Friday, February 26, 2010

Rambling about the grandparent question...

I am often asked, "I love natural toys, but my parents shower the kids with made-in-China junk. How can I encourage grandparents, friend, aunts and uncles to buy safe, open-ended, natural toys?"

That's a tough one. Despite the fact that they read my blog, I have a few relatives who insist on buying the glittery books with made-in-China jewelry that they find on clearance racks. I subtly say. "Oh how pretty. Do you know jewelry included with books often contains deadly amounts of lead?" (barely an exaggeration there) and, guess what - the next holiday we get more.

I know a gift is a gift, not an obligation. I do appreciate the thought; however, it is not so much fun to tell the kids, "We can look at the book with mommy, but that pretty necklace needs to stay inside". I know that the little locket will end up in someone's mouth.

Gifts should bring smiles, not tears.

So I tried a new tactic. I decided the girls wanted a Plan City collection. And, when people asked what they are into I said "Oh, they really love Plan City right now. They can play all day and there's so many pieces they'd like to have." And then I send a link to KangarooBoo with our discount code. And, some relatives really liked that. I will be posting a review of Plan City if I can ever get a picture without extra clutter. As soon as they build their city, they fill it with finger puppets and blocks and other toys....

But, I got off the subject. I was planning to tell you about Aunt Linda and Whimsmoore.

Aunt Linda is a member of the Handmade Toy Alliance. I have a button on my blog that says "Help save handmade". This is the group that is working to modify the CPSIA. And, they are continuing to do a great job of making sure that handmade toys are available.

Aunt Linda's answer to the grandparent question is "The Elf Toy of the Month" Club from Whimsmoore. Grandparents can buy 12 month subscriptions for $29.95 a month, or they can buy months individually. Each month contains an original book about the elves of Glimmer Glen and a toy or an activity. I haven't seen these and I know nothing about quality, but I do know that Aunt Linda looks for the safest options for these toys. April includes a beautiful sugar Easter Egg. (ETA check out aunt Linda's comment for more info.)

I have other friends who create Amazon wish lists for each child.

If you have a great suggestion, post a comment. I'm sure everyone wants to know.


Aunt Linda said...

Thanks so much for mention the Elf Toy of the Month. I can assure you that these classic-style toys are of the highest quality. Most are made in the USA, including the charming sugar eggs. I'm a published children's author and have written the companion books that are published in Portland, OR. You can read testimonials about the Elf toy of the Month at

My Boaz's Ruth said...

We did wish lists this year and it was amazing -- my in-laws not only purchased off of it, but my son actually played with and enjoyed everything they got (IE Mom managed to guess well at what he would want). This is the first year that has happened.

Unfortunately, it isn't helping for Aunts and uncles who don't want to purchase online. But we grin and say thank you anyway!

handmade toys said...

HI Sara,

I agree with you and feel your frustrations. No matter how many times we tell friends and family that our kids dont need X, Y or Z p lastic toy that has flashing lights and ZERO play value, guess what they give year after year. We have one uncle and aunt that not only gave gifts like that, but would send the kids home with cheap plastic figurines and super hero dolls, knowing we have asked time and time again.

In some cases we just buy the gifts and get the grandparent, uncle etc to pay us back, at least that way we can ensure they get something suitable rather then plastic Ben10 toys or bratz dolls.

It isnt easy. Maybe that is why so many people just follow the norm as deviating from it can be hard.

Anonymous said...

When toys were big news in 2007, it gave me the chance to boldly share our toy ideals, however there are some relatives that don't give gifts all (they keep saying they forgot it at home EVERY YEAR). So I am grateful for any gifts we get, and show appreciation no matter what it is. Anyone giving us made-in-China toys knows they are doing it against our wishes by now. Some think we are ridiculous and want to give our children "normal" toys. Our children know to be thankful, and that they have lots of toys. So anything we don't want either gets donated or put in the trash (if unsafe). In the rare instance that we have to get rid of something they really want, we go out and replace it with something similar that is safe. We have a wish list, but we don't pass it around unless someone asks what they want. By now, all our relatives know about the wish list. A few LOVE it and buy from it with relief, and others won't, and that is ok. I don't like wish lists either. I do appreciate it when they at least try to get things that are safe. A gift is a gift though. I try to model gracious acceptance so the children will not be snobs about it. It is ok to get rid of a gift we don't want, but not to hurt the feelings of the giver.