Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year but I think we can all agree it can be pretty stressful with all of the end of year events at preschool, school and sport not to mention carols, family parties, get together’s with friends, work parties and did I mention actually getting in your Christmas shopping somewhere?
This year I have a few giveaways coming up on the blog which will mean for the lucky winners they have some of their kids gifts all sorted.
We already hosted the incredible Kazoops Soft Toy giveaway which was met with HUGE enthusiasm especially from all the non Australian fans. And this week, I have teamed up with a beautiful local Sydney maker and creator, Tess from Funny Little Things. Tess makes the most beautiful handmade crayons which make perfect stocking fillers, party favours and birthday gifts.
Play dough is one of those absolute classic toys that so many children have grown up with and today 87 years on, it is still a cherished activity that kids love! Play dough even makes it into the National Toy Hall of Fame in the US. What I didn’t know until today was that what we know as Play-Doh®, started life as wallpaper cleaner back in the 1920’s! Composed of flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil, the product was first created by Noah McVicker for Cincinnati based company, Kutol.
These days though many families enjoy making play dough at home and in the last few years, Australian based brand Happy Hands Happy Heart has been making waves with their natural version of play -dough with the most incredible scents that literally waft out of the glass jar once you open it.
This month we are testing out an incredibly beautiful toy, like I am not joking, this is one I have never seen before and when Happy Go Ducky Toys asked me to review it, I jumped at being gifted the opportunity.
Happy Go Ducky are an Australian based company run by wife and husband team, Amy and Votja, who in 2015 started to bring to Australia the most incredible Czech designed and produced toys like the Playful Wood range of toys.
Their ethos is closely aligned to mine in that they only sell toys that are ethically and sustainably produced, they want their toys to last and not to add to the growing plastic junk pile. Along with being completely safe for little ones in terms of non toxic toys, they are also educational and open learning toys that allow for the creativity and fun!
This month we have a wonderful creator and shaker for our ‘Meet the Maker’! Ha I love a good rhyme. But seriously, this month we shine a spotlight on to a gorgeous handmade toy industry that I have long admired and even asked my mum to make one for my eldest when he was born. This month it is all about knitted and crochet toys and a Japanese art form called Amigurumi from US based maker Eliza Ryan from KnitSquid. I am super excited to be showcasing it on the blog as these handmade toys are just super creative and utterly gorgeous.
I first discovered crochet toys when I found the brand Anne-Claire Petit and I bought my eldest an awesome rainbow plane in London, we still have it and it is what started my appreciation for crochet and knitted toys. I know making them certainly isn’t easy, I think you need a whole heap of patience, skill and time! I wanted to find out more and when Eliza approached me about her fab brand, I was all ears.
This month we are testing out some seriously awesome handmade colouring in mats from Australian maker Noble Cubs and I have to say my kids are absolutely loving them!
All designed and handmade in Queensland by mother and creator Martina Noble, these eco-friendly toys are completely machine washable, and brilliant for entertaining kids whilst out and about. I would much prefer my kids play with these fab washable mats than the dreaded tech ( oh tantrum city when you tell them no more playing!)
Martina kindly gifted us two colouring in and doodling mats to test out and review. My 5 year old was so excited to see the construction mat when he opened it up and he was super intrigued as to how it was going to work. I have to admit I was too. I wasn’t sure how the washable markers were going to colour onto the fabric and I was equally intrigued as to whether they would wash out in full to enable further uses of the mat.
We have been testing out the most beautiful toy storage trolley from Lulo Kids this month and I am secretly wishing that we had little ones again to push it around and look oh so adorable!
We used to own a little wooden trolley when our boys were toddlers that they used for toy storage and to push around but I can honestly tell you it was not as exquisite as this one (think red and white and yellow – eek!)
Lulo Kids is a Melbourne based small business designing and hand making beautiful wooden kids products. Known for their teepees, they have recently added these wooden trolleys to go with their gorgeous bespoke wooden blocks.
Again, I am over the moon that such Australian based toy companies now exist and thrive when a few years ago all you could find were overseas based companies whose production was based in fast paced China.
August in Sydney can be quite a dreary month, it can be wet, super cold with windy days and only sometimes a glimpse of Spring in the air! But what I like about the last winter month is that you can still hibernate and enjoy all those indoor activities.
We go through our board games, we set up our wooden train set, do painting and I even taught the kids how to play marbles this month. We had the added joy of reviewing a beautiful wooden play theatre from the brilliant new toy store Happy Go Ducky. Such a perfect toy for those cold, rainy days indoors or just days when you want to stay inside and chill.
As a toy blogger I see a lot of kids toys as you can imagine, but the ones I am always drawn to are ones that will last generations, ones that our children can enjoy, but also their children. In this very consumerist society, it can be easy to give your children toys upon toys upon plastic toys. But the ones that they will remember won’t be the plastic ones that break or run out of battery, but those that provide them with hours of imagination and wonder. The ones that are sturdy, robust and built to last, which is why I tend towards wooden toys. Aesthetically from a parent’s perspective they are beautiful to look at which is important as you will be seeing it daily, but from a consumerist perspective, they are also ones that you know will survive the rough and tumble of children. They won’t be thrown in the bin because they no longer work!
I have to say in looking for handmade and wooden toys over the past 2 years for my blog, it has honestly been quite a struggle. There are a lot of wooden toys but all made by the big companies; Plan Toys, Hape, Melissa and Doug, Janod and Kidkraft to name a few. We love our Hape & Plan Toys but not all the companies produce solid wood toys, many are made of MDF, which isn’t sturdy and if it is painted, then it chips easily.
However, just in the past year, there has been an absolute resurgence in handmade and wooden toys. And I can proudly say there are so many handmade and heirloom made toys being made right here in Australia, many in lovely mamas and papas homes! Woohoo!
I always love new and fun ways to store toys and when I saw these gorgeous toy paper bags from french label Monpetitzoreol, I knew I had to have one!
Designed by hand and printed onto vinyl stickers these toy storage bags are super cute and would look fab in any kids room.
For myself, it was a tough choice as I adored Audrey’s panda designs and it was this designe that caught my eye in the first place. However, our boys new room design is a mix of super heroes, alongside pops of mint, grey and monochrome, so I thought the mask was perfect. I love the design and I thought the gold would compliment my colour scheme in the room.
Disclosure: we purchased the gold mask toy storage bag and we were very kindly gifted the sweet mint star.