This time of year is full of hustle and bustle. Finding the perfect gift for the loved ones in your life should be a joy, but let’s be honest, it can sometimes be a chore. As my children get older I miss the simple days of gifting the perfect toy or activity. So it is with great pleasure that I share with you some of my favorite gift choices from Bluebird Day for this holiday season (even if my own children have outgrown them). Everything I choose for the store has been carefully selected to check specific boxes. Those boxes include being high quality, having an educational or creative purpose, produced by smaller manufacturers, and striving for earth friendly and non-toxic materials. What you won’t find is anything that lights up or buzzes, or will end up in the landfill any time soon (you’ll be able to pass them down or on to a friend when it’s outgrown).
Our littlest customers have a great selection of soft and sweet items to choose from. New to the store is Tikiri Toys and its sister brand Bonikka Collection. They are a small family owned company based in Sri Lanka that uses only sustainable and natural materials. We have an assortment of winter themed natural rubber teethers, my favorite being the Polar Bear from their Arctic Animal Collection. Another popular new item is the Aurora or Angelina Doll from the Bonikka Collection, made with 100% organic fabrics. We also have new teether styles from store favorite Ollie & Carol. My absolute favorite is Ramona the Radish, but we also have new Chewy-To-Go styles in Poppy and Clover. Part pacifier & part teether they look absolutely adorable in your babies mouth. And finally, you can’t go wrong with the soft and sweet lovies from Albetta. Made from organic cotton cloth, they are perfect gift for baby’s first Christmas. My favorites are the Duck (which we think looks like a seagull) and the Bee.
What about the first two years? It’s a time of growth and exploration and deserves it’s own category of toys where babies can feel, hear, taste, and sometimes even throw the toys designed just for them. Some of you may be familiar with Tegu’s magnetic wooden blocks which are great from age 1 through 99, but they also have a newer collection of magnetic toys specifically for toddlers. Fan favorites include the Magnetic Floating Stacker and the Magnetic Racer. The options get even broader when you move to the 18 months and up category. Tender Leaf Toys has some great choices. All of their products are handmade at a family run factory in Indonesia, using reclaimed rubber wood (a byproduct of the latex industry). They have eliminated single use plastic and use only non toxic plants and glues. We love the creativity encouraged by their charming Rainbow Tunnel and the sensory learning of their Touchy Feely Animals chunky puzzle set.
Tender Leaf also has several popular toys in the age 3 and up category. This year’s favorites include the hours of imaginative play children will find using the portable Rosewood Cottage (perfect for toting to grandma’s house) or the Till with Money for children to use while playing pretend. Playing “shop” is a perennial favorite for kids of many ages. Or try the old fashioned goodness of the Castle Blocks from Plan Toys. What kid wouldn’t love to build the castle of their dreams and defend it from a fire breathing dragon? And for the kids who like wheels? We have an amazing new selection in from Brooklyn, NY based Candylab Toys. Go with a smaller vehicle like the new NASA Bus or Zebra Drifter to put in a stocking. Or grab a full size vehicle like the new Longhorn in Red or the cool Wanderer off road style vehicle. We have carried Candylab since our opening and they have never failed to be a crowd pleaser.
Beyond age 3, we shift our focus to art and science based activities. You will still find non-toxic and all natural products in these categories, like the ever popular natural play dough from Land of Dough. This season we have reindeer and snow man dough, and even the man in red himself. For those who like to color we continue to carry both the full size and pocket size posters from OMY Maison. This season there is a new offering for younger kids that features the ABC’s so even the youngest kids can get in on the action. In the pocket collection, we continually sell out of the New York City Pocket Map. It’s a perfect companion if you are planning to hit the city to take in the holiday decorations or a show. Or grab an Ooly Carry Along Coloring Book for planes, trains, and restaurants.
On the science side of things, we have several popular items from Copernicus Toys. We currently have the crystal tree growing kit in the seasonally appropriate Douglas Fir. And the DIY Bouncy Ball Kit and Bubble Gum Chemistry Kit are always a hit with kids 8 and over. New this season are the Touchable Bubbles of Steel. Kids can touch the bubbles and they won’t pop…they can even build bubble towers and sculptures that will last for several days if you are careful! You will officially blow their minds with these (pun intended).
Finally, for the kid in your life who loves beauty and glam we have lots of options. We have a variety of all natural play make up and nail polish from Klee Kids. This season we have a large kit that includes everything a young diva could desire: makeup, nail polish, body glitter, and lip balm all in one set. Or grab a single nail polish or Two Sisters Bath Bomb to throw in a stocking. You can also up the bling factor with a necklace from Pop Cutie (available in store), or clip on earrings from Girl Nation (available in store). And what girl could resist one of the gorgeous dolls from Albetta, new to the store this fall. I love the bright pink hair and fairy stylings of Neon Fairy Linen Doll. Or maybe you prefer the cozy stylings of the Audrey Linen Doll in her fair aisle sweater and skirt? Either way, a little one in your life is sure to love any of these beautiful new dolls.
With so many options to choose from, we hope you will choose to shop local this year as much as possible. Shop owners throughout town spend months carefully selecting items that will be loved by our local population. While we know it’s easy and convenient to shop online (especially for busy moms…I’m totally guilty of it when time is short), there are people and families in our community who depend on your support. This season many small businesses are experiencing decreased sales, so please make sure to dine out, shop local, and celebrate the spirit of the holidays with your fellow South Eastern CT neighbors!
To learn more about local events, shops, and restaurants visit the Stonington Borough, CT website. It’s a great resource for what’s happening in our area, and Stonington in particular! Click the link to visit: https://www.stoningtonboroughct.com/