What to buy the 3 year old who has everything

Following hot on the heels (where hot on the heels means two years later) of “What to Buy the Baby Who Has Everything“, comes What to Buy the 3 year old Who Has Everything. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N has turned 3, so I guess he’s not really a toddler anymore. He is officially a little boy. For simplicity’s sake let’s call him LB. 

Having already had 3 male 3 year olds (and three 3 year old birthdays and parties already), I have just about every toy a 3 year old could dream of (daytime nap or nighttime long sleep). An extensive Brio & Thomas train track collection. Cars. Enough Duplo to build a small apartment. I have an entire Little People city. Octonauts, complete with Gups and and Octpod. Scooter? Yep. Tricycle? Yep. Sand / water play table? Yep. We have a library of books. We have a marble run. We have a wooden castle. We have a toy kitchen and lots of pretend food, as well as a mini espresso machine (for those early daycare mornings). We have Hot Wheels. We have a singing, playing Elmo, and a singing Iggle Piggle. We have Aquaplay. And most importantly, we have Magnatiles. I could keep going for about 10 pages. 

But you cannot NOT buy your three year old presents just because he is the 4th boy to turn 3 in the house. Yes, I could operate a crèche without having to purchase a thing, but that is not what birthdays are about. It doesn’t matter that LB doesn’t need anything. He’s a little boy and he deserves to open a few presents and have some of his own belongings in a house where everything already belongs to someone else. Especially when this is the first birthday that he understands that it is HIS birthday and HE gets to open and keep the gifts.

So what do you buy this Litte Boy who has everything a little boy could possibly want? 

1. We bought him MORE DUPLO. Yes we did. We hadn’t actually added to our Duplo collection since Cooking Child was 3 – that’s 7 years ago (Master 8 went straight to Lego. By the time he was 2, his brothers were 4 & 6, were Lego obsessed, and so Master-then-2 just joined the Lego brigade). ANYWAY (gosh this is confusing with all these children), I bought this:

With a little digger to go with because LB LOVES diggers.

I seem to have ridiculous luck with Myer toy sales – there always seems to be one the week before my boys’ birthdays. With an extra 10% off for Myer One members (It’s free –  why wouldn’t you join? They send you gift vouchers every few months as a reward for shopping. For shopping. Let’s just go over this again – they reward me for shopping).


2. Maxi Micro scooter from my in-laws. Almost immediately after LB started walking, he began scooting. Our Mini Micro scooter (a hand me down from Master 8) has really earned its keep (and inflated price tag). But LB is no lightweight, and he is the height of a 5 year old. I imagine that when a child stands on the scooter board, it is supposed to stay flat, not submit into a concave depression. And so we have updated LB to the model that Master 8 still happily zooms around on today. LB calls it his “big boy scooter”. 

We got the silver. Personally I love the  brights but the silver was 25% off at Entropy a few months ago, so that’s what I ordered. Plus the silver is timeless. Classy. For the refined toddler.


3. My parents bought LB this:

Ever since we went to London 9 months ago, LB has been obsessed with all things London. Especially a book that my cousin gave him while we were there. It’s about 3 animal characters who go through London……in fact I can’t tell you what it’s about because LB has never let me actually read the story to him. Each page features a different famous site so LB simply shrieks “We went there!” and then he provides a bit more information like “WE went on the London eye!”, or “WE went to Buckhingham palace and saw the Queem” (this is not a typo, nor is it strictly true)”, or “WE went to Trafalgar Square and saw the Lion while you were SHOPPING, mummy”. Or my personal favourite “WE went to The British Musuem and saw the Mummies……and the daddies!!”. 

When I saw the London Bus I knew that LB would love it. But there was also a fine looking Fire Engine that I thought he would love, too.

LB has learnt from Cooking Child how to play imaginitively but there is no imaginitive game played in this house without a natural disaster or some dire situation that requires a rescue mission. How well the Fire Engine would fit into our home, and how many great imaginative play opportunities it would present. 

So LB got that too.

You would be extremely surprised how many dangerous situations London Buses can find themselves in, that require emergency assistance from a one man Fire Engine. 


Then there were the brothers’ presents. Some of you may think that LB had already scored a bountiful loot and should count his little blessings and go and play with his lovely new toys. And you’d be right. BUT my big boys would not accept that he had plenty already – they want to give him their OWN presents. And so the shopping continued.

