Support local, shop small, buy smart

Sure, you can order a bunch of popular toys from Amazon this holiday season— toys that your child will surely love…and then promptly forget about over time— or you can focus on buying local, supporting small businesses, and surrounding your child with educational toys that will outlast the Trolls fervor. 

Our Holiday Gift Guide lists some of our favorite educational toys for the kids and products from local businesses for the adults on your list. With the coronavirus pandemic negatively impacting many local and small businesses, your dollars could go a long way to helping our Toledo area community. 

Shop Small and Local 

Axiom Lux

Axiom Lux artisan botanicals— salves, teas, and more— are affordable, locally made, and from a small, mama-owned business. The Relaxation Salve ($10) helps calm down little ones and aids in falling sleep for adults, and the Kiddo Pain Salve ($10) is perfect for sole muscles and growing pains. The Muscle Gel ($20), as effective as China Gel or Tiger’s Balm but made locally, is the perfect complement to your workout routine.

Flying Rhino Coffee

For 15 years, Flying Rhino has been one of the area’s great stops for coffee lovers. Offering ethically-sourced specialty coffees from around the world, all roasted, packaged and brewed by experts right in downtown Toledo. It’s clear why this little coffee shop has become a go-to destination for many Toledoans. Give the gift of Rhino! 201 Morris St., Suite G. 419-378-1798.

For Her By Her” Subscription Box

HerHub and Women of Toledo have compiled the first local subscription box dedicated to supporting NW Ohio and SE Michigan women-owned businesses and artists. HerHub selects one artist to design the box with each quarterly subscription. The November box, which will be the first, highlights ten female business owners and seven products curated locally. The “For Her, By Her” subscription box is a creative and fun way to support local businesses. 

Forte Music School

Give the gift that never breaks and make a lasting memory this season–give that special little one in your life music lessons! Forte Music School is the largest music school in Toledo, and they offer private lessons in person or online, to students of all ages. No matter who is on your Christmas list, they have you covered. Gift certificates are available so you can get them started on their dreams, whether it’s guitar, piano, drums, singing, or more!

Imagination Station Science2Go! 

For all the fun, educational toys you can imagine, visit Science2Go!, which now offers online shopping. New Science Mystery Boxes offer a range of hands-on science activities that will get anyone excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Other toys include Make Your Own Mermaid, reusable sticker scenes, YOU’niverse Unicorn Poop, and more!

Jūpmode Supply

Support Jūpmode plus your favorite Toledo spots, like Ye Old Durty Bird, Metroparks Toledo, Balance Pan Asian Grille and more, by buying an incredibly soft tee, tank, or sweatshirt. Jupmode tees and tanks are soft, snug but not tight, and don’t ride up. Kids’ sizes available in some styles.

Yogaja Shop

Independently-owned yoga studios and gyms are suffering during the coronavirus pandemic as fewer are exercising indoors due to the pandemic, but buying yoga accessories and athleisure wear can still help support them. Yogaja Shop has popular athletic brand clothing, yoga props/accessories, candles, lotions, jewelry, and my personal favorite: RAD rollers for fascia release and deep tissue massage. Shop in store, order delivery (locally only) or choose curbside pickup. Yogaja.Shop

Educational Kids Toys 

The Amazing Tightrope-Walking Gyrobot

Oggle the astonishing powers of the gyroscope by building a robot that walks along a tightrope, using gyroscopic forces to keep its balance. Kids over 6 are able to construct the robot on their own, and you can then test the balance of the robot on its tightrope, on your finger, on a pole, and dangling from a string. The kit includes parts to build the robot and experimental setups, including a frame for the tightrope. Ages 6+. $39.95. Available at Imagination Station and HobbyTown (Holland). 

Crazy Aaron’s Putty

If your children don’t own putty, buy this now. Use it for sensory play, in the car to keep kids occupied, or as a fun way to practice letters. Use the GhostWriters putty to practice ABC’s or spelling words, using the included Glow Charger to write with light, and then let your kids watch in amazement as the letters disappear. The Scentsory collection putty, which comes in a smaller tin and at lower price point, smells delicious and lasts forever. Ages 3+. $7-$15. Available at Target and Learning Express.

Shore Buddies Plush Line

If your little one loves animals and snuggly toys, Shore Buddies is a wonderful option, especially for the environmentally-conscious. The stuffed animals are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles; six plastic bottles are used to make one 12″ stuffed animal. Choose from characters like Sammy the Seal, Stephen Seagull, Shelly the Sea Turtle and Finn the Dolphin. Each animal has its own unique authentic sound when pressed. All ages. $19.95. Available at

Tiger Tribe Activity Sets 

Tiger Tribe activity sets are a subtle way to introduce kids to mindfulness, get them up and moving, and inspire them to engage with the great outdoors. The Outdoor Activity Set (5+, $14) can be used to explore our Toledo Metroparks on hikes or bike rides. The Beat the Clock Set motivates kids to move and allows them to practice time and math skills. Besides coming with accessories (magnifying glass and stopwatch, respectively), the self-contained box sets include a book with unique ideas for things to investigate or time, as well as space to record multiple results. Available at Beacon Gift Shop (Oregon).

Erin Schoen Marsh
Erin Schoen Marsh
Erin is a writer/editor, yoga teacher, and mama to two little ones.

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