Holiday Gift Guide
No Time Like the Present
Nest presents a holiday gift guide
By Kara Tatone
From role and pretend play, to constructive and scientific play, toys for the younger set are going back to the basics—what Baby Phases Tot2Teen owner Molly Ryan simply calls, “back to nostalgia.”
“It really has to do with imaginative play, and going back to the building blocks,” she says. And she means the literal building blocks.
Big Blocks 48 colorful wooden blocks by Schylling captures a classic aesthetic with their alphabet blocks that are engraved on two sides, flat on others ($30, Baby Phases, 759 NE Greenwood Ave). In the same imaginative and smart spirit, Melissa & Doug Toys’ Jumbo Knob Puzzles are click-and-place puzzles, themed with rainforest animals; farm cows and pigs; and fruit motifs. Melissa & Doug Farm wooden blocks play set, includes two pigs, two horses, a tractor and more to help kids learn classification, sorting, language and math ($10).
A slightly more complicated toy, Skwish by Manhattan Toy looks like a rainbow colored chemistry diagram, with beads that slide and mini-crossbeams that squish, the toy is virtually unbreakable and an infinite source of amusement ($17).
Simpler, but infinitively captivating, Edushape Balls are soft, spikey fluorescent balls in primary colors and, of course, pink ($6). Baby Phases also carries a closet’s worth of jammies with moose and bears, stylish and comfortable with classic Northwest; and, for outdoor days, Bear Hands & Buddies, thinsulate insulation gloves for infants and toddlers ($15).
Games and books light up the budding imagination.
Wonderland Toy Shoppe (Old Mill, 520 SW Powerhouse Dr) is a go-to for a universe full of games and crafts.
A fun and memory building game, Qwirkle does not require a board, but demands tactical strategies as 2-4 players mix and match blocks of varying colors and shapes ($25.50). Or, let your young one build her own world: Calico Critters are an excellent way to encourage your youngster’s imagination as the family of plushy small deer, bunnies and kangaroos populate a familiar yet fantastical world of treehouses, school buses and townhouses (starting at $20).
For crafts, Amate Cut Paper Kit elevate the traditional symmetry of paper cut-out chainlink dolls and snowflake designs to produce works of art; kit includes silhouette paper designs, black and white papers, mylar, hole punch, scissors ($25). And, the Etch N Press Cards and Prints Kit, made by The Orb Factory, brings back the art and fun of letter-pressing with foam plates, colored paper, envelopes, acrylic paints, roller, and even peel and stick jewels ($15). For the mystical, My Very Own Fairy Magic provides easy-to-learn tutorials on tricks like “the hovering picture frame” and even teaches amazing mind reading tricks ($20)!
Books also are increasingly active and interactive experiences for children. Recommend reads for her include “The Enchanted Dolls’ House”, by Robyn Johnson, a dollhouse book that opens out to show interiors including doors, envelopes and windows. And,
“A Princess Primer: A Fairy Godmother’s Guide to Being A Princess” by Dutton Children’s Books, which comes complete with royal fabric swaths, mirrors, pop out windows and doors.
As well, there are several wonderful books to introduce your child to the world around him, like “Larry Gets Lost in Portland”, an illustrated story that follows Pete and his pup Larry on vacation in Portland, visiting the Oregon Zoo, the Waterfront, Rose Garden and even Powell’s City of Books; “Three Bears of the Pacific Northwest” is another wonderfully illustrated book; and, “Black Bear and Brown Bear” help a small blue teddy make his way back home through the Northwest mountains, forests, saltwater, beavers, eagles, seals, orcas and skunks.
Find ways to burn off all that extra energy! Get them outside! Get them active! Skiing. Skating. Sledding. Powder House Ski & Snowboard (311 SW Century Dr) carries the toys and clothes to avoid a single moment of cabin fever this winter. (Also see our Outdoors section, page 30 for equipment suggestions.)
Ogdon is wearing a Bula hat ($25) and Picture Organic Clothing hoody ($100).
Designed in France, the company prides itself on using organic and recycled materials.
Ice skates (and rinks) are available for rent at Seventh Mountain Resort and Sunriver Resort.
Fashion is as important as function for teens. Keep them as warm as they are stylish. Zoe is dressed head to toe in fashion from Powder House Ski & Snowboard (311 SW Century Dr).
Offwhite hat with ball; Spacecraft fine hat makers ($35).
White mittens, fuzzy collared; Pistil hand wear ($42).
Scarf, Mitzi Infinity Brown; Pistil ($34).
Short shirt, Skhoop down-filled ($158).
Fengshui Leggins; Picture Organic Clothing ($29.99).