Despite all the lists and the carefully put together plans, not everyone manages to get all their Holiday shopping done before the actual Holiday. Not to worry. Here are a few better-late-than-never games that are sure to amuse and entertain—including a few designed to be amusing and entertaining after the kiddies have gone to bed…
Not Parent Approved (Not Parent Approved, LLC)
Inspired by Cards Against Humanity, this one is closer to being for the whole family (but with plenty of double-entendre possibilities to titillate more mature players). It’s all about filling in the blanks in questions like, “I dare you to tell your dad about___” or “Grandma believes that ____ is the source of all goodness.” Comes with 455 cards. If that’s not enough, expansion packs are also available. Under $25. 4-10 players, ages 8+. https://notparentapproved.com
Holiday traditions are easy to create–just start doing something new. But creating a holiday tradition with a new character is hard. Elf on the Shelf did it remarkably well a few years ago. And the folks behind Maccabee on the Mantle and Mensch on a Bench have made the Festival of Lights a little brighter. This year, there are a few new characters in town that we think you should meet.
Reindeer in Here (Reindeer in Here)
Hollywood TV producer Adam Reed wasn’t a big fan of Elf on the Shelf, so he decided to create a character that would better resonate with his family. The result is a cheerful reindeer who, unlike elves, who can’t be touched, was made to go everywhere with your child. The reindeer, one of whose antlers is smaller than the other (in the spirit of Nemo’s “lucky fin”), also shares the much-needed message that “different is normal.” This book-and-plush combo retails for about $32. https://reindeerinhere.com/
As summer winds down and we start gearing up for Fall and, gulp, the Holidays, here are a few great toys and games that don’t fit neatly into any particular category.
Crozzit (Identity Games)
The folks at Crozzit bill it as “the game you always almost win.” You may want to read that line again. The goal of this two-person game is pretty simple: Player 1 needs to lay out his her or her blue tiles to connect the two blue sides of the board. Player 2 does the same, using yellow tiles to connect the yellow sides. Oh, did we say simple? Ha! There are only three rules that are extremely easy to follow, and since there are only two players, your odds of winning are 50/50. But to succeed, you’ll need to use logic, reasoning, and strategic planning. Crozzit comes with a board, 64 tiles, and instructions, and takes about 20 minutes to play—but it’s hard to stop after one game—you’ll soon find yourself playing best of 3, then 5, then 7, and so on. It’s for ages 8+. Under $20. www.identitygames.com
Whether you’re putting together a puzzle, building a tower, looking for a new job, or just hanging out with your kids, life is all about connections. This week, we reviewed four unique ways you and your family can use physical connections to build stronger emotional ones.
Brackitz Driver Set (Brackitz)
As much as we love traditional block-based building systems, we’re delighted at the ongoing trend toward more open-ended systems with unique pieces and ways of connecting them. Brackitz is one of the best, and they keep getting better. The new Driver Set comes with 43 pieces and directions for building 10 driving machines, including a teeter-totter, a gyro copter, a windmill, and a dragster. But who says you have to follow directions, when you can follow your imagination instead? Brackitz kits are great for individual or collaborative play and for building spatial- and engineering skills. They combine with other Brackitz kits as well as with other systems, such as Keva planks and CitiBlocs. For ages 3+. Under $25 at amazon.com, other retailers, and https://brackitz.com
These toys are so great they need no introduction!
In a word, CHiP is amazing. He’s a smart, trainable, affectionate robot puppy that’s always ready to play. Tell him to fetch, and he’ll bolt after his Bluetooth-enabled ball. Give him a kiss, and he’ll give you a slobber-free one right back. Tell him to do yoga, and he’ll do a perfect downward-facing dog (no cat-cow for this little guy). If you wear the SmartBand, he’ll follow you around the house. But if you ignore him for more than a few minutes, he’ll bark to attract your attention. The voice-recognition is great and so is the hardware, which enables CHiP to avoid obstacles and respond to a variety of touches and gestures. The wheels are especially cool and allow CHiP to move in any direction—even sideways—and on almost any surface. You can play with CHiP for hours on a single charge, and when his energy level drops, his eyes change color and he automatically makes his way back to his SmartBed to nap. Ages 8+. Around $180. http://wowwee.com