Here's my top five favorite toys based on what my kids love and play with, and also that I just really like. These aren't in any particular order; just what comes to mind first.
#1 Folkmanis Puppets. These are some of the most beautiful stuffed animals I have seen, and they have the bonus of being puppets as well. All my kids love them, and I don't think you can ever grow out of them. I know my nieces who are 10 and 12 still play with theirs.
#2 Lego's. I loved them as a kid, and still love them. Now Anna spends hours playing with hers. She likes to build a house, and then use it like a doll's house for hours of play.
#3 Lee Middleton Play Babies. My sister got two of these for her daughters one Christmas, and I fell in love. Lee Middleton Dolls are beautiful collectors dolls that are not meant to be played with by children, but a few years ago they came out with their "Play Babies" line, that are designed for children. Last Christmas I got Anna and Abriel ones. Anna's is designed for children about six or older, since it has wigged hair. It is beautiful, and she is now known as "Lizzie". Abriel's doll is designed for children one year or up, and for that reason is bald, but she has a very soft body, and I was able to get a brown eyed one that looks like Abriel. It's hard to find fair skinned brown eyed baby dolls.
#4 Books. OK, I know these aren't technically toys, but my kids get one every Christmas, and they are definitely good for hours of entertainment. Anna has a large bookshelf full of them, and the babies have a little one. The babies can't get enough of them right now, so they make great car toys. Anna gets car sick though, so even though she brings books along to read, it isn't long before she starts looking green.
#5 Stacking cups. I didn't have a set of these with Anna, so I don't know if it's just the twins who are so gaga over them, but they play with these more than any one toy. They "cook" with them, carry things around, have tea parties, and of course, stack them. They have a plastic set right now, and I am getting them a pretty wooden set for Christmas.
What should be on this list, but isn't yet is a truck. Samuel has a few, and he loves them, but I haven't found one that I am really happy with yet. His favorite one is probably his wooden fire truck, and it's OK, but it has rubber tire treads that keep falling off, and the ladder never stays on. The quest for the perfect truck continues.
One of the things that the kids are getting for Christmas that I can't wait to see myself, is a 9 foot long rainbow play silk. Anna is a fort building fanatic, and so I think this will be perfect for that. A really marvelous invention to aid in fort building are play clips. However they are expensive, but luckily I am pretty sure I can make some myself. Which is how I really economise for Christmas; I make presents for the kids, which are really my favorite toys.