Toy Shopping Tips

Pigtail Pal orders waiting to go out the door.

One of the things I am most proud of with Pigtail Pals is that in the 19 months we’ve been in business, we’ve created an amazing and strong community of parents and caring adults dedicated to returning childhood to our children. I think that was most recently evident in the comments to our “Have Yourself A Very Sexist Holiday”  post. Their was a ton of support shown, and some great recommendations made of other places to shop. So I thought I’d pool all that info together into one post.

But first….a few recommendations from the house:

1. Shop local. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy – go to your locally owned bookstore, children’s boutique, or toy shop. They are also most likely to carry smaller brands from small business (ahem, Pigtail Pals).

2. Shop at Pigtail Pals! If you have a girl on your shopping list aged 0-12 years, we’ve got some GREAT gift ideas!  Tees, hats, bags, and goodies for school! All of our orders come wrapped in tissue with hand tied ribbon.

3. For gorgeous handsewn cloth dolls, visit our good friend Sophie & Lili at The Original Pigtail Pal is getting one of their dolls, so is my neice, and we just gave two as gifts!

4. For tutus, capes, wands, and superhero masks, visit our good friend Cutie Patutus at The Original Pigtail Pals has a tutu, two wands, and two masks. We play with them all the time!

5. If you have a girl age 8 years or up, get her a subscription to New Moon Girls magazine and online community. They are Pigtail Pals endorsed! Advertisting free, safe, and empowering!

6. We love Melissa & Doug and One Step Ahead.

For those parents struggling with what to buy and how to avoid the stereotyped toys in the big box stores, here is a list of what my kids (under 5yo) got last year and will get this year:

Beanie Babies, art supplies, books, puzzles, vet kit, Animal Planet dinosaurs and whales and dolphins, plush animals, games, Groovy Girls, wooden trains, cars, lacing boards, Leap Frog, paper dolls (they did get eaten, however), Magna Doodle, harmonica, world map, View Master, scarves, bean bags, Wedgits, wooden blocks, and, this may sound weird, but you know the flags people hang outside of their house for the different seasons? Well we inherited a bunch when my Grandma died and my kids absolutely love them – they are ice bergs and magic carpets and tents and train cars….endless play.

We try to focus on open ended play – meaning toys that don’t come with a prewritten story. Most everything in our house is gender neutral in color, and we keep all of our toys on or near the floor in accessible bins (cloth storage cubes from Target, anyone?).

Okay – so here are the suggestions you all shared with each other. I’ve looked at all of them, and they all seem to be places I’d shop without my head exploding:

1. Step 2 has great, gender neutral kitchens (We own one!)

2. Toys Et Cetera looks like they have a great range of toys in bright colors for all age ranges and interests.

3. Nova Natural has gorgeous, natural toys. Many seem very gender neutral, although some options are pricey. Also offer dolls for boys.

4.  Books on gender and sports: “Taking the Field- Women and Men in Sports” and “Out of Play- Critical Essays on Gender and Sport”. Both books are by Michael A. Messner

5. Magic Cabin Love this site! You shop by age, not gender. Things are a little pricey, but I would buy every single item they offer! Also, check out their fairy dolls. So sweet!

6. For Small Hands has some very diverse options, offering many natural products and things I’ve only seen while traveling.

7. online shop Polka Dot Patch Boutique  has huge selection of artisan toys and clothes.

8. Plan Toys has colorful, gender neutral wooden toys. But it doesn’t look like you can order from their site, maybe through the catalog?

9. Growing Tree Toys shows girls building things! GIRLS ARE BUILDING THINGS!

10. Discovery Toys is a direct sales, home-party based biz with great toys.  

11. tons of Marbleworks stuff on eBay.

** I am going to try to put together a book list for girls 8yo and under before Hanakkuh/Christmas**