Use Your Imagination

I have in years past been quite reluctant to do a toy guide, mostly because I think the mommy bloggers out there are doing such a sensational job of it. But this year I had some pretty nifty ideas floated past me, and it got me thinking – if I am going to do a toy gift guide, what sort of toys would I feature? The long and the short of it is, I’m a lo-fi person when it comes to toys. I’d much rather gift a tot with a battery-free, plastic-free item than the latest whiz bang gadget they’ll grow out of. To me, the most special toys are the ones that capture a child’s imagination, rather than capsize it. These are the types of toys I grew up with, and I feel like they encouraged me to explore my creativity – a skill that obviously serves me very well up to this very day. With that in mind, here are five magical, imagination-inducing gift ideas for your favourite little ones.

Nursery Rhyme 28-Block Set – $37 @ Uncle Goose
You’ll see me mention a few gift ideas this holiday season that are in my ‘hall of fame’ for the holidays list, and these colourful building blocks are totally deserving of that honour. Made from real wood, each one of these blocks features a classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme and two images related to the micro-story. A great educational gift for the younger set that also invites the giftee to build to their heart’s content. Totally precious.

Crayola Digital Light DesignerCrayola Digital Light Designer – $49.99 @ Toys “R” Us
Create your own digital art with this amazing 3D canvas. Kids can use the included stylus to create their own video game-inspired designs, with fun extras like animations, spinning movement, and activity challenges to keep them occupied. It’s probably the most digital you’ll see this particular toy list get, but it’s certainly not lacking in creativity.

Constructive Eating

Constructive Eating – $6.95+ @ Applause Toys
Forget the old idiom of ‘don’t play with your food’ – sometimes that’s exactly what kids need to scoop every last bit of nutrient-rich veggies and other not-so-‘fun’ foods into their bellies. This construction-themed set of utensils is great to set little minds racing as they shove food around on their plate in the best possible way. Of course, they’re also dishwasher-safe and are free from all the nasty bits you wouldn’t want near your mouth, let alone your child’s. Works as a stocking stuffer, or for your niece or nephew (parents shouldn’t bank on this being a winner if it’s the only gift you give your little one…)

Missoni Bears

Missoni for Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals – $50 each
Legendary Italian design house Missoni has extended a charitable hand to Holt Renfrew this season by designing these two cute plush toys in their signature zig zag fabric. The twist? Every purchase will help fund Holt Renfrew’s goal of raising $100,000 this holiday season to support OrphanAid Africa. You can buy ’em online or in-stores, giving your little sweetheart a slice of high fashion cuddliness, all for a good cause.

Little Tikes 2-Stage Grow With You Kitchen – $129 @ Toys “R” Us, Sears & Wal-Mart
Bestill my grown-up, cooking-loving heart. How adorable is this kitchen playset designed to grow up as your little one does? Set your toddler’s imagination on fire (as opposed to a real kitchen) with a lowered height, perfect for kids that are simply entranced by moving things around, and then stack it up for any boy or girl’s dream playhouse kitchen once they hit preschool age. Make the experience that much more real with electronic cooking sounds, and be sure to stock ’em up with tons of fake play food so they can serve up ‘dinner’ for you the family.

World Repair Kit – $24.95 @ Serena & Lily
This literally is the gift that gives back. This all-in-one activity set includes a handy guidebook at some of the world’s key issues – including conservation, poverty, and protecting endangered species – as well as stickers, stamps, and a passport to track your child’s progress as they host fundraisers, raise awareness among their friends and family, and altogether just aim to make the world a better place. A stellar idea to get the kids off the couch this winter, and make a legitimate difference while they’re doing it. The price point makes it suitable for one of your many nieces and nephews or cousins. I should note, 100% of proceeds actually go to the Serena & Lily Foundation, which funds youth initiatives around the globe. So it’s really a charitable purchase that spurs on more charity!

Totally Me Bracelet Set

Totally Me Totally Charming Bracelet Set – $19.99 @ Toys “R” Us
Girls get an appetite for gems at a young age – so why not indulge them by getting them to craft their own unique charm bracelet instead of shelling out for something off the shelf? This cute set includes two bracelets and thirty charms so she can mix and match to suit her mood or interests, plus she can share the second bracelet with a friend for a doubly sweet treat.


