Over the years, I have developed little traditions of things that are usually toys to find myself or ask to receive at Christmas. I am a toy fanatic all year round, but that fanaticism really gets ramped up at Christmas. There’s other things I like, too, as you’ll see….:)
1) A Pony for Christmas.
Yep,I was one of those horse-crazy girls as a pre-teen,but, after learning how much space and expense a horse would take up, I thankfully was able to channel that desire elsewhere: Breyer Horses. I have many happy memories of checking off particular models in the Breyer foldout guides that came in each model’s box, planning my “stable” and thinking up names for the new arrivals.
I still have many of my Breyers and I have found older ones from my collecting era on eBay that I always liked but never got around to getting. A true discount buyer, I gladly take the dinged, scratched models that are offered for cheap. And at Christmas, I have found a bit of joy in looking specifically for Breyer ponies– usually older models– and either asking for them or getting them with Christmas money.
Breyer didn’t make a whole lot of ponies, though, especially in my collecting years of 70s—80s. So in looking for old ones, I often have to be satisfied with the same mold of pony, repainted as another release. Breyer’s old Shetland Pony, for instance, comes in many many colors on the same mold, and my 2016 Christmas Pony was one: a 1970s bay I named Cinnamon Roll.
On occasion, though, the Christmas Pony takes a different form and I find it as a plush toy. In 2017, for instance, when I visited Tractor Supply Company to get a gift card for my stepdad, I looked at their Breyer selection, but they were all new models, were horribly expensive, and did not pique my interest at all. I am just not into the new sculpts(not that they are not exquisitely done) done by the artists who took over after Breyer’s original sculptor, Chris Hess, retired.
However, on the way out, I stopped by the stocking stuffer bins and…
….there he was. My Christmas Pony. A huggable,flopsy “dolly” sort of pony,bay with white socks and a face full of mischief. On sale for half off the original price, the pony was ripe for the taking and I left the store with a gift card and a happy little roly-poly bag-of-beans pony cuddled under my arm.
2)Rescued Teddy Bears.
I usually “rescue” several teddies each year from Goodwill and thrift stores and take them home and give them a good hot wash in the machine. Some I keep, and others I donate. Where I donate them is a closely guarded secret.
My favorites of these are JC Penney’s teddy bears, made in the 90s and sold in their stores at Christmas. They are large, terrifically burly,and cuddly. They also represent some of the last great teddy bears before they all began to be made with much more cheap-feeling plush, became spindly and “beany”, and their eyes all became too close together.
I usually end up with three or four of these second-hand teddies. After they are washed I usually rotate taking them to bed with me.Yes,I still sleep with a teddy bear. Christmas 2016 I found a very large blonde teddy I named Blondi, and in cold winter weather he is wonderful to cuddle. He is very large and firmly stuffed, so he also lends some support to my gimpy arm, which aches a lot.
I also look for teddy bears from the 80s, which were made at the time I first started collecting them. These were made by Gund, Dakin, North American Bear Company, Commonwealth and Avanti, to name a few. These I find on eBay after the holiday with money or eBay gift cards I received.
My favorite novelty Christmas song is “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”, and although I don’t initiate it too much any more, I always get a kick out of receiving a toy hippo in some fashion. Sometimes a ceramic figure shows up, and once I got a little squeaky toy.
At one of my favorite antique malls at Christmas 2017, I won a $20 gift certificate by singing the Hippo Christmas song, so it’s even more dear to me now.
I usually prefer a more realistic hippo in these cases,i.e., on all fours, and it’s a big bonus if the mouth is open!
4)An Elephant Doll.
I had a lot of stuffed toys growing up. They were always my favorite things to play with. I still have a lot and they remain very dear to me. Some remind me of the person who gave them to me or I place I visited when I got them. But three of my very first ones were elephants. One was on all fours and in a kind of realistic pose,and the other two were “dolly”- like, in a sort of teddy bear pose. One of those two was large, and gray and white with big blue eyes.
