December is around the corner and you know what this means, right? The holiday season is here and this year, we want to be stress-free and prepared. Forget about that frantic, last-minute search mission to find the right presents for your kiddos. We’ve put together the ultimate 2019 toys gift guide for kids, even if they seem to have everything already.
Let’s jump in!
Most of our favourite toys are handmade by small businesses who we love to follow on Instagram. If you love this guide, please share it with others and follow us PG
How to use this toy guide
We’ve divided this guide into 5 sections: gifts for babies, construction toys, pretend play, active toys and educational toys. Each toy is selected for its uniqueness, on-trend presentation and creativity. Some toys are made by award-winning brands, whereas others are waiting to be discovered (by you!)
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Gifts for Babies
What do you get for the little ones? The babies who cannot walk, who squirm around all day, who are just discovering the world all around them. Sensory toys are always a good idea. Think of super soft cuddly plushies, crinkle toys that make the most satisfying sounds and baby gyms they can stare at and interact with while laying down (ahem, on a Play&Go Soft mat, may we suggest?) Cute rubber teethers are also a must around this age. To soothe the pain of growing teeth. Here are a few of our favourite small brands.
French Soft Toys by Main Sauvage
Where French aesthetics meet baby toys! Discover animal teething rings and rattles in the most adorable shapes and sizes. Main Sauvage, a soft toy brand based in France, creates sustainable, ecological toys that are meant to last.
The teethers they have created are made from natural maple wood, 100% baby alpaca wool without any dye. These are the kinds of toys you entrust your little one with: made from the earth with no nasties.
Shop Main Sauvage
Crinkle Leaf by Wee Gallery
Ah, those good old crinkle toys. But this time, it’s monochrome and made from organic cotton. What’s not to love? These are not your usual monochrome toys though, just for aesthetics. It’s all about babies’ development.
Wee Gallery is founded by parents Surya (also a graphic designer) and Dave (also a teacher). The birth of their son set something in motion: the more they learnt about the development of babies, the more they felt they had to do something with their fascination. To create visuals that are perfect for babies, who are often drawn to simple geometric shapes in black and white.
The end result? Cute toys that can stimulate your babies brain. It’s a win-win situation.
Leaf Crinkle toy by Wee Gallery
Sustainable Wooden Baby Gym by PlanToys
This baby gym is simply the cutest. But not just that. Our friends at PlanToys are masters of creating sustainable toys that look good, feel good and last ages. Their workshop churns out toy after toy that are all meticuously researched, to make sure that the balance is just right.
“PlanToys mainly focuses on safety wooden toys made of reclaimed rubber woods that enhance development for children, especially during their first five formative years when parents should encourage children to experience the freedom of playing and the proximity to nature.” (Read more about PlanToys here)
This baby gym is no different. It’s stable, beautiful to look at and stimulating for little babies. It comes in pretty pastel colours (that seem to perfectly match our Play&Go Soft mat).
If you’re looking for other baby toys, check out the entire PlanToys range - they have something (beautiful) for everyone.
Also shown: Word Cubes by Maison Deux
Soft Toy Blanket Animals by Fabelab
Speaking of pretty pastel colours, you have to see these cuddly creatures made by Fabelab. Michaela Weisskirchner-Barfod, an Austrian architect living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the brain behind Fabelab.
Michaela embraced Scandinavian design principles and led her small team of designers to create wonderful toys and products that simply make kids (and parents!) happy. Soft cosy colours, beautiful designs, all responsibly made and perfect to give to anyone as a gift.
Discover Fabelab’s cuddly toys here
Artistic Soft Toys by Cocon
Lastly, in the baby toy selection, are these artistic soft toys by Masami Akatsuka, Cocon, that make us smile. Leafy plants or trees with character, because why not? The quirky, imaginative toys that Cocon has created look fun to play with, hold closely and take with you wherever you go. Like a little cuddly friend.
When not in use, these soft toy objects can also brighten up any nursery or playroom. Handmade with love: discover the entire dreamy collection here:
Building blocks are part of every childhood. No matter where you live in the world, you have played with construction toys (or made your own from nature). You can build anything with them, use your imagination and create endless forts, bridges and castles for play.
Now, since this is an essential list, you cannot have enough LEGO, that’s a fact (at least for us it is!). The more LEGO you have, the more opportunities you have to build things. We like to store our colourful bricks in Play&Go Mini bags, as the size is perfect for carrying it all from room to room without a messy aftermath (and no chance of stepping on a piece of LEGO, which every parent has either experienced or joked about at least once in their life).
