Christmas Toys and Gifts at GLTC

by Great Little Toy Buyer, Toni Giles

As Toy Buyer at Great Little Trading Co I get to see hundreds, maybe thousands, of toys every year.  I always look for well-made toys with longevity; no parent wants to spend good money on a five minute flash-in-the-pan.  I like toys which can be played with by one child on their own or with friends. And our toys make good ice-breakers on awkward playdates.

Lots of customers come to us for the big ‘under-the-tree’ presents. Our wooden toys give the ‘wow factor’ on the Big Day and they’re built to last for years, not just ’til Boxing Day.

And in the back of my mind, I think about our customers’ homes. Parents look at children’s toys all day – and no-one wants to look at ugly toys! We deliberately make toys which will look good in our customers’ homes, without compromising on play value.

Toni’s Top Wooden Toys of 2015 


play-shop-amp-theatre-white_frIf I had to choose a favourite toy from our range, it would be the Play Shop and Theatre.  The Play Shop is one of our best-sellers and I’m proud to say it’s won numerous awards for play-value and design. I’ve seen children pretend it’s a florists, market stall, supermarket or sweet-shop and the Theatre is great for puppet shows or Christmas charades.

The Wooden Toy Kitchen

sweet-pea-play-kitchen_fr l3553_7 The play kitchen is Jamie’s favourite (Jamie Reeve, CEO, GLTC) His three children all loved making imaginary meals and watching their dad pretend to eat them! Jamie would tell you there’s no better toy for educating and entertaining small children and their friends.

The Castle


The toy castle is a timeless classic and our GLTC castle is big, bold and beautiful – perfect when friends come round as they can play on the floor, stationed all around the battlements.

The Ride-on Scooter


The Jamm Scooter is sturdy little ride, perfect for toddlers, safe as houses. It won’t wobble or tip and the multi-directional castors mean it runs smoothly.  And look at that retro styling! Gorgeous.

The Tea Cup Café


I’m so proud of this toy, we designed it ourselves at GLTC HQ in Wandsworth, London. It’s a brilliant role-play toy. Children can set up a restaurant, ice cream parlour, café or street food stall – and it comes with two matching stools for guests. It’s great for social skills and works well with our wooden toy kitchens and play food.

The Maisie Dressing Table and Sweetheart dressing-up rail and mirror

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I hate seeing children’s costumes and fancy dress clothes all scrunched up in a dressing-up box! Set them free on a hanging rail and your children can see and choose their costumes more easily. The GLTC dressing tables are pretty on the outside, but they’re really solid and sturdy, This makes a great present for any child who loves to make-believe.

The Wigwam


Teepee, tent, wigwam or den.  Perfect for sunny days in the garden, but just at home in the bedroom or sitting room, the GLTC wigwam is easy up, easy down and easy to store away.

The Fix-it Toy Workbench


A sturdy wooden workbench for construction play, which comes with 25 tools and accessories. Great value for money, it’s one of most popular toys when children visit the office. Brilliant for concentration and coordination.

The Dolls’ House


We’ve found our Forever Home! Perfect for children who love playing ‘house’. It’ll look beautiful in any room in your home and of course we sell dolls and dolls’ furniture to complete the look.

The GLTC Garage


No childhood is complete without the toy garage. This one is designed so that more than one child can play at a time, it’s sturdy and solid and built to withstand some good, hard play.  GLTC’s set of wooden cars and play mat make great add-on accessories.

Toni Giles, Toy Buyer at GLTC



Here at Great Little Trading Co, we like making people happy. We’re here to make life easier for parents and to make play more fun for children.  We’ve spent the last twenty years designing, testing and making products that make a happy home.

Nicky Collinson won her daughter’s wishlist: a beautiful Tea Trolley and wooden play food #gltcwish


One thing that makes US happy is our #gltcwish competition.  Our Twitter friends were invited to tweet us their child’s Christmas wishlist so that we could make someone’s wish come true.

We were thrilled with the response! Children wished for wooden play kitchens, dolls’ houses, play shops and garages. Parents wished for personalised stockings and Christmas sacks, one mum wished for four personalised pencil cases so her children would stop fighting over whose pencil was whose! We liked the wish from a mum who asked for an Oxford Desk, so that her children’s homework didn’t have to take over the entire kitchen table every night. We had small wishes, big wishes and wishes for everything in our catalogue! It was hard to choose a winner.

