1. For kids five and older (given to Alex--although coveted and occasionally stolen by Aidan):
The Razor Rip-Rider. Cheapest at amazon. The back wheels spin completely around so that you can go really fast and then turn and spin and do all sorts of cool and semi-dangerous tricks. Alex has almost completely worn the wheel down in a year's time becuase it's gotten so much use. Three reasons I love it: it's an outside toy, it's exercise, and it's not electronic. That last one is really difficult to fulfill because it seems all toys and gifts geared to a 10 year old are electronic games, gaming systems, gadgets for those games, etc.
2. The toys that the boys have played with the most: Fisher Price GeoTrax. We got both the railroad and the airplane tracks. They link together so you can be running the trains and the airplanes at the same time. Which in my house = less fighting over the remotes. Super fun, although they take up some significant floor space. We usually have them out and running for a couple of weeks at a time, then they get put away for a break. Fun part: you can buy all sorts of different tracks and trains to add to the set to change it up. So far it seems that ToysRus gets the biggest variety around Christmas, though you can find them on Amazon and at Target as well.Costco website but you can find it other places too. Minus: Serious area required for this bad boy. We had to rearrange our big playroom to fit this in the back corner. Fits fine, but plan on it being bigger than you thought. Also could be used in a garage if you don't live somewhere where the summer's are like being dropped into a pot of boiling lava.
4. For ages 3 and up: Melissa and Doug Slice and Bake Cookie set. Given to Maddie but played with by the boys also. The different pieces velcro together so you can stick them to the pan and then change up the decorations on top. You can pretend to cut the dough that velcros together and slides in the tube. She also got an Easy Bake Oven which she loves, but this is something she can do that is great for creative play and there's no mess or parental involvement required.
That's all for now, but I'll add to this if I think of more later! Any good ideas for me? Let me know!
And just for fun: **Much too expensive and NOT available at stores near you**
Trace says hello.