With Their Eyes All Aglow
As I’ve mentioned before, writing a gift guide for kids is always a scary thing, because before the CGG ever existed, ‘hot toy’ lists were being released all over the place. So instead of trying to hone in on the top 10 hottest toys, I’m identifying 10 unique gift ideas for tiny tots, kids, and tweens alike. Enjoy!
RedHeartMonkeys Sock Monkey Toys – $40 each
I featured RedHeartMonkeys on my blog earlier this year and a bunch of you agreed it was a super cute and customizable gift idea! Well the brand has whipped up something new for the holidays – two festively appareled sock monkey plush toys. Available in both a Santa and elf variety, this adorable classic toys have a few different ways to customize them. First, choose your sock colour and whether or not you want your sock monkey to have eyelashes or not. Second, choose what letter you want on the monkey’s heart so each little one in your household can truly claim their monkey as their own. It’s a totally classic gift idea that still feels refreshingly simple this holiday season!
Little Passports – From $11.95 / month
When I was little, my parents instilled in me a desire to see the world – but I’ll admit, Little Passports might do an even more incredible job than they did! This unique subscription service for children delivers fun activities and collectibles to your doorstep each month, guided along by different characters that take you to different locations around the globe. It’s available in three different models. For the littlest ones, there’s Early Explorers, which kicks off with the delivery of a whimsical suitcase packed with goodies. Once they’re older, they can graduate to the World Edition, geared toward 6-10 year olds with more advanced challenges and games. If you’re keen on having them know our neighbours to the south, there’s also a USA edition that covers two U.S. states per month. All in all it’s a gift that’ll keep on giving – not just as a month-to-month subscription, but for building a desire to know the world in the next generation.
ALEX Toys Young Artist Studio Monster Art Center – $87 @ Amazon.ca
Is there a budding artist in the house? This crafty collection of art supplies has every pencil, pen, and other implement a child would need to create incredible pictures. The sturdy aluminum case keeps everything neat and organized, and even folds up to create an easel for creating time. With paints, pencil crayons, markers, pastels, glue, drawing pencils, brushes and more, it’s a pretty comprehensive kit for that pint-sized Picasso.
Playskool Baby Toys – $11.99-$29.99 at Walmart, Real Canadian Superstore, Toys “R” Us
With a new niece in my family, I’ve been keeping a keen eye out for unique baby toys, and Hasbro’s definitely took the cake! Why you ask? Well as any mom can attest, having a few toys in your tote (or diaper) bag is essential to turning baby frowns upside down. So they’ve launched a line of impressive foldable toys that squeeze into tight spaces but can be easily and quickly expanded on to engage the little ones. Take for example, the Playskool Fold ‘n Go Busy Elephant, which is soft enough for baby to lie down on its tummy, but compact enough that it can easily be folded up and tucked into your bag once playtime is over. It’s also machine washable and has a whopping 7 activities to keep your tots busy. And that’s just one of many portable toys that Playskool offers – the Stack n’ Stow Cups, Roll ‘n Gears, Pop-Up Shape Sorter and Pop-Up Rollin Ramp are all super affordable ways to keep the kids entertained at every age and the parents totally sane. An amazing gift idea for all the little ones on your list!
Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook – $19.99
It was only a matter of time I suppose! Home Alone has officially cemented itself into the Christmas traditions of many (myself included – it’s an annual watch!) and now that tradition is being taken a step further, with the introduction of a sweet illustrated storybook version of the film. Whether you’re familiar with the story or not, the book features whimsical illustrations that capture the hijinks and energy of the film, captivating kids and the parents that read it to them. Plus it’s got some sweet life lessons about the value of family and Kevin’s impressive bout of bravery. With the introduction of the book, Home Alone is sure to join hallowed Christmas reading material like The Polar Express and How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Packs – $64 @ Amazon.ca
If it feels like there’s been a lot of Star Wars on the CGG lately, that’s simply cause there’s a LOT of Star Wars stuff out there. But I was particularly intrigued by the latest and greatest incarnation of Disney Infinity, the interactive video game system that allows kids to mix and match their favourite characters from Disney, Pixar, and now Star Wars films to complete missions and stories in familiar settings. With the option to either create your own worlds using their Toy Box feature or following stories in their various Play Sets (including free stories available online), the Disney universe truly becomes a small world after all.
Dunecraft Dome Terrariums – ~$24.95 each
I’m a big advocate of getting kids in touch with nature – but I also recognize in a climate like Canada, that’s not always the most feasible. Luckily, there’s Dunecraft, which specializes in indoor gardening kits, like these fun terrariums for kids. Available in a range of themes like ‘Dinosaur Dome’ and ‘Butterfly Glamour Garden’, each kit is designed for beginner gardeners to easily plant, nurture, and customize their little indoor paradises. The kits range from edible plants to ones with unique features, like the creepy cool ‘Carnivorous Creations’, featuring famed meat-eating plants like Venus Fly Trap. It’s a fantastic unisex gift that keeps on delivering rewards well after its been planted, plus it may inspire some help with the yard work come springtime. Given you can nab Dunecraft’s terrariums at major Canadian retailers like Indigo, it also makes a great last-minute pick.
