Monday, December 4, 2017

Fun Gifts for Little Kids, Made in Minnesota with Love

Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

One thing I remember rather strongly about Christmas gift opening at the relatives' whenI was a kid was that when we got toys or games, we were delighted, and when we got clothing or something practical, we were, well, polite. Always appreciative, of course. But, when you're a kid, there's nothing better than gifts that you can play with while the grown-ups sit around and talk.

So here are some fun gift ideas for kids, all handmade in Minnesota, and none requiring batteries. Links to view and purchase the items on Etsy are provided in the captions.

For the Wee Ones (baby and toddler)

Give those little guys something they can sink their teeth into, like a natural hardwood teething ring. And if it happens to have an attached cloth tail for dabbing at drool, well that's a bonus.  This horse is just one of several designs made by Oak Tree Arts and certified safe for children under 3. This shop also offers a wooden lacing toy for baby's toddler sibling.

Maple horse teether, $22, from Oak Tree Arts  
This stuffed sheep from Aimee's Homestead is made with faux fur and fleece and is ready for a good wrestling match or a quiet cuddle. It's 7" by 11" and made in a pet-free, perfume-free, smoke-free home. (She also makes tea cozies & French press cozies for the adults on your list.)

Stuffed sheep, $18, from Aimee's Homestead
These soft colorful bracelets are wearable fun for toddlers & preschoolers. Made by Knitty Vet, who also sells hand-dyed yarns."These soft toddler toys were developed when my 3 year old wanted me to knit her some jewelry from my soft wool." 

Hand knit wool bracelets from Knitty Vet. 3 for $11, other quantities available.

For toddlers and preschoolers

Uncle Harry will enjoy making corny jokes that he'll then have to explain to the kids when the little guy plays with these felt pretend eggs that they can crack out of their shell and then stuff back in again. Mom? What's an omelet? 

Place your order soon for these and more pretend food made by Farm Fresh Toys.

Felt eggs in a carton, an original design from  Farm Fresh Toys, $12
My grandparents had very few toys in their house, yet we always had fun playing with their unique architectural wooden blocks. I especially remember the arches and semi circles that fit together, which just seemed like the coolest thing to me back then. We made some pretty great towers with them. These hard maple wooden blocks made by Beka Toys sure look a lot like Grandpa's blocks. Some toys never get old.

28-piece wood block set from Beka Toys, $69.99
Crayons are always popular, too; and if they come in fun shapes that work as toys also, all the better, Earth Grown Crayons come in all sorts of fun shapes, in their own nifty gift box, and are made with soy wax and nontoxic pigment.

Set of 8 animal crayons from Earth Grown Crayons, $10
I have so many grand-nephews and nieces these days that I like to go with a theme for each year's Christmas gifts to help me keep track of what I gave them each year so I don't repeat myself. (A spreadsheet also helps.) But how do the parents keep track of which belongs to whom, especially when all the cousins are playing with their cars together? 

How about personalized wooden cars from Smiling Tree Toys

Hardwood love bug from Smiling Tree toys. $20 with name, $15 without.

Elementary age and tweens

It gets harder and harder to buy for them as they get older, doesn't it? But the appeal of tiny quirky things is seldom outgrown.

Consider this wee felt monster baby, which comes with its own tiny diaper in a matchbox bed, from Beeper Bebe. 

Orange monster baby from Beeper Bebe, $14
This compact coloring book (6x9") by Open Cupboard Designs features 24 original illustrations printed on heavy paper, and each image is blank on the back so you can take a finished piece out to display it if you like. 

Coloring book from Open Cupboard Designs, $9.95
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. And be sure to click on the highlighted shop names to see more items from each of these marvelous Minnesota makers.