From games and books to Elmo and dolls, find something in our 2014 Holidagy Gift Guide for your little ones.
Happy Holidays from our families to yours!
-Liz Paulsen, Mary Raebel and Amy Butterfield
Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown
A picture book of lullabies and CD. Ages 3–6
The illustrations are gorgeous and spur conversations. My daughter has fallen asleep to the CD every night. It is beautifully packaged; I would absolutely purchase this as a gift.
–Maggie, mom of Emma (4½) and Jaxon (2½)
Chew proof, rip proof and 100 percent washable. Ages 0 +
Neither my teething baby nor my energetic kindergartner can mar these. My daughter is able to carry them everywhere—chomping, crumpling, drooling, and mess-making—with no tell-tale cardboard bits on her chin. The books clean up beautifully with soap and water. The stories and vibrant illustrations are appropriate for babblers.
–Kristina, mom of Jackson (4) and Anna (10 months)
My Peek-A-Boo Elmo
Elmo covers his eyes and talks. Ages 18 mos.–4 yrs.
My Peek-A Boo Elmo is super cute and a great size for little hands! My son loves Elmo and loves playing peek-a-boo. He brings it every time we go in the car and plays with it throughout the day. I recommend this to anyone whose children love Elmo as much as mine do.
–Laura, mom of Abigail (6), Maggie (4) and George (2)
Twinkling Firefly Frog
Fireflies twinkle in the stuffed frog’s belly. All ages.
This frog is so adorable and soft. I am impressed with the many settings: music, cricket/nature sounds, or just the lights in the belly—along with four different volumes! My kids are amazed at the amount of light that comes from his belly. We also enjoy reading the cute little story book that comes with it. This would make a great gift for any age.
–Heather, mom of Lilyana (6), Gavyn (4) and Gracelyn (1)
The Green Toys Train
Made of recycled plastic milk jugs. Ages 3+.
The train is colorful, bright and sturdy. It comes with two figures so one child can play conductor/engineer while the other plays passenger. The train also holds up to some non-mommy approved "launching" without breaking, cracking or scratching. If it gets dirty, because it’s recycled milk jugs, it is dishwasher safe!
–Vicki, mom of Illias (6) and Nora (3)
Build a superhero outfit: cape, mask, cuffs, T-shirt. Ages 6+.
My 4-year-old flies through the house at lightning speeds, pretending long into the night. The cape is made of durable fabric and attaches easily with simple Velcro at the neckline. The colors are bright and eye catching. We love that we can design a cape on the website. This makes a unique gift.
–Jennifer, mom of Sebastian (4), Jacob (11), Nick (14) and Alexi (19)
Our Generation Doll
An 18-inch poseable doll and chapter book. Ages 3+
Not only is “Willow” a beautiful doll, but she comes with sleepover accessories: pajamas, slippers, a toothbrush, a chapter level reading book, and (my daughter’s favorite) a stuffed bunny for the doll. My daughter enjoys this doll as much as, if not more, than a very similar doll. The accessories are very appealing and very affordable. Lastly, the company donates to Free the Children Charity.
–Jennifer, mom of Sadie (7)
Spider-Man Web Wing Car
Racer/hovercar includes Spider-Man. Ages 3–7.
Both of my kids like it. My 5-year-old really has a lot of fun with it. He thinks it’s cool that it can convert into a hovercraft so quickly. It's handled many hours of rough play without any damage! I give it a thumbs up, too!
–Liz, mom of Madeline (7) and William (5)
A combination of bowling, bocce and horseshoes. Ages 4+.
This is an exciting outside game the entire family can enjoy. We found it surprisingly challenging, but it only takes a few seconds to set up. It also comes with a carrying case, which makes it easy to transport to the park, beach or wherever!
–Marquel, aunt of Gavin (12) and Christian (10)
Diverse dolls have poseable bodies. Ages 3+.
Not your average Barbie. Prettie stands for: Positive, Respectful, Enthusiastic, Talented, Truthful, Inspiring, Excellent— character traits worth aspiring to. The dolls are realistic looking, well made, and represent a variety of cultures. Although I wish the clothing were of better quality, my daughter loves playing with her Lena doll and keeping up with her life on Facebook.
–Marquel, mom of Mya (3)
Little Books: About Important Things
Topics include getting lost, making friends and feelings. Ages 2–6
My 5-year-old likes these three books. They present a very good concept with great illustrations. My son is able to engage in each book and he understands the message.
–Liz, mom of Eli (5) and Oliver (1½)
Colorful light graphics for spinning bike wheel. All ages.
This is a well thought out and well-made product. It installs easily, and is easy to turn on and switch patterns. It’s super fun for the kids to use and makes them more visible at dusk/dark while riding their bikes. I am impressed by this product.
–Amy, mom of Tori (11), Jeremy (9) and Claire (7)
Pop! The Pig
Watch the pig’s belly get bigger until it pops! Ages 4+.
This is a really easy game to set up. The instructions are very clear. My daughter has no problem following the rules and enjoys playing. The players just need to make sure they push down hard enough on the pig's head until it clicks. Great game!
–Niki, mom of Hadleigh (5)
Preloaded with over 70 kid-friendly apps, games, educational content. Ages 4+.
