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Paper and pencil is
the perfect stocking stuffer.
Paper and pencil is
the perfect stocking stuffer.

Toy Survey

421 words


Do A Toy Survey Before the Holiday Shopping
by Dianne Roth


Christmas is just around the corner and the toy aisle is full of frenzied children and frazzled parents. Shopping stops being fun when holiday expectations and commercial demands are too high.

One thing I have found calming at this time of year is filling out a toy survey before shopping. On paper sort the toys in your child’s toybox. Groupings might include: vehicles, dolls, violent play, construction, outdoor equipment, dramatic play, electronics, books, physical play, educational, and creative materials. Do a simple count to see what is in over supply and stay away from that area when you shop Of course, there are never too many books. The categories should be the same for boys and girls and you might think of something that is not a traditional gender gift to give.

When you have completed the survey, you will have a pretty good picture of the kind of toys to steer clear of and what might be a knock-out hit with the kids. The toy section at your local department store will be much more manageable when a few of the aisles are deleted from your list.

Bear in mind that many major stores have stopped carrying realistic gun-toys. The research is pretty compelling on them, violent play can lead to violent acts.

There is also concern about the amount of time spent playing computer games, as well as the type of games the children play. Young children seem to have a difficult time separating what they see on the screen with what is happening in real life. I always encourage parents to err on the side of less.

Stocking stuffers my kids enjoyed most were creative materials. They loved having their own ball of string, roll of tape (masking, electrician's, duct), stapler, balsa wood, glue, tools, pipe cleaners, rope, paints, beads, and even the cardboard boxes the gifts come in. My own stash of creative materials lasted much longer, not to mention I was able to find my own tools when I needed them.

Other gift suggestions might include: books, games, magazines, just plain fun toys, stuffed animals, art supplies, music, lots of costumes (we had Superman capes and dyed underwear for everyone in the neighborhood), construction materials, construction toys like Legos or TinkerToys, and toys that encourage active play and problem solving.

One of our long time traditions has been a pair of good wool socks from Santa stuffed into everyone’s stocking and a book for everyone under the tree. That part of my shopping is already done!


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.




Last updated on October 8, 2012