Trendy Mom's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Children's Books and Toys (Part 1) ~ Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Trendy Mom's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Children's Books and Toys (Part 1)

We've spent months testing toys to find the best holiday gift ideas for little ones. We narrowed down our favorite toys and books that we feel are engaging and memorable. This post focuses on - Gifts for Children!

Scholastic offers fun and educational books for the holidays.  We have several favorites for this holiday season that are fantastic for a variety of ages. Let's start with toddlers! I Love the Nutcracker (My First Sound Book) is illustrated by Marion Billet. This trendy book introduces your little one to six of the most iconic musical pieces from Tchaikovsky's Christmas classic.  Readers of all ages will be enchanted by this board book.  We have been reading it to our toddler daily because it's currently his favorite book. Our oldest son loves reading it to him too.  Find this book at Scholastic here.

I Love You Through and Through at Christmas Too! by Bernadette Rosseti-Shustak and ilustrated by Caroline Jayne Church is another book that we read daily.  This best selling book is fun to read with our toddler who wiggles, giggles, and cuddles as we read it!  Find this book at Scholastic here.

We've Got the Whole World In Our Hands by Rafael Lopez brings new life with his adaption of the classic, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." The rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on "we" and "our" encourages inclusive commnities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world.  This book is a classic for the holiday season! Find this book at Scholastic here.

The Lotterys More or Less by Emma Donoghue is a great book for ages 8 to 12. Personally, my 8 year old read the entire book in one night. He just couldn't put it down! Sumac Lottery is the keepr of her family's traditions, from Pow Wow to Holi, Carnival to Hogmanary, Sumac's on guard to make sure that no Lottery celebration is forgotten. However, this winter, all Sumac's seasonal plans go awry when a Brazilian visitor overstays his welcome. A terrible ice storm grounds all flights, so one of her dads and her favorite brother can't make it home from India. Then the power starts going out across the city! Find out if Sumac is able to hang on to the spirit of the season.  Find this book at Scholastic here.

Mac B., Kid Spy 1: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnnett and illustrated by Mike Lowery is fantastic for ages 7 to 10. I won't spoil it for you, but I will tell you that my son loved this book that contains secret identities to Karate hijinks in a high-paced, witty, and historically inspired chapter book that kept busy as he read it from cover to cover.  Find this book at Scholastic here.

Do you have boys who love to go outside to battle? Let the super-charged match begin with a couple of toys from Adventure Force, including the Adventure Force Quantum and the Adventure Force Command Fire! Let's start with the Quantum. It holds up to 100 Rounds. It comes with 6 Team Color Markers that quick-snap into the side of the blaster. If your child prefers darts, the Commandfire holds 80 darts, with 40 in the dart hopper and 40 in the storage compartment. The Commandfire high-tech dart loading system is matched by the blaster's motorized full-auto firepower. Both of these trendy Adventure Force toys are under $50. Pair the Quantum or the Command with refill packs too if you want to increase the fun! You will find the Adventure Force Quantum, Command, and extra refills at Walmart here.

The ZingSportz Air Storm Z-Tek Bow is the ultimate foam bow and arrow combo! The Z-Tek Bow features a sleeker shape, storage ammo clips located right on the bow, and lower profile bungee cords that deliver incredible launching distances – over 100 feet! Just hook the Zonic screaming whistle arrow into the fast-load loops, then pull back and it’s “Ready, Aim, Fire!” Watch as the Z-Tek Bow sends arrows screaming through the air! Set up some cans for target practice, or shoot against a wall for bounce-back action! Zartz Suction-cup Arrows stick to almost anything and each arrow is safe for indoor or outdoor play. Each comes with two Zonic screaming whistle arrows and one Zartz Suction Cup Arrow. The Air Storm Z-Tek Bow is for ages 14+. It retails in the US for $19.99 at Target and Walmart. It retails in CA for $29.99 at Walmart, Toys R Us, Mastermind Toys, and Indigo.

The LEGO DUPLO My First Emotions Set is a trendy gift for toddlers that not only allows them to practice motor skills, but also helps to connect them with emotions through the characters.  My toddler loves to build with these chunky blocks. He also enjoys acting out different scenarios that involve emotions.  Many parents argue whether toddlers go through the "Terrible 2's" or "Terrible 3's". In any case, it's tough for toddlers to learn about the world around them and to experience emotions from disappointment and feeling hurt to happiness and feeling excited. I love that this set makes it fun to talk about different scenarios and feelings in order to build my son's emotional IQ. It's a nice way to help him to build confidence as he learns to interact with the world around him.  Visit LEGO's website here for this trendy set. You'll also find it at stores nationwide and on Amazon here.

