Dec 16, 2016

5 Playful Gifts the Whole Family Will Love This Holiday!

By this point in the gift-giving game, your kids have probably slipped you some major hints and lengthy lists of things they’re dreaming to see underneath the Christmas tree, or wrapped in shiny paper during those 9 nights of Hanukah.

But it’s always awesome to surprise our offspring with a few things you know they’ll totally dig playing with long after the decorations have come down.

As a play expert and toy contributor, I receive loads of toys and games to “test out” each holiday season. I’m always looking for things that will really boost kids’ creative spirits and help them and their families playfully connect with one another. In a recent survey conducted by Nintendo, it turned out that nearly half (48%), of all parents tell their kids they are “too busy” to play with them an average of 8 times per week. As we approach the holidays and a snowy patch of family time just around the bend, I say we all yell out a big ol’ “YES!” to that questions, as often as possible.

Here are five super-fun toys and games that families will enjoy playing:

1. Mario Party Star Rush for Nintendo 3DS

As a parent of 2 digital game-loving kiddos I know that sometimes we grown-ups can give “device time” a bad rap. But I say it’s all about balance, engagement, and providing kids with video based games we can feel really good about…and that we just may want to play too! 

With holiday travel on many folk’s agenda, one of the newest video games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems in the beloved Mario series, Mario Party Star Rush, gets everyone with a device playing together all at once, by downloading the free Party Guest Edition (only have to buy the game once and everyone can play!). It’s perfect for planes, trains, and automobiles! 

My son Truman has been teaching me the twists and turns of the Toad Scramble mini game and TRYING to get his mom to the next level…literally. This action-packed game is for kids of all ages and you’ll have a ball stealing each other’s coins, and exploring all of the fast-paced levels! The game also is compatible with the beloved “amiibo” figures that enhance the game play in super fun ways. Our kids LOVE it when we drop everything and just PLAY with them for a bit, don’t they? And Mario Party Star Rush is a game you actually won’t want to put down either!

$39.99 at “E” for Everyone 

2.  Tinkering Labs Electric Motor Catalyst

One kit, over 50 parts, 10 different challenges, and endless possibilities! The “maker” movement is huge and STEAM education is all the rage. But kids just wanna have FUN! This Tinkering Lab kit encourages kids to use their imaginations and ingenuity to create all sorts of contraptions and inventions that scoot and move about in various ways. Open ended, creative play for hours and hours. And parents will find it way cool too. 

3. Craft EZ Oven

If your kids are crafty in any way (most kids enjoy creating their own masterpieces even if they don’t want to be the next Degas’), then they will flip for what is essentially the E-Z bake oven of clay crafts! The Craft EZ Oven is the first kid-friendly oven that allows parents and kids to bake a unique assortment of safe and fun clay, crystal, and colorful projects.


4. YOXO Building Kits

I first became aware of these super-creative building kits a couple years ago when they were in “Kickstarter” mode, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. A series of specially shaped connector pieces and tubes that allow kids to create whatever their imaginations can conjure up, or one of their quirky creatures. They have giant sets and sets just right for traveling with antsy youngsters. Plus they also connect to toilet paper and paper towel tubes for a little upcycling as well.

$29.99,; Ages 4-8 years

5. Sky Rover Voice Command Drone

Another fabulous way to bond with those tricky tweens and teens in the group is with a bit of flying technology, AKA the drone. The latest and greatest, just out this season is the Sky Rover with voice-activated commands. It’s able to be flown both inside and out, has 12 different voice controls, and can do wicked tricks like 360 flips! Made of “forgiving” materials that won’t break on impact, this bad boy will get many and “ooooo” and “ahhhhhh” this holiday.

$59.99,; 10 years old and up

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