Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014: Toys Part 3

Do we have time for one more post about awesome toys? I think we do! So let’s get right down to it:

Play Doh Big Barrel


It’s confession time again: I have a love-hate relationship with Play Doh. I love how fun and creative it can be to play with, but I hate how messy it can be when you’re trying to clean up afterward. All those little play-sets that squeeze and squish the doh have all these little crevices that it’s impossible to dig the remnants out of, but you have to because otherwise it dries in there and the thing becomes useless. That’s why I like sets like the “Big Barrel” because it comes with stuff that is much easier to clean. For $22 you get the “Fun Factory tool”, 2 rails (which you attach to the tool to make different shapes), safety scissors, a roller, a plastic knife, 10 cookie-cutters, 2 “pressers” (stamps, basically), and 2 cans of doh. Add in a couple of extra cans of doh (or make some homemade stuff) and watch a kid have a blast.

Playskool Show Cam


There are a bunch of different kid cameras out there to choose from, and honestly the only reason that I picked this particular one for this post is because it was the first one that popped up when I looked on Toys R Us. But the point is that this is an awesome idea for a gift, so browse the options! Most of the ones I’ve seen are almost identical. This particular one takes both snapshots and video, and it has a build-in projector to show off your tike’s captures on any flat surface. It can store up to 1000 photos, and it is easy for little hands to grasp and use. I think they’re adorable because what kid doesn’t love doing things the way a grown-up does them? Plus you never know…they might just capture some awesome memories! At upwards of $70 it’s not a cheap gift, but it would definitely be a fun one!

Lego “Creative Bucket”


I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, I challenge you to find a kid who doesn’t have a blast playing with Lego. They’re one of those rare toys that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, and their play can be customized to each kid based on their own personal likes and creativity level. In that way Lego is kind of the perfect toy. Now, granted, Lego sets can be pretty expensive, mainly because the sets are usually licenced things like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Halo, and Batman, but you don’t have to get the specialized kits for Lego to be a blast. One of the coolest Christmas presents my parents ever bought me was just a big bucket of loose Lego, and unless you’ve raised a technology-dependent couch potato (*cough*silentjudgement*cough*) I honestly believe most kids would still enjoy this gift. So my final Christmas toy suggestion? The Lego Creative Bucket, which is literally just a big bucket of 607 Lego pieces for $40. Oh, and by the way, when gifting Lego to your child, remember these wise words from Lego themselves:


What do you think of my toy gift suggestions? Do you have any suggestions of your own? What were your favorite gifts to get as a child? Please share!

Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014: Toys Part 2

Looking for some more gift ideas for the little ones? Let’s see what Tracey’s got in her pack today:

Frozen Color-Changing-Dress Dolls


You’d probably stamp a huge “DUH” on my face if I started talking about how Frozen toys are big this year, so I’ll spare you that blurb. But I will tell you that amongst the available merchandise (and my god, is there a lot of it), a couple of my favorites are the Anna and Elsa dolls with color-changing dresses. One of the reasons I like them is because, unlike most of the other thousand doll options, these dolls have Anna and Elsa in their “coronation day” party dresses instead of the trademark outfits that they end up in by mid-movie. In other words, they’re actually a little different from all the other options. The other reason I like them is because their appeal is a kind of classic, old school one: you put water in the little wand accessory and “paint” the dresses to magically change their color and design. It’s simple, it’s not messy, and your kid can enjoy it over and over again. Hey, if you’re going to spend upwards of $30 on some random Barbie doll anyway, why not spend it on one of these dolls and make your little Frozen fan’s day?

Fisher Price Doctor Kit


Now here is a classic toy…literally, I’m pretty sure this toy has been around for at least 30 years, probably more. A couple of my cousins had this kit as children, and except for a few minor changes (that were probably related to safety standards), it’s the same now as it was then. It still includes the little hand-pump blood pressure cuff, the same band-aid “braclet”, the same ear-checker-thingy (seriously, what the hell is that thing called?), and it’s all made of the same sturdy plastic that is nearly impossible to break. And seriously, what kid doesn’t enjoy checking heartbeats, giving needles, and wrapping up boo-boos? Kids love pretending to make parents, siblings, and grandparents feel better, so why not give them the tools they need with this affordable $20 kit?

