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How to choose toys that will outlive the
latest playground craze

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So…have you got that slime out of your carpet yet?

Thrown out the old fidget spinners?

Hoovered up the last of the loom bands?

You never know what might spring up as the next must-have toy or playground craze (you’d be rich if you did!). These toys are driven by popularity – once they fall out of fashion, they disappear to the back of the toy cupboard never to be seen again.

If you can’t or prefer not to buy these toys, you may be worried about managing your child’s expectations – our article about what to do if you can’t get the ‘big Santa present’ can help with that.

Instead, doing your research will help you find toys that are good in their own right, and aren’t just on your child’s Christmas list because ‘that’s what my friend is getting’!

"Trying toys out before buying them is a great way of testing to see if they're five minute wonders. Some retailers provide opportunities to see the toys in action and ideally see children playing with them - it doesn't take long to gauge whether the toy has any long-term play value."

Toys to get them thinking

Science, technology, engineering and maths education (also known as STEM) has been a hot topic the last few years, because these subjects give children valuable skills – like problem solving and critical thinking – that they can use in many careers as well as day-to-day life.


If you’ve got a youngster who loves learning about new things, but you struggle with project ideas, consider gifting them a First Wonder Box. It’s packed with activities on all sorts of themes, from dinosaurs and bugs to ancient Egypt. Plus, it’s not just for Christmas – you can pick up a four, six, or 10-month subscription to keep the activities flowing all year round, delivered straight to your door every fortnight.


Puzzles are also very rewarding and mastering each level is a great confidence builder. Look out for puzzles that have lots of different levels to tackle, so your child can keep challenging their skills further. Similarly, consider board games that take a bit of strategy, while offering a fun competitive element.


For children who prefer less structured play, construction toys are really popular and give children the chance to think and learn at their own pace. A few good construction toys, like Classic Confetti, can encourage lots of open-ended play that gets your child experimenting with ideas and solving problems. 


Keeping them creative


Small world play is wonderful for keeping children’s imaginations active as they get older. Small characters and playsets like Sylvanian Families let children act out stories and events that have happened to them, helping them to make sense of thoughts and feelings. The Red Roof Country Home (complete with working lights!) offers lots of space for make-believe play and is large enough for friends and siblings to share.



Arts and crafts can be really satisfying and give children a way to show off their emerging identity. Craft sets are a great way to introduce children to new art skills – they might even discover a passion for something new. Airfix Quickbuild, for example, is an exciting introduction to model building; the pieces simply push together and can be decorated with stickers, to create a fabulous model they can display, or play with!



Overcoming pester power isn’t always easy, especially when your child seems to have their heart set on one particular toy. But there are many great toys out there, so you’ve got plenty to choose from!

We’ve picked out a few of our favourites in the Christmas Good Toy Guide. Simply click on the toy to read a full review online, including ratings for play value as well as an overview of the skills the toy can help your child develop.

More Tips and Tricks

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