Pedal Cars

Pedal & Scoot Cars – $89+ @ Restoration Hardware Baby & Child
I don’t know why, but kids have an insane fascination with driving cars. Indulge their fantasies with these adorable retro-styled mini-vehicles available in both pedal and scoot modes, and dozens of styles including a vintage plane, fire truck, and le mans. Accessorize them to the nth degree with RH Baby & Child’s equally cute vintage racing set, including a leather cap and goggles. I smell a holiday photo op…

Rory's Story CubesRory’s Story Cubes – $11.99 @ Grand River Toys
Whoever said there are only seven ‘stories’ in the world, obviously never played with Rory’s Story Cubes, which promises 10,000,000 combinations of storytelling start-ups. Best of all, it’s incredibly simple for even the youngest one of your bunch to at least listen, if not contribute – simply roll the dice and combine the images to tell a wondrous story. No wrong answers, no points, just lots of imagination.

Indigo Playhouses

Deluxe Townhouse & Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset – $149.95 each @ Indigo
Gift the grandkids with a playhouse each of their own with these two whimsical playsets. The Deluxe Townhouse features a dozen rooms, three stories, three family members, and all the furniture you could ever need to launch a thousand made-up tales. If your giftee has their eyes on the high seas, they’ll love this pirate-themed play centre with crew members, ship materials, and a bounty of activity to be had!


Zipfy – $39.99 @ Retailers Nationwide
I like to call this the Canadian answer to the ‘little red wagon’. This lightweight mini-luge manages to be incredibly safe while packing a whole lot of fun into every slip and slide down your neighbourhood hill. It also allows you to carve the snow simply by leaning into it, so you can navigate around icy patches or bumps as you zip along. And of course, it comes in a bevy of colours so your kids can lay claim to their own…and wait, did I mention? These things are actually adult-friendly, so feel free to take a spin or twenty for yourself! Best of all, they’re available at tons of retailers across Canada, so it should be a snap for you to pick this one up.

Ready to unwrap a top toy pick and hit the slopes for yourself? You could win a Zipfy for yourself! Here’s how to enter:

1) Leave a comment by January 1st, 2013 with what your favourite toy gift idea featured in this post.

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around December January 2nd to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Go on and like Zipfy on Facebook (leave a comment to say hello!) or follow them on Twitter (send ’em a Tweet!), and earn 2 bonus entries for doing so. 

110 Responses to “Use Your Imagination”
  1. I really love the Zipfy. Funny thing is before I read that it is adult friendly, I was thinking,… this would be fun. In fact, that is my promise to myself…. If I win, I am starting to slide again. Bet it will be so much fun.

  2. Follow them on facebook …. doreen lamoureux and left message.

  3. Follow them on twitter @doreenlamoureux and sent them a tweet.

  4. I would love the story cubes for the classroom but my daughter would like the Totally Me set! Decisions, decisions……

  5. Evan says:

    Fave toy gift idea from the great offerings above is the Deluxe Townhouse & Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset. Thanks so much.

  6. Dale Nathan-Simons says:

    My favorite gift idea on this page was the “Zipfy”. My son and i love doing things outside like sledding and this looks like it would be a lot of fun.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  7. Marlene J says:

    Missoni for Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals – $50 each

  8. Leah says:

    I love the nursery rhyme block set!

  9. janicour says:

    I love the Holt Renfrew stuffed animals!! Liked on facebook, commented and tweeted.

  10. totally me charm bracelet set!

  11. Stephen Tiffney says:

    I like the Pedal and Scoot cars.. very nostalgic

  12. pacificnxnw says:

    I love the Nursery Rhyme Blocks!

  13. Debbie Lemaire says:

    My favourite toy is the Deluxe Townhouse & Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset …ahoy matie!

  14. Julie G. says:

    My grandson would be delighted with the Constructive Eating set, though he might spend more time playing with his food than eating it…

  15. Angela G says:

    The Crayola Digital Light Designer is perfect for my nephew! He would love it!

