Toddlers will begin to realise that there's something unusual going on come the 25th of December, and it's something pretty darn exciting! They might not fully understand what Christmas is all about but all those gifts, sparkly decorations, yummy foods and being fussed over by friends and relatives definitely make this a day for all the family to remember.
What to consider:
During this period, children are learning to walk and talk, along with other slightly less welcome skills such as how to throw almighty tantrums, or wind parents up by chucking their turkey dinner on the floor. Play involves exploring the world around them, or indeed making their own worlds up. It will also often be about pretending and copying the grown-ups in their lives.
Toddlers will start to play with a wider variety of things than babies who are usually quite happy with the same two or three toys all the time. Ride-on 'vehicles', rocking horses, basic building blocks, simple puzzles and anything which lets them be a bit noisy, such as a music set, are popular with one to three-year-olds.
Children this age don't have very long attention spans, so avoid buying toys which require lots of concentration or have fiddly bits which little fingers might struggle to pick up.
If you're shopping for gifts for someone else's child and aren't sure whether they've already got something similar or will enjoy a particular toy, don't be afraid to ask the parents. If you'd rather go it alone, consider what the child concerned is like – are they quiet and contemplative (wooden peg puzzles, activity toys and board books they can look at the pictures in or have a grown-up read to them) or the type who never, ever sit still (think ride-on vehicles, scooters, fast moving cars they can chase after)? Keep receipts just in case.
Try not to stick to gender stereotypes – toddlers' tastes in toys are usually still pretty unisex.
Avoid tiny toys and those with very small pieces as they can be a choking hazard for under threes - check age guidelines on packaging or with shop staff.
Clothing makes a good present for toddlers – they're still too young to complain that they'd have preferred toys! But keep it brightly-coloured and with kid appeal (a T-shirt with a funky pattern or bold picture) if possible.