Allie's Top 10 Holiday Toy Picks
Our Founder, Allie Klein, shares her top 10 Holiday Toy Picks
Believe it or not, we start our holiday shopping for Rose & Rex in March! Our team thinks about collaboration possibilities, new brands we want to welcome into our family and the best products for the season! Our toy philosophy is centered around the belief that children need fewer, better things and we keep this in mind when curating our offerings for the holidays!
The first thing we consider when selecting a toy is whether or not it’s imaginative and open-ended, as open-ended toys promote the most robust skill building. To us, open-ended means any material or object that can be transformed, that comes to life in a child’s hands and that does not have a single, specific purpose or goal (i.e., press this button and a song will play). Open-ended toys engage instead of simply entertain children and grow along with them. If you’re going to invest in a toy it needs to hold your child’s attention and support their development.
Next, we look for toys that are carefully crafted and healthy! Plastic toys account for more than 90% of the toys on the market today! They are one of the hardest items to recycle, which means they often pollute our land, our wildlife and our water. We find toys that are high-quality, non-plastic and made out of toxin-free materials. Additionally, with every purchase we support Second Chance Toys, an amazing organization the rescues, refurbishes and donates toys to children in need keeping loads of plastic out of our landfills!
Last, we look for toys that are design-focused and fun! Design is very important to us and we take pride in finding educational toys you will actually enjoy seeing scattered on the living room floor!
To help with your gift search we’ve put together gift guides and age guides filled with imaginative toys that support learning through play! I’ve also picked my top 10 favorites toys of the season to share with you below. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
The Calm Mind Kit is Rose & Rex’s first branded product and it is near and dear to my heart. A tool for social and emotional learning, The Calm Mind Kit provides children with strategies to calm feelings of restlessness, agitation, and distraction through a playful mindfulness practice. As magical as the holidays are, we all know that this can be an incredibly busy and overwhelming time of the year. In the midst of school events, extracurriculars and family commitments it’s essential that we help children feel calm, connected and grounded. Mindfulness is one of the most impactful ways to help children cultivate calm.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to what is going on inside and outside of the body right NOW. The benefits of practicing mindfulness are pretty incredible. It has been shown to reduce stress and increase attention. Children who practice mindfulness also have a greater ability to regulate their emotions and feel compassion and empathy for others. What could be better than giving the present of presence?
This is my go-to first birthday or first holiday gift for everyone on my list! An ultimate open-ended play material, this set is handmade by a collective of families in Nepal. For babies and toddlers, it doesn’t get more exciting than stacking objects or placing objects in a bowl and dumping them out. Why? It’s how they learn cause and effect, practice their grip, and understand spatial relationships, among other skills. Babies will also love sorting and categorizing this set by color or size and older children can use it for imaginative play in countless ways.
One of my very favorite collaborations to date! This year we teamed up with a brand I deeply admire, Lingua Franca, to launch the International Day of the Girl Doll. Each doll comes in white linen pants and a signature LF sweater that reads, “Who Run the World?” The dolls are made by female-founded Hazel Village and 100% of the proceeds are donated to WomenOne, an organization that provides life-changing education to girls facing extreme poverty. Who run the world? Girls!
Two of our favorite brands joined forces for an incredible collaboration that will have the transportation lover in your life swooning! Each set comes with Way to Play flexible road pieces and two Candylab candy cars. I love way to play roads because they can be combined in an infinite number of ways and used on literally any surface (think the bathtub, the beach, the carpet). Candy cars are the mini plastic car replacement of my dreams. At 3 inches long, these adorable cars are perfect for on-the-go adventures, collecting, construction and building play!
During a time of year that feels all about stuff, give the gift of ideas! A collaboration between Rose & Rex and Lisa Zaretsky, early childhood educator and founder of playAGAIN. The Deck offers more than 125 Invitations To Play with repurposed and household materials. Each deck celebrates sustainability, imagination, and the joy of childhood. The ideas shared are meant for every child, of all ages and abilities. There's no need to buy anything special or be super crafty; the deck is designed to inspire. What can you do with what you already have? The answer is PLAY!
A first bike is a holiday staple for a reason and this is the chicest one I’ve ever seen. Period. This vintage-style balance bike is a safe and comfortable ride for your little one that will help them to naturally develop their balance and steering.
Chelsea Milkman, Founder of the Dough Project, is an incredible educator who shares my belief that open-ended, sensory play experiences are the foundation of early learning. One of my favorite gifts for the season, this set makes creating playdough an easy and fun experience for the whole family. Each kit includes everything you need to whip up a fresh batch of all natural dough for playing. The Dough Project use only the finest ingredients (non-gmo, plant-based, chemical-free) and pre-measures everything for your convenience.
This is a bold statement but I have to say that Nou Nou the Bear is my favorite stuffed animal that we carry at Rose & Rex. While there are many plush pals that have my heart, Nou Nou has an old-school meets modern charm that makes it an ultimate gift for the littlest ones. Nou Nou is handmade by Bla Bla and has a uniquely soft and irresistible texture. Created from 100% cotton thread that they engineered themselves, each bear is hand embroidered with splashes of color which gives it that extra special touch!
Last year our best-selling toy was Maileg’s baby mouse in carrycot because it is quite possible the cutest item ever made! Given Mouse’s popularity we looked to Maileg for more petite friends and they created our exclusive Baby Bunny in Carrycot. Available in rose and mint each baby bunny comes full of delightful details that create timeless beauty—a striped cotton body, carrycot and a button mouth (or pacifier!).
In my opinion, a good block set is the foundation of any play space! One of my absolute favorites is the Rainbow Building Tray. This colorful tray of multi-sized wooden rainbow slats evokes endless curiosity and visual stimulation for all ages. Children and children at heart will enjoy dismantling and rebuilding with this richly colored set, lovingly handcrafted from linden wood by family-owned company Gluckskafer. Group and separate colors, stack and lean slats, spell something out, or simply stare at how stunning it is on your bookshelf until imagination takes over.
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