One of my favorite Christmas traditions is my annual Toys for Tots shopping spree. Except for my very poor college years I have supported Toys for Tots each Christmas since my junior year of high school. My high school's honor society would collect toys to distribute to local families in need. We'd then spend a fun filled afternoon wrapping all the gifts we'd collected.
Fighting the urge to hibernate at a very dark 4:30pm I decided it might be safe to hit my local Target's toy aisles. Luckily, much of the post-Thanksgiving shopping madness had died down though it was a little more hopping than normal. When shopping I look for toys that are classics or toys that encourage learning, creativity, or activity. I avoid toys that require batteries. So it was with that that I went about filling my cart to near overflowing.
First stop was the wall of board games where I picked up Chutes & Ladders and Candy Land. I love a good board game! For a more active game I picked out a classically colored soccer ball. These games are all so much better than sitting in front of the TV excercising your thumbs.
Next into the cart went three creativity toys: a giant Doodle Pro, a Play-Doh set complete with shape maker, and a robot Lego kit. I know the Play-Doh and Legos could be risky gifts but I just love them. My siblings and I weren't too reliable when it came to the Play-Doh. Ours often became Play-Rocks. Then there were the Legos lost in shag carpeting. Many a time did my mom step on a Lego and shriek in pain.
To help encourage an early love for learning I picked out two Leap Frog sets. One is called the Math Whiz Learning Bus for learning numbers, counting, and addition/subtraction. (All skills more useful than calculus.) The other is pure dinosaur fun in the form of a Dinousaur Fun Facts Floor Puzzle.
No child should be without a Mr. Potato Head. To help keep a classic fresh there are now several accessories sets you can buy. He can be a firefighter spud, a space spud, safari spud, or construction worker spud. To round out, or over, my shopping cart there were a few more classics: a newborn baby complete with birth certificate and the softest stuffed puppy I've ever laid hands on.
I'm so grateful I have the ability to go a little toy crazy each year. I know somewhere a child will wake up on Christmas morning with something under the tree just for them. Imagining their faces filling with joy is what keeps me filling my cart year after year.