This Wi-Fi-capable tablet is easy to use and the features, differentiated by age groups, are perfectly in sync with the ages of our kids. We keep the safe-mode on—a neat control feature that ensures they don’t download apps on their own. The Kids-Cam is the favorite. Another is the “Let It Go” music video, but many of the videos are shortened versions. The books available have an option that reads the words to an emerging reader. All the pre-installed arcade games are fun, age appropriate and non-violent. The selection in their app store is pretty good, even the free ones. I recommend it for ages 4–10.
–Eric, dad of Jordyn (9), Reyna (7) and Tyler (4)
SPARK Kitchen Chemistry
Science kit. Ages 7+.
My kids and I love this kit. It uses simple and safe everyday household items. The experiments are fun and easy to understand. The younger kids even enjoy watching and helping. I like how we can do most of the experiments with minimal mess. It teaches the basic properties of science.
–Kelly, mom of Wyatt (8), Madalynn (6½) and Angel (3½)
Occupy the most pastures. Ages 7+
Incredibly fun and thought-provoking strategy game for kids and adults! The kids like that it requires them to think strategically and learn from mistakes. The variations of game boards and short playing time are also positives. We wish the board pieces would interlock. However, we highly recommend.
–Eric, dad of Jordyn (9), Reyna (7) and Tyler (5)
nanoblock Pickup Truck
World’s smallest building block system. Over 320 pieces. Ages 8+.
When I got this set, I thought it was going to be easy. But, looks can be deceiving. The instructions are pretty hard to understand, and it’s nearly impossible to build. The truck is pretty realistic in the end, but I would not recommend this set to anyone below 9-years-old.
–Jackson (11), Lego builder extraordinaire (as per Jackson’s mom)
Pull the lever and be the first to throw your ball into the funnel. Ages 8+.
The game is easy to set up and understand. Often the spinner lands between letters or categories and you have to choose one. It’s fun to see which ball will land in the quiz tube. Younger kids might enjoy it more than teens. It is good for brainstorming and creativity.
–Jessica, mom of Elijah (13) and Ava (10)
Launch with the touch of a button. Ages 8+.
The boys love it! It walks, flies and jumps and does everything it promises. It comes with 2-way infrared, rechargeable remote, saving you money. Great for encouraging indoor and outdoor play. Our big kid (aka my husband) loves this too! Great fun. Great gift idea.
–Cara, mom of Bryce (9) and godson Chase (6)
Eco Washer Pro
Detergent-free, ozone laundry system transforms cold water into a non-toxic cleaning agent.
I can't say enough amazing things about this. I love not having to use any detergents or fabric softeners. The clothes come out smelling clean without any fragrances. The clothes feel soft. Spot treatment or very little detergent does go a long way in getting out some of the really soiled clothes. With kids, their clothes can get really greasy and grimy and might need a little more help.
–Sarah, mom of Sadie (7), Finn (6), Jude (4) and Reece (2)
Storage with mirror.
This is a great multi-purpose accessory.
I am often on the run, lugging backpacks or my kids’ items. It’s nice to skip my purse and slip an I.D., debit card and a little cash securely in the phone case.
–Sarah, mom of Norah (8), Cate (6) and George (4)
Lightweight, full-stretch knit fabric.
My daughter loves this hoodie. It has UPF 50+ sun protection built in. During warm, sunshine-filled days, it definitely keeps her cool while protecting her from harmful sunrays—a great alternative to sunscreen. My daughter also really likes the kangaroo pouch pocket on the front! We like it so much, I’m going to purchase one for my other daughter.
–Beth, mom of Faith (6) and Lacey (4)
Examine the object on the card and improve it, transform it or completely disrupt it. Ages 10+
I love games that help develop and challenge our creative side, and this game does that. It's a little tricky to catch on to, but the directions are extremely easy to follow. Younger kids can join in with some assistance. It could be a great party game and played in teams—a worthy
addition to anyone's game closet.
–Amy, mom of Tori (10), Jeremy (8) and Claire (6)
Scrabble Electronic Scoring
Handheld scoring and timer.
Ages 8+. $19.99, hasbro.com
This is the same game with updated tile racks and electronic score keeper. Neither the tiles nor board are electronic, which is a little disappointing. But it remains a great family game! It also saves a tree in that you don’t have to spend money on a pad of paper or pencils. We love it!
–Keva, mom of Shyla (10), Maliq (8) and Syidah (6)
Projects color-lighted images. All ages.
My daughter thinks it’s fun the way it projects images throughout the ceiling of her room. With a push of a button, she can turn it on, choose one color, or rotate from purple to pink. I really like the auto shut-off. It fits on a small nightstand and can even sit on a carpeted floor. It is battery operated, so we took it camping and used it in the tent!
–Nicole, mom of Grace (8)
Decorate wooden bracelets. Ages 8+. $9.99, ohioart.com
My daughter has a lot of fun decorating, although she needs to use two coats of the paint. The brush provided for writing is too difficult, so she found a different tool. There is a website for additional tips on creating your own style. All in all, my daughter and her 13-year-old cousin enjoy the kit!
–Doris, mom of Alannah (11)