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Top Gifts of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us, and if you are anything like me, you still haven’t come close to finishing your shopping! Well, it’s time to get moving… I am sure that many of you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of gifts that you have to buy or just don’t know where to start.  That’s where I can help! It’s time for my Second Annual Best Gifts LIST. After visiting countless stores, getting great ideas and thoughts from friends and family, I have compiled a list of toys that will hopefully help you find your perfect gifts.  I expanded The List this year, so let me know what you think……It is always great to hear from you.

For the Active Child – For ages 4 and up


No! Not that kind of “spooning”! This is one of my favorites for 2011… it takes skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding to a whole new level.  The Spooner is a board that spins, flips, slides, does just about anything, on just about any surface. You can sled on it (with or without snow!), ride it, glide on it, slide across flat surfaces on it… and more. From talking to people who already own The Spooner, it does take some time for the kids to get used to the board, but with practice, your kids will not want to put it down.  In fact, the owner of the Wellesley Toy Shop told me that many customers are coming back to buy a second or third board.  There are lots of colors to choose from.  Check out this you tube video for more.


In my family, we have a saying, “WTE”. Simply, it stands for Worst… Toy… Ever!  Look, I like Star Wars as much as anyone, and my kids are infatuated with ANYTHING related to Star Wars. With that said, my husband and I have always viewed the standard lightsabers as a WTE.  There was always an injury waiting to happen with the lightsabers.  I always worried that someone was going to lose an eye or something.  (Yes, I may be a overreacting just a little).  But, now there is something that solves this. The Mashoonga are soft, durable foam “dueling” toys that are great for when the little ones want to pretend they are Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader. Kids can have their battle with the Sabers and the Bo-Staff (the Bo-Staff has foam on both ends).  The Sabers and Bo-Staff are made of foam so an injury is less likely then with the pointed plastic Star Wars lightsaber.  Parents can get in on the fun too.  It’s a great workout!

Huffy Disney Lights and Sounds Scooter & The Blue Mini Kickboard Scooter

For the younger kids, three wheels help with balance and give the kids the ability to turn without feeling like they are going to fall over.  The Blue Mini Kickboard Scooter has wheels that are angled for better balance and turning ability.  This feature is almost like the invention of the parabolic ski.  It helps kids turn easier and glides the kids into the turn.  I picked one up at Magic Beans.

For The Active Adult


My friends have raved about P90X and how it has changed their life and body.  So if working out is your thing, you might want to give P90X2 a try.  It is a great gift for yourself or someone you love that makes working out a priority.  They may be very sore, but will end up thanking you later.

For The Creative Kid

Duck Tape Art

A friend of mine recommended Duck Tape Art to me.  I was not sure what that meant at first.  I thought the kids were drawing pictures and using decorative Duck Tape to hang them up on the wall.  I have seen people make frames with decorative Duck Tape.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn.  My friend quickly sent me pictures of some of the art her kids made with Duck Tape.  I was completed shocked.  Messenger Bags, Clutches, Roses and all kinds of great stuff.  It was incredible!!!

For Young And Old – The Giving Gift

TOMS Shoes

Not only are they comfortable, cute and practical … there is an added benefit to buying these shoes. For every pair you purchase, a new pair will be sent by TOMS to a child in need.  What a small, easy way to teach your kids about giving and talk about charity and supporting companies that give back.  Besides, the shoes are getting cuter and cuter each year.

For The Secret Agent


Whether it is the video watch, the stealth video glasses or the night vision binoculars (and so much more), your child will get to imagine what it’s like to be a secret agent, a spy.  Be careful, many of these toys have videos, so you never know when your child may sneak up on you.  Let your kid’s imaginations go wild with all the spy gear.

For The Caffeine Lover

Brookstone’s Desktop Mug and Coffee Cup Warmers


Looking to keep your coffee at the perfect temperature.  This may be the perfect gift for you or your caffeine loving friend, spouse, co-worker or family member.  With the adjustable temperature right at your fingertips, your coffee should always be at your perfect temp…


Stocking Stuffers/Smaller Gifts


Tenzi is a great game for family game night.  Fast play, great competition and lots of laughs.  The goal is to be the first one to roll all the same number, sort of like Yahtzee on steroids.  The speed and direct competition all keep the game interesting.  It comes in a great storage or traveling case.  With this gift, your kids will think you are on a roll… (sorry, had to).

