Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spokesmama Shopping Guide: For the Kids

When I shop for my kids, I try to limit the consumption (though I always end up getting more than I plan to) using this rhyme that I heard from my sister:

Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
& something to read.

In that vein, I've got a few hand-picked ideas for you in four categories: things kids would want, useful things, clothing & books.


Board games are a great option for gifts, but for little kids it can be hard to find something that they can actually play. Kee Kee the Rocking Monkey is a fun game for kids 3+, made by Blue Orange Games. It's quite simple: players take turns loading Kee Kee up with juggling balls until he topples over. The last one to add a ball loses that round.

Like many of Blue Orange Games products, Kee Kee is made of wood. The pieces are sturdy & colourful, a great toy for preschoolers & up. You can buy it online at many retailers, including the Blue Orange website here for $25.

Be sure to check out the other products by Blue Orange Games--they make some great stuff for all ages!

Another really great new toy I came across recently is the Tobo Track. It's like a cross between a puzzle & a wooden train set. 12 identical pieces are included in each set, & can be joined together in hundreds of ways to create a track that goes anywhere you want it to because it can be connected to any edge of any other piece. It's a fun way to use creativity while playing with toy cars & trains.

One of the things that really makes Tobo Track stand out is that it's made of scrap wood, biodegradable, non-toxic, containing no plastic or resin. Just 100% real wood--pretty environmentally friendly, no? Tobo Track was designed in Canada & is manufactured in the USA. Tobo Track is on sale online here for $50 until the end of December.


For any travel, whether it's across the country to the grandparents, or a few blocks for a sleepover, the Melissa & Doug Trunki is a useful little suitcase that doubles as a ride-on toy.

You can also get sticker packs to customize your Trunki with eyes, mouths, glasses & more. Saddlebags are available too, for a tad more storage & the riding comfort of your little traveller.

You can find Trunkis at tons of toy stores, in East Van at Wee Ones Reruns, or online at Amazon. They're usually about $40+.

If Trunki isn't your thing, Melissa & Doug make thousands of other toys. I particularly like their wooden toys--durable, fun & many quite open-ended, to let kids' imaginations run free.


For cute & durable duds, you can't beat Gymboree clothes. They have some funky stuff for little boys as well as girls, of course. One of our favourite t-shirts is a Gymboree shirt with a racoon on it that Linnaeus was given for his birthday & (I kid you not) he has worn for two years now.  

This entire 'Moustache Mania' outfit--grey fleece jacket, cobalt stretch jeans, double sleeve shirt, even including the black sneakers--would be under $55 (with 40+% discount right now!) online at Gymboree. Available in sizes from 3-12.


Books are such a great gift, especially for young children who will read them (or have you read them) again & again & again. Robert Munsch & Dr. Seuss top our list for younger kids. My son loves both, requesting that we read The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, Angela's Airplane, or Mortimer on a regular basis. If you're looking for a holiday-themed story, there's a really funny book by Robert Munsch, called Finding Christmas that you might want to check out.

For teens, Cory Doctorow writes engaging novels set in a not at all distant future. He writes novels for adults as well as younger readers. I've read most of his novels--they are page-turners that leave you with a lot to think about in terms of technology & how it could possibly change our world.

Though it's billed as a young adult novel, I read Little Brother a few years ago & thoroughly enjoyed it.

Do you use the four gifts (or four categories) of 'Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read' to guide your purchases at Christmas? Or do you have another trick for planning your shopping? I'd love to hear about it...

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, however, many of the above links are affiliate links (for Amazon & Gymboree) so I will receive a small comission if you follow the links to make a purchase online.

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1 comment:

  1. The want category is always easy, but the need one is trickier to buy for. Last year, all of my kids got a new set of flannel sheets for Christmas (Costco, $17 each!), so that fit the bill. The girls are getting new quilts for their bed this year, and Jonah doesn't really have much under the need category...a few new hoodies, socks, a wallet to keep his paper route money in. But always books! My children know they will always get books for Christmas, and they get really excited about them. :) Makes the former page in me happy! My stockings nearly always contain the same gifts too (I have 4 to fill, after all). Socks, chapstick, an ornament for the tree, chocolate, orange, a new toothbrush, usually a little stuffed toy peeking out the top, and one or two more tiny things.


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