It’s that time of year again, the TV adverts encourage us to order furniture now and get delivery by Christmas, and we see a flurry of Top Toys for Christmas lists.

But what do these lists mean or achieve? If your children see them do they invoke their rights to pester power and demand all the toys on the list be delivered in their festive stockings? And do the buyers really look at the toys themselves before deciding whether or not to buy?

What type of toys are on these lists. Many of them feature products from the major manufacturers, often licensed products from this year’s blockbuster kids’ films. Another feature of these lists are that they will be heavily advertised on children’s tv channels.

Is there an alternative? Why not consider a gift of a toy or game that does not rely on heavy advertising or a license?

Have you thought about a traditional wooden toy? There are many wooden toys which will bring hours of fun for children, and many will help to encourage their hand-eye coordination, or colour matching, or stacking skills. Gifting a child a letter or number jigsaw will help them to recognise and become familiar with letters or numbers, and this will help them learn while they are having fun. Don’t forget also that many wooden toys may have a theme, for example colour and shape matching, but also offer the opportunity for free play, very important in a child’s development. Who remembers buildings models as a child, there are now low of great wooden versions on the market, and continuing the educational theme, some have booklets explaining the history of the model.

Games and puzzles offer children the opportunity to interact with others, enhancing their social skills, but having fun at the same time. Card and board games are available for children from very young ages, where the parent or carer helps the child to understand the concept, before leaving them to play on their own. There are memory games, games with lots of action , or the quieter strategy based games. Board games can also be educational, helping with maths or geography. Don’t forget also that some board games are cooperative, where the players must join forces to reach a common goal. Many parents see these games as a welcome alternative to the winner takes all type of game.

We can also take the opportunity to give a gift that will become treasured, that the baby or child will have as a keepsake. Here you might consider a lovely soft plush toy or perhaps a baby comforter blanket. There are lots of lovely plush toys on offer, beautifully designed and well packaged, which will become a family favourite.

So perhaps there are alternatives to the ‘must have ‘ top 10 lists, let’s reflect and really look at the toy or gif we are giving, and ask ourselves if that is something the child receiving it will really enjoy and treasure.