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Skip the gimmicks; buy that grandchild a memorable gift

By Beth Bond | Jun 21, 2017
Some of the best toys you can buy your grandchild are inexpensive and you can play with yourself. When’s the last time you hula hooped?

When is a “toy” not just a toy?  When it offers a chance to learn something, too.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a “toy” as a trifle for amusement, or entertainment. But parents and grandparents often have much more in mind when they shop for a favorite child.  And it’s tough to make a quality choice with the vast assortment currently available.

If you ask children what they want for their birthday, they are likely to respond with the jingle demand they saw on television. Or maybe they’ll ask for the latest fad or gimmick they have seen their friends with at recess or on the playground. Although these fad gifts are popular, they are usually over-priced and short-lived, lasting only until another gimmick comes along.

What do you remember as a favorite toy? Classic toys and games have withstood the test of time, and games like Clue, Monopoly, and Scrabble have adapted with “junior” versions for the younger child. Now available are Monopoly games for your town or a favorite vacation spot.  The Hawaiian version is great fun, and highlights the special places on the islands.

It is advisable to consider whether you’re shopping for an only child or will siblings play, too? Many quiet, indoor games are great for two, like chess and checkers. And don’t forget those card games we played on rainy days – Go Fish, Hearts, Old Maid and Crazy 8’s. The newer additions of these games use Disney characters and animals for youngsters to easily recognize.

A recent visit to Teri’s Toy Box on Main Street in Edmonds provided some advice; after all, they have been offering toy selections for kids for more than 36 years. The store is delightful to meander through, with toys and games from an infant to, well, adults. There is truly something for every age and interest.

Asked why one should choose to get a toy at a local shop, rather than at a “big-box” store, Teri Soelter, owner and proprietor, had an answer that was both immediate and “spot-on.”

“We like to fit the toy to the child, just like a pair of shoes, the size has to be right,” she said. The sales associates backed her up, and have a wealth of experience and knowledge.

You won’t find “fad” toys here, but classics like Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Frisbees, Slinkys, hula hoops and jump ropes.  It has been a happy cycle at Teri’s; children have grown into adults with children of their own, and grandparents, too, remember the toy shopping experience.

Be sure to take into account the age advised on the toy/game you select. The age reference is there for a reason, usually includes a safety aspect, like numerous small parts, (Lego) or pointy edges. But also, in terms of the complexity of the instructions, it can be frustrating when a child wants to start playing right away and directions are confusing. So, remember this factor when buying an Erector set, or Star Wars model, too many details can diminish the pleasure of getting to a finished product. Some classic games like Candyland and Twister don’t even require reading, using colors and pictures instead.

The toy you select will have many more happy memories for the child if you can take some time to enjoy the game with them. Months after the toy is “forgotten” at the bottom of the toy box, seeing it again will bring back happy thoughts of the time spent with a grandparent.

Susan Young, another reliable expert on gift-giving, teaches 3rd grade at Holy Rosary. She has 20 years as a professional educator, and is a mother and grandmother, too.

Young said, “My favorite ‘gift’ is an all-day outing or special occasion where we can be together, one-on-one, and just share thoughts and ideas.”

This would be a great chance to learn about each other, truly a win-win situation. By all means, talk to the child’s parents, teachers, or coaches for ideas.  Mom may not be in favor of a drum set for Johnny, or a cap gun, either.

Sometimes a gift or toy can spark a new interest or promote a skill. There are a variety of craft kits available to learn weaving, sewing small puppets, even knitting or crocheting a scarf. Drawing or stenciling kits are popular for girls or boys. There are tool sets and cooking ovens for BOTH boys and girls. Try to expand your ideas from dolls only for girls or trucks and trains just for boys.

The cost of the toy or gift is also a key factor for those on a limited income. Check to see what the package includes – do you need to buy extra parts? Batteries? Is it complete and worth the price?

After purchase, be sure to keep the receipt in case it is duplicated or malfunctions. This is especially true when buying on-line. Know the return policy first.

Now, you are informed and ready for the next birthday of that special grandchild.

Good luck! No doubt they will be thrilled with your thoughtful choice.

Some local resources:

• Teri’s Toy Box, 420 Main St., Edmonds, 425-774-3190

• CJN Miniatures, 9675 Firdale Ave., Edmonds, 206-629-4095, small decorations for dollhouses.

• Christmas Gifts on Broadway, 3224 Broadway, Everett, 425-252-4792, also has a variety of toys for Easter and Halloween, or any time of year.

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