After Christmas, I received a few messages via Instagram about our play kitchen. It was our big ticket gift for our little ones, one which we said Santa did not bring — he just brought the goodies to stock it 😉 I read an interesting take about Christmas this past holiday season that resonated with me. Some random man shouldn’t bestow crazy gifts on your kids once a year. YOU should (within reason, of course). Santa can bring other goodies, but it makes sense that some guy they don’t think about 330 days of the year gets all the credit. A play kitchen doesn’t fit down a chimney anyway!
Back to the topic at hand: I scored a great deal on a dreamy play kitchen for our kids during the Columbus Day sale madness last fall. Since we have a very open floor plan and don’t currently have a “play room”, I wanted to make sure I didn’t mind looking at it a lot. My husband said it was relatively easy to assemble. (Warning: you will need a good place to hide it. We almost had a few discoveries during the week leading up to Christmas!) I’ve been thrilled with the scale and function of the kitchen so far. I like that each unit is separate, rather than connected, because it gives us flexibility to move it around a bit. Above all, our little ones are able to use it independently, without constantly asking for help to open doors or drawers.
I will share all of the food and cooking tools currently in their play kitchen below — even if you don’t plan to do a full play kitchen, there are lots of fun gift ideas for littles ones in this post! Here we go…
It could be the years I spent working at my local grocery store in high school, but I loved finding fun food items to fill their cupboards. My goal was to stay away from plastic food, if at all possible. The Antsy Pants brand at Target has become a quick favorite. These donuts, ice cream sandwiches, hot dogs, and strawberries are amazing in person. There are a ton of other fun options from that brand and they’re holding up beautifully, so score!
I also grabbed this hot cocoa set and cookie set from Magnolia at Target. (I think the hot cocoa is sold out, but the cookies are still online!) While we’re talking Target, Melissa & Doug also hit it out of the park with this pasta set. I had a friend recommend it to me — and she was spot-on. There is a ton of sorting and organizing fun to be had! Note: it does include some plastic items, but you can choose to use them or not.
Predictably, Etsy is also the home to an amazing treasure trove of felt food and wooden food. A few of my favorite shops include: FeltFoodTruck, FarmFreshToys, Marché73, LittleGreenMarket, and CuddleBearBaby. It’s hard not to buy it ALL. Shipping isn’t always immediate though, so plan ahead! I anticipate buying other seasonal items (like Valentine’s cookies) as the year marches on — it will keep them interested in this kitchen investment, I like to think.
IKEA also has some amazing (and CHEAP) felt food, including veggies, fruit, and other goodies. We had these long before we had our kitchen and they still look new. (I also love to give these as gifts!)
Last but not least, we are using these wire baskets to organize our food. If you purchase in store, they can be tricky to find. Take a peek on the aisle where all the toothbrush holders are — they like to hide them there!
Green Toys always has fantastic options for cooking tools, though their colors can be a little out there. Rosie has this tea set (as well as this cupcake set). I was able to find them on the sale racks at our local Marshall’s, so be on the lookout!
Little chefs need aprons, so I snagged two of these classic red gingham aprons for James and Rose. (I paid attention to the sales and even got free personalization.) I’m kind of obsessed. They came with matching oven mitts and dish towels. Unfortunately, they’re not available any more on the website. My guess is that they were a seasonal item. I just liked that they were rather gender neutral and not too obnoxious.
Everything is better in miniature, so I had to grab these Le Creuset play utensils and dutch ovens. Word to the wise, these aren’t as durable as they are cute. Rosie dropped one of the dutch ovens and it only has one handle now… womp. (Also, I know that the suggested age is much higher than my children, but I will obviously be observing them. I might actually play with them more than they will!)
Once folks knew we were doing the kitchen for Christmas, we also received a few other accessories to stock their kitchen. This kitchen accessories set and this condiment caddy have both been big winners. James and Rose are both fascinated with the hot sauce and how it does not come out of the bottle. (I just keep praying the sauce stays inside! ha!) Rosie also received THE cutest tea sandwiches, sparkly croissants, and kitty tea set from one of her aunties. They’re the absolute cutest — and also unbreakable. WIN!
Funny aside: I had a close friend tell me NOT to get these metal pans because they’re all you’ll hear for years to come. I laughed because I knew exactly what she meant, though I must admit they had been in my shopping cart.
My goal will be to keep this post “living” — meaning that if I find something wonderful, I will add it here. At the end of the day, our goal was truly to offer James and Rose the chance to use their imaginations. This kitchen is helping them play better together and create some off-the-wall recipes. I vividly remember my own play kitchen from childhood, so my sincere hope is that James and Rose will too. I’ll ask them in 20 years 😉
What other kitchen items do your little ones love to use?
Betsy Transatlantically says
My husband’s family does Christmas the way you describe – Father Christmas fills the stockings, but the big presents under the tree are from real people. I like the idea of coordinating with Santa so the stocking presents and the people presents go together!
Two years ago, my husband and I made our granddaughter a kitchen sink and stove from an old set of nightstands I had picked up for $40. They came out adorable and she loved them! I filled it with Melissa &Doug food and tools. Thank you for other optipns. I am always looking for something to add to the food choices for birthdays, etc.