While I subscribe to Darlene’s view, eloquently put by Harold S. Hulbert: “In bringing up children, spend half the money and twice the time,” if you are going to spend the money (the half part) I’d like to share a few of my all-time favorite catalogs for kids’ gifts:

Hearthsong – This catalog sells high quality toys that promote imaginative and creative play. Here are some of the items I like or have purchased repeatedly over the years as gifts:

Beaded Snowflake Kit, play kitchen equipment, Sea-Scopes, Handy Cash Boxes, magic kit, stables and horses, Fairy and Butterfly Wings, puppets, Pattern Blocks, Air Kicks, Stilts, Air Power Rockets, Hop Balls, Real Gloves, Potholder Loom and Loops, Classic Wooden Sewing Box, Fashion Design Studio Kits, and Colorforms.
Magic Cabin – This catalog supports the highest quality toys and specializes in doll-making and craft kits Waldorf-style. I used to make Bella a doll every year for Christmas with homemade clothes and stuffed with raw lamb’s wool. (Tiff – I still have the patterns and leftover doll “skin” and wool if you are ever interested…) In fact, the first doll I ever made for Bella is sitting in my office – here is Rosalie Rose Rosie herself:

The play silks I got from this catalog were some of Bella’s most beloved and used “toys.” Simple, gorgeous large silk scarves that she used to dress herself, to drape as tablecloths, to use as an airy roof for hide-away, to spin around with… every kid should have a few. I also like the marble runs, the ironing board, silk baby blankets, lambskins, natural baby brushes, we own almost all of Elsa Beskow’s books, the knitting mushroom, modeling beeswax, and the Stockmar beeswax crayons. I still use the blue metal dustpin and boar’s hair hand brush that I ordered for Bella at least ten years ago.

Also, all of Bella’s dollhouse furniture and people came from Magic Cabin over the years.

A Child’s Dream – This catalog also supports Waldorf supplies and toys. I happen to know the woman who owns this catalog, so I support her whenever I can. I have purchased at least a dozen beeswax rolled candle kits from here. That’s a no-brainer fun activity around the holidays for kids of all ages.

I happen to have a secret second job as my brother’s personal shopper – that’s why I’ve busted out all my old kid catalog favorites. He sends me his credit card info and I start buying for whomever I think he should buy for – including myself. Incidentally, I am ordering my own gift out of the hearthsong catalog this year: the silk knitting needle keeper.