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Best Overall: Hatchimals Glittering Garden at Amazon
"We can’t blame kids for loving this hot tech toy."
Best Retro: Spirograph Deluxe Design Set at Amazon
"The original award winning Spirograph is even better today than when first released in 1965."
Best LEGO: LEGO Minecraft The Cave at Amazon
"Bricks included can create a waterfall, lava, coal, redstone, iron, gold, a torch, a ladder and a chest of bread."
Best Puzzle: Hasbro’s Rubik’s Cube at Amazon
"Billions of combos make the Rubik’s Cube the world’s #1 brain teasing puzzle."
Best Tech: 3D Printing Pen Set at Amazon
"Kids just turn it on, insert their plastic colored strand of choice and doodle away."
Best Board Game: Apples to Apples Junior at Amazon
"This is one gift that will get the whole family laughing."
Best Baking: Real Cooking Baking Set at Amazon
"Little bakers will absolutely love this real baking set."
Best Scooter: Hoverboard Two-Wheel Scooter at Amazon
"A best-seller and is priced right for all of the extra features available."
Best Magic: Ideal Spectacular Magic Suitcase at Amazon
"The Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase gives imaginative kids all the supplies they need to wow family and friends."
Best Book: Wonder Hardcover Book at Amazon
"Wonder,’ from best selling author R.J. Palacio, is a #1 New York Times bestseller."
Best Overall: Hatchimals Glittering Garden
These interactive, doe-eyed toys were the most sought-after toy of the 2016 Holiday season and the fervor hasn’t died down yet. We can’t blame kids for loving this hot tech toy. They arrive in a confetti-covered egg and with a little coaxing and a lot of love they will hatch within 20 minutes to an hour. Kids can raise their Hatchimal through 3 stages, from baby to toddler to hatcha-kid. Their animated eyes let kids know what their Hatchimal needs are and kids can interact with their new friend by teaching it to talk, walk, and even dance. Interactive games and skills are unlocked as the Hatcha Baby grows. This toy is more than fun, it teaches kids responsibility, nurturing role playing, empathy and cause and effect.
Best Retro: Spirograph Deluxe Design Set
Who doesn’t remember this childhood favorite? Well, it’s still around and it’s still a must-have. The original award winning Spirograph is even better today than when first released in 1965. The deluxe set includes a 14-page instruction book for spectacular designs, 3 design pens, 19 wheels, 1 rack, spiro-putty and 20 sheets of design paper. The box is a handy case as well as a work center, so kids can keep all of their spiro-gear and design in one neat, ready-to-use place. Art and math are married in this clever, imagination building toy that will keep kids from 8 to 88 busy for hours.
Best LEGO: LEGO Minecraft The Cave
Our top 10 list of kids’ gifts wouldn’t be complete without at least one LEGO set. And what better choice than one that allows kids to recreate scenes from the uber popular Minecraft video game? This 249-piece set can easily be combined with other Minecraft sets to recreate the world of the hit video game. Kids can build the Minecraft cave, “dig” for obsidian with the included pick axe and build a giant spider. Minifig Steve can fight off the included zombie figure or set up a TNT trap. Bricks included can create a waterfall, lava, coal, redstone, iron, gold, a torch, a ladder and a chest of bread. The world of LEGO lets imaginations loose with 3D play that’s perfect for kids ages eight and up.
Best Puzzle: Hasbro’s Rubik’s Cube
Billions of combos make the Rubik’s Cube the world’s #1 brain teasing puzzle. Even after 40+ years, the Rubik’s Cube will seemingly never go out of style! With every twist and turn, kids will love the challenge of trying to match the colors on all six sides of the cube. Hand-eye coordination, increased focus and critical thinking are all employed as kids work through the possible combinations to solve the cube. Hasbro’s Rubik’s Cube can take tons of twists, turns, and countless hours of handling without coming apart. Kids from eight and up (yup, parents too) will love the challenge of the Rubik’s Cube.
