The Nonchalantdad: Collector's Items!

If you find yourself a little strapped for cash this year - or just want to start something a little different for your children.... well, why not think a little different. And, the good news is, there's a little something for everyone, boy or girl. What I'm talking about is starting a collection of items that then your little one can take from there and partake in. All it takes is a small gift of a certain item that you think they might enjoy searching for here and there over the next several years. We started this in our home last year for our daughter when my wife stumbled on the idea of giving our then 2 year old daughter a few 'Troll' dolls. She went crazy for the hair mostly, since most of the small outfits that came with the dolls were a little advanced for her hands. My wife found a few of them on ebay of all things. Perhaps this doesn't sound like the most glamourous gift? But, our daughter still has a great time washing and combing the hair - the funkier the better! For our son, since we did a bit of traveling when he was even younger than he is now - and one thing leading to another we started a collection of snow-shakers for him that he has since taken on himself. Now, whenever we go anywhere he is on the look out for another one.... though this can get a bit nagging since he starts looking even if we go to the neighbouring town!

However, there are all sorts of ideas you can come up with - with your kids, or for your kids... whichever works. Some are obvious, like the snow-shakers, or all the things we collected ourselves when a bit younger. But, some can be even more rare or strange. I stumbled on the idea while visiting London at one point to get my daughter and son something a little different than the normal present from Hamleys (the biggest toy store in the world!! or so we used to be told...) - which basically amounts to gettting something from just about any toy store in the world. Nothing unique in that. So, trying to think of something that generally appealed to them (like cars and trucks to play with) and mixing it with something unique to a time and place (London in this case) I came across a whole bevy of old(ish) toy double decker buses. The kids loved it and now every time we go flea market hunting, they are on the look out for such buses. Or perhaps there are the traditional Swedish wooden horses my wife is attached to... or perhaps the older wooden derby cars (a cub scout tradition if I'm correct).

There are all sorts of things to collect, some easily come by and some a bit more difficult. The point I guess I'm trying to make is that it is something potentially long lasting and quite fun to do - or resource! Whether a stocking stuffer or just a plain gift - what better time to start something like this. But, I will admit this: some great ideas might prove to be mistakes - like the time I wanted to get my little guy started on those old little metal soldiers (he twisted some of the heads right off!). Or, be careful, some ideas might be a bit premature - like glass items, etc. One of the ideas I was most excited about sharing with my son, and my daughter when she gets a bit older, was something I should have waited for a bit longer to present. If you're a male (usually), of a certain age, and from the UK, or just familiar with certain obscure toys from Europe - then you'll remember a sort of board game called Subbuteo. Oh man, was it fun! When I first introduced it to my son a few years ago, hoping that he might continue the collection of 'teams' that goes with the game, he promptly broke a few of the delicate pieces. My fault really - I got ahead of myself.

Nonetheless, if the item or items fits into what your children are excited about - you can't go wrong.... and 20 -30 years from now, you won't probably be sorry you did it. Start Collecting!!!