  16. I think the ZIPFY would be great fun!

  17. Elaan says:

    The zipify looks great! I tweeted them to @merelyamadness

  18. leah says:

    Pedal & Scoot Cars – so cool could use them as decor! I liked Zipfy on FB. 🙂

  19. MANUEL VIZCAYA says:

    the Zipfy is a great toy for kids of all ages

  20. Debbie Petch says:

    I love the Holt Renfrew stuffed animals!

  21. Debbie Petch says:

    I liked Zipfy facebook page!

  22. Anne Taylor says:

    loving the Set Sails Pirate Ship! Its amazing!

  23. Anne Taylor says:

    Like Zipfy on fb

    Anne Taylor

  24. Audrey Skinner says:

    I love the pedal and scoot cars and I am sure it would be a hit with any kid

  25. Adina H. says:

    I like the Little Tikes 2-Stage Grow With You Kitchen.

  26. linda paley says:

    dollhouse looks so cute for nephew’s irl

  27. Rose says:

    Love the pedal and scoot cars, these would be a huge hit!

  28. Andrea Amy says:

    the grow with you kitchen. my boys would love that.

  29. Patricia says:

    These are all so fun! I love the Story Cubes & the Zipfy.

  30. Taps says:

    Little Tykes grow with you kictchen will be a super hit with my daughter..

  31. joyce shane says:

    I like the totally charming bracelet set.

  32. mcmc says:

    the digital light designer looks like something even adults could get involved with

  33. Scott Hayes says:

    That Zipfy would be awesome.

  34. The Missoni animals are so cute!

  35. carrieinsk says:

    My granddaughter would love the Little Tikes 2-Stage Grow With You Kitchen!

  36. Catharine says:

    Love the Little Tikes 2- Stage Grow with You Kitchen

  37. Andrea says:

    Constructive Eating – I would even like to try having supper with it!

  38. angela mitchell says:

    I like Constructive Eating — great idea!

  39. angela mitchell says:

    Liked Zipfy on Facebook and commented.
    Angela Mitchell

  40. Jessica Lord says:

    i love the pedal & scoot cars

  41. Sean Pynaert says:

    light designer looks pretty cool

  42. Pierrette W says:

    crayola digital light designer

  43. Joan G says:

    The Missoni for Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals are adorable.

  44. Burcu says:

    I love Crayola Digital Light Designer

  45. Donna L. says:

    The Deluxe Townhouse is perfect for a little girl’s gift!

  46. Vicky D says:

    The story cubes are such a fabulous idea!! What a great way to encourage your child to use their imagination while having fun! love it!

  47. Louise says:

    I like the Deluxe Townhouse & Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset any child would love this

  48. Louise says:

    I follow on twitter-twitter name wildcardacehigh
    and I tweeted

  49. LS says:

    I like the Constructive Eating plate. What a neat idea to get your kids to eat.

  50. Ashley B says:

    If you don’t think the constructive eating set from Applause is the cutest thing, I don’t know what is. I LOVE it!!!

  51. debra says:

    crayola digital designer is my choice

  52. GARRY SUSSMAN says:

    world repair set

  53. Wendy says:

    The Zipfy would be great fun

  54. Pat B says:

    The constructive eating plate is pretty interesting.

  55. Lee says:

    Constructive eating plate is super cool!

  56. My favourite gift idea are the Story Cubes, I have twin nieces, one has Aspergers and the other one loves to read and tell stories, this is a game that would keep them both occupied, and I would enjoy playing it with them.

  57. followed on facebook and commented,
    followed on twitter and tweeted them

    thanks !

  58. Kevin says:

    I think the Zipfy would be so much fun for my son!! 🙂

  59. April Campbell says:

    Love the Crayola Digital Light Designer – $49.99 @ Toys “R” Us

  60. Nancy says:

    the pedal ans scoot cars

  61. Linda Chaput says:

    story book cubes would be nice

  62. Karen says:

    love the light designer

  63. krista maksymchuk says:

    The pirate ship, the stuffed toys, the play kitchen, and the nursery rhyme set are really neat

  64. Bill says:

    I’m going with——-The envelope please (drum roll)—ZIPFY, we, I mean I, wll fit on this baby, sweet little slider!!

