Toys are cool. Really, really, really cool. And it doesn’t matter if your 4 or 40 – playing around never loses appeal. But, as you know probably all too well, not all toys are created equal. Those that are trendy aren’t always the items you want to be buying for your tykes. This year however, we’ve been really fortunate. Designers’ collaborations resulted in some of the greatest toys to date. So, here’s a list of favorite toys that came out in 2012. Each one offers learning opportunities creatively disguised by being immensely fun. (If I’ve neglected your favorite 2012 toy, let me know!)
1. Classic Derby Car
Vroom, vroom! Rev those engines, little racers, here’s derby car that really couldn’t be any cooler. An FAO Schwarz original, this sweet hot rod is crafted of solid steel with a working steering column and allows any kid from 3-7 an opportunity to ride retro style.
2. Gourmet Kitchen Set
Step aside, Ina Garten! With this realistic wooden kitchen set, any young chef can whip up greatness. With slots to hang pots and pans, working knobs, and an oven window to check dinner’s progress, this gourmet kitchen is the perfect place for little chefs to create culinary art! (And it’s also created 100% from sustainable materials.)
During times of loss, it’s often really hard to figure out what’s appropriate as a gift – especially when someone’s just lost a spouse. You don’t want to evoke painful memories with something overly sentimental, but at the same time, you do want to gift something meaningful. While it is tricky to decide what’s right, there certainly are gifts that are perfect for the occasion. Here are some tasteful ideas to get you started:
People often send flowers to express their sympathies. But while flowers are indeed beautiful, they also die. The whole point of a sympathy gift is to make them feel better – not to remind them of death. This is why an actual plant is a better option than flowers. The most popular plant for such occasions is the Peace Lily, but others like yellow rose plants, gardenias, and Calla Lilies are also great choices too.
This isn’t just us being biased. You know how when you’re sick you really don’t want to exert the effort to cook anything more complicated than canned soup? Multiply that by a million and you’ll be close to understanding what the widow or widower is dealing with. This is why gift baskets are great. They offer good food without the hassle of going to the grocery store. The best baskets are those that include quick meals, snacks they can eat right away, or items that last a fair amount of time – like muffins or nuts.
We love our grandparents. They introduce us to new ideas, offer perspectives that differ from our parents, and spoil us. And not just with unconditional love and letting us get away with things. Generally, grandparents should spend between $50 and $100 on birthday presents, depending on a variety of factors like how old the child is, finances, and how many grandkids there are in the family. Grandchildren certainly don’t come cheap. But you can make the money go further by spending it more wisely than on useless toys.
So say you’re spending $100 on a grandkid’s birthday buying – let’s face it – stupid toys that are prized for a few weeks and are then forgotten. How about putting that money to better use? Still give them a gift – something small – and spend the remainder at the bank, by putting it into an account for them. If you put $75 into a bank account twice a year, your grandchild will have close to $3000 by the time they’re 18 and if you put $25 into it once a month, that’s $5400 by the time they graduate high school. When they’re checking out student loans, having their first semester of state college taken care of will be a lot more useful than video games and meaningless plastic they haven’t touched in a decade.
Before you came along, your dad was sort of a regular guy. He may have had long hair and been a regular at the local dive where he spent every night living his “dream” of becoming a pool shark. Before you, your dad may have listened to his music too loudly, spent his days off at the beach with mom, and gone out every Friday night. Before you, his ambitions may have been outlandish – reaching into space with astronauts or plunging deep into the ocean with scuba divers. But things changed. Life was no longer about staying up late and getting out of work early. It became all about you.
Your father has dedicated all of these years to you, making sure you’re provided for, safe, and happy. This amazing love deserves some recognition, which is why we have Father’s Day, but this year, take the time to recognize exactly why your dad is amazing – because he is. Our fathers have done things for us over the years that when we’re younger, we don’t understand, but in retrospect, we comprehend the immeasurable love they have for us and what an amazing gift that is.
He’s Your Biggest Fan
Remember when you went through “that phase?” Well, your dad still loved you and thought you were adorable, didn’t he? Yeah, that’s because our dads will always think we’re great (it’s sort of an unwritten law). Our dads brag about us, congratulate us on our achievements, and are proud of our accomplishments. If it was a fad to wear buttons expressing sentiments towards their children, you’d probably think that ½ the world’s youths were running for president.