Let me begin by justifying the timing of this post. Catalogues are coming thick and fast through letter boxes. Christmas decorations are waiting stealthily in the wings until November 1st when they will usurp the last of the Halloween tat on shelves. People are shopping. For those toys. In October. Toys that won’t see the light of day for another two months.

I won’t tell you about the bike I have in the attic for the past six weeks or the 20% I saved on Lego in September. That wouldn’t be endearing at all. I will, however, say this: the manipulation of tiny minds needs to happen soon. Now is the time to start planting the seed of desire for whatever item you want to buy (or, in our case, have already bought – nobody here has expressed interest in a bike. Yet.) When the idea has been floated and the bait has been snapped at, letters can be written, requests locked down and no-going-back contracts drafted. Now is the time to ramp up subliminal messaging.

So, with all this in mind, I have compiled a list of toys that my kids continually go back to; a list of battery-free staples. Here is the countdown of the top 5 toys that keep on giving, toys that aren’t just for, you know… Christmas. But shhhhh… it’s only October.

Our Favourites

5. Costumes


Santa always brings the brood new costumes. I don’t know why but it has sort of become a tradition. Can a kid have too many fancy dress costumes? I don’t think so.  They provide a great distraction when the kids ‘aren’t having a good day’. On one of those afternoons when they are just not getting along and starting to resemble the spatting inmates of Lichfield, I’ll nonchalantly leave the dress-up box  in the corner and before I know it Elsa and Woody will be harmoniously building a frozen cowboy-hut with blankets. Strangely, they become irresistible on play-dates. Fact: Kids love other kids’ dress-up boxes. A few decent costumes teamed with your old high-heels and cast-offs makes for many a happy afternoon. (We are big fans of Melissa & Doug costumes like the one featured above.) 

4. Easel/Whiteboard/Chalkboard



One of my proudest purchases from a value-for-money perspective is an easel I bought pre-loved from a local buy-and-sell group on Facebook. It’s a easel with a chalkboard on one side and a magnetic whiteboard on the other. It was bought in Aldi (I think) but it takes the rolls of paper from both Ikea and Smyths; a big plus. This multi-functional treasure is used pretty much every day and was one of the best tenners I’ve ever spent. The colouring box is usually left within reach of the older two and you’ll often walk into find one of them mid-creation on either the paper roll or the whiteboard.  Magnetic letters will be arranged into cutely misspelled words on the whiteboard and the chalk – as much as I hate the damn stuff – gets regular use.

3. Mini Kitchen


We have an Ikea play kitchen. It resides in our kitchen/diner permanently. We don’t have a playroom and our house is not big. I have, on many occasions, threatened to banish it to one of the bedrooms, it and all its tiny plastic food and miniature utensils. I have experimented with its location within our kitchen, moving it from one corner to another in futile attempts at gaining a few extra inches of living space. No amount of Feng Shui will make our house bigger. Despite my general disdain for the space it takes up, it remains part of our lives and there is rarely a day when you won’t be presented with a plastic plate of lilliputian vegetables or stumble upon Obe Wan Kenobi at at dinner party with Doc McStuffins.

2. Micro Scooter


Ain’t no scooter like a Micro Scooter. You will probably own at least two cheap scooters before you finally – begrudgingly – fork out the dough for the Micro. Is it really worth that money? Yes. Yes it is. Reassure yourself that you have done the right thing. The quality is great and they are light enough to carry while pushing a buggy, while drinking a coffee, while wearing a baby. Your children will reach frightening speeds and threaten to mow over the elderly on narrow footpaths. Passers-by will wonder what kind of a parent you are to put your children in such peril but your kids will have a BLAST! Good luck trying to keep up! (Tip: the Maxi grows with your child and the Mini does not. Otherwise there is very little difference. For that reason, it’s best to spend the few extra quid on the Maxi.)

1. Lego:


Truly deserving of the number 1 spot, it’s hard to articulate the absolute awesomeness of Lego.  Yes, a little part of me dies inside every time I hear the familiar ‘whoosh’ of the pieces hitting the wooden floor but the mileage you will get out of a couple of boxes of Duplo thrown into a large bucket can’t be disputed. Ours has about five years on the clock and the six-year-old plays with the bigger bricks as much as he does with his smaller sets. A smart investment. And every granny in Ireland has a box of old Lego from the 70’s under the stairs that’s as good as the day it was bought. Hardy and durable, this stuff will survive us all.

