gifts for the little ones

For a more exotic alternative to your run-of-the-mill building blocks, how about this pyramid set, complete with a smiling sphinx? So mystical. Find these, as well as JapaneseRussian, or Middle Eastern block sets, $45 each at Acorn Toys. 

This is a classic. Their parents might hate you for it, but what little scoundrel wouldn't love one of these old fashioned sling shots? $26, Atomic Garden

Little girls will love this cuddly Lapin bunny bag. It's the perfect size and so so cute! $34, Catbird

These DIY drums are so cool! Using the kit, you make them, then you play them! Truly fun and educational. Plus there are far noisier and more annoying things they could be playing with. $45, Poketo

Kids of all ages enjoy playing with fake food, and there are plenty of good quality felt and wood products out there. This breakfast set is my favorite--what better way to start training them to bring you breakfast in bed? $16.93, Amazon

When it's time for real food, it's nice for children to have their very own dishes (it's one more way to get them excited about mealtime). These melamine sets with their compartmentalized trays are a good choice for the fastidious feaster, and come in two super cute patterns. $30, Husset

Fact: kids love shoes. Or at least, every kid I've ever met does. Zara has an especially gift-worthy selection--I wish I owned a lot of these, myself! Get them a tiny version of something their mother/father would wear, and they'll feel so grown up! Starting at around $30 at Zara

Can you even imagine? $59.99, Target

You can't go wrong with legos, and this deluxe Parisian Restaurant is the stuff dreams are made of. See the tiny roast chicken? The croissant-shaped molding on the roof? The man about to propose with the most ridiculously oversized gold ring Ive ever seen? There's even a little rat out back by the little blue dumpster! (I've spent way more time than is reasonable looking at this... I wish I could live in the studio apartment upstairs!) $149.99 (eep!) at the lego store

But if, like me, you're reluctant to gift a little one who already seems to have an excess of toys, books, and nicknacks in general, my friend recently shared a good idea: buy them a trip or membership to a local museum, science center, botanical garden, anything! The children's museum here in Pittsburgh is supposed to be really cool; we're going next week, and I'm excited! 

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