Besides the basic bricks, there are also LEGO STEM packs where kids can pick up coding skills. They can build robots, play with moving coding trains, learn about gears, chain reactions and more. For older children there are advanced STEM packs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) which can be found here: LEGO BOOST. But even with the basic brick packs you can build plenty of STEM-inspired things, Pinterest is a great resource for this (See our LEGO STEM board for more ideas).
Kapla planks are also a great, timeless option. For the kids who have everything already, there’s always some space for extra Kapla blocks. If storage space is an issue, gift the planks in our Play&Go toy storage bags as the bags are big enough to hold lots and lots of Kapla planks (and Lego bricks) and are easy to store away.
Apart from Lego and Kapla, here are some of our favourite construction toys by small businesses all over the world.
Wooden Ball Track by Haba
Luckily, we haven’t lost our marbles. If you still have yours, consider getting these wooden marble run blocks by Haba. This simple set, shown here with our new Gold Diamond bag, creates a basic marble run that can keep kids going for a while.
For Haba’s ‘Ball track’’ you can buy expansions to add all kinds of twists to your marble run. Like marble canyons, cascades, funnel jungles and more. For the child who loves playing with marbles, this is the ideal gift for them.
Cuboro Marble Track System
If you’re looking for something more advanced (puzzle-style), check out the marble run blocks by Cuboro, based in Switzerland. (You need to find your nearest stockist on the website). Cuboro takes the simple marbe run to a complete new level, with lots of ways to expand the packs (with instruction booklets and marble games).
“cuboro was developed in 1976 by Matthias Etter when working with special-needs schoolchildren. He extended the game and marketed it as a family game in 1985 with twelve basic elements (in multiple editions). Little by little, additional sets were issued offering ever-increasing possibilities with the new elements. Today the cuboro program comprises 82 different elements.” Read more about cuboro’s awesome story here (with an entire overview of all the changes to cuboro’s marble track since 1976, super impressive!)
Build your own city with Lubu Town Blocks by Lubulona
Now onto something else: let’s build our own town! Create a skyline or cozy little town with these painted blocks by Lubulona, based in Barcelona. Founded by Tina and Jordi, creative entrepreneurs and parents of two boys. Parents come up with the greatest of ideas, #fact.
Tina and Jordi on Lubu Town: “Our first product was ‘Lubu Town’, our versatile wooden toy city. Lubu Town is a toy that inspires kids to be little archtitects and construct their own buildings and towns. During the design phase of Lubu Town, we gave 3- to 6-year-olds different prototypes to play with. Based on our observations during these play tests, we then re-designed and adapted the prototypes. The final product is a versatile, creative and very intuitive toy, combining construction with symbolic play and allowing kids to choose how to play and with what to play.”
Made with love and care in Europe, totally safe and sustainable and an ideal gift for boys and girls who love to build.
Hey, what’s that? Lubu Town blocks with our new striped Play&Go bag of course. Captured by according to e
Word Cubes by Maison Deux
You can’t go wrong with these word cubes by Maison Deux. Our friends in the Netherlands have created some of the most playful, timeless designs (hotdog rug anyone?).
“Maison Deux was founded by Pia & Woes Weinberg, following their ambition to bring the home of kids and parents closer together. A home in which parents can enjoy design for kids as if it was designed for themselves. A home for two. Maison Deux.”
Get your Word Cubes here (and check out their other designs too) You can use their word checker to make sure you can create certain names with the blocks. Clever!
Magnetic Blocks by Magna-Tiles
Can you beat this tower? Give it a try with Magna-Tiles, a small family owned business specialising in creating the most colourful, magnetic blocks out there. The blocks come in many shpaes and sizes and are see-through, so you can place them against a window or let the sun shine through for dramatic, playful effects.
“Magna-Tiles® were invented by a Japanese mathematics teacher who wanted to create a better hands-on experience when learning geometric concepts in school and at home.”
Pretend Play/Imaginative Play
Never underestimate the value of imaginative play. When children are role playing, they are essentially copying things they have seen, heard, experienced. It helps them make sense of our (oftentimes incredibly complicated) world. They are simply processing what happens around them and are experimenting with the outcomes.
In this section you’ll find gifts that are ideal for pretend play, like wooden tea sets, little dolls and animals which are all perfect for role playing.
Wildflower dolls & wooden toy bottles by Thispaperbook
If you love soft, pastel tones mixed with natural wood, you’ll love the toys created by This Paper Book. There’s so much to discover on their website (seriously, we could add one of their products to every section mentioned in this blogpost). Besides their own handcrafted products, they also sell a variety of toys and kids goods made by others, so do check it out.
Our favourites? These wooden wildflower dolls, with intricate flower details painted by hand. We love that they come in different shades. The wooden baby bottles are great for pretend play too; every child has at least one dolly or teddy that needs to be fed!