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Christmas gift ideas for preschoolers

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Christmas is possibly a much bigger deal for preschoolers than any other age group.

Babies won't remember it, school kids have heard of Father Christmas before and the older kids - well they are just too cool.

However for the three to five age group, Christmas is a magical, exciting time.

Waking up on Christmas morning for your preschooler will be one of the highlights of the year and waiting in anticipation for the pressies to be dished out will cause much excitement.

While there are heaps of awesome gifts for preschoolers out there the most difficult part will be choosing just one.

Maybe they are into Barbie, or soft toys, at this stage their likes and dislikes might not be completely solidified yet.

If you really want to get a preschooler something really special this year, look at fun educational or developmental toys.

If buying presents for a preschooler other than your own, it might be a good idea to check in with mum and dad about their thoughts, what their little one might need, or what he or she already has.

Smart toy ideas

We asked a few retailers what they thought their best sellers would be this Christmas and this is what they came back with:

Themed: Whether you like her or not, Barbie is always a hit with little girls; other Disney characters are also popular, like Minnie Mouse, or the Disney princesses. If the preschooler has moved from a baby room into a toddler room, find out if the room is themed. If the bed spread and curtains are all about Cars, or Barbie- you could find a gift in the same theme.

New friends: Favourite toys and sleeping companions are more likely to be sought out by pre-school kids. Who knows- the soft, cuddly companion you gift this Christmas could become a life long companion. Soft toys aren't just for girls, Farms has a great range of soft friend- check out Funny Frank.

Clothes: By this stage, parents of preschoolers would probably love the gift of clothes as their active little player grows and wears theirs out. Have a look at summer ideas too (like swimming costumes, or sun hats) or add some fun with cool slippers.

 Development: The ground work for school is being laid down now, so developmental toys will be great for young minds. There are techno options, like the Infra-Red Inter- Reactive with learning keyboard, or good old favourites like a dolls house.

Outdoors: Any preschooler's best pastime is playing, from beach buckets to sand pits or mini scooters - there are a host of gift options available that encourage outside play.

Think outside the Christmas box

Spread the Christmas cheer out: With so many awesome gift options, if you have a preschooler, they are sure to be spoilt by family. With so many gifts, it can get quite overwhelming for your little one and it is impossible for them to play with all their gifts at once. Why not keep a few a spread them out over the next few months? Add to the fun and wrap the present some more (even if it's just with newspaper). Play "pass the parcel" with them on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Not only will the game be a source of fun and excitement, but discovering a new, exciting toy at the end will keep them occupied for ages.

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On a tight budget? If your budget is a bit stretched you can still put together fun parcels. Pick up a plastic bucket or cover a box with wrapping paper and fill it with gifts you can pull out on a rainy day. Every pre-schooler loves to colour in and get creative. You can pick up some colouring in books, finger pains, crayons and glitter from the Two Dollar store.

Lunch box treats: This is something both you and the preschooler will enjoy - down every aisle of every supermarket there are products - carefully thought up by greedy advertising executives to put mum in a tight spot- Dora The Explora fruit nibbles, Toy Story lunch wrap, Batman chippies, Cars lollies. Full up a box with these "special treats" for a Christmas gift. Not only will the child love them, but the next time they are shopping with mum, as soon as their little eyes light up on the (often overpriced) merchandise, she can remind them they have a whole box of the special treats at home.

Dress up time: Take a look at the Two Dollar Store, or scrounge around your Halloween suitcase, you could put together a fantasy wardrobe second to none without spending heaps of money. Again, this is a gift that will not only keep the child entertained for hours, but will stimulate their imaginations.

Tell us what was the best Christmas gift your preschooler ever received?

- Essential Mums

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