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Top Gifts of the Holiday Season

It’s December and you had a whole year to think about holiday gifts for the kids. Of course, procrastination set in and now you are running around from store to store to find the perfect gifts for your family and friends. Some of you have already celebrated your holiday and some of you are in the final countdown. (Next year, I promise this list will go out earlier!) For those that haven’t celebrated, procrastination time is over… it’s time to get your list organized. If your kids are anything like mine, out of nowhere they have started making lists. I never asked them for a list nor did I expect a list, but when my oldest started to ask me how to spell certain items that he saw in a commercial, I knew that I was in trouble. So to all you marketers out there, it’s working.

After talking to friends and doing my research online and in the stores, here is a list that I came up with that you might find helpful. To all the moms (and dads!) out there that helped me compile the “must haves” for 2010 – Thank you!

1.  Wow Wee Paper Jamz

Do you want to be an instant rock star (for less than $40!)? Here’s your chance. I was sitting at my son’s baseball class when a few of us start talking about gifts for the kids. Someone mentioned Paper Jamz as a great gift – the rest of us had never heard of it. It was described as a cardboard guitar (yes, cardboard) and amplifier that really work. After reading more “hype” about this gift, I decided to purchase it for my nephew. To say that it was a “home run” would be an understatement. My nephew and my two sons couldn’t stop playing… and in the interest of full disclosure, I found myself right in the middle of the “I get to play it next” discussions screaming matches. What can I say? My inner rocker was coming out. For Hanukkah, we decided to give our boys the guitar and drum set on the first night.  They can’t get enough of it. It’s a great way to introduce your kids to music and instruments! Be sure to take video of the kids when they try it out for the first time. Grade: A+

2.  Pillow Pets

I have to be honest. I did not understand the craze for pillow pets at first until my son one day asked me how to spell pillow pets, after seeing a commercial. He wanted to put it at the top of his “pleeeease!” list. My kids now sleep with them every night. Think of it as a stuffed animal crossed with a pillow – really useful for traveling. Warning:  Once you buy one, the pillow pets become very addicting, and they come in over 30 different animal choices. Another one or two may soon find their way into your home. Lions, tigers and bears, oh my… indeed.  Grade: B+

3. Hex Bugs

I had seen these in stores for a long time and never really understood the craze. However, when I finally saw some kids playing with them I got it (kinda…). It involves electronic “bugs”, mazes, crashes, and can be made into a competition. Definitely a toy for the “boys.” The most fun part is how much they ‘act’ like real bugs, almost learning which way to go, and zipping around like a caterpillar that has had waaaay too much caffeine. Grade: B

4.   Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle

This one is fairly straight-forward, unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 10 years. Anything associated with Harry Potter was, is, and will remain a “can’t miss” item for years to come. This year’s big seller is the LEGO version of Hogwarts Castle. One minor downside… you might not be able to get it shipped until January (if this happens, wrap up a “picture” of the game with a ‘Coming Soon’ sign). The upside is that come January, your kids will be sick of all the toys that they got during the holidays and it will be the perfect time for something new. I am a huge fan of LEGO’s for many reasons: kids get to use their imagination, they learn how to follow instructions and it does wonders for their hand/eye coordination. During the cold, winter months, legos can mesmerize even the most easily distracted child for hours. It may even give you moms (and dads!) a little break. Grade: A-

5.  Loopz

Calling all “Simon Says” addicts and future addicts. This game combines lights, music, memory, and solid competition. Kids can play Loopz alone or against friends – either way, it is a fun game. And for the parents… if you think you’re getting old, give it a shot and test your memory and reaction time. You may be surprised by the results… for better or worse!   Grade: B

6. Baby Alive

A lot of kids like playing “house” or acting the role of parent… especially if they have a baby brother or sister (since they see mommy and daddy taking care of the baby). Every year various incarnations of this toy arrive on store shelves… from all I have heard, this is 2010’s best offering in this area. Baby Alive gives your child the chance to change diapers and feed the baby.  It is a perfect opportunity to teach your child responsibility (better on Baby Alive than on the new family pet…). Additionally, it will often allow you to feed or change your real baby peacefully without any distractions from their older sibling. The baby will coo and cry which your child may become very aware of if you have a new baby in the house. Grade: B+

7.  Zhu Zhu Pets

Winner of 2010’s “Toy of the Year” by the Toy Industry Association, your kids will love entering the Zhuniverse. Featuring the Zhus – cute, silly and “fur-ocious” hamsters – your kids will love this one. Add in all the adorable names and free accessories (i.e. your child can set up their own zhuniverse online, and explore different games and ‘worlds’). This is truly like owning a real pet hamster… minus the sawdust everywhere!  Grade: A-

8.  Stealth Rides

Are you looking for something cool and portable? A great stocking-stuffer? Are you traveling this holiday season? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then this is the perfect toy. Mattel has produced 5 different models of stealth-like tanks, racing cars, and even a Bat-mobile, which all collapse down to the size of a credit card and the width of a cell phone…. And still it’s remote controllable. Very cool and portable. It sounds like a win/win to me. Grade: A

9.  BeyBlades

If your child enjoys competition, this is the toy for him or her. These customized tops battle one another until one top stops and loses. The kids circle around the stadium arena with excitement wondering which BeyBlade is going to take the match. Great indoor fun and competition. Grade: B+

10.  Zipfy and Zipfy Jr.

Calling all snow lovers! Check out the newest, most innovative sled around, the Zipfy and Zipfy Jr. Collect all the different colors of the rainbow or even go for the special edition. The stick allows for easy steering and with legs in front, kids just need to dig in their heels to stop. These sleds bring fun, control, coolness and safety all in one product while also weighing in at a mere 3.5 lbs (good for dad’s back!). The stick has a multi-purpose to steer the sled, but also acts as a handle to carry the sled. Collect all the colors of the rainbow. Try it out!  Grade: A

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!