We don't buy a lot of toys. I have found that kids play with the same ones over an over. And each child likes different toys. But the favorites always have one thing in common: they are open-ended. They can be used in many ways for many things. I no longer buy expensive toys that have only one purpose. The child may think they are going to love it. And they do. For about two days. Then they get bored with because it only does one thing.
Some of the favorite toys over the years have been cars, dolls, stuffed animals, blocks, magnets, purses, backpacks, figurines, tupperware, play kitchen, balls etc. All things that lead children to use their imagination.
Right now, and for the last several years, Mia has had a love affair with stuffed animals. She plays with them every. single. day. And you don't need fancy playthings for them as long as you don't mind your children using some of your grownup stuff.
This table is often "the jail" for wayward animals. They need some devotion books to correct their behavior!
My sisters and I used to make all kinds of Barbie items out of tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls.
Anna's favorite toy right now is a green purse. She carries it everywhere like a little old woman. She is constantly taking things out and putting new things in. She even takes it to bed!
We are keeping all this mind as we search for Christmas gifts for the girls. Mia will be getting a bike. Anna said she wanted her own iron, but I know that will only be used for about a day so we'll have to think of something more open-ended.