Gift ideas for the toddler on your list

1. Large plastic container filled with mixture of raw rice, popcorn kernels, dried beans, plus a few plastic cups and spoons. Be sure to lay a sheet or table cloth underneath; be prepared to vacuum afterwards.

2. "Special cards." Gather up half a dozen old credit cards, frequent buyer cards, photocopy cards, business cards, etc. Ideally, each would be a slightly different size and shape. Old wallet to put them in would be an added bonus, but not required. Emphasize the special nature of these cards.

3. A tootsie roll piggy bank. Remove the tootsie rolls and put in a few coins before giving to toddler. Demonstrate how to remove the lid, empty out the coins, replace the lid, and put the coins back in. Be prepared to provide a fresh infusion of coins or tiddly winks from time to time. Also be prepared to turn the house upside down if the lid gets lost.

4. Two hand towels, a wash cloth and a small (clean) wastebasket to put them in and take them out of. Go figure.

5. A sturdy laundry basket for the toddler to sit in, plus an older sibling to do the pushing. Hopefully your floor is carpeted.

Thus speaketh the Voice of Desperation Experience.


  • The cards do it every time. Whenever we stayed in hotels, we would pretend to lose the keys so we could have new ones made by the front desk. Gotta love it.

    posted by Blogger Fred on 5:19 PM  

  • The first idea made me wince! I don't do messes very well which is why I am so glad my kids are older now.

    The last idea made me laugh.

    posted by Blogger Adrienne on 8:35 PM  

  • All brilliant ideas. Especially the farming out of physical pulling labor to the older sibling.

    I find it fascinating to watch young toddlers put something in a container and take it out, over and over again.

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 9:38 PM  

  • At our house lately, it's rearrange the cans in the pantry. They stack, they unstack. They go on this shelf, then that shelf. Sometimes they are all placed in the cooler, and then back they go on the shelf. I tell ya, if we every have to pack our foodstuffs in a hurry, I know to whom I shall turn.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 1:05 AM  

  • The question is, how to distract them from the things they want but shouldn't have? My boy is barely mobile, but still makes a gleeful plunge for things like car keys and Christmas trees and pristine first editions. I'll try the Tootsie Roll bank on him and see what he thinks.

    posted by Anonymous Ella on 2:33 PM  

  • I need to add: any wrapping paper, tape and/or bows. Occupies them for hours... Why do we buy toys??

    posted by Blogger Melissa on 3:12 PM  

  • #5 is the one most often practiced in this household. I bought sturdy baskets with handles, partly with train rides in mind. Though I wish the seven year old would stay out of them! Good suggestions one and all. And here's another, if you're feeling profligate; a roll of scotch tape.

    posted by Anonymous martha on 12:30 AM  

  • Such great ideas! I'm going to make up a wallet for Muffin Man tomorrow.

    Adding to the list for the toddler set:
    *A roll of toilet paper
    *10 or so plastic soup containers from the Chinese takeout place, a few each of the quart and pint sizes.

    posted by Blogger liz on 10:01 AM  

  • Wow, you all have great ideas, too. And here's another one I forgot, especially good for car trips: a box of bandaids.

    Ella, I once bought a bunch of real keys ("mistakes" from the locksmith) for my oldest, put them on a real keychain just like mommy's, etc., and he would have nothing to do with them. Same thing with the broken cordless phone handset. He could TELL they weren't the real thing. It's a sign of budding genius, I'm sure! :)

    posted by Blogger Julie on 12:47 PM  

  • What cute ideas! From previous experiences with my own "kids" I would say that they are useful as well!

    posted by Blogger Rhodent on 10:38 PM  

  • I know. There is absolutely no need to spend a lot of money on babies or toddlers. It's amazing what entertains them for hours.

    posted by Blogger donna y on 1:58 PM  

  • A box of tissues!

    posted by Blogger elswhere on 12:00 AM  

  • I'm smiling because I remember being a tot from a very poor family so...I loved playing with those old keys, one holiday season and other gifts akin to your list, written like a very experienced mom!

    posted by Blogger GEL on 12:57 PM  

  • Oh you are very good at this. I bow.

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 3:58 PM  

  • Oh yeah, the tissues! Totally! And toilet paper, too.

    And I am amazed at how the wastebasket game is still going strong. At first, it was his three beloved blankies being stuffed in and emptied out. Now it's his little shoes. Will he ever get tired of this?

    posted by Blogger Julie on 10:52 PM