The other was very small and was half pink, half blue, divided down the middle. I forget his name, but I was only about three or four when I got him. He was made of Vellux,which is what these velvety but rubbery blankets are made from that have been around since maybe the fifties. Long story short, Vellux disintegrates. My little elephant, the more I played with and cuddled him,began to crumble before my eyes and even irritated my hands. My mother’s mother had given to me not long before her death, and I was very upset that her gift to me was literally falling apart before my eyes. My mother opted to put him in a plastic bag and pack him away in a feeble attempt to save him, but when I opened the bag years later, all that was left were his plastic eyes in a pile of dust. I have no photos of me with him, but I remember the small elephant with crystal clarity.
I loved my elephant toys so much, and I really love seeking out an elephant doll at Christmas. This habit often carries over into Valentine’s Day, as there are SO many elephant Valentine plush toys. (They usually are holding a heart that reads “I love you a ton” or “Big Love”).
5)A Christmas toy animal that isn’t the usual Christmas animal–an Oddball!
Plenty of Christmas toy plush is made in likenesses of teddy bears, kittens, generic puppies, snowmen, reindeer, Santas and penguins. I like to look for Christmas animals you don’t see every day..lizards, skunks,buffalos, etc.. Now that llamas are so popular now, that became my 2017 Oddball Christmas Animal, but that may become its own category eventually.
6)A Ridiculous Holiday Mug.
A new tradition I just started this year, this has been great fun to take on. I would use said doofy mug to drink my hot cocoa from all season. My original idea, however, was to get a mug so ridiculous that I would be fine with packing it away with the year’s fun Christmas stuff and I would get a new one next year.
My Christmas 2017 mug,first try,was this really fab red mug with a gold and white unicorn in a Santa hat. It ended up being pretty delicate, mainly because of the gold paint. I ended up putting it on my desk to hold the multitude of Hershey’s Kisses that always comes my way at Christmas.
So I tried again. This time I found a darling mug with a wee narwhal hanging on the side, with the front of the mug reading “Let’s Chill”. I love narwhals, so even though it’s a pretty unusual mug, it’s far too cute to pack away..I’m still using it.
7)Holiday Lip Balm.
One of my favorite non-toy items to get in my stocking as a kid were lip balms and lip gloss with a holiday theme..Christmas scents and flavors like peppermint, egg nog and gingerbread. Brands like Lip Smackers, even if they’re “supposed” to be for young girls, are still loved by all ages. You’re never too old for Lip Smackers!
Novelty lip glosses like the round pods made to look like little characters or the noses in this reindeer and Santa are also wonderful! The problem is, is that I always want to get two—one to use, and one to keep in the cute packaging!
8)A Toy Shark.
I collect toy sharks,too. I usually prefer realistic or semi-realistic ones and I still have some from my childhood dotting the shelves of our shark-themed bathroom.
9)Art and Craft Kits.
No Christmas is complete without getting some little art and craft kit, even if it’s just a suncatcher, painting and ornament or bank, or pompom animal kit. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to actually DOING them, but that would be a fun set of blog posts in themselves, so I should. 🙂
10) A Beanbag Tiger.
I had two beanbag tigers as a kid and they accidentally got put into a “give away” bin and I was very sad. I had a whole troupe of stuffed toys, of course, and they were the two adventurers. I found EXACTLY what they were on ebay in these (expired) pics. These tigers were made by Dakin and their bodies were all-in-one with their little t-shirts(they were sewn into them). The shirts said any number of things–they must have been popular with companies that had tiger mascots, as I have seen them with a different other logos and sayings. My two were just like these: One’s shirt had the Clemson logo (I called him Clem) and the other was “I’m a little TUFFY!” and I called him Tuffy, of course. I would LOVE to find them again.
Unicorns are everywhere now, and I am taking full advantage of it. I tend to like “on all fours” unicorns and I like toys and figurines, but this unicorn dolly was so very very nice, I picked up one.
12) A “Warm and Cozy” plush. These toys with heatable inserts sell online for twice as much, but every winter they show up at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s stores for $12 and under. They are so wonderful to hold and although I haven’t heated the inserts that velcro into their bodies, I hear the effect is very pleasant. I have a couple that are elephants, unicorns and I have seen a hippo! I see that there is a dinosaur, so I may have to track this one down:
After Christmas, I scored a tiger on super-clearance, so that took care of beanbag tiger AND Warm & Cozy. 😀