It's been more than a month since Christmas. The presents are all broken, lost, or forgotten about, right?
Not at our house.
For the first time in my life, I scored with my kids' presents. I've had many failures in the past (let's not even talk about the marble track from 2012 . . . ), and certainly not every present from this year reached "favorite status."
But two of the presents have just kept on giving and giving and giving: Perler Beads and Magformers
Perler beads have been around for a long, long time. I never actually owned any pegboards or beads as a child, but many of my friends did.
Aaron made his first Perler creation at his cousin's house a few months ago, and it was the one gift he consistently asked for through the month of December (aside from the infamous "bullet gun.") He is my kid who would happily do crafts all day long if I let him, so I was sold on the Perler bead idea from the beginning.
I had to laugh when, a few weeks before Christmas, I was at a toy exchange and one of the moms (without knowing about my Christmas gift-giving plans) said: "Whatever you do, do NOT give your child Perler beads. Those things are awful! You'll be sweeping them up for the rest of your life, and every time someone bumps the table before he's done, his creation will get scattered all over, and he'll be crying his eyes out."
I'm so glad I didn't follow her advice because I don't know if Aaron has ever received a better present (maybe his bike, but it's been hibernating in the garage for the last three months). I'm not lying when I say he has made at least one thing from Perler beads almost every day since Christmas. This proves it:
Perler bead website. He has also come up with his own ideas, like this toothbrush and pencil:
Maxwell has also joined in, although not with quite the same obsessive fervor as Aaron. At this point, the only thing I can see stopping them is if they run out of beads. And then I will happily buy more.
And then Magformers.
Do you know about these things? They come in a variety of shapes (squares, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, etc.) and are magnetized on all sides. I first saw them at the Children's Museum a couple of years ago and wanted to buy a set right then and there at the over-priced gift store. I didn't, but I've wanted to invest in a set ever since.
Sadly, they're really expensive (like almost $1/piece), and so every time I thought of getting a set, I realized I could only afford the smallest ones, and it just seemed like it wouldn't be that much fun with only 15 pieces to work with.
Anyway, this year I felt like the time had finally come to splurge and buy a big set. But it was kind of a leap of faith because, in spite of my hints and prodding, none of the boys actually asked for them (but then, Maxwell didn't really ask for anything).
It was totally worth the investment! The Magformers have been played with daily. They are durable and versatile. Even two-year-old Bradley can make fun things. Plus, I didn't realize it when we originally decided to get them, but these things clean up easier than any other toy we own. They basically clean themselves up because they all bind together, so then you just pick up a gigantic clump of them and throw them in the bin. As much as I love Legos, these things take the cake when it comes to picking them up.
Seriously, I thought they were expensive at the time, but now the price seems well worth it in comparison with the product I got. I have been so amazed with all the 3-D shapes the boys have made. And it has definitely been the popular toy when we've had people over (both children and adults).
So yes, I'm patting myself on the back a little bit. At this rate, we won't even have to think about Christmas presents for next year.
And the infamous "bullet gun"? It can't even begin to compete in popularity.
P.S. And just to be perfectly clear, this is not a sponsored post. I don't think Perler beads or Magformers need my help endorsing them, but I'll do it just the same.