Soft and snuggly is what bedtime (and even just cuddle time) is all about. Here are some new cute critters that will make wonderful additions to your den, living room, and/or your child’s bedroom. Of course, they’re perfect for Easter and Passover, but they’re also great fun for the rest of the year.
If you have pets, your family will love Petsies, which let you and your kids custom design a stuffed animal to look just like your real-life furry family member. Just send in a photo of your pet and choose from a wide selection of colors, ear types, tails, and even tongues, and a plush version of your pet will arrive at your door in about six weeks. In the meantime, the Petsies Design Team will send you regular updates, with photos of the entire design and sewing process of plushifying your pet. The likenesses are amazing. Get yours at https://www.mypetsies.com
Whether your child likes dolls, trolls, dinosaurs, or more traditional pets like birds and dogs, we’ve got a figure for you.
Rescue Runts (KD Kids)
When you first unbox them, Rescue Runts aren’t much to look at. They’re scruffy, unkempt, have bandages, fleas, and tears in their eyes. But each pet comes with a brush to smooth out that unruly fur and tweezers to de-flea. By the time you’ve removed the bandage, wiped away the tears, and finished the makeover, your new pet will be ready to love—and to love you right back. Available in various breeds (Shepherd, Husky, Spotty, and Spaniel, with more to be released soon), and sizes. Ages 3+. Prices vary. https://rescuerunts.com/us
With little kids, it’s easy to combine education and fun. But once they hit the advanced age of five or so, a lot of kids see the educational component a mile away and rebel. Fortunately, game designers have figured out many clever ways to slip in some (and in many cases, a lot of) serious business learning, without sacrificing the all-important fun factor. Here are some recent games that caught our attention.
Thrill Rides Clock Work (K’NEX)
In addition to being fun to ride on, roller coasters are gigantic examples of physics and engineering in action. There’s gravity, centrifugal force, various types of energy, friction, drag, acceleration, and more. This 300+ piece kit lets you teach (and learn) all those lessons right in your own home. It comes with a battery-powered motor (but batteries aren’t included) and an easy-to follow instruction manual that will lead you through building a coaster of your very own that’s more than two feet tall. Thrill Rides kits are also compatible with each other, so you can build even bigger models. K’NEX pieces are made in the USA in a landfill-free, zero-waste manufacturing facility. For ages 7+. $$34.95. https://www.knex.com
Spring is (hopefully) just around the corner, but in a lot of places, the gray and the cold are making it really, really hard for a lot of us to find ways around the winter blues, let alone hold onto those ambitious, healthy New Year’s Resolutions we made not that long ago. So rather than grabbing a bag of chips and popping on Netflix, try something new. Sometimes that’s all you need to get you up and moving.
When it comes to home meal delivery, there are a lot of options out there. But Purple Carrot is the only one that’s 100% plant-based. And, as you’re not doubt aware, eating plant-based meals, even if it’s only once or twice a week, has a positive impact on your health and the environment. Like its competitors, Purple Carrot kits include pre-portioned ingredients and step-by-step instructions for cooking healthy meals at home. The food is very good, but be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen. While not difficult, some of the items took quite a bit of time (like making your own veggie burgers), but if you’re interested in cooking, you’ll learn a few things. The recipes are unique and interesting. Prices vary. https://www.purplecarrot.com/plans
Well, it’s February, so you know what that means. Parents@Play headed out to the New York Toy Fair to check out all the newest toys and games. Some of this year’s trends are continuations of last year’s, albeit somewhat updated. For example, dinosaurs, “mermaid” sequins (the kind that flip from one color to another), llamas, unicorns, glitter everything, narwhals, and coding games and toys are everywhere. As are blind bags, DIY and make it yourself kits, toys that require or interact extensively with apps, and poop. Yes, all sorts of poop in all sorts of ways. And the winner for combining trends goes to…. Glitter poop that uses an app. Wow.
Yes, they’re still as popular as ever. However, in the spirit of inclusiveness, now anything can have a magical horn. Cat? Yes. Llama? Of course. Marshmallow? Even you, little sugar spun bit of sweetness. If you like it, you’d better put a horn on it. Now. Otherwise, someone else will.
