Home for the Holidays is sponsored by City of Opelika in Opelika, Alabama.
Molly Curlee founded beloved Midwestern-based boutique City Sprouts 15 years ago — at a time when her oldest daughter, Maxine, was just 18 months old.
“She was my inspiration,” Curlee says. “At that time, it was very difficult to find good quality wooden toys and non-traditional children’s attire.”
Before City Sprouts, Curlee owned a gift shop in St. Louis called Phoenix Rising, but she always knew there was a market for fun kids’ clothes and toys that weren’t battery-operated — a consideration many parents are also mulling over in a year that requires more virtual learning and socializing than ever. With Curlee’s expertise in helping customers shop for children during the holiday season (and beyond), she recommends several gift ideas to spark creativity and imagination this year.
Whether buying for a boy or a girl, Curlee says one can’t go wrong with an arts and craft kit featuring easy-to-understand instructions. Her favorite kits this giving season – all of which are available at the City Sprouts website – include Lego Gear Bots which allows children to build moveable “bots,” a sparkly mermaid soap craft set, a fun and fuzzy headband salon and a night light-making kit.
Curlee also recommends toys that teach early STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts, such as a memory match game, a coordination game like Curve Bowl and Klutz Circuit Clay.“[For instance, kids] can incorporate LED lights into [the Klutz Circuit Clay set], so they learn a bit about circuits and electricity,” Curlee says.
Getting kids outside and in touch with nature is also a great way to get them off screens, Curlee says. For instance, she recommends a gift like a pocket swing, which allows your child to turn any tree into a swing set.
“I think it’s important for kids to unplug because with virtual education, they are on screens most of the day,” she says. “These toys will get them to use their imaginations and get them outside.”
For toys that allow kids to create and mold their own fun, Curlee recommends something with endless creative opportunities, such as a necklace-making kit that features mix-and-match materials or one of her shop’s most popular items this year – a large wooden Maileg mouse house with accompanying accessories.
“This kind of toy has open-ended play possibilities,” Curlee says. “Kids can be creative with their imaginative play. There are no rules!”