Whimsy Mail & Putter Pails Subscriptions – $23.95 / month
I *love* this subscription gift idea for a few reasons. First, it’s geared toward the often overlooked tween demographic of 8-12 year olds – children that typical ‘gifts for kids’ lists overlook and ‘gifts for teens’ lists are too mature for. Second, it’s a cool way to keep the kids engaged and busy with a wide range of items and themes and each and every month. With slightly different boxes geared toward boys and girls, each kit contains everything from fun wearables to cool knick knacks and toys to things they can actually interact with – the sample kits I checked out had a cupcake mould and a vanilla cupcake recipe, for example. It’s a great, creative idea that’s sure to feel fresh months after it’s gifted!
Osmo Starter Kit – $99.95 @ Indigo
Toward the end of his life, Steve Jobs reflected on the fact he really wanted to ‘disrupt’ the education system with more tech integration. While he may not have lived to realize that dream, the folks behind products like Osmo are certainly stepping up to the plate. This unique device turns your iPad into a sneaky little educational game that the kids will love to interact with. Basically you plop your iPad into a base and add a reflector to the top of it. Together, they create a ‘playing field’ where what your child does in real life reflects what’s happening on the screen. There are a few different apps and activities with the starter kit, such as the tracing app you see above that allows kids to turn any photo into a traceable / colourable image in real life. Or Tangram, which challenges their spatial intelligence to make puzzles that mirror what they see on screen. Finally there is Words, which is basically a spelling challenge using hints and alphabet tiles. Not only are the games fun on their own, they can be adapted to match your child’s schooling – if they’ve got a list of words to learn or spell, input them into Words and make learning them fun. The iPad has never been such a brain charger!
BlocoToys Galactic Mission and The Ponys Collections – $32.99 / $24.99
There’s been a number of studies done out there that prove ‘building’ toys are great for children’s development. Bloco is a Canadian outfit who offers a unique take on the typical plastic block builder toy – their pieces are made of foam and can be linked up, stacked, and rotated in an endless number of configurations, creating movable, lovable toys your kids have made themselves. While each of their kits can be used to create its intended shapes – from dragons and ponies to spaceships and trolls – you can also have fun reinventing them into all kinds of different designs. This holiday season their newest offerings include a fun space-themed kit (perfect for any child that recently watched The Martian) which can actually be reworked into three different configurations, as well as a set for crafting two movable ponies, along with their accessories. If your kid loves one of these sets this year, you can be certain there are many more to come in Bloco’s future and many more easy-to-buy gifts too! Their products are available at a ton of independent and mainstream toy retailers, including Amazon.ca and Indigo.
I’m giving away a $445 prize package filled with amazing gift ideas for kids of all ages. If you win, the following items will show up on your doorstep:
- A RedHeartMonkey plush
- A 3-month subscription to Little Passports World Edition
- Playskool Pop-Up Shape Sorter + Fold ‘n Go Busy Elephant
- A copy of Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook
- 2 Dunecraft Dome Terrariums
- A 3-month subscription to Whimsy Mail & Putter Pails
- An Osmo starter kit
- BlocoToys Mission Galactic + Ponies Kits
All you have to do to enter is:
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then leave me a comment below by November 21, 2015 telling me what product you love the most in this holiday gift guide.
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around November 22, 2015 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entries: Do as many or as few of these as you’d like! Whatever you do, be sure to leave proof of your efforts in separate comments below – i.e. I’m looking for links. If you’re unsure how to link to a Tweet or Facebook post, do a quick Google search!
RedHeartMonkey – Follow the brand on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway, linking back to this post. Please tag @cdngiftguide too!
Little Passports – Follow the brand on Pinterest and repin one of their pins.
Hasbro – Follow the brand on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway, linking back to this post. Please tag @cdngiftguide too!
Random House of Canada – Follow the brand on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway, linking back to this post. Please tag @cdngiftguide too!
Dunecraft – Pin the image of the Dunecraft Terrariums from this post to your own Pinterest account.
Whimsy Mail & Putter Pails – Like the brand on Facebook and leave a message on their wall about what you love best about this cool subscription idea. You’re under no obligation to mention my blog.
Indigo – Follow the brand on Twitter and Tweet about the giveaway, linking back to this post. Please tag @cdngiftguide too!
Dunecraft – Pin the image of the Dunecraft Terrariums from this post to your own Pinterest account.
BlocoToys – Like the brand on Facebook and leave a message on their wall about which of their toys you think is the coolest. You’re under no obligation to mention my blog.