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ToyDirectory Mom: The List
By Jodi M. Webb
January 1, 2003

As I hang the new calendar, vacuum up the fallen evergreen needles and snack on the few remaining Holiday cookies, I realize it is time to update The List. I have been keeping The List for several years, ever since finding out that the children I bought gifts for throughout the year didn’t appreciate my struggle to come up with unique and unexpected giving ideas. Children are comforted by familiarity--not just the same caregiver or breakfast food, but also by the same toys. From the time they are old enough to express an opinion, children go through an ever-changing series of passions when it comes to toys.

Some passions are based on a specific toy with countless additions available. One such toy that was a big hit with my cousin’s son was BRIO Wooden Train Sets. Gift-givers could choose from wooden trains and cars, tracks, bridges, buildings, and people. By the time his enthusiasm for BRIO had waned several years later, he had managed to create a small city.

A much easier passion to encourage is one based on a general love, since it offers such a wide variety of options. With my eight-year-old daughter Jeanette, it was horses. Though she voraciously collected plastic horses in every size, color and pose, it was still easy to find gifts to match her passion. Books and videos abound, both the factual, such as The Fantastic Book of Horses by Jane Parker, and the fictional, such as the movie The Black Stallion. Her presents have also included the board game Herd Your Horses from Aristoplay, and Paint the Wild Horse from Balitono, a set of four ceramic horses for painting.

A riskier tact is to try and create a passion based on what you know about a child. Knowing that my daughter loved Barbies and their many accessories, my aunt chose another doll with her own world, Samantha, from The American Girl Company. After the initial gift, a doll, was warmly embraced, my aunt selected beautiful period costumes and accessories--along with books, paper dolls and board games all starring Samantha and her Victorian world.

The most important factor in making your List successful is to keep it current. A casual “So why do they call them duck-billed dinosaurs?” or “Did you see the mini-roller coaster display made of K*NEX set up at the mall?” will let you know if you are still shopping for a budding paleontologist or architect. If not, brace yourself for the next passion—anything from Polly Pocket to outer space, to cooking.


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