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Sweets for the sweet: Holiday gift guide

Published on: December 01, 2009

This year, our holiday shopping comes with a twist: Stretched budgets mean we want gifts with real staying power; tough, well-made toys that kids will reach for again and again. We asked a few local gift gurus for their faves, and tossed in a few of our own! Read on for the toys, games and books that shine this season.


JelliBee Baby bibJelliBee Baby. Give a gift a new parent will actually use: a supercool bib made from machine-washable vinyl-covered organic cotton, a chic wipe clutch or petite clothing hangers. 

Earthentree rattlePylones Maracas. Made of baby-safe plastic resin and decorated with animals and fairies in bright colors. Babies love the bold, stimulating designs and gentle shaking sound of the beads inside. $16 (Clover)

Tree Blocks. A set of smooth baby-safe blocks made from tree branches. $20 (Clover)

Earthentree rattles. Beautiful wooden baby rattles from a Kirkland-based company. $16 (

Books for baby

"Hidden Hippo"City Animals by Simms Taback 

Hidden Hippo by Joan Gannij and Clare Beaton

Barnyard Bath, a waterproof version of Barnyard Dance, by Sandra Boynton

"In My Nest"Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

In My Den and In My Nest by Sara Gillingham 

Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

For a new parent

Itsabelly’s Guide to Going Green with Baby by Jennifer Lo Prete and Melissa Moog. Packed with mom-tested tips on eco-friendly and safe baby gear, and great tips on how to “go green” with your baby.


Market TeepeesMarket Teepees for Kids. Colorful cloth teepees that are kid-pleasing, safe and easy to fold and store, available at the Pike Place Market for $45 or online for $55. 

I Can Do That! Games. A great line of board games that make learning fun, including Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It ($17), Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABCs Game ($17) and Curious George Hide and Seek Zoo Game ($20). (Top Ten Toys, Greenwood; Magic Mouse Toys, Pioneer Square)

Georello Jungle by Quercetti. Set gears atop base pieces, top with animals and you’re set to spin. $18.50 (Teri’s Toybox, Edmonds)


Toddler–K Books 

"Once Upon a Picture"

Robot Zot! by Jon Scieszka 

Pigs Make Me Sneeze! by Mo Willems 

Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch 

Zelda and Ivy: Keeping Secrets by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Once Upon a Picture by Sally Swain

The “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” series by Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley


Eye Can Art kits. An art class in a can, including instructions and materials, created by three Seattle artists/moms. Check out their newest offering: the Book-in-a-Box kit. $24 (Izilla Toys, Capitol Hill and Wallingford)

Melody harpMelody Harp by Trophy Music. Just slide a song sheet under the strings of the beautiful Melody Harp, follow the dots with the pick and wow — you’re playing music! $39.99 (Bellevue Art & Frame, Bellevue)

Origami craneOrigami paper. Unlimited creativity for just $5–$15. (Uwajimaya in the International District, Renton and Bellevue)

Erector Sets. Classic building sets provide endless options for creative building. $10.49–$37.49 (Teri’s Toybox)

Mama K’s Aromatic Play Clay. Gluten-free natural alternative to Play-Doh in fabulous colors, each with a wonderful, relaxing scent. $4.50 per tub or $22 for a five-color set (Clover)

Elementary Books

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo

 "The Gecko & Sticky"The Gecko & Sticky: The Greatest Power by Wendelin Van Draanen

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn

NERDS: National, Espionage, Rescue and Defense Society by Michael Buckley

The Joy of Origami by Margaret Van Sicklen

Show; Don’t Tell! Secrets of Writing by Josephine Nobisso


Capri Sun messenger bagTerracycle’s supercool upcycled products, including pencil cases and messenger bags made from recycled drink pouches. (Target and

Wire and Bead Art Kit by Arterro. Unique mobiles, interesting ornaments and fantastical sculptures come to life with a generous mix of beads and glass marbles, and high-quality jewelry wire. $15.99 (Bellevue Art & Frame)

Gift card for a great new bike from Gregg’s Cycle in Green Lake or Bellevue.

"Leviathan"Tween + Teen Books

"Start to Knit"The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science: 64 Daring Experiments for Young Scientists by Sean Connolly

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Start to Knit by Alison Dupernex


Ravensburger puzzleBananagrams. The travel version of an anagram Scrabble-like game in its own banana bag. $16 (Bellevue Art and Frame) 

300-plus-piece puzzles by Ravensburger. Heavy-duty pieces, sturdy construction and beautiful pictures. Great for all ages. $12.49 (Teri’s Toybox)


Give to others together

You can teach your kids about compassion and the true joy of giving by donating to one of ParentMap’s 2009 Giving Together partners.

Pediatric Interim Care Center

Children’s Home Society

Fostering Together

Outdoors for All Foundation

Rabuor Village Project

College Success Foundation

Kathleen F. Miller is a Sammamish-based freelance writer.



TutuCutest tutu ever. Snohomish-based Bee Bops & Lollipops makes a gorgeous tutu, perfect for wearing to The Nutcracker or to dance around the house. $80.

You can win a toddler-size “divine elegance” tutu. To enter, email us by Dec. 15 at; be sure to put “tutu” in the subject line.


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