The Cupcake visited Santa, and can pick him out of a photo (though sometimes she calls him PaPa), and if you ask her what he says, she will give a hearty "Ho ho ho!" But TC doesn't know what Santa "does" yet.
Nor does she have any sense of time, or dates, or holidays. Which is very convenient. I decided to put together her big present, purportedly from Santa, on December 23rd, since it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and we had no obligations, and we'd be out late on Christmas Eve for sure. I had no idea what I was in for. I couldn't even lift the box (which could double as a pauper's coffin with no trouble).
Everything was packed nicely, all 7.5 million pieces in one huge brick...
With 400 pages of IKEA-ish sketched directions.
I called in reinforcements - power tools are one of man's best advancements. Though I could have used some elves too (maybe Santa knows what he's doing?)
The pile of foam wrap, cardboard, and styrofoam was bigger than the original box. The physics are baffling.
But somehow, 3 hours + 6 broke nails later, it was done. And adorable. And sturdy (so far). In fact, this thing is WAY nicer than any of our kitchen cabinets. And since our kid has no concept of Santa, or days of the week, or dates on the calendar, we just let her discover it when she got up from her nap instead of trying to hide it for 2 more days (did I mention it weighs as much as a small car?).
It was a hit! The Cupcake loves her "chicken." Especially the "seenk!" It has a ton of storage, the oven and dishwasher open like cabinets (instead of opening vertically, at which point the kid steps on the door and breaks it immediately after assembly), and even that "tile backsplash" is heavy wood, not just cardboard. She won't leave the shelves in the oven or dishwasher, but otherwise she has been loving it for hours, talking and cooking and amusing herself just as I had hoped.
Definitely loves filling everything from the sink, I'm so glad we got this sturdy set with a heavy duty faucet! The phone has to be her second favorite, and she even points out the big numbers on the "base" of the phone.
I'm not sure what we'll do next year when she has a bit more awareness of the world (probably buy pre-assembled gifts?) but there still seemed to be plenty of Christmas magic this season, even if some of it came a few days early.
P.S. This is the KidCraft Urban Espresso kitchen set via Amazon. It was about $180 (I think) and right now I'm super happy with the choice. While it was a bit of a bear to put together (not necessarily hard, I did it myself in about 2-3 hours, and didn't do anything wrong, it was just a lot of steps), it seems really sturdy, everything is smartly designed for real kids (i.e. the oven door thing), there are no noisy buzzers or sound effects or flashing lights (we have enough toys that yell at me), and I can definitely see this lasting for years to come. It's not terribly huge either, we're going to keep it in the living room for now since that is where we spend most of our time. It says 3&up on the box, but there are no small (removable) parts and my almost 2 year old, while pretty tall for her age, is able to interact with everything just fine.