Cooking Child wanted to give a gift individually. As in he wanted to choose it AND pay for it. And so I suggested:


$12 from K-Mart. This was the perfect brother present. Cheap and we knew he would love it. Like billions of children, LB loves bubbles. He wants so many, and so often, that I get dizzy and have to sit down from all the deep breathing. Anyone with a toddler knows that the hunt for the holy grail toy (preferably battery free, but hey it was $12), that’s screen free, keeps your toddler entertained for a sustained period of time and does NOT need a parent to participate, is never ending. A bubble machine may well be as close as you are ever going to get. Bonus points for being an outdoor activity. Even more bonus points because LB dances in bubbles so it promotes exercise.

Which leaves:

5. First Born and Master 8 still needed to give LB a present too. And so I went to the TV show gift. LB loves his shows and their associated characters. We could not lose with this. And despite the the fact that he had a bad experience recently meeting real life Duggee, I decided to go with:

after seeing LB mesmerised playing with it in Myer a few weeks ago. Here’s a tip: if you don’t know what to buy your child, take them into a toy department and see what they gravitate towards. Duggee has been a huge success and the only issue with him is his size, and lack of arms to hold him by when LB insists on bringing him out with us, and then insists that I look after Duggee once we’re out.

Anyway that’s a wrap on 3 year old presents, or at least my 3 year old. But you know, same same.

XOXO Shopping Girl
P.S. On writing this blog I have discovered that when I type the letters “LB” my phone autocorrects them to Loom Bands. I am not sure why this is so. But having had to un-autocorrect it each time, I’m thinking maybe the hunt is still on for what to call my 4th child online. This is what it looks like when I leave LB uncorrected: LOOM BANDS.


Boys and their toys

September is our birthday month, with one third of our family’s birthdays falling then.
Firstborn and J are turning 11 & 9 next month. Their birthday wishlists are no doubt something like this:
1. iPod 5
2. iTunes card
3. Electric scooter
4. Firstborn : Wheely shoes
J: Giant Lego Star Wars set which has not been released yet.
5. Minecraft for Wii U, also unreleased.
6. Lollies and more lollies.
7. Never having to do homework again.
8. Getting to stay home from school whenever they want.
9. Unlimited screen time.
10. Baby N to not grow any older and less cute.

As I am unlikely to provide 7 – 10, I feel as though they should get 1 or 2 things from their wishlist. If you can’t get what you really REALLY want on your birthday, then there’s not much hope the rest of the year. My problem with their wishlists (which may be of my own creating, but I guarantee you, it’s accurate) is that with the exception of wheely shoes, it’s rather sedentary. And uncreative.

Whilst I don’t think their birthdays are necessarily an educational opportunity, I do feel a compulsion to provide a balance of birthday presents, and not just feed the screen-driven beasts I am rearing.

So I present to you:

“Shopping Girl’s Guide to birthday presents for boys aged 9-11”.

1. iPod Touch. It’s their number one, their Cabbage Patch kid, if you will.

The magic of birthdays is kept alive by getting that one thing you really want. And if everyone has a screen then I get what I really want – peace and quiet.

2. On-the-Go Game Pad

My boys would love this. Not as much as they would love an iPod, but it still has the potential to keep them busy. If I tell them to go and play noughts and crosses for an hour they will not so much laugh in my face as whinge in it. However give them a notepad like this where the lines are all neatly and graphic-designer-y laid out for you, and “cool!” they will exclaim. Who knew home drawn parallel and perpendicular lines were so lame?

3. Letter light.
Since we moved house a year ago, I have had an obsession with my boys’ rooms. I keep trying to make them
Pinterest ready. Unfortunately the rooms contain the antithesis of Pinterest: live boys. I arrange their toys artistically, instagramatically, upon their shelves…..they play with said toys and if I am LUCKY they put them back….but the shelf now resembles a jumble sale. Baby N does NOT understand that his books are in rainbow colour order. I have decorated their rooms to the best of my financial and artistic ability in the hope that they will love them and treat their possessions respectfully. This is not going entirely to plan. Anyway I love this, and I think firstborn would too.


4. Crayola Marker Maker


This is not something they will love and keep forever. They will not walk down the aisle with this toy. The marker maker is a summer fling……they’ll think they’re in love for a month or two and then they’ll never look at her again. Intense, passionate. But they’ll alway have the memories. Ah, the memories. My best fling toy was Barbie Charms the World.

