When it comes to gift-giving for our kids, we much prefer to give quality toys that can be used for some time over cheap toys that don’t last long. Let’s face it – I have five, very active children. A toy should be challenging, durable, and able to last through their active play! It’s hard to find.
That’s why I was thrilled with ASTRA’s list of the Best Toys of the Year for 2013. Childhood experts considered hundreds of toys and narrowed the list to the top 21 toys in a variety of age ranges and learning activities. The winning toys were based on three criteria I totally love and agree with:
- The toy’s ability to promote open-ended/creative play
- Innovative design features
- Exceptional safety standards
I love that #1 – a toy has to be able to do more than one thing and last for more than one hour.
Find The Best Toys at Your Local Toy Store
ASTRA (The American Specialty Toy and Retailing Association) is a non-profit organization that helps promote creative and open ended playtime for children. Buying from a local toy store can be a gift to more than just your own children. You know I’m a huge fan of shopping and sourcing locally as much as possible.
You have a direct hand in building your local community when you shop from a locally owned store vs purchasing from a large box retailer or online. When you buy from a local business, you are buying from a friend, or a friend’s friend and keeping more of the money in your local community. Your direct economy is impacted for the better when you find a local owner to buy from – often three or four times the amount from your individual dollar stays as compared to a larger store.
Our local toy store is called MudPuddles and is in the process of moving to a new location so they can have more space. The owner, Jessica Hunt, is launching the grand opening on Saturday and is looking forward to having more hand’s-on samples for the kids to play with and ordering customer favorites for Christmas. She even has a wooden mailbox for kids to mail their Christmas letters to Santa Claus, and then the parents can help make wishes come true – with some assistance from Santa’s helper of course. Fun!
The Quality of Toys ASTRA is Recommending
In order for a toy to make ASTRA’s Best Toys list it has to be of high quality. I got a couple of the items from their Best Toys list and wanted to show you the imaginative play toy that Brianna is in love with, The Calico Critters Supermarket. If you haven’t seen the Calico Critters toys yet, they are lovely. The Supermarket is very detailed – even the fake pretzels look realistic, the bread bags have logos, and the cereal boxes have ingredients and bar codes. Super cute.
The supermarket has tons of pieces, over 100 items, and will make a great addition to the Calico Critters world. I wish it had come with a person – maybe a grocer – but if you have any of the family kits you’ll be good to go. I could see these turning into pieces we collect on a regular basis for our kids. The details were stunning.
I’m definitely going to check out more of the toys from ASTRA’s list because if they are half as good as the Ring Sticks and Calico Critters, I will be awesome.
Check out the Best Toys of 2013 list and let me know which ones are your favorites!
This is a compensated post to raise awareness of ASTRAs Best Toys list and the importance of shopping locally. All opinions, photos (barring the collage as noted) and opinions are my own.