Holiday shopping is kind of like washing down a handful of Pop Rocks with a pop. By the end of it, someone's head is going to explode, and it's probably mine.
But, since we all have kids that have done their best to get on Santa's "good kid" list, Cosmotot rounded up the coolest click-and-pick presents to put under the tree with prices that will keep you in one, non-stressed piece.
Called the Kindle for kids, VTech's V.Reader pairs touch-screen function with classic academic skills, creating the ultimate in kids "edutainment." Mimicking touch-activated capabilities moms and dads enjoy, V.Reader gives little ones their own age-appropriate, touch-powered controls, interactive animation, and a wide range e-books featuring famliar characters including Dora the Explorer, Shrek 3, Toy Story 3, Ben 10, Disney Pixar Cars and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to name a few.
Award-winning Hearts for Hearts Girls from Playmates teach children that they can make a difference. The newly launched collection of six dolls represents an international community - Mexico, Belarus, India, Ethiopia, Laos and the U.S. - where everyone belongs and each girl is working to change her community in unique ways to her home country. A portion of sales from each doll sold goes directly to help children from that doll's country, and each girl includes a friendship bracelet and story booklet explaining how the girls live and contribute to their families, communities, countries and the world.
Disney's Tangled takes kids 6-11 on a hair-raising adventure designed for the Wii gaming system. In this story-based journey inspired by the movie, kids will venture into a kingdom filled with colorful 3D environments, creative play, fun quests and competitive challenges. By mastering unique abilities, players can swing into action as Rapunzel using her golden tresses, pull objects and climb, grow flowers in "charm mode" and collect a variety of colors to draw and paint the Tower wall or collect sun drops to earn points. As Flynn, players can climb walls, clear obstacles, engage in sword play, and discover hidden treasures using his "Flynntuition". And, for those who like a little waddle in their Wii, Club Penguin Game Day lets little gamers create their own penguin avatar, then compete in a series of team-based competitions, including "Sumo Smash," "Java Sack," and "Fast Freeze."
Let little ones discover their wild side with the 3-in-1 Learning Zebra Scooter from VTech Toys. It converts easily from a push walker to a ride-on scooter, allowing babies and toddlers to explore new territory with a walkie-talkie, compass and flashlight. The zebra's mane features five light-up buttons that teach colors, animals and destinations, and its fun horn button keeps parents in mind with a handy volume control switch.
A passion for Thomas & Friends starts young in pint-sizers, and Learning Curve makes it easy for toddlers to get on the right track. Their Early Engineers line is as captivating as its classic, big kid counterparts, and each wooden set offers little hands chunky vehicles, sturdy tracktiles and simple destinations. And, since Early Engineers is compatible with any Thomas Wooden Railway set, the journey continues as your toddler grows.
Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is charming little literati all over again with its new Zoobie form. The three-in-one plush friend, cozy pillow and blanket combination turns the caterpillar, along with other faves like Paddington, Olivia, Peter Rabbit, Spot and Little Miss Sunshine, into playroom staples since they not only give kids someone cute to cuddle, but also a soft place to cozy up and take a nap.
For little ones with a lovey fetish, Kaloo has an easy-to-grasp, ultrasoft Plume Rabbit Doudou. The handy cotton blankie with attached microfiber bunny provides soft comfort while at home or on the go, while the ears and paws give little gums something to chew.
Have plans to pack up the kids and travel to far-flung places (or the grandparents' house one town over) for the holidays? Bring along the creative comforts of home with TravelKiddy. Their travel activity kits, refill packs and add-on options not only cram creative, brain-building fun (think Melissa & Doug art pads, coloring books, stacking toys, craft pieces, puzzles, baby board books, stickers and more) into an age-appropriate pack (versions for toddlers, big kids, twees and adults are available), but also include basics like travel tissues and band-aids to cover little mishaps while going nomad.
Help toddlers tackle their "I do it" ideal with soft seating from Pottery Barn Kids. Lightweight and cozy, their bestselling kid-sized Anywhere Chairs are more eco-friendly than ever, with recyclable foam inserts that contain up to 30% soy-based materials. Each chair features a handle that makes it easy to tote from room to room, and classic slipcover colors mean kids can choose a chair that's unmistakably theirs.
Join in a timeless Christmas tradition with Elf Magic elves that visit kiddos during the holiday season and report back to Santa with a naughty/nice verdict. While their primary mission is to spread love, joy and kindness, the elves are also known for helpful and sometimes silly "elfcapades" during the night. Each Elf Magic elf, whether pocket-sized or giant, comes in a velvety Elf-Size Santa Sack along with a name tag, magical North Pole snowflakes, an elf poem and more.
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.