Here are a couple of our favorite items for the boys from this past Christmas that have already proven to be a hit.
Discovery Toys' MarbleWorks set. No regrets. I've been stalking ebay for used sets with missing pieces that will go for much less to add on to our collection. It's been a theme with Owen's gifts this year that both Colby and I have been found playing with them by ourselves.
Owen actually received two different magnetic block sets for Christmas this year. Both sets of grandparents must have been on the same wavelength when gifting this year. The sets are different, and playing with them gives different experiences. Both I find to be quality sets that I would recommend. (He also received a lesser expensive set from BB&B that proved to be poor quality and would not recommend.) The set above on the left are called Playmags. Pros: many pieces, various shapes, car piece, solid and hollowed pieces. Cons: pieces a bit heavier makes structures a bit unstable, magnet alignment sometimes gets a little funky with a lot of pieces nearby. The set on the right are Magformers. Pros: super strong magnets making it less likely for structure to collapse, promotes 3D shape creations, fool-proof magnet alignment. Cons: not as many pieces, because of hollowed pieces it limits creativity a bit in creating buildings, forts, cars, etc. Both of these sets have proved to be great entertainment for mom and dad, too.
oball rattle. I've seen these Oball products around, and wasn't sure I understood the popularity and fuss about them. But I have to say that my mind was changed when I gave in to purchasing the Oball Rattle for Brooks this Christmas. There's not much that a baby does at this stage besides grab and hold onto things and stick them in their mouth. This ball is so easy to grab and hold onto. Unlike other small balls or other baby rattles that they drop frequently, this one has a longer "grip-life" to keep both baby and mommy happy. Love the little rattles in there, too, to provide a little extra entertainment.
Kiki the elephant is. It's Target's knockoff version of Sophie the giraffe, which I found to be way overpriced (but another popular toy that is worth the fuss). Coco feels and functions in the same way that Sophie does at half the price. Brooks loves it. He gums it and drools like nobody's business all over that thing very happily.