If you’ve never been to Philadelphia, you need to add it to your list of must-visit cities. Famous as the City of Brotherly Love, Philly seamlessly blends the historic, the modern, and everything in between. The locals are friendly, the city itself is wonderful to explore on foot, and the subway/but system (SEPTA) is easy to navigate. On our visit, we spent some time on the beaten track, but also found plenty of time to get off it. Here are some of our recommendations. For more, or to plan your trip, check out Visit Philadelphia, https://www.visitphilly.com
The Franklin Institute
This science museum is amazing and has something for everyone in your family. You’ll find hands-on exhibits where you can learn about gears, power, physics, and static electricity; a heart that’s big enough to walk through; virtual reality immersive experiences; an escape room; a planetarium; and even some look-but-don’t-touch marvels, including our absolute favorite, the Maillardet Automaton—a fascinating machine that was the inspiration for the movie Hugo and the book it’s based on, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” Arrive early and plan to spend most of the day here. https://www.fi.edu
If you like to get outdoors as a family—regardless of the weather—we’ve got some great options for you to check out this season.
Dash Hoodie (Brooks Running)
We love this hoodie and are pretty sure that you will too. It’s soft, feather-light, warm, and wicks moisture quickly. It’s made of breathable material that’s also machine washable and dryer safe. There are thumb holes on the cuffs, and a storage pocket over the left hand that’s perfect for keys, cash, or whatever else you can’t do without while you’re running. The hood is perfect for cooler weather, so you can use it until you get too warm on your run, then toss it off. Prices vary depending on the color you order (some of them are on sale). Find out more at https://www.brooksrunning.com
Just because half of the country is being blasted by the latest Polar Vortex doesn’t mean that you and your family can’t enjoy some sports-themed fun.
NFL Electric Football (Tudor Games)
Unlike other games where you set up figurines on a sports field and move them around manually, in this one, the figures move around by themselves. The magic is in the vibrating gridiron (which has three user-controlled speeds) and the players’ “cleats” (some are built for speed, others for doing battle in place). You can slow down the action so your blockers can do their job or speed it up if your running back or receiver breaks loose. If this game sounds familiar, you’re not wrong. The first Electric Football game came out in 1949, but this newest iteration takes the original concept to a whole new level. Comes with decals from each NFL team so you can customize your games. Batteries required. For two players, ages 6+. $59.95. https://www.tudorgames.com
If you want to shop sustainably this year, support small business, or just like unique, high-quality products at a reasonable price, we’ve got your back (or at least your wallet).
This collective has clothing, bath-and-body products, purses, bags, crafts, and something for everyone—thoughtful gifts anyone would love to receive. The website lets Africans can sell their one-of-a-kind handmade goods to the entire global market. You’re buying directly from the source, so you’re benefitting not only the store owner, but also the economy. Prices vary widely. www.marketplaceafrica.com
Did you know that January is National Puzzle Month—or that January 29 is National Puzzle Day? If not, don’t feel bad: neither did we. But one thing we’re quite sure of is that doing puzzles is a wonderful way to spend time with your family. Plus, it’s good for you. Whether it’s a 1,000-piece jigsaw, a crossword, a sudoku, or something else, doing puzzles has been shown to increase alertness and concentration, improve memory and mood, boost problem-solving abilities and spatial reasoning, and lower stress levels. So in honor of National Puzzle Month, here are a few puzzle-icious ways to disconnect from our hyper-digital lifestyle, reconnect with your family, and generally improve your life.
Puzzle to Relax
It’s almost impossible to walk by an unfinished puzzle. Typically, people intend to stop for only a few seconds, but, 30 to 90 minutes later, find that they’ve lost themselves in the never-ending quest to find “just one more piece.” When choosing a puzzle to relax, imagery is key. Look for images that make you happy like puppies or feel at peace like African animals. Prices vary greatly, depending on piece count (which ranges from 200 to 9,000 pieces!). https://www.ravensburger.us/products/jigsaw-puzzles