But by giving them access to their own play kitchen with a variety of foods and dishes they can pretend right along with me. We have tea parties, lunch dates, and sometimes even a smörgåsbord when we get really crazy ;)
There are so many great options out there for play kitchens ranging from simple to fancy, compact to elaborate, and everything in between. No matter your budget you can find a fun kitchen playset for your child!
I'm a big fan of both Step 2 and Little Tikes brands when it comes to plastic toys. They are colorful, fun, and durable plus they are easy to clean since they are plastic! Both brands also offer a huge variety in terms of sizes, budgets, and features in their kitchens.
If wood is more your style I've heard AMAZING things about KidKraft. I've never used anything by them but I have friends that have and swear they are high quality toys. And they are super cute too!
No matter what style you go with you really can't go wrong. Kids love to imitate what they see and cooking like mommy and daddy is no exception.
What's a play kitchen if you don't have fake food to serve? My kids have used other toys in place of fake food before but they get far more interested in the make believe part of cooking and serving a meal if the food looks right.
Over the years I've lost my love for the really inexpensive plastic play food. There are plastic foods that are nice quality as well as the wood variety and the soft felt style. For two year olds I definitely lean to the felt food type because of their tendency to throw toys. Or are mine the only ones? Nah, doubt that. So, soft play food that won't hurt when it gets chucked at another kid? Score a point for mom.
I know, I know. Often Play-Doh is a terrible toy in a parent's eyes. Little bits get left behind EVERY SINGLE TIME and you find it EVERYWHERE for days (or weeks) after you put it away. But these little ones LOVE IT. Sorry to keep yelling but I feel ya so passionately on this one. For a while I was only breaking out the Play-Doh a couple times a year. It was such a mess and I couldn't handle it. But I took a step back and saw the joy on my kids faces and realized that it isn't as terrible as I was making it seem. My kids were expressing their creativity in the things they molded and once I set a few simple ground rules (like only one color out per kid at a time and rotating toys) things when much more smoothly.
I'm actually looking to replenish my Play-Doh supply this holiday season because if it gets dried out, oh well! It's relatively cheap and worth seeing them play so well together. I've actually seen my five children play together for a full 45 minutes before starting to freak out on each other. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES! This is why I recommend Play-Doh. Because it can make miracles happen.
There are so many cool varieties out there now too. When I was a kid we had the basic colors and simple toys. Now there are the regular colors plus sparkles, glow in the dark, and Play-Doh plus that is softer and easier to mold.
And the toys that go along with the Play-Doh have expanded too! I think just about any interest is covered - dentistry, princesses, animals, hair styling, food creation, construction, and so many more!
Two year olds love to climb! We actually bought the pictured climber for the twins for their 1st Birthday and they spent all winter burning off their energy going up and down, up and down. It's small enough to fit in our cramped living room but large enough to provide lots of fun. We just moved it out to our deck this spring and I know I'm going to miss having it when the cold weather hits.
If you have more space either inside or outside there are larger climbers that would last even longer. We have an older large square climber in our backyard for the bigger kids and the twins figured out how to climb it this summer. They are constantly trying to climb the back of the couch and their brothers' bunk bed so it's nice to have some equipment that's meant for them to climb on!
Boy or girl having a special friend to take care of is so important in my book. All our kids have favorite stuffed animals they sleep with and cuddle with and our littlest guys have each recently adopted one of their sister's dolls to take care of. There is a high chance of our kids growing up to be parents, have nieces or nephews, or have friends with kids. I think it's incredibly important to teach them how to be nurturing from a young age.
These dolls are the perfect size for the little hands of a two year old. They have nice soft bodies but plastic arms, legs, and heads. The twins have started carrying them around and looking for their "baby!" before they head to bed. So sweet!
As for stuffed animals, the possibilities are endless! Parker has two teddy bears that are his favorite. Mercedes has a small plush doll that goes with her nearly everywhere. Cade has a small Daniel Tiger stuffed toy and Anders has a plush elephant. It's nice having a special toy for them that they reach for when they are upset, sick, hurt, or just wanting to snuggle.
If your child doesn't already have a special toy in their life I highly encourage it. I've seen our children's lovies bring comfort time and time again! And when they aren't being used as a comfort item they are used as a playmate. The kids bring their dolls and stuffed animals in to their every day play on a regular basis. Sometimes the toys even help with clean up... even though they make the job take a bit longer at least it's getting done!
Those little hands and minds need to work on solving problems and puzzles are great for practicing this skill! Melissa and Doug made a huge range of puzzles and they LAST. We got so many of these for our oldest when he was little and they are still being played with now, six or seven years later!
There's a wide variety in this category but I didn't want to break it all down and make this post five miles long, either! Big hits for two year olds in this category include balls, ride-on toys, chalk, sand toys, and bubbles. There are many more options but these are the toys my kids have always gravitated toward and other kids seem to as well.
Little People were a classic toy when I was a kid and it hasn't changed now. There are so many varieties and they are a durable toy which is great for these little kids! I don't think it's possible to go wrong with Little People no matter what style of set you choose. Many of the vehicle sets play catchy tunes to help teach about the vehicle and all the figures are adorable! We have the DC Super Heroes collection and all three of our younger kids really like that they can play with the same characters they see their big brothers playing with.
The bath has always been a big treat to my kids... until I try and wash them up! But they have such a blast splashing and goofing around in the water that I will often stick them in the tub a good twenty minutes early just to give them lots of time to play before I "torture" them with soap and a wash cloth. I even use the tub as a place to play when I need to keep them contained when I need a break. I'll sit on the floor and just let them splash. It's great for Mommy and kids!
While cups are there absolute favorite toy in the bath they also really like having some other toys as well. These letters that stick to the sides have been a hit since Parker was little. They like trying to guess the letters when they are just learning and sound out words as they grow older. And look at these fun rubber ducks for learning numbers! Bath squirters are always a big hit with kids just make sure to clean them out frequently so you don't end up with mold growing inside them.
Also, if your kid LOVES art but you dread the mess that comes along with paint or other art supplies you should consider bath crayons and bath paint. They can scribble on the walls of the tub or shower and it wipes off with no extra mess! I liked using the crayons when the big kids were first learning to spell their names. We'd spell them with the foam letters then try and write the names.
Books are such a great gift because reading is a skill that needs to be built on the entire life of a person. While I don't like having a HUGE book collection for anyone because it takes up a large amount of space and we have libraries to offer us free books constantly, I do recommend having a decent collection at home. I especially think this is important in the baby and toddler years when they want to hear the same books over and over (as tiring as that is) and they tend to be rougher on the books as well. Plus the chance of leaving the house frequently enough to replenish the library supply over and over is pretty slim. I like keeping board books at home most of all because they seem to hold up to the toddler life fairly well. My kids have still destroyed their fair share but we've always gotten good use of them by the time they bite the dust.
Mr. Potato Head toys are one of my absolute favorite toys. We have a HUGE collection that spans several buckets. These are great for working on fine motor skills but also for matching up body parts and being wildly creative. Over the years we have had kids stick to the basic forms and only make potatoes that had pieces in the "correct" spots and we have also had kids that make a potato with only arms or with all the pieces in silly spots. There are dozens upon dozens of fun pieces and the possibilities are endless.
What are your go-to gifts for the two year old kids in your life? Is there a gift I'm missing on this list that I should really add? Any gift ideas you don't agree with? Let me know!