Four ways your Christmas toys affect the rest of your life

Let’s get this out of the way first. This post will mostly be about Sylvanian families. This is because:

  1. I LOVE them
  2. They were the only toys I ever really got for Christmas
  3. I LOVE them
  4. One of my blogeagues has just been named as a ‘friend of Sylvanian’ families and has challenged me to a ‘I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours’ Sylvanian post

You can read about Sadhbh’s wonderful ambassador news here, but while I was reading I got to thinking about all the associations I have with these  quaint little toys. And when I get to thinking all sorts of sparky things happen in my head and I come up with many (questionable) observations. Which you my dear reader, are subjected to.

So take a minute. And think about the toys you used to get. What did you veer towards in the toy book? What had you waking at 4am to dash down to the sitting room and decimate the packaging? What do your toy choices say about you? And did they teach you any lessons that you have brought with you into your adult life?

Using my Sylvanian Family experience here are four ways my Christmas toys affected the rest of my life.  I’ll disperse pictures of these joy-inspired fur Gods throughout. Because why wouldn’t you?


hedgehog family
Say hi to the Hedgehog family. The come with their own hair brushes to keep their bristles neat. These were the last family I got (sniff) before I got into hair straighteners (the irony) and stuff. They owned the Village Store. Because hedgehogs are good with stock.
  1. You learn the art of patience

Spare a thought for the children of today. Back in our day (old voice) Christmas didn’t kick in till, oh December or so, and even then the waiting was horrific. Every week seemed like a year, every day, like a month. Nowadays, with Christmas starting in October (eeeessshhh) the countdown must seem like a prison sentence for kiddies. Spending the days poring over the back pages of the Argos catalogue is one way of getting through the soul destroying countdown to day you get your hands on the loot Christmas.

At some stage in my youthful life a Sylvanian Families catalogue appeared. This was a small booklet with pages and pages of the families laid out with their individual names and the accessories and toys that they lived in. Christians have the Bible. Muslims have the Quran. Sylvaniants have THE CATALOGUE.

I learned the art of patience but I also learned the art of study. I knew all the families, I knew all their names, I knew exactly what I was getting for the next three Christmas’. Because this was the 80s. There were no gifts mid-year.

Here’s an inside shot of the Village Store. They sold material for dress making. And had vintage posters on the wall. Beyond cool.

2. You learn the pain of loss

I can still remember it. The missing-ness. The emptiness. The space in the box where the parts should be. It was a few days after Christmas and I was six. Santa had brought the caravan, occupied by the Badger family and pulled along by a little grey horse. I set up the caravan and laid out all the different parts. The cupboard. The stove. The blanky for the bed. But, search as I might, there a few pieces missing. Cups. Cutlery. A whole  other cupboard. They weren’t in the box. They weren’t in the kitchen. They weren’t anywhere. In fact, they were never to be found.

“But Daddy,” I wailed after he had given up helping me to search for the missing parts. “What are you going to do about it?”

He laughed and explained that there was nothing he could do. If they were lost, they were lost. It was the first time I realised that Mammies and Daddies can’t fix everything. Sometimes balloons blow away. Sometimes little parts of Sylvanian Family toy sets get mistakenly thrown in the bin and are never to be found. Sometimes there is loss and that is life. (Still not over it).

See all that tableware out front? I was left with one cup. Also lost the vase and the cupboard up the back. My horse had long white hair – we didn’t go with the 80s mohawk.

3. You learn that not everyone is the same as you

When friends came over, we would set up my collection, carefully placing each item where it was meant to go. When we were all set up and playdate friend would want to actually start ‘playing’ with the toys, I would put a small hand on theirs and shake my head. These toys were too precious to play with – we should mostly just look. It was safer that way. What if something got broken? What if – something went MISSING? And so the playdate would cautiously reach for the Barbies, throwing their eyes up to heaven, wondering if their mother was coming to pick them up soon and take them away from this eight year old freak. But, my dedication to safety paid off. Every single one of my collection looks like the the day it came out of the box in the 1980s. It was just a matter of sacrificing a few lifelong friendships along the way. They had the craic with the Barbies and their Mr Frosty’s and their pogo sticks. But I had my Sylvanian Families. And still do.

Before the mansions and the tree houses and the taller than you Sylvanian abodes, there was the deluxe family home. This was the centre of the action.

4. You learn where your talents might lie

When I think about my family and friends and the toys they got for Christmas, I realise it indicated where their path in life might go. (This is not foolproof. I did not become a medal winning showjumper on a white Sindy horse. Nor a fashion jewellery designer) But Sylvanian Families do represent something I am still fascinated by and something that is still part of my life. They are replicas of miniature social historians, living an early 20th century life. I’m pretty sure the family names are weaving their way through the historical fiction I write. Do any of your toys relate to your adult interests? Sport? Mothering? Reading? Art? Bet there’s a few hairdressers out there who were gifted the grotesqueness of the hairy Barbie head. Am I correct??

owl family
Here’s the owl family who taught in the school house I had. Mr Owl was very grumpy, but his three owl chicks had different personalities as you can see from their eyebrows. They took in all children to teach in the village. Even Misty the orphan beaver who came free with a packet of Persil. Photo source:

