- The only intentional repeat that I'll do: a box. It seems so simple, but it's always a winner. And you can always get something to put in the box if you like, but we haven't always. They can be wrapped, decorated, embellished, or you can let the child do that once they've received it.
- Flashcards. This one is for the older baby, because younger ones will just eat them. But Sadie is nearing two, talking a fair bit, and I think would really enjoy something like flashcards at this stage. You can always try making your own too. Here's the first site I found for that.
- Ball. Timeless, and kind of ageless too. An age appropriate ball works for many different stages, girls and boys, and encourages kids to be active. Perfect!
- Clothes pegs. Don't you find that your kids always end up playing with the clothes pegs when they're this age? You can attach them to a string, a strip of cardboard, include containers for sorting, or just give the pegs. Kids come up with all sorts of things to do with them.
- Edible treat that parents won't mind: Yoghurt covered raisins or boxed raisins. It may seem boring to a 5+ year old, but this age group will be very pleased with this healthier-than-candy treat.
- Balloons. Give a packet to be used as the child requests them, blow them up, wrap them and fill the space under the tree, or fill them with helium and put inside a box, which you can then wrap. Two in one! You can get a variety of shapes, colours and screaming balloons if you want, but plain with be entertaining enough for this age group.
- Deck of cards. This one is especially good if you use cards in your household for older kids/adults. Around Christmas with all the family around we often play games that have some sort of cards involved. Having a special pack that the young ones are allowed to play with (read: eat/destroy) can make this easier.
- String of large beads. This can be homemade and works great as a necklace for those nearing two years old, or a hanging toy for a younger baby. A cheap bag of oversized wooden beads costs a few dollars, and if you don't have string you may need to spend a couple dollars on something thick and durable (try shoelaces) but from those supplies you should be able to make a few toys. Great if your extended family tends to produce babies in batches like mine (three boys three years ago, four girls two years ago, two babies coming in a few months). For extra safety you can knot on each side of each bead, so breakage isn't too traumatic, but with the right string this shouldn't be necessary.
Not all age groups have such an extensive list, I just find this age group are pretty easy to please! Check back Monday to see my ideas for 2-5 year olds.