With the millions of toys out there, you would think that shopping for kids would be really easy, right? The only problem is that after buying hundreds of toys over the years (for both my own children and my nieces and nephews and friends), I’ve discovered that not all toys are created equal. There are lots of toys out there that are popular, fun, well made, and so cute, but they don’t have longevity. There is nothing better than picking out a toy that they’ll play with every day for the next year….and nothing more frustrating than choosing one that they get bored of in less than five minutes.

So here are my top four categories of gifts that are sure to be around for the long haul.

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In the toys category, I chose matchbox cars because my boys have played with them their whole lives and still love them, this fantastic mini shopping cart that my friend owns and instantly attracts every other child (plus it’s well-made and not flimsy!), and this baby stroller. Because I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love to push around a babydoll or animal in it. Plus this collapses so you can store it easily. I also should have included these dolls in this category since I had an American Girl doll growing up and played with her for years
My next category is books. You can never run out of books to read, so book gifts are definitely a good option, especially if you get a series. B and I started reading The Boxcar Children series earlier this year and we both instantly fell in love with the sweet characters and their fun and innocent adventures. I definitely recommend these for boys or girls. The Little House on the Prairie books are more geared toward girls, except Farmer Boy, which I read to B last year and we both loved. But it’s a fantastic series too. We also love the Magic Tree House books, which teach great things about history! In addition to these series for older kids, we love the LITTLE KIDS BIG BOOK OF… books, and the BabyLit books, which are geared toward smaller kids. 
Next up is outdoor toys. We’ve bought a million outdoor toys, but the ones that are the most loved are their scooters and the balance bike. The micro scooter is three-wheeled and has really great mobility — my 5 year old absolutely loves his. And when you’re choosing a balance bike, make sure you get one that has an adjustable seat (without needing to use a tool), since that makes life much easier!
And finally, Lego’s. I’m pretty sure my family would die without Lego’s. My husband grew up playing with them, and my boys inherited all his old bricks last year. We’ve since added to the collection and they play with their Lego’s for at least an hour every single day. Most days it’s several hours. They’re amazing for fine motor skills (we’ve seen huge improvements in F’s fine motor skills since he switched from Duplos…although he still plays with those often), and unbelievable for fostering creativity. I’m constantly amazed the creations my boys invent and build. Plus, if you get the building sets (rather than just random bricks), it teaches them how to follow instructions in order to build. They are my favorite of their toys (except when I step on them)!
Any other great toys out there that we’re missing out on?