Well my eldest has just added the seemingly innocent words 'fingerling' to her request list to the happy chap in red. The likelihood of my child getting said must have toy of the season, is hovering between 'dangerously low' and 'zilch'. Luckily she has been well drilled. In case you weren't aware, Father Christmas will only ever get you a few things you ask for, he will also give you a thing or two he knows you will just love but hadn't considered (he is the toy expert after all, let's leave some things in his very capable hands).
So if your offspring or the wonder kinder in your life are suddenly making demands it is simply not in your power to fulfil, placate yourself with some tried and tested fantabulous Christmas stocking suggestions from After Alice (we like to think we are toy experts too).
1. IAmElemental Action Figure Series II. We do bang on about these, but that is because we think they are really REALLY good. Well priced for such an awesome action figure 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 - Creativity, Mastery, Logic, 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. 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. (Also available in larger pack of 24)
4. 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.
5. Magnetic Personalities Finger Puppets. Joan of Arc. Queen Elizabeth. Cleopatra. Marilyn Monroe. We have such a fun variety of wonderful women to waggle on your finger. A great way of introducing girls to historical role models you feel they would benefit from knowing about. Plus you can stick them to the fridge. Random but true. What's not to love?
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Mess Free Glitter. This is. Quite simply. A game changer. MESS FREE GLITTER. These little beauties have transformed my relationship with sparkly arts crafts. I no longer have near strangers apologetically leaning over to pick a speck of glitter off my eyebrow, on a far too frequent basis. I won't reveal all the secrets here, but this little pack of wonder really does deliver, and the resulting stickers are a delight to all who see them. Available in two different designs.
10.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 . . .
11. 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.
12. 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 12 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).