  65. Kiki says:

    The fashionista in me loves the “Missoni for Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals” it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to actually owning anything Missoni!

  66. Elena says:

    I liked the pedal and scoot cars, very cute!

  67. intensev5 says:

    I really like the Crayola Digital Light Designer

  68. Melanie says:

    Awesome reminder, I’d thought of getting the kids the story cubes, but forgot! Off to the toy store. That would be my favourite right now, though the pirate ship and zipfy look awesome too.

  69. Sarah says:

    The story cubes are really cute.

  70. darlene boyle says:

    a zipfy actually just bought one today

  71. Julie Palmese says:

    I like the townhouse and pirate play sets.

  72. I like the crayola digital light designer.

  73. beewbedard says:

    Missoni for Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals

  74. Chantelle says:

    I love the constructive eating set. My 22 month old son would love it.

  75. dallany says:

    I love the Zipfy

  76. Mike Gismondi says:

    Pedal and Scoot cars are great!

  77. Angela Griffin says:

    the Zipfy is cool

  78. Pedal and scoot car is so cute!

  79. kathy wilson says:

    ZIPFY will need a lot of snow

  80. dawn chessman says:

    i like the light designer

  81. MissT says:

    I think the Constructive Eating dinner plate with toy cutlery is so fun and a great way to get your kid to stay at the table.

  82. CLC says:

    The Zipfy is a very “cool” idea. Love to try it.

  83. lisa bolduc says:

    my nieces would like the Totally Me Totally Charming Bracelet Set

  84. Juliee F says:

    Totally Me Totally Charming Bracelet Set

  85. mousecat says:

    These toys are all cool (except the construction eating – that would drive me insane)!! But I think the coolest one of all is the Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset

  86. dustin coombs says:

    zipfy for sure

  87. Doreen M says:

    I really like the story cubes what fun

  88. Doreen M says:

    posted on Face Book
    Doreen M

  89. Doreen M says:


  90. Sunshine G says:

    Zipfy – looks awesome!

  91. Alison K says:

    My favourite toy gift idea featured in this post is the “Rory’s Story Cubes – $11.99 @ Grand River Toys”. I think it would be a great way to get kids imagination going … the old fashion way.

    Bonus Entries:
    Facebook: Liked Zipfy & Commented
    Twitter: Followed Zipfy & Tweeted

    Thank you & happy holidays 🙂

  92. Sabrina C. says:

    The Zipfy looks like it would be A LOT of fun! My kids would have a blast!

  93. prairiebelle says:

    I like the Crayola – Digital Light Designer


  94. Anne Derkat says:

    I like the Missoni stuffed animals

  95. aimee says:

    construction eating

  96. Sophie G says:

    Love the story cubes…let the imagination go…

  97. Daria Gefrerer says:

    Holt Renfrew Stuffed Animals

  98. My little niece would adore the pink pedal car, or the Little Tikes 2 kitchen. She lives overseas and I have a hard time taking such big things to her but I would love to!

  99. My favorite item on the list is Crayola Digital Light Designer – It reminds me of Lite Brite from when I was a kid.

  100. stacey h says:

    i like the story cubes

  101. rhansen says:

    The set sails pirate set is really neat!

  102. leah says:

    i like the missoni for holt renfrew stuffed animals!

  103. sarah perry says:

    My favourite is the Constructive Eating set! My nephews might actually eat if they had something so neat lol Will definitely be keeping this in mind 🙂

  104. sarah perry says:

    I also started following Zipfy on twitter and tweeted to them, @oddball2003

  105. Freddy says:

    The Constructive Eating set looks hilarious!

  106. Lori Z says:

    I love the Holt Renfrew stuffed animals! So cute!

  107. Maegan Morin says:

    I really like the Deluxe Townhouse & Set Sails Pirate Ship Playset!!

  108. Sydney says:

    Crayons digital light designer is my fave 🙂

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