Gift Guide

Aunt Sally’s Gift Guide to Nieces and Nephews: the Toddlers

So far we’ve covered ideas for large families and special gifts for a baby’s first Christmas. But what about baby’s second and third Christmas? That’s today’s topic, friends.

All of a sudden, that docile baby in the santa hat is a walking, talking tornado of energy. Toddlers explore and experiment by banging, throwing, and possibly mouthing anything in his path. They are some of the most extreme creatures on the planet — their moods swing from high to low quickly, and their tantrums have staying power. To redeem themselves, they are also incredibly endearing, and hearing a well-time, “I wuf you” is pretty much the best thing on earth.

Kids who are two an three year olds will understand that some of the presents at a Christmas party belong to them. They may not be happy that ALL of the gifts don’t get to be opened by them. Once the gift is open, it’s hard to say if they will be interested in it, but a toddler will probably be excited that there’s a present with his name on it.



As energetic as they are, most toddlers love to melt into an adult’s lap and listen to a story. Books with a good rhythm are fun to read to this age group. Predictable text makes it easy for toddlers to “read” along, and interesting illustrations are always a win. Some favorites include:

Any Eric Carle book. His understated dialogue and collage art have been entertaining children now for over thirty years. Many titles are available in board book form for those little tykes who like to rrrriiiiipppp.

Todd Parr is an author who uses bright and bold colors in his illustrations. These seem to grab the attention of young children, even if they are too young to understand the concept being presented.His messages are positive and self-affirming, so they are good messages to start reading to young children.

If you know that the toddler doesn’t have a copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, it is your auntly duty to buy him  a copy. Toddlers and their parents will completely relate to Max and his sentiment, “I’ll eat you up, I love you so!”

For toddlers who love things to go, check out Donald Crews. His books focus on transportation, and toddlers go nuts for them.


Bath toys are inexpensive and loads of fun. They also get scuzzy quickly, it’s just a matter of time before new ones are “needed”.


Instead of featuring the latest Elmo doll, listed below are useful household items that make good gifts for the child whose motto is, “I do it myself!”

A step stool: Toddlers are all about doing things themselves, so a simple step stool can be a huge key to independence.

Dinnerware: Toddlers are transitioning to 100% table food, and need flatware that fits their small hands. Fun cups help transition kids from “sippy cups” to cups with a completely open cups. Toddlers love plates and bowls they are able to handle themselves as well.

Bedding: If the toddler in your life is transitioning to a “big kid bed”, nothing is more fun than character sheets. Check out Olive Kids for designs not based on commerical characters.

Bath Towels: Like bedding, towels can be fun if you make them so. Lands End has great bath capes (with hoods) that can be personalized. These can also be found at other retailers.

Suitcase: If the toddler is always visiting grandma’s house, then a suitcase with wheels is a great gift that will be put to good use.

Happy Shopping!

One reply on “Aunt Sally’s Gift Guide to Nieces and Nephews: the Toddlers”

Blocks! The big ones by duplo, mega blocks or wooden ones. They will soon grow into them and play with them for a looooong time.

Specialized bags–totes or backpacks–for toys, lunch, snack, and other treasures. There are many companies now, but way back when, Lilian Vernon was my go to for reasonably priced monogrammed and customized bags. I always opted for the mixed color combos–red,blue,yellow, green–instead of the obvious femininine–pink, purple–ones for kids of both genders.

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