The kids enjoy being creative, and I enjoy them being creative. According to the experts, the benefits of being creative are endless. Unless it’s creative accounting. Then you might end up in jail.

The other day one of the kids was complaining about being bored. I suggested we make a pet rock. Child looked at me like I had grown two heads and both of them were alien. The marker maker is creativity for the child of 2014 (not 1986 where I seem to be stuck).

5. Hover Soccer

I think this looks like fun. Like turning your back courtyard into a life sized air hockey table. Token “outdoor”, “exercise” present. This is more about me than them.

6. Board Games.
J wants “The Game of Life”. Firstborn played “Settlers of Catan” at a friend’s house and was very enthusiastic. I saw this at Questacon :


I think it looks great, and sneakily educational. The batteries are a pain though. I am all for board games as long as the kids understand they are to play with each other, not with me. My sister never wanted to play Monopoly with me when we were kids. I used to play by myself. I was the thimble AND I was the dog. The thimble always won. Unfortunately for my kids, playing solo monopoly is thus a viable option. I think it builds resilience. Because when you play Monopoly by yourself, you’re always the winner, but unfortunately you’re always a loser, too.

7. Snap circuits


First born likes taking electronic things apart to see all the wires and circuit boards. Unfortunately he cannot put them back together. Perhaps this will teach him. Last year we did chemistry sets. Too much parental supervision required. Snap Circuits are this year’s token science present.

8. The 52 Story Treehouse
It’s the next in the series and it comes out in J’s birthday month. Although he has probably slightly outgrown this series now, J’s bound to get excited that the latest is being released. My kids have this strange compulsion to continually want to read new books. When we were kids, my parents bought us new books from time to time. The rest of the time we RE-READ the books we already had. This is a foreign concept to my children, but one which they must learn. Then they can play one of the best games my sister and I ever invented. The quote game. One of you recites a quote from a book, the other has to say what book it’s from. But you need to be really, REALLY familiar with your home library to do this. So I’ll buy J the new book but really I think he should re-read the first 3 books a few more times, or how else will he ever know the proper response to “She salted her egg, then bit into it”?

XOXO Shopping Girl

Buying nothing at all

It’s amazing what you can buy these days. Yesterday I bought an absence of a birthday party. Who knew such a thing existed? Not me. But it does and this is what it looks like:


Master T turned 6 on April 29. Being born the day after Passover, his (English) birthday generally falls during “the Omer” a 7 week period in the Jewish Calender where we refrain from live entertainment (music), movies and major celebrations. There’s a lot of grey in defining what is and isn’t okay, and what some people consider fine others do not, so I find it safer to abstain from parties altogether during this time.

Except that by the time the Omer is over, Master T’s birthday is well and truly over and my celebratory mood is over too.

This year, as the weeks ticked on,
Master T’s enthusiasm grew as I started haemorrhaging motivation. Suddenly it was yesterday and I realised that Master T’s birthday was the first day of term two, and the last day was fast approaching.

Master T is not a particularly social being. Parties are not his thing.


(T enjoying a birthday party)

But presents most definitely are his thing, and I know that was his main motivation in having a party.

So I did something I NEVER thought I would do when I was a smug parent of 3 small children (as opposed to a parent, whose smug smile was wiped clean off her face a few years ago already, of 4 children ranging from baby to pre-teen. So different. Soooooo different). I told Master T that if he preferred he could choose a big present instead of a party. Yes. I shopped my way out of entertaining twenty five 6 year olds for two hours. The Lego was on special at Myer. It was $99.95. I can’t do a party for less than that. I know some people can. I just can’t. When I do a party I go all out and I just cannot bring myself to strive for party mediocrity. This is both time intensive, and not that cheap. And then there’s the 25 smaller presents that I no longer have to contend with.

But I know I’m not convincing you, I’m convincing me. I feel horribly guilty that I convinced him not to have a party. Even though he grinned at me as we walked out of Myer clutching his giant box and said “Mummy this is definitely better than having a party!”. It still feels like the wrong thing to do from many perspectives. 2014 will probably go down in Joshua Family folklore as the year Mummy offered Master T a severance package instead of a party.

Oh well. There’s no such thing as guilt-free shopping.

XOXO Shopping Girl