Honorable Mentions

  • Ride-ons. My two constantly argue over a little plastic, faded Thomas ride-on. Wiggle cars and Scuttle Bugs are big hits too.
  • Dolls’ house. The size and shape doesn’t matter, as long as it has swinging doors and some furniture. You’ll find all sorts of diverse social groups mixing it up here. Princess Sophia will be lounging around on the couch while Iron Man takes a nap upstairs.
  • Train-sets. There’s just something about train-sets that little boys can’t seem to get enough of. My girls love ours too. The less elaborate the better. You’ll be the one assembling it. Repeatedly.
  • Car mats & cars. Cheap and cheerful, these come out time and time again.
  • Figurines. Of any kind. We have boxes of the things from overpriced Disney princesses to Happy Meal Minions and they never fail to entertain.

What have I missed? What are your kids’ favourite go-to toys?

Shopping for toys? Check out our list of battery-free staples; gems that keep on giving long after Christmas. #batteryfreetoys #toys







  1. Balance bike is my number one. A really good quality one with adjustable seat and handle hight and proper pneumatic tyres. Our’s is on year 6 of near constant use…

    • Sinéad Reply

      The three-year old LOVED her balance bike, Ina! It took a while for the penny to drop (she kind of just walked around with it under her for about a month, bless her) but when she ‘got it’ she was flying. We didn’t have one for the buck at all. Tbh, I don’t think I really knew about them back then. It took him a long time to lose the stabilizers and I often wonder would he have had more confidence if he had used the balance bike beforehand.

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about this..I was just looking at train sets as they are 15% off. Thinking the same as you, I have plenty of time to make sure that is what is requested 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      Nothing wrong with a bit of early planning, I reckon! Aldi are having their toy event next Thursday (27th) and they are doing a lovely wooden train set (80 pieces for €20), a dolls’ house, a kitchen, a little wooden shop stall, goals, a football table, the easel and loads more. Might be worth checking out. I’ll post the link to Facebook. Last year there was blood shed in the aisles over the dolls’ house by all accounts! I’m not sure if I have the fight in me but deep down I know I will be in the queue… Lol.

  3. Great ideas there, I’m inspired to get ordering. Dress up gear, duplo and a blackboard will make the shopping list this year!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Great, Sinéad! 🙂 I KNEW it wasn’t too soon to get people aboard the Santa Express! Early birds be catching festive worms and all that! 😉

  4. I’m defo getting the costume. I like that tradition. But would you stop telling people about flipping aldi. We missed out on the kitchen last year, so come hell we are getting it this year. #determined

    • Sinéad Reply

      I firmly believe you will get it this year, Jean. I can sense that determination from here! Lol… Godspeed!

  5. Costumes are one of my three year olds favourite things! He has plenty of options for Halloween but I think he’s settled on Batman 🙂 He also adores his Cookie Monster kitchen.

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’ve seen those Cookie Monster kitchens – they are so adorable for younger ones, aren’t they? Hope he has loads of fun dressing up for Halloween. My then three-year-old had SUCH a ball last year. She couldn’t get over the fact that she was out in the dark and that people were just randomly giving her sweets! I don’t think I ever saw her that excited. She was a pirate. She tripped over footpaths and her costume countless times but it didn’t dampen her enthusiasm!

  6. Costumes are such a great idea and my toddler loves dressing up! My sister has brought my toddler a dolls house so we’ve brought her the furniture – if I’m honest I can’t wait to play with it either 🙂 #MarvMondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      We have a new dolls’ house coming here for Christmas. 🙂

  7. Tempted by an easel; my daughter is always doodling. Concerned about bringing anything anyway large into our already crammed house though.
    Love the micro -scooters; we had one cheap one before we got one for our son. Its more than paid for itself two years later.

    • Sinéad Reply

      We have the same problem with space. Not nearly enough space. And now more is coming… Gah!

  8. I like your idea of planting the ideas to fit what you’ve already got or want to get. Cars and Lego have been a big part of every day play in our house for the past 7 years. Our two year old is now really into little figures of any kind. She loves playing with her brothers old trashies and moshi monsters. My mum just sent me a link to that ikea kitchen asking is they could get it for the youngest for Christmas but I can’t work out anywhere at all to put it ????