Our first #gltcwish winner was Nicky Collinson who tweeted “Small child is ticking all the things she wants for Christmas in the GLTC catalogue, which I think would make a lovely gift in itself ..” It turned out that Nicky couldn’t prise the catalogue out of her daughter’s hands at night and she’d rather read the GLTC catalogue than a bedtime story! Nicky’s ‘small child’ wished for our beautiful Time for Tea trolley, the Lili Rose tea set and some wooden play food. Wish granted, small child! Happy parents, happy child, happy home!

Our second #gltcwish winner wished for toy storage, “With baby number 4 on the way we are clever storage planning our tiny house” tweeted Zoe Stewart. If there’s one thing Great Little Trading Company does brilliantly, it’s clever storage – so we were more than happy to grant Zoe’s wish.  Zoe told us how her five year old daughter was desperate to keep her precious things out of the hands of their one-year old twins. We knew the Northcote furniture storage system would be perfect for Zoe and we granted her wish by sending her two Northcote sets and some brilliant canvas cubes.

Zoe Stewart won her #gltcwish: smart Northcote storage and canvas cubes

Zoe was thrilled with her prize “WOW! Are you serious? I almost squealed and woke up the little ones! I would love to have some storage, the children all share a big room and trying to keep the ‘big girl’ toys out of reach of the babies is crazy hard.”

Totally serious, Zoe! And very happy to make your wish come true!

Follow us on Twitter @Gltco and look out for another #gltcwish before Christmas.

We could make your wish come true!

Filled with Christmas Joy …

24 tiny drawers to fill .. what will you put in yours?

When we designed our wooden Advent Calendar, we wanted to make something beautiful, robust and different. We hoped to create a new Christmas tradition your children would love to rediscover year after year.

But, we were also curious to know what you would put in the drawers? Chocolate and coins were too obvious, so we decided to compile a list of surprises and special moments for each day of Advent.  With the help of our Great Little Customers we’ve come up with the definitive guide on “What to put in 24 Advent Calendar drawers!”

  1. Fill the first little box with 24 Christmas stickers, then help your child to draw 24 squares on a piece of paper. Stick a sticker in a square every day until Christmas Eve to make a special countdown calendar.

2. A recipe for Christmas cookies or mince pies. Print out a child-friendly recipe and spend the day together filling the kitchen with Christmassy smells.

3. Glitter! Fill one of the boxes with glitter ready to make your Christmas cards.  Hoovers on stand-by!

4. Sweets in Christmas colours. Red and green M&Ms or Smarties . This means you’ll have to eat all the other colours … sorry about that :-)

5. A letter from Grandparents or favourite family friends inviting your child to a sleepover before the Big Day.

6. A handmade voucher for a hot chocolate at your children’s favourite cafe.

7. A tiny Christmas Tree toy. Today could be the day you go and choose the real thing! A great idea from fplowman

8. Tickets for a trip to the pantomime, or ice-skating at a local rink. The wait for Christmas Day can seem eternal to a little child. Fill Advent with things to do and events to look forward to.

9. Beads and thread so your child can make someone a special Christmas present.

10. Homemade fudge. One of our favourite things! Thanks for the suggestion garner_uk

11. A photograph of your child from last year’s Christmas, or a photo badge or keyring from a previous visit to Father Christmas’s grotto. Children love seeing themselves change from year to year and will enjoy talking about their memories with you. Thanks for that suggestion @sparky61

12. Googly eyes! A whole box full of googly eyes so that you can stick them on tangerines. It may be just us, but we love this idea!

13. A Lego mini-figure, Schleich animal or Playmobil person. Whatever your child’s current craze of the week, pop in a little piece to add to their collection.

14. Get a Sharpie and write a message to your child on a balloon. Your child will only be able to read the message once the balloon is inflated.

15. A map of your neighbourhood and an invitation to go out at night to see the Christmas lights. Our children used to love driving round our local streets in the dark and spotting all the decorations in people’s houses.  Or you could take them to your nearest city to see the bright lights and Christmas displays in the shops.

16. A letter from Father Christmas. Just a little reassuring note to let your child know he or she is on the Good List and hasn’t been forgotton. Include your home address – it’s amazing how many children worry Father Christmas won’t know where they live.

17. Christmassy hair clips, hairbands, a cool Christmas badge or a red nose, just like Rudolph’s.  Little treats don’t have to cost much.

18. A beautiful, but tiny, Christmas decoration to hang on the tree.

19. Reindeer poop! Did the reindeer make an early flying visit to drop off the children’s Stockings? Well, I think they left a little ‘present’ in drawer No. 19. Chocolate covered raisins make perfect Reindeer poop.