Best Tech: 3Doodler Start Essentials 3D Printing Pen Set
The 3Doodler will bring out the artist, the engineer, and the creator in all kids ages eight and up. Kids can literally write on air to create 3D designs that come to life. The kit includes everything a young visionary will need: a detailed activity guide for cool design ideas, 3D pen, 48 strands of eco-friendly assorted colored plastic, and a USB cord for charging. No worries about little fingers getting burned, the pen (and pen tip) don’t get hot. This easy-to-use, wireless pen has one speed, one temperature and no complicated software — kids just turn it on, insert their plastic colored strand of choice and doodle away. You may want to consider picking up a refill pack of plastic filaments, because creative young minds will go through the included 48 pretty quickly. Refill packs are available in tons of color assortments and even clear and glitter strands.
Best Board Game: Apples to Apples Junior
This is one gift that will get the whole family laughing. Apples to Apples Junior contains 576 cards about people, places, things, and events to make hilarious comparisons and zany combinations. There is no right or wrong answer, and in general the funniest combo wins the round, making this game as unique as the folks playing it. Apples to Apples Junior makes for hours of crazy family fun. It promotes vocabulary building and thinking skills as players try to outwit their opponents and collect as many cards as possible. This game gets the whole family (or group of friends) talking as they each take turns trying to convince the judge that their combination is the best, funniest, silliest or most logical. Simple instructions make this a great pick for kids ages nine and up and an easy to play game with or without parental involvement.
Best Baking: Real Cooking Ultimate Baking Starter Set - 37pc. Kit
Little bakers will absolutely love this real baking set. They can make yummy mini-cupcakes, pipe chocolate and vanilla swirled icing and decorate their confections with the provided sprinkles. The handy egg cracking gadget ensures an egg-shell-free batter as well as safe food handling. The 37-piece set comes with everything needed to bake 16 mini-cupcakes. Complete with batter and icing mixes, sprinkles, two bowls with a non-slip table grip, whisk, piping bags and tip, silicone cupcake pan, liners, the innovative egg cracker and more. All items can be washed and used over and over whenever kids get a hankering for a sweet treat.
Best Scooter: Hoverboard Two-Wheel Self Balancing Electric Scooter
All the kids on the block will want to check out this gift. The popular hoverboards first hit the scene in 2015, but uber-high prices made them nearly unattainable. Since then this too-hot toy has had several innovations and price cuts to make them a more accessible (albeit still pricey) gift. The Hoverheart Two-Wheel Self Balancing Scooter is a best-seller and is priced right for all of the extra features available. Built-in bluetooth speakers allow kids to cruise to their favorite tunes and LED light up wheels make this a sick ride when lights are low. UL certification and anti-fire plastic covering ensure safe use. Each scooter will hold a charge for 2-3 hours. Our favorite feature is that this bad boy can hold 220+ pounds, making this scooter parent friendly.
Best Magic: Ideal 100-Trick Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase
The Spectacular Magic Show Suitcase gives imaginative kids all the supplies they need to wow family and friends. Magicians in training will learn from one of the best via the included DVD starring Ryan Oakes. Also included is the ‘Secrets of 100 Magic Tricks’ book that walks kids through step-by-step instructions to master things like sleight of hand, illusion, card and coin tricks and so much more. A magic wand, hat, performance platform and props are also included so kids can put on a complete performance. Over 50 pieces are in the Magic Show Suitcase, from fuzzy balls to multiplying rabbits and a vanishing hanky. When you give this gift to a kid between the age of 8 and 12, you’ll make boredom magically disappear!
Best Book: Wonder Hardcover Book by R.J. Palacio
Some of the best gifts are books. ‘Wonder,’ from best selling author R.J. Palacio, is a #1 New York Times bestseller. It’s a captivating book about a seemingly ordinary 10-year old boy named August who enters mainstream school for the first time in 5th grade. Auggie, just like all the other kids, spends his days filled with his Xbox and Star Wars, but also lives with a facial deformity that has kept him from the public eye much of his life. His transition to mainstream school is brilliantly written, witty, and heartwarming. Palacio shapes Auggie’s story through an internal dialogue that lets the reader follow him on his courageous journey. Filled with colorful, memorable characters, this is one book that will be cherished by all readers ages 8 to 12 years old.