There’s plenty of Elsa and Ninja Turtles to go around this holiday season. Why not offer original gifts that harken back to simpler times and encourage imagination? From puppet theaters and instruments with a few mainstream characters thrown in for good measure, here are our top picks for the 3- to 5-year-old set this holiday season.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears Toy House and Storybook
Resurrect classic fairytales with the Goldilocks and the Three Bears Toy House and Storybook. This 3-D house is easy to assemble and features all of the spaces in which Goldilocks finds herself in precarious situations. Included in the kit are one house; four dolls (Goldilocks and the three bears); three beds and chairs; and more. And it all comes in a handy carrying case for easy storage and transport. Ages 3 and older; $29.99 at kiddingaroundtoys.com.
VRUM Ride-on Toybox
Any parent knows that a toy that pulls double duty is a keeper. Such is the case with the VRUM Ride-on Toybox. Available in a variety of kids’ favorites characters — SpongeBob, Batman, Ironman, Disney Princesses and others — the VRUM is easy enough for little hands to open and close, and it’s big enough for ample storage of pint-sized items left around the house (Barbies and Hot Wheels cars come to mind … ) or clothing required for travel. Once the VRUM is packed, giddy-up! Kids can either ride the VRUM (self-propelled, of course) or use the included strap and pull it along. Age appropriateness not mentioned, but we suggest for ages 3 and older; $49.99 at toysrus.com.
Lil’ Symphony Piano by Kid Kraft
Start ’em young! That’s the guiding mantra these days. But for budding pianists who are too small to tickle the ivories on the baby grand, we recommend the Lil’ Symphony Piano by Kid Kraft. The perfect height for mini-Mozarts, the sturdy piano features 25 black and white keys that put out fantastic sound. And for the real prodigies, there’s sheet music already awaiting on the music stand. Ages 3 and older; $69.95 at kidkraft.com.
Discovery Toys Percussion Jam
Let the rhythm take control in the playroom with Discovery Toys’ Percussion Jam toy set. The three-piece set includes a tambourine with leather head and metal jinglers, and a wooden clapper and guiro. And all three pieces are feature bright color schemes to liven up the jam sessions. And the entire set is packaged in an attractive wooden tray for easy storage. Ages 3 and older; $35 at discoverytoys.com.
Minnetonka Hello Kitty Moccasins
Never in the history of cute has a pair of shoes delivered like these special edition Hello Kitty moccasins from Minnetonka. Honoring the fabulous feline’s 40th anniversary, the hot pink suede mocs feature white stitching and an embroidered Hello Kitty on the top. And sturdy, long-lasting rubber soles ensure Kitty’s in it for the long haul. Also available in brown and black suede. Sizes range from children’s 7 to adult 4. Grab them for $39.95 at minnetonkamoccasin.com.
Turn the imaginations loose on Christmas morning when your little ones unwrap this fantastic treehouse from Land of Nod. The multi-level home made of actual wood (alder, hazel, white beech and pine to be exact) comes with all the bells and whistles any little treehouse-dwelling doll could want … a rope ladder, hammocks, tether ball. (?!) Treehouse dwellers sold separately. Ages 3 and older; $199 at landofnod.com.
Doorway Puppet Theater
The plot lines are endless when a child gets her very own puppet theater. The 100 percent cotton fabric features two tabs, which can either feed onto a tension rod to hang in a doorway, or use push-pins to hold it up. The dreamy setting features a starry sky, bright yellow moon and pretty, green trees. Let the customers know when the show begins by posting showtimes in the clear window. And when it’s showtime, let the puppets come to life! Ages 3 and older; $49.98 at magiccabin.com.
Woodland Wonderland Nature Haven HugglePod HangOut and Crescent Stand
Dads have their mancaves. Moms have their girls’ nights out. What about the kids? Give them a place to call their own where they can let it all hang out. The Woodland Wonderland Hugglepod is the ultimate in fort fun. Sturdy and simply perfect, the pod features three windows, a door (of course!) and the coolest part, LED leaf lights inside! Ages 4 and older; HugglePod is $228.99, crescent stand sold separately for $149, at magiccabin.com.