20. A wishing star. Pop a little star in the box and tell your child to make a wish. Your child can put the star outside your front door before bedtime and the wishing star will take their wish up in the sky, all the way to Father Christmas. Thanks nikkihawk31

21. A little money and some information about a charity close to your heart. Talk to your child about the importance of giving to other people and let them make their own contribution and donation this Christmas. A lovely idea from joashlin

22. Cress seeds. Pour them out onto a wet kitchen towel and watch them grow. They’ll be ready to add to your turkey sandwiches after Christmas.

23. Print out some truly terrible Christmas jokes and spend the day alternating between groans and giggles.

24. Reindeer food! Another great idea from joashlin. Mix birdseed and glitter together to create a magical treat for Rudolph and chums. Don’t forget to leave it outside on Christmas Eve.

And, finally, we love this idea from deeofski who says she would fill all 24 boxes with memories created with her daughter throughout the year and spend a moment every day reflecting on the special times they’ve had together. Kept in an envelope labelled with the date, this yearly tradition would create a fantastic memory bank for you and your child to look back on when they’re all grown up.

Thanks to our Instagram and Twitter friends for  giving us some wonderful ideas.  Take a look at our Instagram page for more inspiration.


The Great Little Trading Company grows up

Interview with Jamie Reeve, CEO, November 2015


‘You only get one childhood’ says Jamie Reeve, CEO of the Great Little Trading Co which celebrates its 20th Birthday this year, ‘And, as parents, we naturally want to fill our children’s early years with happy experiences and beautiful, safe, lasting things. We’d like our children to be thrilled by the big present under the Christmas tree, but we also want that toy to have lasting play value and look attractive in our home. We hope that GLTC ticks all the boxes.’

The inspiration for GLTC’s range of essential wooden toys, which include a garage, castle, café and toy shop as well as a huge range of doll’s houses and play kitchens, comes from Jamie’s own childhood. ‘Growing up, my mother ran a nursery school from our house. Our sitting room would be turned into a schoolroom every morning and 30 children would arrive to be educated and entertained by my mum.  Mum is still passionate about learning through play and she gave me huge insight into what makes a toy great.  Children rarely play in the way that you would expect them to (which is why dinosaurs turn up in tea cups and toy cars are transported to the bath) but give a child a play-kitchen or castle and you unleash their creativity while helping them to learn about sharing, role-play, and even a little bit of history.’

Jamie is proud of the fact that none of GLTC’s toys require batteries; they’re all powered by imagination.  ‘I really struggled with the tsunami of plastic that threatened to engulf our home when we started having children. I hated the beeping, flashing, disposable toys and knew that I wanted to create toys that spoke to the modern child without relying on technology.  Our toys are honest, beautiful and relevant – that really matters to me.  Our toys are not just fun, they’re good fun.  And they’re designed in Great Britain so they’re British toys.  A garage is called a garage not a gas station, it’s a fire-engine not a firetruck. I believe that children can spot fakery a mile away and none of our toys patronise.’

The design element of the brand is incredibly important to Jamie.  ‘All of our essential toys are designed by the GLTC design team, in-house, in Wandsworth. You can’t buy our toys from any other company on the High Street or online.  Designs are reworked and tweaked according to customer feedback and the advice of our Testing Team. The wooden toys are good quality, built-to-last, free from nasty chemicals and definitely not disposable. In fact, Jamie, hopes his toys will outlast childhood. ‘I would love to think that our toys can be packed away, hidden in an attic or cellar somewhere, and then rediscovered by a new generation of children, thirty or forty years from now. Wouldn’t that be great? To bring out your old garage, blow the dust off and recreate that ‘TA-DAA’ moment with your own children, or grandchildren.’

Jamie lives with his wife, Annie, and three children in South London. His family has grown up with GLTC. ‘When the children were younger I used to bring samples and prototypes home from work and watch how the kids played with them; whether they were engaged or excited by the products or whether they were a five minute flash-in-the-pan.  I also needed to be sure that the range could withstand some tough love.  The children were used to twenty wigwams or ride-on toys arriving home on Friday night and disappearing on Monday morning as I took them back to the office for our review meeting. It was like being Father Christmas – with a slightly mean twist.  The children always knew their toys might not be there in the morning.’

