Written and provided by Rebecca Nichols

As a mom of 3 with another one due to arrive in just a few weeks, you can be sure we have tested and tried a boat load of toys. Over time, we’ve discovered that some of them real winners and some are just a waste of money and closet space. Here’s a list of some of my favorite toys and gifts that won’t get broken and thrown away before the crystal ball drops on New Year’s Eve. And some of them are even mess free! I know your little ones will love them too.

Magna Tiles-One of the best toys we have.  My kids have played with them from age 3 through 10, and they show no signs of losing interest. They allow for endless creativity! Other plusses: they’re easy to clean up but not to break!

Legos– While I do hate cleaning these boogers up, I do appreciate the time my kids spend playing with them. Initially, when they put a set together, they’re learning to follow directions, spatial reasoning and coordination. After that they can utilize their imaginations to create just about anything!

Jumbo cardboard blocks-Again, endless options for what these can become for kids-a skyscraper to be karate chopped to the ground, a car to take dollies on vacation, or throw a blanket over the top and you have a secret clubhouse! And they’re easy for little hands to grab and stack at clean up time.

Art supplies-You’ll be surprised at what your kids can create when you give them more than coloring books and markers. Try modeling clay, oil pastels, water colors, and some sturdy paper to house all of those creative masterpieces! You could also add a big book of ideas for art projects to do with all of those supplies.

Books-Give a child the gift of delving into another world or learning about something new. If there’s a book that was special to you as a child, share it with the next generation. Or give a book store gift card and allow him time to peruse the shelves and pick out his own adventure.

Walkie talkies-Sure, we live in the age of cell phones, but there’s nothing like tromping through the woods talking to your best friend over these old school goodies. Over and out.

Magazine subscription-Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Zoobooks, American Girl, there’s a magazine for every kid and every age! My kids love getting mail every month and also having something new to read.

Movie tickets-In our house, going to see a movie in the theater is a real treat. Make it a special family time event but let the recipient choose the movie.

Something special to do-Think tickets or even an annual membership to a play gym, zoo, aquarium, children’s museum, or theater. Membership bonus: many places have special events and discounts for members only.