Stuffed animals come in all shapes, sizes and varieties, and it can be challenging to choose the right one. This article will walk you through some hypothetical situations and give you some ideas for how to choose the right stuffed animal to fit the person and the occasion. Stuffed animals come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. From cute and cuddly to awe-inspiring and realistic, whether they stand up or sit down, have a soft and floppy body, or a firm and poseable one, the possibilities are endless. With so many plush toy options available, choosing the right stuffed animal sounds easy enough until it comes time to check out, and then the questions start rolling. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s too big? What if it’s too small? Did I make the right choice?
Stuffed Animal: Choose the Right One
Who is it for?
When you’re buying for yourself, it’s a lot easier to answer the questions about what’s going to best for you, but when you’re buying for someone else, difficulty can arise. Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a plush toy for others.
Buying for Babies
If you’re buying for a baby, remember to look for toys marked, ‘Baby Safe.’ This ensures it is made with non-toxic, hypoallergenic materials and will have no easy-to-remove and easy-to-swallow parts. Some of these toys have built-in teething rings, double as blankets, or are embroidered with sentiments like, “My First Teddy.” Most of us owned a stuffed animal at some point in our life, and even if we can’t remember our first, we probably have memories of one we were particularly fond of as a child. Make a great impression and provide that experience for a special baby in your life.
Buying for Children
The first thing to consider here is the child’s age. If he or she is a five year-old with boundless energy, they’re more likely to play with the animal than put it on display. A medium-sized, floppy-bodied, durable stuffed animal will be better (and a lot more fun to play with) than one with delicate pieces or material. Let’s face it; kids are messy. You want a stuffed animal that can be put through the laundry without losing its integrity.
For an older child more likely to put their plush toy on their bed or on a shelf, a larger, more realistic animal might serve them better.
Buying for Adults
When buying for an adult, the spectrum of possibilities widens substantially but you can help yourself by asking, “What are they going to use the stuffed animal for?” Are they a collector? Is this plush toy going to be part of an art-and-crafts project? The most important thing to consider when buying a stuffed animal for an adult is purpose. And we’ll explore that next.
What is it for?
Why buy a stuffed animal? There’s no cut-and-dry answer. Despite their simplicity, any number of reasons present themselves when explaining what they’re for. Parents buy stuffed animals for their children to play with. Teenagers buy them to ask a date to homecoming. Businesses and non-profit organizations purchase them in bulk to give away at corporate events and parties. School sports teams buy an animal to match their mascot to sell at games, raise morale, and promote team spirit. These cuddly critters serve a plethora of purposes, but narrowing down what yours is for will bring you one step closer to choosing the right stuffed to meet your needs.
Give consideration to both the occasion and the person. If it’s for a birthday, try to find an animal you know they are particularly fond of. Stuffed animals come in all kinds of crazy colors too! Perhaps you don’t know their favorite animal, but you know they’re obsessed with pink; buy them a pink elephant! Does Hollywood have an animated movie about an animal that’s popular right now? It’s usually a safe bet to get one like it, especially if it’s for a kid.
Want to give your special someone a gift to make them think of you every time they see it and hold it? If it’s for Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. White bears holding red hearts with “Be Mine,” emblazoned on the front are cliché and boring. Are they a headstrong go-getter type? Get them a stuffed rhinoceros. Are mild-mannered and go-with-the flow? Get them a stuffed golden retriever.
Regardless of who it’s for and what the occasion is, make sure to keep it personal. Find an animal that relates to them in a special or unique way, and it’s sure to be a present they won’t forget.
Ever had someone send you flowers as an apology? Have you ever been the one sending flowers? You can just as easily send a similar message with a stuffed animal. More and more retailers offer personalization of some sort to tailor the toy to your needs. It’s hard to stay mad at someone who buys you an adorable stuffed monkey wearing a bandana that reads, “I’m Sorry.” If you’re trying to make amends, stay away from jumbo stuffed animals so as to not burden them with more than they can carry.
People send chocolate, balloons, and cards when friends and family are admitted into the hospital—why not stuffed animals too? Nothing will brighten their room better than a teddy bear wearing a t-shirt saying, “Get Well Soon!” If they are bed-bound, choose something medium-sized, large enough to wrap their arms around, and small enough to fit into bed with them. Extended stays get lonely, and a cuddle buddy might just make it a little easier.
Have you ever lost a family pet? If you have, you know the kind of heartache involved and how difficult it can be to say goodbye and let go. Having a keepsake to memorialize their animal might mean the world to them. When searching for the right fit in this situation, take a look online for a plush toy closely resembling their pet and go with the one most similar.
Other Things to Consider
While the most important factors to consider when deciding on a stuffed animal are who and what it is for, there are some miscellaneous things to take into account. Not all stuffed animals are created equally. Some manufacturers emphasize economy and tend to be less expensive, while others focus on quality and cost a few dollars more. As the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” If you see two plush toys similar in appearance and size, but they have a different manufacturer, and one costs more, chances are you’re buying better quality.
What constitutes quality? The integrity of the stitching: the seams of cheaper plush toys are more likely to break than something hand-sewn. The material on the outside of the toy and the way it feels is another indicator of quality. By and large, most plush toys use synthetic materials such as polyester to account for ‘fur.’ The ones of higher quality will be softer and more durable, firmly attached to the toy. Those of lower quality will be coarser and easily separated from the toy, as if the animal were shedding. The stuffing also plays a role in quality. Most plush toys are stuffed with cotton. Some of them have beans. If they fill stiff or overly firm, chances are they were not stuffed with good material. They should feel just like a pillow when you squeeze them.
Stuffed animals start at clip-on, keychain-sized, and work their way up to larger-than-life sized. The best approach when determining size is to remember who and what it is for—and use common sense. As a general rule, if the toy is twice as large as the child you’re buying it for, they will not have an easy time carrying it around and playing with it. On the flip side, something tiny is easily lost or forgotten. Most of the time, you can’t wrong with a medium-sized (12 to 18 inches) toy. It will be big enough to stand out, and small enough to carry around.
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