It’s the most wonderful time of the year … that is, if you relish tracking every cent that’s being spent on holiday gifts for each person on your too-long list. But if you’re like most of us, finding gifts that won’t break the bank (or make you lose your mind) is a task that’s dreaded each and every holiday season.
That’s why we’ve taken some of the pain out of holiday gift-giving with our annual list. Here are a few extra-special purchases we think might be worth the splurge.
All of them are guaranteed to produce smiles, for gift giver and receiver alike.
For those kids on the extra nice list.
This train set comes with everything your little conductor needs, from an engine shed to a trestle bridge and a T-junction for changing course. The 132-piece set includes dozens of high-quality wooden track pieces, so little ones can build a track that Thomas himself would be proud to call his own. Find this toy locally at Galt Toys + Galt Baby in downtown Chicago, Lincoln Park and Skokie. $129.99, 3+.
Melissa &Doug Wooden Railway Set
Rollerblades are an investment, especially when your kids feet are still growing. These clever skates adjust to your foot size and let you wear your own shoes, so you avoid blisters from ill-fitting rentals. And the unique wheel configuration is great for kids who have trouble finding their balance, making for fewer skinned knees. Find this toy locally at Moore Toys & Gadgets in Wheaton. $79.99-$119.99, 5+.
You might not have thought the swing, of all things, needed to be reinvented. But thats because you havent seen this swing-surfboard hybrid, which turns your backyard into a cowabunga paradise. Kids can get the hang of hanging ten and feel the breeze in their hairno wetsuit required. Find this toy locally at Becky & Me Toys in Evanston. $129, 6+.
The best thing about these stunts, unlike the ones on YouTube? No one gets hurt. Well, that and the fact that building an over-the-top marble run definitely reinforces those STEM skills their teacher is always talking about. This set features all the normal Q-BA-MAZE stunts, plus a spiral sphere, quad-exit cubes and marble catchers, so you can easily corral them and then start all over again. Find this toy locally at Building Blocks Toy Store in Lakeview and Wicker Park. $124.95, 6+.
Q-BA-MAZE Ultimate Stunt Set
This guitar may be child-sized, but its got all the sound youd expect from a headliner at Lollapalooza. This is the perfect first guitar for musical kids who want to expand their repertoire, and it comes with a 5 watt amp, official gig bag to store extra strings and picks, digital tuner and stickers so they can really make it their own. Find this toy locally at *play in Logan Square. $230, 6+.
Rockwood Electric Guitar