Before the boom in global online shopping, GLTC was known for sourcing practical, hard-to-find products for parents and children. The sudden growth of e-commerce and availability of previously exclusive products seriously undermined GLTC’s USP.  ‘I first came across GLTC when the founders approached me to try and help them raise some capital. I loved the business; Annie and I were already customers, but I couldn’t find a backer. I came home on Friday night and told Annie how frustrated I was that this great business might fold. She gave me a verbal kick-up-the-backside and said if I loved it that much I should buy it and run it myself.  I spent the weekend on the phone to Richard (Koch, Jamie’s good friend and business mentor) and on Monday morning we put the bid together. In less than a month, I was running GLTC and haven’t stopped running since!’

Jamie’s vision for the company was to extend the brand into classic toys and practical, good-looking furniture for modern families.  ‘I didn’t feel the market provided for parents who wanted good quality, classic, stylish products.  There was a glut of plastic and not enough time or money spent on good design. Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean your house has to become a style-free zone.’

The DNA of the brand is understanding their customers and developing products that work for modern families. ‘We are parents. We get it.’ says Jamie. ‘We understand you’ve spent all day with your children, the house is a mess, there are toys all over the floor and porridge up the wall. We understand that in the evening when the kids are in bed, you want to sit down and relax with a glass of wine, in the beautiful home that you created BEFORE the children came along. This is where we come in.’

GLTC design sensible furniture that help parents bring order to chaos in a smart, modern and stylish way.  One of the best-selling products is the Abbeville storage which has solid shelves, deep recesses and cubes that can hide a multitude of sins. ‘We know parents use our cubes in a million different ways; to store books, ballet shoes, nappies, baby wipes, fossils, bears, arts and craft bits and bobs .. the list is endless as varied as the day is long with a three year old.  Families accumulate an awful lot of small stuff.

The quality of the range is extremely important to customers.  ‘I know that if I buy from GLTC it’s going to be well-made and long-lasting’ says Charlotte Hunter, mother to Emma and Naomi.  ‘It’s also important that it looks good in my home.’ ‘If friends are coming round, I’ll hide the plastic crap and leave the GLTC toys out on display’ adds Jenny Beckett, ‘I want my house to look nice even though I’ve got small children. It’s still my home.’

Buying cheap and cheerful rarely turns out to be cheap, or cheerful. GLTC’s rugs, cushions and bedding are built to withstand a thousand and one pillow-fights and the pitter patter of a tiny herd of elephants. This stuff won’t hit landfill any time soon.  Most importantly though, children absolutely love it. The Islander cabin mid-sleeper bed, with its built-in storage nooks, bookshelves, drawers and desk, is every child’s dream.  And parents may find it’s the key to a good night’s sleep – and that’s priceless.

Why We Love … the Potter Library table

by Great Little Furniture Designer, Freja Ewers

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”  Beatrix Potter

The Potter Library table was named after British author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter whose beautifully illustrated stories were inspired by her lifelong love of animals and nature. Her books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, have become firm family favourites since they were first published in the early 1900s.

The design of the Potter Library table was inspired by visiting local libraries and nursery schools and watching young children engage with books.  Before they can read, children choose books by the illustrations and colours on the front – they literally judge books by their covers! Once we’d understood this, we knew we had to design a range of children’s bookcases where children could see the cover of the book, not the spine.  It was also important that they could locate their favourite book quickly and easily, and tidy them all away at the end of the day.

As parents, you’ll have noticed that children’s picture books are often odd-sized or over-sized. Standard adult bookcases can’t cope with these strange sized books, so books end up lying on top of other books, or stacked on top of furniture. That’s no good for little children; if they can’t find they book they want, ALL the books end up on the floor! Not  with The Potter Library table. The Potter can take every size of book, from tiny books like the Mr Men and The Tale of Peter Rabbit, to huge oversized books like You Choose.

And when it comes to over-sized school text books, exercise books, and large homework projects, the Potter will still be there. Like a good family friend or a favourite tale.


Potter Library Table

  • Great British design
  • Made from wood
  • Sturdy, solid and strong – the Potter won’t collapse under the weight of all those books.
  • Designed so that children can choose books by the covers, not the spines
  • Smart, modern design which will look good in any room in your home
  • It’s the right height for toddlers so they can choose books themselves AND help tidy them away at the end of the day.
  • Encourages a life-long love of reading

Top Tip: Put the Potter Library Table by the side of your child’s bed so they can reach for a book at night or first thing in the morning

That’s why GLTC love the Potter Library Table, but don’t just take our word for it.  MyPetiteCanard has written an in-depth (and unsponsored) review:

my petit canard


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