'Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc'd in their heads,'
If you are looking for a little bit more than sugar plums, clementines and walnuts to delight your Alice come Christmas morning, take a look at our Christmas Top 20 (Slade free, we promise).
1. IAmElemental Action Figure. We do bang on about these, but that is because we think they are really REALLY good. Well priced for a little extra and the perfect size to fit snug in a stocking. She may be small but she is mighty. Your only difficult decision is which one to go for - Honesty, Persistence, Bravery, Energy, Bloodymindedness . . .(okay I made that last one up).
2. Fabulous Fabbies. Can you really resist? Everyone has their favourite. The small size are ideal for this very purpose and they won't widdle on your shoe, or make vile smells from behind the sofa.
3. Story Box. Just arrived and already we love it. Especially good for younger Alices who aren't yet ready for Storycubes but are keen to tell a tale or two come Christmas morn.
4. Watercolour Pencils by Djeco. If you are like me and your heart sinks when your child asks 'can I do some painting?' these are a godsend. No squirty paints to faff around with, no hunting through the recycling for suitable mixing receptacles. This is about as simple and mess free as painting can possibly get. This lovely little set of 12 pencils is made for a stocking. Can be used as a pencil, or add a paintbrush and water for watercolour paints.
5. Singing birds from RSPB. These cuddly toys are very sweet, and give them a squeeze to hear them tweet (nothing to do with Twitter, they actually sound like a real bird). A charming way to teach children to recognise birdsong, and the markings of garden favourites. Also sit very happily on a Christmas tree.
6. Storycubes. So many themes to choose from. These handy little dice are a great way to stimulate creative writing and verbal storytelling in your child. Can be used on their own, or as an extension to the original Storycubes. Also available in Moomin flavour. If you have bigger feet, and a slightly bigger budget go for the originals.
7. A finger (toe?) puppet. We have lots. You may have noticed. I am seeking help. In the meantime you can browse my obsession at your pleasure. My personal favourite is the hummingbirds, or the mermaids, or the mini sockettes. And who wouldn't want a magnetised Joan of Arc or Ada Lovelace to perch on their digit, how much awesomeness can you fit on one finger? Finally an answer. A lot. Oh, you get the idea. I like puppets. Join me. Stick one in your stocking.
8. Marbles. You may have noticed I am rather partial to these too. I really think a little bag of exquisite globes of fabulousness cannot be beaten. Give a child some of these to jangle in their pocket and they will be a happy little soul. The handmade ones are a delight just to behold and well, hold. If you are looking for a bargain we have a real range (starting from 10p each). If you are splashing out we love the Crystal World Map Marble (altogether now 'she's got the whole world in her hand'), and for Roald Dahl Twit fans we have some eyeballs for horrifying the unsuspecting and frail of mind. And there are so many games to enjoy once you have a handful of marbles. Get down on the floor and remember what it was like to be young and nimble (until your knees/hips/lumbago tell you otherwise). And don't get me started on homemade marble runs - simply a perfect Christmas afternoon pursuit.
9. WWF Playing Cards. Every child needs a decent pack of cards. A bit like felt tips, you can't beat a brand spanking new pack. The gateway to hours of fun. These ones feature beautiful photography of endangered species on them so are a particularly good choice for Alices who like to stay aware of Animal Conservation issues whilst they are whopping your ass at Rummy.
10. Spotting and Jotting Guide. It is so tiny small and so very cute. A charming dear of a book for twitchers. Perfect to fit snug in a stocking and then in the pocket of a lucky Alice who can walk off some turkey/ nut roast with a good rousing bird spotting constitutional.
11. This huge black jumping spider is ridiculously fake. That said, my daughter keeps changing its position and it pretty much gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME. No really, it never gets old. Practical jokes are big in our house. I live on my nerves. And stollen bites.
12. Modelling clay. Remember Morph? And his friend? Nope me neither, never remembered his name. He definitely needed a better agent. Keep those little fingers busy on the 25th. Maybe that way you'll get 5 minutes respite from jumping out of your skin every time they move the spider.
13. Pinocchio spinning top. I refuse to believe there is a closer to perfect spinning top out there than this fine specimen. And it is made of tin which makes me think of old school Christmasses (Christmi?!) when things were built to last and a satsuma in your stocking was a cause for celebration rather than a tantrum.
14. Who in their right mind would not want a rocket pen? I love the design, plus you can choose 4 different colours of ink. If you are not in your right mind you can just move on.
15. Secret Decoder Game Book. This is so good. Every child I have bought this for has loved it, including my own. A great price and perfect stocking size. Help keep those brain cells alive around about 3pm when energy levels slump and all your favourite Roses have been devoured.
16. Springy Snake Nut Can. It doesn't matter how many times someone offers you a nut and you get a crazed noisy snake man jump in your face, you always take the nut, and you always smile that wry 'you got me again' smile. Without doubt one of the favourite toys in our house for little people who are basically pretty terrible at jokes, but still want to act the comedian. Nut anyone?
17. Compass. I refuse to say any more. Apart from this. If you cannot see how perfect a compass is as a stocking filler, you are possibly on the wrong site . . .
18. Anisnap watch. A great price for a great product. We are really proud of these. Animal and dinosaur designs. Don't be troubling with those fiddly buckles, just snap one of these beauties on and you are ready to go.
19. The humble but wonderful yo-yo. Enough said. Get them a classic. Great for co-ordination and lobotomising younger annoying siblings (though the 'I was only trying to master walking the dog' argument will probably only work once).
20. Christmas morning isn't really Christmas morning without that toy that produces a really irritating noise, and makes you instantly wish you hadn't bought it. A kazoo is a really easy way to achieve this. A harmonica in the wrong hands/mouth can also be pretty terrible, but at least you didn't get a violin. We are trying to encourage you to buy these. I may need to work on my technique.
So that is it. Well we have lots more but if my first 20 suggestions didn't enthral you, I think I'll quit whilst I'm behind. May your stockings bulge pleasantly (unless it is due to varicose veins, then you have our sympathy), your children respond magically to your inspired choices and your honey roast parsnips never burn (still trying to perfect those).