This is a true story: A few weeks ago, I had plans on a Friday night. When my girlfriend called to confirm, I waffled a bit.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded.
“Oh nothing…” I answered.
“Well what’s the problem then? Pick you up at eight?”
“The truth is… I kinda want to stay home and put together this Little Tikes kitchen that arrived today…”
Okay, I know that I may have issues. But I also knew that my boys – who spend a lot of time engaging in pretend play – would be absolutely enthralled with the playset. I was really torn, but in the end I decided to be a good friend… and blow off my plans. After all, why party with girlfriends… when you can do THIS on a Friday night.
Now don’t be scared. Yes, when the good folks at Little Tikes sent us the Cookin’ Creations Kitchen to review, I didn’t exactly realize that it would arrive in about oh, a hundred pieces. Maybe more. The above picture was taken after an hour of work; the entire assembly took four (4) hours and sometimes required two people. But most of the time, I drank coffee and poured over the instructions while my husband manned the screwdriver. And so before we chat about the actual playset, I have this advice to offer:
1. If you plan on purchasing this item as a birthday or holiday gift, please don’t think you can stand in line at your local toy store the day before and have the kitchen ready to go the next day – unless you don’t plan on sleeping that night. Which leads me to my second token of wisdom –
2. If you gift this item, do the right thing and pre-assemble it before presenting to the lucky child(ren). Nothing says “get out of my house” more efficiently than the realization that some schmuck has given your kids the best present EVER – and now you have to work your butt off to assemble it while the kids hover and whine “can I play with it now?”
3. Even though assembly was rather intensive, I wouldn’t change a thing. The truth is, when you attach every door hinge, affix the granite-look counter top and snap in the front-loading washing machine, you have confidence that the toy is put together both correctly and securely, and you gain an appreciation for some of the features that may be less child-friendly for younger toddlers (the recommended age is 3 years and up).
And now… on to the awesomeness that is the Little Tikes Cookin’ Creations Kitchen.
Without a doubt, the boys LOVE their new kitchen. And with good reason: the toy features everything they need to play house. With plenty of storage, two burners, an oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator with ice dispenser and even a washing machine, Ryder and Reid are engaged for looong stretches of time, allowing me to prep my own meals in our, er, real kitchen (which is definitely not as fun as the Little Tikes version, if you know what I mean).
• Children’s kitchen has a double burner stove top, oven, and dishwasher all with clicking knobs
• Pretend play refrigerator comes with ice dispenser
• Pretend clock with hands that kids can move to set anytime they wish
• Laundry center with washer/dryer and timer
• Granite-look countertop, over-mount sink and roomy storage shelves
• 11 Accessories include: Basket, play phone, spatulas, pan with lid, pot, skillet, 3 spice jars
• Sink countertop measures 20″ from ground
Here they are, discovering, playing… learning. (I omitted the picture of Reid whacking Ryder across the head with a frying pan, which is one of the casualties of having both boys in such close proximity.)
Above: Reid slaving over a hot stove (check out his hand wiping his forehead) and calling a friend to complain about how he’s overworked and under-appreciated. “The meals don’t magically appear on the table, you know!”
We’ve had the playset for exactly two weeks now, and I can honestly say that the boys visit it multiple times each day – every day. Sometimes, they’ll bake muffins, other times, it’s time to stir-fry some chicken and veggies. I grabbed one of those 120-count plastic food packages from Toys R Us, which has been incredibly enriching for the boys’ pretend play, and an incredible PITA for me to clean up every night. Ah well, it’s worth it to see the smiles on their faces. Another fringe benefit of the Cookin’ Creations Kitchen? I have my coffee made by a doting Ryder each morning :)
We are duly impressed with the solid construction and quality of workmanship. Previously, in an effort to test the waters, I purchased a bargain brand kitchen in the $60 range – it was made of flimsy plastic and the boys were able to dismantle the whole thing in about two days. Not so with the Little Tikes model! Everything is fastened in securely – just the way we like it!
The center retails for $199.99 and is called the “Deluxe Wooden Kitchen & Laundry Center” in the US (their version is slightly different with the addition of an ironing board). It is rated 5 stars at toysrus.ca and 4.5 Stars on Little Tikes’ own website. It’s also a hot ticket item; if you can find it on sale, grab it before it sells out! This item is 100% Lena-Approved!
One lucky Listen to Lena reader will win their own Little Tikes Cookin’ Creations Kitchen (value $199). To enter, simply visit Little Tikes and choose two (2) items that are on your “must have” list for 2012. Then, leave a comment on this post telling us what they are, and why.
You can also qualify for extra entries! Remember, you must leave a separate comment for each. You can:
(1) Add Listen to Lena on Google Plus
(2) “Like” Listen to Lena on Facebook
(3) Follow Listen to Lena on Twitter
(4) “Like” Little Tikes on Facebook
(5) Follow Little Tikes on Twitter
(6) Share the Giveaway on Facebook
(7) Tweet daily about this giveaway; Please use this Little Tikes Giveaway Tweet.
I’ll draw for a winner on March 24, 2012. Good luck everybody!