By JENNIFER STEIN
Lucky for gift givers, while choices are numerous this year, the best and brightest choices stand out. The Amsterdam News has searched high and low for innovative, creative, dependable, awe-inspiring and fantastic finds for the whole family. For the naughty and nice on your list, we have ideas—and we even have something for your mother-in-law.
Giving functional gifts is always a good bet—like a gift card to Toys R Us, a karate dojo, a theater or Barnes & Noble—but giving a frivolous gift that just makes the receiver feel warm and fuzzy is always fun. No matter what one picks, as long as it is on the receiver’s list, one can’t go wrong.
Some characters can scare kids. I adore Cookie Monster, but my daughter was given one for the holidays years ago, and it almost sent her into therapy! I can still hear the screams of terror! It was on my list, not her list!
The new app from Time to Play magazine can help consumers do cost analysis, get additional product information and see where products are being sold. While one–stop shopping saves time, it does not always mean you are getting the best deal. Shopping around online ahead of time on apps like this can save you valuable time and money that can go to purchasing more presents.
Lastly, please decide this holiday season whether the toy is appropriate for the recipient. Rated M video games do not belong in the hands of 7-year-olds, and if a label says 5+, then do not buy the product for your mature 3-year-old. Pets often eat anything on the floor and many $19 toys turn into $3,500 vet bills. While you may be purchasing for an older member of the family, the youngest person in the home most likely will get their little hands or paws on the product.
All the following items were Amsterdam Elf-chosen for their reliability, durability, creativity, playtime appeal and innovative qualities. Prices vary from store to store and online. Happy holiday hunting!
Prices below are approximate.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Twist, Click & Match Early Learning System 3m+ Kids Preferred $14.99 Twist the scrunchy blocks, click them and match the pictures to create new animals! The caterpillar clip on top allows for easy stroller attachment. www.eric-carle.com
Nickelodeon Bubble Guppies Swim-Sational School 18m+ Fisher-Price $39.99 Molly & Gill figures roll and go through an active wet and wonderful-looking playset that has music and phrases from the series. www.fisher-price.com
Little Pim Mandarin Chinese Volume 1 0-6yrs Little Pim Corporation $49.95 The three-box DVD set teaches 180 words and phrases in Mandarin while improving memory, boosting analytic ability, enhancing problem–solving skills and strengthening abstract thinking. This award–winning CD collection has a plush collection as well. LittlePim.com
Earlyears Click, Rattle N’ Roll Caterpillar 6m+ International Playthings LLC $14.99 Kids can entertain themselves with the caterpillar as a whole or take the three rattle balls and shake them for individual play. www.earlyears.com
Playskool Learnimals Color Me Hungry Hippo 6m-36m Hasbro $24.99 Colors, phrases, shapes and sounds all come together with this happy hippo that kids can feed.
Billy Beats Dancing Piano 12m+ MEGA Bloks $49.99 Play in three modes while enjoying music and animal sounds.
Classic Developmental Mobile 0+ Tiny Love $49.99 Stimulate baby with music, colorful shapes and animals.
MamaRoo Plush Infant Seat for infants until they can sit firmly 4Moms $239.99 Sit baby in this comfortable adjustable chair with machine washable fabric and five motions and watch the calm set in.
Kidoozie Peek’n Peep Eggs 12m+ International Playthings LLC $12.99 Match the face on the chick and the eggshell in a bright yellow carton for giggles and developmental play. www.intplay.com
Baby Frosty LUSH $17.95 Two fun vegan and luxurious bath bombs are wrapped for the holidays in a snowman sack for the little one’s bath-time pleasure.
HEXBUG Nano v2 Infinity Loop 3+ Innovation First International $19.99 Watch the robotic critters climb in this gravity-defying playset.