NO! – The NO Button

So simple, but yet so perfect!  When bottled water first came out, people said who is going to buy bottled water when you can get it for free right from your own faucet.  Well, we all know how wrong that turned out to be!  The “No Button” might initially elicit the same response.  People can say no for free, why do they need or want a button that does it for them.  Well, for one… it is funny.  You will catch your kids, friends, parents etc. off guard.  It will either irritate them enough that they will stop asking the question or it will cause a good laugh.  Either way, it is a win, win!!!  And it sure beats the Staples “That Was Easy” buttons that became so popular…

Personalized iPhone & iPod Cases

There are many things that you may wear or buy or say that give people a glimpse into your personality.  Whether it’s the sunglasses you wear or the purse you carry or the jokes that you make, it is all a part of you.  Are you more into the trend or are you more traditional or maybe preppy?  Do you like to goof around or are you more serious?  How would you describe yourself?  Well, with the craze of the iPhone, another trend has taken off.  You can personalize your very own iPhone/iPod case with your name and pattern.  You can go whimsy, girly, preppy, traditional, simple, business-like and so many other directions.  Have fun with it!  Check out all of your options at Pretty On Paper.   The company creates personalized cases for adults and kids.


These tiny toys offer an element of surprise and provide kids with joy and laughter.  At first, I was not sure I understood the fascination with these gumball machine type toys.  But then I thought about what all kids love to do… namely, be surprised, collect things and trade collections. The Squinkies allow for all of this.  For my boys, the Squinkies in a way remind me of the baseball card packs.  You never know what player cards you are going to receive from each pack.  It is the element of surprise that keeps kids coming back for more.  Squinkies are not just for girls… the company also sells Hot Wheels Squinkies, so boys can join in the fun.  Squinkies come at great price points if you have a lot of children, young cousins or grandkids to buy for.  It is the perfect stocking stuffer.


What will Disney and the iPad think of next?  This is a fun and exciting gift to give to your kids.  There is an app on the iPad that coordinates with these little Disney Cars.  The cars actually attach to the iPad and you drive along on the screen. Kids can play games and explore places, such as Radiator Springs.  It can be hours of fun for your kids.  It could be good for a long car-ride, if you are planning a big trip this holiday season.  After reading many reviews, many adults have been fascinated by this toy and iPad application.  If you are not into electronics or don’t enjoy your kids fingerprints all over your iPad, then this may not be the right gift for you.  But if your kids love the Cars Movies, then this just might be the perfect fit.

Hostess/Host Gifts

Personalized Photo Trays

The Personalized Photo Trays are lucite trays that come in 3 different sizes and colors mats.  They are personal, pretty, practical and you can add in a picture of their kids or family.  This is a great gift for holiday parties or when you stay at someone’s house.  The price points are from $140-$165 depending on the size of the tray.  There is no doubt that it will be well received.

The Must-Have Electronics

Leap Pad Explorers

Are you tired of the kids always asking for your iPad whenever right when you really need to be using it the most?  Do you want to reclaim your iPad from the kids?  Then the LeapPad Explorer may be the perfect gift for you.  It is the first kids tablet to create so much buzz among parents and kids.  Kids will love the built-in camera and video recorder, and the eBooks will help them take their reading skills to the next level.  This tablet is fun, innovative and the kids will love it.  The best part for you is that you get your iPad back and if they drop and break the LeapPad tablet, you will not feel the same financial ache as you would if it were your iPad.

Nintendo 3DS

There have been good, great and so so reviews of this gadget, but the 3D aspect is pretty cool.  The great news is that many of the games from an older model DS are compatible with the 3DS.  I have not spent much time on the DS, but my kids love it (maybe a little too much).

iPHONE4s & iPad2

For the big splurge, you can’t go wrong with the iPhone4s or the iPad2.  I can admit that I am totally, 100% obsessed with my iPhone and iPad.  I am trying to come up with the perfect excuse for why I need the iPhone4s and iPad2.  I will let you know how that works out this holiday season.  Do you think that I get the upgrade? (hint, hint to my husband)

Hot Wheels Video Racer

This is a fun, cool little gadget for kids. The video and sound may not be high quality, but your kids will have fun crashing the racer into different things and then replaying the crash in slow motion.  Kids can even wear it on their wrist like a watch and take video everywhere.  It is a fun way for kids to get into taking video and playing around with the video on the computer.  Just remember, you are not buying it for the quality, but for the fun factor.