    • Sinéad Reply

      I know what you mean. Our house is closing in on us! Time for a toy cull…

  9. I love this1 This is a great list and I’d have to agree with most of them. At least your top five which had me nodding my head. Great investments all of them. We’re looking at adding a dolls house to our collection this christmas 😉 Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • Sinéad Reply

      Glad you liked it, Emily! And delighted that you agree! It can be hard choosing toys – there’s so much out there. xx

  10. Sinéad Reply

    Totally chuffed that this was chosen as a FEATURED POST on #MarvMondays! 🙂

  11. Wooden train set has been a hit in our house, a ride on and a scooter. Both boys fight over it. I hate, hate plastic, battery operated, loud crap but sometimes it makes the youngest one happy so it still finds its way to the toy box.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Hah! I know, Monika. We have a house full of VTech too! Comes with the territory, I guess!

  12. Anything with wheels basically – scooter, ride on, balance bike, push chair (my old one from the 1980s!).

    Wooden railway is still going strong here, and lego. We didn’t have a kitchen, but N had a shopping basket and food and that still did the job.


    • Sinéad Reply

      Totally re the wheel obsession! Very sweet re the 1980s buggy! Thanks for checking out the post, Emma! Happy Christmas shopping! 🙂

  13. Funnily enough, my youngest son asked for an Easel this year! I was thrilled and it’s a chalk board on the back. He has never been really creative but he’s settling down a lot now and is taking more of an interest. I’ve also got him some costumes – we have loads but he plays with them regularly so I agree that these are great ideas! My eldest son loves lego – but the younger one breaks it up, and empties the box all over the floor (often close to where the dog is so then I have to chase the dog around and retrieve lego before he chokes). All in a days work! He is getting out of his mischievousness and settling down so maybe lego will be on the agenda for next year lol! 🙂 Great post by the way!

    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes


    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh no! I never considered a dog in the mix! I also have a toddler who regularly breaks the creations and the hearts of the older two! Lego meltdowns are commonplace! As you said, all in a day’s work!

  14. Hmmm I had no idea about the micro scooter but I’m pretty sure in the near future this will be a key item for my family, mostly because it’s easy for lol I love Lego as well, they can play with this for ages (and me too! Recurring theme here haha…). Thanks so much for the tips and sharing with #StayClassyMama!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh totally – toys need to be parent/house-friendly to some extent! 🙂

  15. both my kids got a mini micro scooter for their 2. birthday and absolutely love it I think with my sons 7th birthday next summer he will finally get a upgrade and the old one will be taken with us to Germany to my parents house where they currently fight over just 1 (not my parents they like to walk,…the kids i mean). when finn was little he use to play every day with his wooden train set i was debating to passing it down to my 1 year old nephew soon but both of my kids still love the occasional weekend train track throughout the whole upstairs building so its stored in boxes in his wardrobe for a while longer! #giftguidelinky

    • Sinéad Reply

      They really get so much mileage out of train sets. don’t they? Sounds fab having it running through the whole upstairs!

  16. The IKEA kitchen is on our Christmas list this year. We have one from Lidl but it is kind of falling apart because it is plastic. You can’t go wrong with ride ones. I was going to buy my toddler a new one because all she gets is hand downs but my hubby might kill me. lol Thanks for linking up to the Christmas Gift Guide.

    • Sinéad Reply

      The Ikea kitched seems to be fairly badass in terms of quality. It gets a lot of punishment in our house but is surviving very well!

  17. All really good ideas. I’m always surprised how my kids go back to the kitchen. They just love it! My 7 year old still plays with it. Great list! #ChristmasisCalling

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks Barrie! 🙂 Glad you liked the list (ages ago! Lol…)

  18. Fab ideas! I always loved Lego – I remember having a huge bucket of it and I played with it a lot!
    Thanks for linking up to #ChristmasisCalling

  19. This is spot on, it’s like there’s an endless supply of costumes and lego. The only toy that comes to mind that I would add is actions figures.


    • Sinéad Reply

      Absolutely! Mine adore little figures. I’m likely to find a teeny Troll or a miniature Chewbaca in all sorts of strange places!

  20. Thanks for the great list. I’ve always loved LEGOs, as did pretty much everyone in my family back in the day. They’re great as a Christmas gift, but can also be played with throughout the entire year. The kids never grow tired of them.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Absolutely agree, Selina. Definitely the most used toy in this house at the moment.

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