Olli Ella gift guide

Olli Ella trolleys and baskets make an unexpected gift but are full of play potential and fun.

Not your typical toy

A range of baskets and trolleys doesn’t sound like the most obvious thing for a toy shop to sell but sorting, collecting and transporting are activities at the heart of early years play. It’s one of the reasons I say children under 5 don’t need any toys. So much of what they are naturally inclined to do, from symbolic to heuristic play, can be enjoyed without ever opening the toy box. Of course, Christmases and birthdays mean no child will ever go toy-free but it’s helpful to remember that having too many toys leads to distraction and gets in the way of learning. As I write this, my toddler is sitting opposite me putting cereal into a pot and transporting it to her sister in the hall, who is lining the pieces up along the skirting board to make the Kingdom of Sweets. Not a toy in sight but hours of learning and fun.

Olli Ella natural mini-chari with pond dipping materials

Olli Ella rattan comes in a range of colours, from straw and natural to white, mint and rose.

Olli Ella shell bag with Grapat loose parts inside

Olli Ella shell bag

Shell, mushroom, acorn or house: What shape of bag will you choose?

Going for a ride

It’s fun to put a doll in a pram and take him for a walk but if you’ve ever seen a toddler in action, you’ll know that the doll is an optional extra. The thrill of the game is to load up the trolley with anything and transport it from A to B. Such a simple activity and yet central to a young child’s development. Toddlers spend a lot of time practising actions in the physical world (adding to, subtracting from, repeating, reversing) that they will eventually internalise. You can’t perform a mental sum like 3 + 2 = 5 until you have first moved objects in the real world. Here are some toys. I will put them in my trolley and add them to the pile in my room. I can see how the pile has grown and how it will diminish when I load up my vehicle and take the toys away again. What a powerful learning experience!

Olli Ella dinkum dolls in Strolley

Olli Ella dinkum dolls with clothes rack and washing line

Dressing-up dolls

Caring for others comes naturally to children and having a doll to dress and feed is an easy way to help them explore this instinct. The Dinkum range includes a variety of accessories, from feeding bottles and brushes, to rompers and clothes rails.

Olli Ella dinkum doll Tiny with hairbrush and bottle
Olli Ella dinkum doll Tiny with acorn bag

Pocket-sized friends

It’s nice to bring a doll on your adventures but sometimes you want a smaller companion. An observer who can fit in your pocket or hand, almost forgotten, only to spring into action when called upon. Holdie folk are just such friends. Some live in the pared-back doll’s house, others on the farm and yet more in magical woodland mushroom homes. Unlike Dinkum dolls, who will join in with your tea parties and need to be dressed and cared for, Holdies inhabit their own small world. You are an observer rather than a participant. A different kind of play but no less important.

Olli Ella holdie folk on a farm
Olli Ella holdie folk in a basket