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.