We here at the George totally understand budgeting concerns in these troubling times, which is why we're going to try to highlight toys and gifts that are particularly fun and affordable in this new feature. Whether you're a grandma who likes to bring a little something to the little (and not so little) relatives when you visit, or you're buying for your child's schoolmate's birthday party, or any other occasion where you just don't want to go empty-handed but can't break the bank, we have some surprisingly awesome affordable and quality options.
Gifts Under $ 20
Klutz activity books are renowned for their fun factor and easily understood instructions.
For girls who like to make jewelry, try Friendship Bracelets, which comes with embroidery floss, beads, and instructions for over a dozen kinds of bracelets. If you have a comic fan, try Quick Draw Flip Books, which contains an assortment of mini flip books with scenes to fill in.
For the more advanced jewelry aficionado, Alex's Native American Bead Loom is a kit to create gorgeously detailed beaded rings and bracelets. The loom and beading needle come with easy instructions and over 2,000 seed beads.
Watches are a safe, fun bet for children you don't know very well. We carry a few brands with designs that run the gamut from sports, horses and spiders, to trucks, puppies, and flowers.
Upstairs in our newly relocated games case, you can find I Spy Eagle Eye, Junior, a pre-reading I Spy matching game, great for families with some siblings that can read and some just learning.
In the baby room, the musical, light-up, spinning Bump'n'Go Alien from International Playthings has inspired many an impromptu dance from toddlers and staff alike. We dare you not to dance.
Gifts Under $ 10
Klutz, that super fun activity kit company I mentioned above, also makes a line of easy and safe craft kits for the younger crowd, called Chicken Socks (the line is Chicken Socks, I mean, but you could call your honeybunny crawler that too, I suppose). The possibilities range from a Superhero Starter Kit (comes with cape!) and a pop-out, scary Build Your Own Monsters to doll lovers' Clothespin Cuties and a fold-out Mermaid Palace.
Older artistes will enjoy the classic craft of Shrinky Dinks from Alex, with cool themes like robots, pirates, and cars & trucks. This activity requires adult supervision during the oven baking, but younger siblings can participate, too, as the shapes do not require cutting.
Who doesn't love stickers?? How about stickers you can reuse again and again? Peaceable Kingdom's Sticker Activity Fun Totes contain two scenes and dozens of reusable stickers, in many themes, including dinosaurs, farm animals, pirates, and horses. They also have sticker scenes for characters too: Curious George (of course!), Thomas the Tank Engine, and Dr. Seuss.
For the budding musician in your life, we have an assortment of instruments. For the classicist, try Schylling's Mini Piano, or Toysmith's Song Flute. For those wanting more unusual sounds, JackRabbit makes adorable yellow and purple Pufferfish Shakers. Schylling's tin music boxes, either decorated in primary colors or with farm scenes, are also fun for beginning bandmates...how slo-o-ow can you play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata or the Farmer in the Dell?
Move over, Rubber Ducky, the coolest toy for getting clean are Alex's Draw In The Tub Crayons! These crayons come in your basic six colors and can write on (and easily come off!) bath tiles and toddler bodies. Also try the Star Crayon, one graspable star with six different colors to create bathtub masterpieces.
Gifts Under $ 5
On those sunny, windy days that are soon upon us, nothing beats a Balsa Wood Glider soaring in the park. These simple planes are easy to assemble and easy to fly, and come in different styles, including Sky Streak Airplane, Starfire Glider, and Biplane Glider.
Toysmith's Scratch Board Art are great to entertain kids at restaurants or traveling: these lightweight boards don't need too much room or make a big mess. Scratching at the black and white lines reveals colorful designs. (I remember my babysitter used to make these with crayons, it was awesome scratching off the black to see what she'd drawn underneath.)
One of our biggest hits is one of our smallest items: Hogwild's colorful, animal-themed joined chopsticks! These are great for any kid (or adult) who has trouble with sushi, or for any picky eater. You can choose from dinosaurs, zoo or farm animals shapes.
I've saved my very favorite for the end: a lobster desk set! This small lobster opens up to reveal a crab paper clip, which in turn opens to reveal a frog eraser. No school supply box or executive corner office should be without this handy crustacean.