Disney Infinity


Okay, let’s get into something a little more, shall we say, substantial? Fair warning: with tons of figures and play pieces to collect, this is the kind of gift that you can easily find yourself spending more and more money on as time goes by. That said, if you’ve got a video game player who also happens to be a fan of Disney shows and movies, this is a pretty damn neat gift. The “starter packs” for the game come with a base on which you place your collectible figures in order to download them into the world of the game. The world and options available to you expand as you purchase your favorite character figures and the available “play pieces” (which unlock new words), meaning that you could theoretically keep playing this game for ages. The 2.0 version of the game also recently came out, giving us lots of new characters to choose between, and the 1.0 characters still work as well, making for an even bigger world (although be warned, the 1.0 play pieces don’t work with 2.0). Just a few of the available character figures are all of the movie-version Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Black Widow), the Ultimate Spiderman characters (Spiderman, Nova, White Tiger, Power Man, Iron Fist, and Nick Fury), a couple of Disney princesses (Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, and Merida), the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax), and a ton of random characters like Stitch, Vanellope and Wreck-it Ralph, Donald Duck, Jack Sparrow, and many others. If you’ve got someone on your gift-giving list who is a gamer, a collector, and a Disney fan, this gift could easily be a triple-whammy.

Still not done shopping for your little ones? Come back on Thursday for my last batch of suggestions!

Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014: Toys Part 1

I’m gonna say one thing right off the bat: I’m a big child, and I love toys, and there are a lot of cool ones around these days, so it’s going to be hard to choose just a few. Therefore I’m going to do three of these toy posts to spread things out a bit. I’m also going to do my best to represent lots of different toy categories, including classic stuff, board games, video games, more affordable stuff, and more pricey stuff. So let’s get started!

Build-a-Bear Stuffed Toys


I’m a huge fan of Build a Bear for numerous reasons. One is that their stuff is so well-made and nice-looking, not to mention being pretty resilient. Another is that they will re-stuff a previous purchase for free if it starts to get squished or worn down, which is just a nice service to have. A third one is that they make a bunch of licensed characters and they do an absolutely amazing job of making them look like the actual characters as they appear in their prospective cartoons/movies/whatever. Currently available in stores and online are a score of My Little Pony characters, all four modern-version Ninja Turtles, and Toothless from “How to Train Your Dragon”, amongst others. And right now you can even get Rudolph and Clarice from the Rankin-Bass stop motion Christmas classic. A single plush in any category averages between $25 and $30, which sounds like a lot for a stuffed animal, but they are a very decent size and very well-made. And if you want to really make the toy special, there’s a huge selection of clothing and accessories for your recipients’ little buddy. Just be warned: if you start delving into the clothes and accessories the price tag is going to rise very quickly.

Monopoly Junior


Before you say anything, no, I am not bringing this board game up because I got it for free from Influenster. I’m bringing it up because I was genuinely impressed with it, and the fact that my daughter wanted to play it a million times in a row proves that it achieves its primary goal. This board game is a great way to introduce little ones to board games because it is easy to learn, and it is designed for the rounds to take around 10 to 20 minutes, so kids don’t get board or lose interest. There’s even a bit of an educational factor to it, since there’s counting involved, and you can use the game as a way to help teach your kids about money. At $15-$20, I personally think this is a great present that you and your little ones can enjoy together.

LeapFrog’s LeapBand


Confession time: I haven’t actually seen this thing in action, but I do think it’s a really cute, interesting addition to the LeapFrog family. The LeapBand looks a bit like a smart-watch, and features software similar to the LeapPad “Pet Pals” games. Kids choose from a number of virtual pets, who then guide the child through fitness activities. They’ll be asked to jump, run, hop, roll, and any other number of activities, while the band monitors their motion. By completing activities the child earns rewards for their pet, levels up, and unlocks more games and activities. At $50 it’s not exactly cheap, but if you’ve got a small kid who is already becoming a bit of a couch potato, this might be just the thing to get them up and moving!

Come back tomorrow for more toy gift ideas!