So there you have it. While you’re choosing your gifts for your little childers this year, take a moment and think: where in life will this lead them? Could a science kit interest them in experiments? Could another football keep up their love for sport? Could those craft kits set them on a path to a future fashion business? Because you never know, do you?


sylvanian meerkats
Sylvanian Meerkats. Just because.
A Cornish Mum




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32 Comments on Four ways your Christmas toys affect the rest of your life

    • Hi Kerry, thought I had responded the other day, but don’t see the comment. Thanks so much for your comment! Looking forward to checking out your own blog. Happy Christmas to you too 🙂

  1. I used to love Sylvanians! My favourite was a little baby mole that was in it’s own cot and had it’s own bottle! Maybe says a bit about the fact I wanted to be a mother?? J xxx

    • The baby moles were the cutest! I almost put a photo up in this post : ) well I never played with dolls really, but the girls I knew that did were very maternal

  2. LOVE IT! It seems you had a much more impressive collection than me. I have the bakery and a treehouse and my uncle made me a wooden version of the deluxe family home because I doubt the real deal was affordable for us at the time. I too had a baby mole called Mo (still do) with its cot & bottle and I have a Bear family and some foxes, bunnies (who ran the bakery) and the hedgehogs.

    I adore the owls! They are so cute with their little expressions!

    Elements of these toys stayed with me into adulthood. Their vintage aesthetic is totally my style and their connection with nature and wholesome family fun are things I really value. They really are such magical toys.

    Thanks so much for sharing your stash – we need to have a playdate – I won’t touch yours if you don’t touch mine 😉

    • Haha Sadhbh, that’s so funny!! Can’t believe you had the hedgehogs too! Loved them. The moles were so cute! I had the dog family too and I think there were a few orphans thrown in. You’re right, totally magical. I loved all their names and little individual clothes. We can totally have a playdate- set them all up and then have a stare-off! Hope the ambassadorship goes well and looking forward to seeing any new toys you get to try 🙂 #sylvies4eva

  3. This is hilarious! Number 3 was completely me with my American Girl Dolls. They’re still all in their original boxes, hair never taken out of their original impeccable braids! Part of me can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to introduce her to them, the other part of me is dreading it – what if she doesn’t care like I do… Did… Do.

    • Don’t give them over! I had a bit of experience where I generously gave them over for half a day and when I saw that they were being jumbled up with other toys (as naturally they would be) they were whipped back into their boxes and put back in the attic. If I didn’t let kids play with them when I was a kid, not going to do it now as an adult either! Yes, I know, I’m a meanie. But these are the only things I’m really protective of!!

  4. I’ve never actually own any of these, especially growing up with it. But this is such a wonderful post and that children may love this.

  5. I like the Sylvanian families and so does my child. We are all waiting for christmas day and yes she will be getting one of those items as i’ve allready purchased it! I love toys myself too! Angela

  6. I think Sylvanian families were fairly new when I was a child. I didn’t have any, but my neighbour’s younger sister had some.
    I do try and think about toys and the theme of them. Anything to counteract the obsession with farming does it for me!

    • A farming obsession can be healthy too! They were brought out in the mid 80s I think – i got my first set around 1989 so they were pretty new then. To me though, I thought they had always been around years 🙂

  7. I have never heard or owned a Sylvanians before but I agree with what you have shared, we didnt really have toys growing up but I had one teddy that I loved to bits but somehow got lost in my childhood.

    • Ah that sounds very sad Miranda altogether! I wasn’t sentimental over teddies really or dolls, just these babies x wonder where your teddy is now?!

  8. I love this! Especially number three. My sister was obsessed with Sylvanian Families but she, unfortunately, is the sort of person who loses things so I imagine many of her sets ended up incomplete.

    I had some Sylvanian Families sets and some My Little Ponies and Polly Pocket and Care Bears and Barbies and you name it. I was a fickle child!


    • Sounds like we are of the same era! I had my little pony too. I was never into polly pocket though. Thanks for commenting x

    • I went through a lot of collections – stickers, stamps, fancy pages. But I guess the Sylvanian Families hit a nerve and stuck around longer.

  9. I love sylvanians. I had a house and my Dad made a ladder for me to fit it, so cute. They have all of it in the loft still and I can’t wait to get it down and play with it with my little girl when she is bigger. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix

    • I always wanted a grass lawn for them – considered asking the butcher for those old fashioned plastic green grass he used to keep to seperate out the meats. Gross!

  10. I had sylvanian families! I have no idea where they are now, though I suspect a few may be in the roof in the attic. My boys wouldn’t have a clue what they are. And so true, the Christmas lead up must be horrific for young children these days, it goes on sooooo long! #brilliantblogposts

  11. Brilliant post! Made me laugh – especially the bit about arranging them neatly but not playing with them – that was me!! Well, I did play with them but very, very carefully and very neatly. My daughter has Sylvanians now and I cannot understand how she can bear them to be so messy and not neatly set out…I have been know to do a little arranging for her…!

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