Ah, Christmas time...
A time of joy, a time of love, a time of panicking about where you will fit all those loud new toys your kids will be gifted (or in many cases gifted multiple of!)
Christmas with two boys, 1 and under, at our house, looked like kmart and target had the biggest party ever and left midway through, leaving us, 2 very sleep deprived and exhausted parents to clean up what was left behind.
It was exhausting and although we were very appreciative... it wasn't something we were looking forward too the next year. Sound familiar?
Luckily for us, things were about to change.We had a big tub full of flashing, singing and mostly plastic toys in our living room.
The boys would help themselves to them as they please. The jingles started haunting our nightmares... wait, no that wasn't a nightmare, they were just randomly setting each other off at 2am.
I remember starting to feel guilty, seeing my two babies mindlessly press buttons looking rather bored, so I turned to old mate, google.
Search: toys for toddlers that aren't annoying or loud
After some scrolling, I seen a big bright grimms rainbow... and I won't lie, my initial thought was... IT COSTS HOW MUCH!? WHAT DOES IT EVEN DO!?
I became curious about this Grimms, so I begun googling more of their goodies. I kept seeing words like: open ended and sustainable.
One image took me through to an instagram account, a Montessori account, with a toy shelf that took my breath away and a day later, my partner, the boys and myself were at our local wooden toy store (which i ceased to know even existed) and I was ready to commit to changing things up for the better.
Our first purchase was the Grapat coloured bowls and acorns set and the Grapat Autumn seasons set.
Both open ended, well made beautiful toys.
Many trips were made to our local donation drop off place and bags of toys posted for free pick-up on marketplace and eventually, 90% of our toys were open ended wooden pieces (this didn't happen over night)
Now I'll be honest here, it took a while for not just our kids, but for us too, for open ended play to become second nature and I owe a huge thanks to instagram and all of those who post and inspire.
I remember making an order with an Aussie store, for some sensory goodies for our flisat table (which has been used most days for over a year now!) And I recieved the most beautiful hand written note.
It became quiet obvious that every purchase from a small Aussie store was appreciated in ways that made my heart so warm and fuzzy, so it was then that I decided I wanted to try and support Aussie stores as much as I could, finding Aussie made sustainable toys and resources and recommending them to my friends and family too.
With Christmas approaching, this year, I'm genuinely looking forward to it and have suggested to family, that if they would like to gift, to shop local small stores and choose sustainable where possible.
It even helps to link them directly to products from the stores that you would like them to support!
(I felt uncomfortable about doing this at first, but in the end, if they know that these are something you wanted your child to have and it falls in line with your values/it won't end up stashed away in a cupboard or broken in 3 days, usually people are happy about this!)
I cannot recommend open ended toys and sensory play enough, and while generally, the first name that pops up when it comes to open ended is Grimms and Grapat, consider looking at your locally made alternatives too!
So if you're wondering where to start for Christmas, perhaps think about what your child really likes and enjoys.
In our case it's anything cars and trucks related. There are some amazing wooden car sets and rattan trucks made right here in Australia. (Dont get me wrong, we have boxes of matchbox cars and plastic cars from over the years that the babes love too!)
...and some open ended favs from a small store, like a block set (building, fine and gross motor skills, imagination), magnetic tiles, wooden people or maybe a barn or house.
I hope this has helped or inspired at least one person (I'm not a confident writer ) I hope you all have a magical, beautiful Christmas. 😅
- Gabrielle 🌲