Fijit Friends

How far we have come from the cabbage patch kids!  This is more along the lines of “Rosie” from the Jetson’s (one of my favorite childhood cartoons).  This mini robot has many cool features; telling jokes, chatting with friends, dancing and so much more.  There are four colors to choose from with four different names, adventures and personalities.  This may not be a forever toy, but will keep your child entertained and happy for a long time.

Reinvented from the Good Old Days…

 Easy Bake Ultimate Oven

I am sure that everyone has some memory of using an Easy Bake Oven as a kid.  Of course, as kids we did not focus on the fact that a light bulb was “heating up” the cake back in the day.  This new improved oven has a real heating element and a great design.  Kids will get great satisfaction out of making the cookies/cupcakes themselves from start to finish.  One complaint that I read over and over again is that there is not enough cupcake and cookie mix, so you may want to buy some extra packets.  The good news is that there are so many mixes to choose from, including pizza, devil’s food cake and soft pretzels.  So just remember that it is all about having fun and not the size of the cupcake.  Don’t expect gourmet, expect satisfaction and delight from your kids.

Highlights Magazines

This is an oldie, but a goodie!!!  I used to love doing all the activities in the “Highlights” magazines as a kid.  While waiting at the dentist’s office, there was always a Highlights magazine for me to read.  Turns out the kids still love to find the hidden pictures.  We now get it delivered to our house.  Enjoy!  You will see it will bring back some old memories of your childhood…

Pick For The Girls Of The House

Lite Sprites

From the innovative company, WowWee that invented PaperJamz, comes the latest and greatest toy for your favorite girls.  Lite Sprites bring light, color and magic to your home.  With the magical wand that collects color from all different objects and shares the color with all that it touches in Lite-Topia.  It just feels magical and your girls will love to experiment with different colors on all different objects like sneakers, shirts, books, carpet and many more.  What would a gift be these days if it didn’t have a computer component to it?  Learn more about each Lite Sprite or watch the show online.  The possibilities are endless so enjoy your magical adventure.


Another adorable doll that your daughters are sure to love.  These rag dolls have different personalities and live in a fun world with lots of surprises.  Be sure to take a look at the website to watch some Lalaloopsy Webisodes.  Games and adventures await your little ones and their Lalaloopsy.   There is even a Lalaloopsy DS game.  The fun just never ends.


Barbie I Can Be

Barbie is looking for ways to inspire girls to be all they can be.  Take a look at their new collection of “I Can Be” dolls.  It looks like the 2011 Career of the Year is an Architect!  If your girls are into Barbie, this could be a great gift that also teaches a wonderful message.

My Boys’ Must-Haves

Hockey Guys, Football Guys, Baseball Guys, Soccer Guys

Best investment in our house!  My kids never seem to tire of setting up the imaginary games with the plastic players, goals, fields or ice hockey.  It is endless fun in our house.  My kids play it together or separate, but it can go on for hours.  It was a big bonus this year when the company came out with the Bruins vs. Rangers Hockey Guys.  They have many different college football teams which is a great gift idea for the Dad or Mom that went to Ohio State or Michigan.  This is a major staple in our house.

Army Guys

The Army Guys also are a staple in our house.  My kids spend endless hours setting up a battle or lining up all the Army Guys.  This is another toy that has lasted through the years.  A bonus is that the Army guys are very inexpensive, yet they provide hours of fun.

Mini Sports Helmet Sets


So you have probably guessed by now that my boys are huge sports fans.  We have the NFL Football Helmets, MLB Baseball Helmets, and I just purchased the NHL Hockey Helmets.  Shhhhh!  It’s a surprise!  We have had the Football Helmets for a few years now and they continue to be a big hit in our family.  Each week, my kids set up the helmets so that each team is lined up against the team that they are actually playing that week.  Again, hours and hours of fun for the sports fanatic kids in your house…


My kids are totally obsessed with LEGOs.  From “Harry Potter” to “Cars” to “Star Wars”, my kids can’t seem to get enough.  We have not moved into the Architecture series yet, but we have been eyeing the White House.  Great toy for the imagination!  There are so many wonderful things that come from putting together LEGOs.  Even when the LEGO falls apart, the kids are then excited to create their own ship or plane or anything they can imagine

Most importantly… HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Thank you to my friends, family and stores that helped me compile this list of wonderful toys for the holiday season.  I am already looking forward to researching and putting together the Third Annual list for 2012!  I hope that you find it helpful when shopping for your special someone.  Next year, my goal is to have this list compiled right after Thanksgiving.  Wishing you all the best in the New Year!


Traci Shulkin