American Plastic Toys Inc.: American Plastic Toys Inc. offers trendy toys that have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1962.  In addition to their trendy designs, I really like that the colorant molded in all of their products is purchased domestically and FDA approved for use in food packaging. None of their products are painted or include phthalates.   Let me share two trendy toys that I have for my own children - the Gigantic Recycling Truck and the My Very Own Nursery.

The Gigantic Recycling Truck is perfect for my toddler. I love watching him fill this giant 2' long truck and hearing him exclaim, "Beeeeep, Beeeeep, Beeeeep!" This huge, heavy-duty Gigantic Recycling Truck is backing up with big rugged wheels to haul off recyclables. Find it on Amazon here.

My Very Own Nursery is another engaging toy from the American Plastic Toys, Inc. Your favorite little ones can enjoy taking care of their “little ones” with this complete nursery station.  From bedtime to feeding time, this nursery has everything they need including a crib, storage shelf and cupboard for all of baby’s supplies, a feeding chair and a sink. Kids can provide the best care with a sweet and colorful mobile displaying character decals to soothe their baby to sleep, as well as enjoy feeding time with the included fork, spoon, plate and “sippy” cup. Find it on Amazon here.

The Aquabeads Deluxe Studio is a fun set that provided my son with hours of entertainment! Aquabeads, arts and crafts products, are perfect to bring visionary art to life and create incredible designs.  The sets feature an innovative bead peeler to remove the artwork easily and create additional masterpieces. Kids make Aquabeads creations from included templates or their own imaginations.  They place beads onto the lid of the case, which is used as the bead tray, then spray with water to fuse the beads together.  Once dried, the creations can be peeled and shared with friends and family.  Kids can double the fun with the Deluxe Studio as they can now create fun 3D designs.  This Deluxe set contains more than 1300 jewel & solid beads in 24 colors, a container, and rainbow bead pen, easy trays, sprayer, template sheets & instructions. This set connects to the Beginners Studio or Glamorous Designer Set for even more fun!  Find the Aquabeads Deluxe set on Amazon here.

The ALEX DIY Paper Swirls Swirl Station introduces young craft enthusiasts to the world of quilling; making art with rolled paper strips. Your little artist will be able to create art, cards, toys, jewelry and more with 200 colorful strips of paper. The Swirl Station makes quilling easy by rolling the strips in seconds, with the push of a button. The instruction booklet teaches you how to make lots of suggested shapes, or you can swirl around body forms to make bigger creations. The creative possibilities are endless. This toy is for ages 8 and older. Learn more here and order on Amazon here.      

ALEX Break Away Ballz combine two of my son's favorite things - balls and puzzles! Catch ‘em, bounce ‘em, break ‘em! Each 5” ball consists of 8 identically sized foam pieces that break apart when thrown against a hard surface, revealing a 2” bouncy ball surprise inside. The identically sized pieces allow you to easily piece back together. For added play, kids can hide something inside. There are six to collect. Learn more here.   

ALEX Do Dats are a fun stocking stuffer.  We love the ALEX® D.I.Y line that includes hands-on activities. The new collectible Do Dats™ line of adorable characters are perfect for creative kids with big imaginations.. Display them or wear them as bag charms, it’s easy & fun. You can customize them too, just mix & match as you collect them! With the patented no-knot system, anyone can Do Dat! Avail at Learning Express.  Learn more here.

The Sing & Play Happy Penguin from Wild Republic has quickly become a beloved family member. Wild Republic’s Sing & Play Happy Penguin Plush features the popular children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Happy Penguin talks, sings, and claps. This 10” animated plush has two different modes “PLAY” and “SING” printed and accessible on feet. Children will love clapping and singing along with the animated Happy Penguin! Music “If You’re Happy and You Know It” courtesy of The Joe Raposo Music Group, Inc. Check out a video of it here

The Green Toys Ambulance & Doctor’s Kit is perfect for future doctors and nurses! This trendy set comes with everything needed to play doctor, nurse, EMT – or all of the above! Made in the USA from super-safe, 100% recycled plastic, this 10-piece set encourages motor skill development, imaginative play, and pro-social behavior, while also helping to ease anxiety about doctor visits by making the components of a check-up familiar and fun. The ambulance has the features, size, and durability of a classic Green Toys truck, as well as lights that flip-up into a handle to create a unique carrying case. All the pieces included in the set – a stethoscope, reflex hammer, syringe, forceps, thermometer, and otoscope, as well as a doctor’s notepad and two sheets of assorted stickers – can be stored in the back of the ambulance for quick, eco-friendly transport to the next emergency. No BPA, phthalates, or PVC. Dishwasher safe. Packaged with recycled and recyclable materials and printed with soy inks. This set is for ages 2-8.  Learn more here.  

