Tag Archives: christmas

Staying Connected With the Family Gift Guide

girl who saved christmasThe Girl Who Saved Christmas (by William Thomas Thach, illustrated by Richard Bernal)
Imagine what Santa would do if all the world’s children were bad—except one? Santa decides to deliver lumps of coal to all the bad kids, and offers to shower Molly, the lone—and lonely—nice kid, with anything she could possibly want. But Molly reminds Santa of the importance of forgiveness. A sweet story that captures the essence of the Christmas Spirit. $24 at amazon.com or mollychristmas.com

gracie's nightGracie’s Night: A Hanukkah Story (by Lynn Taylor Gordon, illustrated by Laura Brown)
Gracie and her dad don’t have much money, but on her way home with sweaters, snow boots, mittens, and warm socks for pops, she sees a homeless man with holes in his shoes, wearing a threadbare coat, huddling in a cardboard box. Gracie knows exactly what to do, and comes home with empty hands and a full heart. A charming story about a different type of Hanukkah miracle. $8.50 at amazon.com

sing and swing olaf

Disney Frozen Sing and Swing Olaf
Your young one’s heart will melt when Olaf starts belting out his famous song, “In Summer,” from the hit movie, Frozen. Wearing his trademark hat and cane, Olaf also dances to the beat. Requires 3 AAA batteries (included). About $36.50 at Toys R Us, Walmart, and others.

frozen karaoke disneyDisney Frozen Flashing Lights Karaoke Machine
An easy-to-set-up, easier-to-use karaoke machine that lets you sing along with the hits from Frozen, complete with flashing lights. You can also connect your own device or use the built-in CD player to perform all of your other favorites—even some that, gasp, aren’t from Disney movies. Comes with one hand-held mic and two inputs so duets are a definite possibility. $50-80 at retailers everywhere.

renny home hubRenny HOME Smartphone Hub and Loud Wireless Ringer for Cell Phone (Olens Technology)
Never miss a phone call at home again, even if your phone is on silent, vibrate, upstairs, or in the car in your garage.  It has audible caller ID and allows you to either answer or ignore calls hands-free. Streams music from your smartphone too. $139.99 at many retailers. www.olenstechnology.com

justin power pack

Justin Power Bank (Innovative Technology)
We all know how incredibly frustrating it is when your phone or tablet dies and there’s no place to recharge it. With Justin’s power banks and power sticks, those frustrations will be a thing of the past. The one we tested had 10,000mAh, which means it’s got enough juice to completely charge a smart phone five times. It also has two outgoing ports which allow it to charge two devices at the same time, all using standard- and micro USB. Great for the family on the go. Prices vary depending on capacity.

d-link range extenderD-Link DAP-1320 Wireless Range Extender (D-Link)
Plug this sleek device into a regular outlet within range of your router, and with one click, you’ve just extend the range of your home network—even to those hard-to-reach areas like basements, upstairs bedrooms, or outdoor areas. This way, you’ll be able to web-surf, play games, watch movies, or text the kids who are all the way on the other side of the house (or room).  About $25 at retailers everywhere. us.dlink.com/

cell phone jailCell Phone Jail
This is more of a metaphor than an actual product. We urge you to join with Foresters (a financial services company) to take the Tech Timeout challenge and give your family a daily one-hour break from all things electronic. After all, what better gift could you give to your family (and yourself) than some undivided attention. Download the pledge form at techtimeout.com/#anchor_pledgewall

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas…

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the land, there are parents who are still trying to find that perfect toy for the special child(ren) in their life. Here are a few of our last-minute favorites, toys that your children will be thrilled to find under the tree this year.
Big Hugs Elmo (Playskool)
hug elmo hasbroOnce again, that fuzzy, red monster has managed to be THE hot toy of the season. He’s large (about the size of a one-year old), loves getting—and giving—hugs, and will often ask for a bigger or tighter squeeze from your little cuddle bug. Elmo also asks to play ponies, jump like froggies, (and will comment along with appropriate noises), and dance. Elmo also moves his arms up and down, sings bedtime songs, and snores when you lay him on his back. About $50, and available at http://www.toysrus.com or in physical stores near you. But you’d better hurry.
Sesame Street Lullaby & Good Night Elmo (Hasbro)
Haven’t had enough of Elmo yet? Decked out in his Dorothy the Goldfish pajamas, this Elmo is all set to comfort your little one as he or she drifts off into dreamland. Kids can snuggle up with Elmo and press his tummy to hear a lullaby or one of a few bedtime phrases. Strangely, there’s no Off button, which means Elmo could start talking if your child accidentally rolls over him.  About $15. http://www.hasbro.com.
Furby Boom (Hasbro)
furby boom hasbroFurbies have been around for a while, but this latest incarnation has some special features. The new Furbies come in bright patterns and colors. Having an app seems to be a requirement for toys these days, and Furby’s got one for Apple or Android (including some kids’ tablets. The Furby Boom, like past Furbies, has a mind of its own, and the more you interact with and play with it, the more you shape its personality. Furby remembers his name and has more than twice as many responses as previous generations did. Furby can learn English or help you understand “Furbish.” And the app lets you mix smoothies, give your little pal a virtual shower, and even hatch and raise digital Furby Furblings. About $64. Available at http://www.hasbro.com or your favorite toy store.
Tabeo e2 (Toys R Us)
tabeo "toys r us" tabletAs we discussed last week, tablets are great way for kids to start interfacing with technology in a way that’s both safe, educational, and won’t trash mom and dad’s expensive tablet. The Tabeo e2 has all the specs needed to run the newest apps, 8GB of flash memory, Jelly Bean 4.2, Dual core 1.0 Ghz CPU, Quad-core GPU, and 1GB of RAM. All this makes for a zippy tablet that’s a breeze to use. The parental controls (which you have to set up before turning the e2 over to the kids) are pretty comprehensive and allow you to keep your kids from doing anything you don’t feel is appropriate for them. Comes with a charger, USB cable, and a protective case to keep it safe when those accidental tumbles happen. About $150. You can pre-order yours at http://www.tabeo.com.
A final note. If you’re still looking for something for the dads on your list, be sure to check out the winners of the Mr. Dad Seal of Approval, which recognizes toys and games that dads and kids can play together. The complete list is at http://mrdad.com/seal.
Best wishes for a safe, play-filled Holiday from all of us on the Parents@Play team.