Calico Critters of Cloverleaf Corners Adventure Tree House 3+ International Playthings $109.99 Decorate three levels of this action-packed tree house where all your favorite Calico Critters can congregate. Swing, slide, climb and dine at this home away from home. Adorable Critters sold separately. Combine with other playsets as well! www.intplay.com
Disney Princess Palace Pets Beauty and Bliss Playset 4+ Blip Toys $14.99 Aurora’s cat Beauty’s nails change color in this mini-deluxe pussy playset.
In My Room: Doc McStuffins Wall Friends 3+ Uncle Milton $29.99 Unlike other wall art, Wall Friends light up and talk by remote control.
Pinypon Snow Ski Lodge 4+ Famosa $39.99 With over 50 accessories, a real ice skating rink, three mix-and-match friends, an adorable dog and fully equipped lodge playset, this mini-world takes kids into a winter wonderland! www.pinypon.com
FurReal Friends Trixie the Skateboarding Pup 4+ Hasbro $19.99 Remote controlled, with music and sounds, this plush pup rides a skateboard and does 30 terrific tricks. www.FurRealFriends.com
The World of Eric Carle Alphabet Floor Puzzle 3+ University Games $13.99 Learn your ABCs with this 26-piece, 10-foot-long, Eric Carle–themed floor puzzle.
Great Dragon Castle 5+ Playmobil $149.99 The realistic-looking castle comes with everything one needs to have an epic battle! Collect all the sets in the series to create a whole dragon–filled world!
Road Rippers Street Beatz 3+ Toy State $20 Little guys will get into the full-sized motorized sports car with lights, sounds and cool, pulsing speakers. www.toystate.com
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood 3-in-1 Transformation Treehouse 3+ Jakks Pacific $39.99 Inspired by “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” this playset has a front yard, space station and detailed inside interior. Daniel, Katerina and O the Owl come with this out-of-this-world tree house.
GREAT FOR GIRLS
Disney Sofia the First Talking Magic Amulet 3+ Jakks Pacific $14.99 The set includes a beautiful talking amulet, 12 lesson cards and a collector’s case. Each lesson card has a positive phrase like “Be patient” or “Good manners are always charming.” www.DisneyJunior.com
The Zelfs: Venus Flytrap Spin Salon 5+ Moose Toys $24.99 Reminiscent of “Little Shop of Horrors,” this plant-based salon comes with a cute, wild-haired Zelf to style and accessorize. www.thezelfs.com
Flutterbye 5+ SpinMaster $34.99 Stardust Fairy flies in the air above your hands like magic! Flutterbye.com
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Crystal Princess Palace 3+ Hasbro $24.99 This pretty palace playset includes over 20 accessories and a pony whose wings magically move! www.mylittlepony.com
Dora’s House 1+ MEGA BLOKS $29.99 Boots and Dora come with this 60-piece colorful, chunky set for little hands. www.megabloks.com
Disney Princess Palace Pets Glitter and Glitz Assortment 4+ Blip Toys LLC $15.99 The princesses each have an adorable, sparkly pet to pamper and love, and now so do little girls. A free Palace Pet app and book are included with each purchase. DisneyPrincessPalacePets.com
Kawaii Crush Hyper Happy Mall 4+ Spin Master $29.99 Bright and happy, this two-story playset with pets has one doll, a pretend photo booth, snack bar and boutique. www.spinmaster.com
Christmas Kisses LUSH $22.95 Santa’s Lip Scrub, Santa Baby Lip Tint and Chou Chou I Love You Toothy Tabs are all included in this kiss-shaped beauty box.
Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Bag Set 3+ Just Play $19.99 Come to the rescue with this purple, sparkly doctor’s bag filled with all the medical tools to save the day! www.justplayproducts.com
My Little Pony Equestria Girls Rainbow Dash 5+ Hasbro $19.99 Your favorite ponies have been turned into vibrantly colored dolls! Rainbow Dash comes with a clip-in ponytail that kids and the doll can use, an extra outfit, stickers, a brush and so much more.
The Beatrix Girls: Chantal 6+ Popstar Club, LLC $24.99 Chantal is a Black French-Canadian doll that