The Green Toys Elmo & Friends Dough Activity Set comes with everything needed to create your favorite furry faces – out of dough! Use the tools to create the shapes and figures, then finish off your creation with the pop-out features. The safe, non-toxic dough is made in a food-safe facility from organic flour, and easily wipes off the activity card. This 12-piece set promotes sensory exploration, develops fine motor skills, and encourages creativity and imagination. Includes: 1 star extruder, 1 spaghetti extruder, 1 scraper, 1 knife, 1 roller, 1 rolling cutter, 1 scissors, 1 two-sided activity card, 1 pop-out features sheet, and 3 dough tubs. This is an ultimate gift for preschoolers! Learn more here.

Calico Critters: Calico Critters have a special place in my heart because their adorable characters and play sets have created many happy childhood memories for our family.  The set below is a newer set that we love - the Calico Critters Red Roof Cozy Cottage. It is the perfect starter home for children to build their world of imagination.  Bell Hopscotch is ready to play house in her quaint home, furnished with a bed, kitchen sink, stove/oven, food, tables, chairs and more!  Kids can connect the Cozy Cottage to the Country Home for even more creativity and fun. Find it at Walmart or Amazon.

Smooshy Mushy Babies and Smashy Mashy are a lot of fun for little ones. My youngest adores his Smooshy Mushy Baby that came with a little pet and bottle. His special delivery included the trendy Binky Baby & Fitzy Frog.  It was fun to pop the top to find out who the stork brought to him. There are six Smooshy Mushy Baby characters this season and they retail for $14.99 each. 

While my youngest son loves everything sweet like his Smooshy Mushy Baby, my oldest son prefers disgusting and outrageous characters! After all, Squish doesn’t have to be ALL cute! Smooshy Mushy introduces Smashy Mashy with caution! Open up your super-goo-filled container but watch out! A Smashy Mashy character and its disgusting, spoiled buddy are lurking inside. So disgustingly squishy! You can collect loads of smelly Smashy Mashy characters. Examples of available in characters include an ‘out of this world’ alien, a ‘far out’ hippie llama, and more. Personally, my son received Unipug + T-Bone and it's the family pet that we never had!  There are six trendy characters this season and they retail for $9.99 each.

The holiday season is never complete without family-friendly games! I found some trendy games that are sure to create happy memories.

Cut the Wire is the ultimate race to see who can defuse or lose... before it's too late! Put your skills to the test with Cut the Wire, new from YULU! A device is ticking and it’s about to go off! Players compete to see who cuts the right wire, defuses the device, and saves the day. Use secret clues for hints to help figure out how to avoid cutting the wrong wire and losing the game. This game is for ages 6+ and retails for $24.99 in the US (Target Exclusive) and $29.99 in CA (Walmart Canada Exclusive).

The Spy Code Hackathon game is one of family's favorite games. With the success of the Spy Code games of 2017, YULU expands this spy line with the introduction of Hackathon. One player, the operator, is trapped in a virtual room trying to hack into a top secret government hard drive. The other players are the ‘Experts’ who must give the hacking instructions to break through the 8 different modules by deciphering the information found in the instruction manuals. But there is a catch: the experts can’t see the hard drive and the operator can’t see the manuals. So everyone will need to talk it out – fast. This game is for ages 8+ and retails for $29.99 in the US (Target Exclusive) and $44.99 in CA (Toys R Us).

The Sticky the Plunger with Slide-In Photo Target is a great gag gift for little ones who make too many poop jokes!  I don't know about you, but I never realized that having children would result in having to listen to so many poop jokes. (The evolution of the poop emoji hasn't helped!) Poop is popular and this toilet target is totally on trend! Let the poop (or plunger) fly with Sticky the Plunger with Slide-In Photo Target, new from Hog Wild! Ready, aim. . . stick!!! Use Sticky the Plunger or Sticky the Poo to hit the target with a resounding S-P-L-A-T! Just slip any photo into the Target’s “flush zone” to create a customized turd target. The set includes 2 Sticky the Plungers, 1 Sticky the Poo and 1 toilet target with slide-in for 8.5” x 11” photo. This is for ages 4+ and has a retail price of $19.99.

Who Cut the Cheese: Who Cut the Cheese is a silly game that will result in giggles and happy childhood memories. This is a game kids will make a big stink about! Kids will giggle their way through this Electronic Gas Game waiting to see who is next to cut the cheese. When players cut the cheese wheel with the special knife, each slice makes a different, funny sound. Each player takes a turn until they “cut the cheese” with a loud farting noise and then go back to start.  Players mark their progress along the game board and move forward each time they avoid cutting the cheese.  The first to reach the finish line wins! This game is for 2 to 4 players. Find it on Amazon here.

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