It seems that Christmas descends upon us earlier every year: it feels as though no sooner than the clocks have gone back, do the mince pies appear on supermarket shelves and the faint sound of jingle bells are heard ringing in the distance.
Whether you welcome it with open arms, or attempt to run away screaming "Bah, Humbug!" you cannot deny that Christmas is fast approaching. And with Christmas comes the task of finding presents for the kids.
Every year, a new toy craze grips the nation and the latest must-have is seen on every wish list, much to the bemusement of many parents across the country.
However, amongst the annual madness that is Christmas present-buying, we've often wondered whether it's the old favourites that win out year after year. We can all remember some of the favourite Christmas gifts we received as children, and we might even consider buying them for our own kids.
Top 10 childrens' Christmas gifts that stand the test of time
We attempt to answer a huge question: which gifts are truly timeless? We've thought about it and compiled a top ten list of the most memorable gifts that never get old...
A good storybook
Every child loves a story, and some of the best stories are the classics. One of our team still remembers how excited she was when receiving a beautifully illustrated anthology of traditional fairytales one year at Christmas; she was even more excited when her parents sat down to read it with her, complete with silly voices for all the different characters.
Since books are an all-ages item, it's easy to find a story to strike the imagination of the most computer-fixated individual, whatever their age! Stories are also a brilliant way to spend time together with the family whilst getting your children interested in reading, and a great way of broadening their vocabulary, too.
Like a great story, a good cuddly toy stays with you forever. There's a cuddly toy out there for every unique little personality, be it a bear, a cute bunny, or something completely unconventional (duck-billed platypus, anyone?) and they make fantastic companions for bedtimes and on long journeys. Some even make it as far as college and get passed down from generation to generation!
The cuddly toy truly is the unsung hero of the toy box, and there are so many different ways to create your own personalised cuddly toy that it's bound to be loved.
There's nothing more exciting than an outfit with your kids' favourite cartoon character or animal on it that actually doubles up as a functional piece of clothing to keep warm in during the cooler winter nights.
A nifty set of pyjamas can make the most reluctant of children a willing participant when the words 'bed' and 'time' are uttered. Even teenagers appreciate the gift of a trendy T-shirt and shorts combo or night-dress, and there's a style to suit everyone. Why not really get into the Christmas spirit and find a matching set for all the family? Go on, it is the season to be jolly, after all...
The world of board games is an expansive one that's suitable for all ages. The very nature of board games being played by more than one person at a time means they are sociable; they help to teach children valuable lessons in turn-taking and patience, showing them that it's not always possible for us to get our own way, nor is it possible for us to win all the time. Board games are crucial to the process of forming our children's acceptance of the fact that sometimes we lose, and that it's OK when it happens.
Even if that's not your main reason for giving a board game as a gift, there's always the fact that they are just great fun for all the family to share in.
Bicycles have come a long way since the penny-farthing, and they are as great a gift idea now as they were in times gone by. In recent years, there's been a growing interest in cycling, especially following the Olympics.
Why not capitalise on the trend by giving your child a bicycle? It's a brilliant way to get them interested in sports and exercise, and - again - is a hobby that spans all ages. Start your little one off with a training model that can be kitted out with brightly-coloured stabilisers.
For older kids, there are some snazzy multi-gear models available, or why not try a fixed gear model for the retro style that's fashionable amongst teens at the moment? If you're a handy individual you could even find an old bike and fix it up for Christmas morning.
From simple wooden or plastic lift-out items for babies, to a 1000 piece mind-boggler for the more advanced jigsaw fan, you can't go wrong with a puzzle.
Puzzles are fantastic for improving attention-spans (and determination), and the ideal everyday activity for all the family to share in - the feeling of satisfaction achieved when completing a massive and tricky puzzle is a gift in itself! Hunt down a 3D puzzle for the most ambitious of children: again, there are so many cool different structures to make. Budding architects can attempt to piece together the Eiffel Tower, or maybe the whole globe. Just make sure you keep track of all the pieces.
Spanning all ages, building and construction toys such as Duplo or K'Nex are great for developing both fine and gross motor skills. Multi-shape construction sets make shape recognition a fun activity, and if you're looking for your little ones to engage in something out of the ordinary, there are so many unusual building shapes out there with different materials or textures for an-all round sensory experience.
And how could we forget the most famous of them all? Lego is great for when the kids get slightly older, which is a timeless set in itself - some of the sternest grown-ups we know still enjoy the occasional Lego exploration.
How many of you have had competitions to see who can build the tallest free standing structure? We know we have!
Learning to tell - and keep - the time is a skill learned in childhood that is lifelong and crucial. A fun and vibrant watch is a super gift when you're trying to promote an interest in reading the time; whether you're going for style or function, a watch is a gift that is memorable and one we hold onto for many years.
Remember to think about your child's development level when choosing a watch - it won't do them any favours to have a digital watch before they can read analogue time!
Dolls and figurines
Dolls are always a hit at Christmas, though much has changed from the days where all a doll did was stare blankly into space. These days, there are dolls that walk, talk, and even cartwheel.
The entertainment industry has created lifelike imitations of some of the most famous stars; many pop groups offer mini-versions of themselves in doll form, which are fun to be played with or nice to be kept in their boxes as memorabilia for hardcore fans. From retro figurines to kids from the cabbage patch, we know that many of us still have ours packed in a box to pass along to our children or taking pride of place on a bedroom shelf - Do you still have yours?
This is a really widely categorised gift and can include anything from crayons and a sketch pad to a crafts kit. Art-related items make great gifts because they're a wonderful way to get children engaged in something that's fun, but isn't the TV or a computer.
The scope for creativity has really widened in recent years, and can be incorporated into bedroom decorations. Why not give an arty gift that encourages large-scale design? If your little ones are fans of scribbling on your beautifully painted walls, you could persuade them to channel their flair for doodling onto a specifically designated area - blackboard paint is something you can apply to any surface to create an instant feature in any room.
What is your idea of the best Christmas gift?
What do you consider to be the most timeless Christmas gifts for children?
We'd love to hear which gifts you received that made a huge impression on you as a child, or even the memorable gifts you're planning on giving your children this year!
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