Two is about the age when kids become less interested in the box the toy came in and more interested in the toy itself. If you’re headed to a birthday party for a 2-year-old, after the requisite pizza and cupcakes, bust out something more impressive than an Elmo card full of 20s. Sure, finding a great present for these peak toddler years is a little challenging because they’re not babies, not yet big kids — but that’s why you’re still reading this …
Do they have ice cream cake at the party? That’s cute. Wait until you come strolling in with Famous Oto’s vividly illustrated cardboard Ice Cream Truck. At 40″ x 36″ x 24″, the $59 rig’s big enough for toddlers to walk into and “drive,” and the website features a free license plate generator, so you can print as many vanity plates as you have ink for — distracting you while you wait for them to be old enough to hear that Eddie Murphy bit you can’t get out of your head.
Famous Oto’s Ice Cream Truck ($59)
Now that this 2-year-old has learned to walk, give his parents something to challenge their newfound footwork. See that old tree? Congratulations, it’s now a climbing wall. Better yet, now you’ve got a stairway to the treehouse. Kids have remarkable upper body strength for their tiny stature, so they won’t mind the climb. They will, however, dominate you in a pull-up contest.
Playkids Climbing Holds ($29)
Sago’s open-play apps essentially exist solely to, well, exist. Kids play without specific objectives, as in Sago Mini Friends, which mostly entails roaming the neighborhood, ringing doorbells if you want to go inside and eat pizza. That experience is now available in plush doll form; just check with the neighbors before letting your kid go door to door with their new toys, asking for pizza.
Sago Toys Mini Plush Gift Pack ($40)
You’re a parent, so coffee is good for you. Coffee made by a kid (if your kid happens to be this specific kid) is really good for you. And coffee made by that kid with a beech wood role-playing activity set is … well, imaginary, but damn it’s adorable. As is the rest of the Wooden Toys Collection, which promotes development in sorting, counting, stacking, music-making, and identifying a delightful a pastel color palette.
Fisher-Price Wooden Toys Collection ($8 And Up)
It’s the giant piano from Big. And since everyone loved Tom Hanks in Big (even though if you pulled that shit in FAO Schwarz now, security guards would finish “Chopsticks” for you). The birthday kid will too. Some things need an explanation and some things sell themselves. Now everyone together: “Shimmy shimmy coco puff…”
Giant Electronic Floor Mat Keyboard ($75)
Lost My Name‘s computer machines create unique narratives and illustrations based on birthday boy or girl’s name and hometown. Once that kid sees their name in stars and their house from Santa’s perspective — does it matter how it works? The only downside: They might start assuming everything is personalized. Good luck getting Chuck E. Cheese to spell their name in pepperoni.
Lost My Name Personalized Picture Books ($30)
If you want to attain baller status in the eyes of a 2-year-old, wheel in one of these things with a bow tied around it. The Early Rider Lite is a top-of-the-line kick bike for kids between 18 months and 3 and a half (or until they master the whole pedal-pushing thing). It even has a faux-leather seat and a goddam flame on the side. Who’s the cool “uncle” now?
Early Ride Lite 12″ (About $115)
There are a lot of subscription boxes out there (really, who needs to a subscription to chips?). But Green Piñata is the one that delivers kids 100-percent toxin-free, educational — and mostly wooden — toys proven to help them learn. Parents will be pleased because they’re renting, not permanantly storing. And for just $25 the kid will receive up to 5 new toys a month. If they refuse to part with that sweet train (yeah, because sweet trains are sweet), parents have the option to purchase it. All returns. All exchanges.
Green Piñata ($25 / month)