Monday 1 December 2014

Christmas 2014 - Kids Gift Guide

Spoiling our little one’s at Christmas is what makes the day so magical for us grown-ups. Seeing the look of pure innocence and wonder on their face when they see that Father Christmas has flown through the night and done his very best to fulfil that bustling Christmas List. Christmas 2014 is sneaking closer every day, and as I am a little bit behind on the Christmas Shopping front,  I have been sourcing inspiration and having a look at the toys that are set to storm Christmas this year.

Stocking Filler Ideas…

Stocking fillers are always an aspect that stumps me, I can never really think of anything that will fit nicely inside. Or decide on exactly how many stocking fillers to include. These are just a few ideas that came to mind when thinking about kid’s stockings on a whole:

The first thing that springs to mind when I dream up stocking filler ideas is chocolate, and in true Christmas spirit Toblerone (£1.00-£3.00) and Chocolate Orange (£2.00 - £3.00) are the ones that I would be noting down for the man in red. There are a wide variety of different flavours available, but my personal favourites have to be the Milk Chocolate Toblerone with Honey and Almond Nougat, and of course the Popping Candy Chocolate Orange.

Kids have many questions and it is only natural for them to be curious about the big wide world and what the grown ups of the world do. Mairi Mclellan is the author of a series of books entitled What Do The Grown Ups Do? and they would make lovely stocking fillers this Christmas for older children who want to know more about the big wide world of work, and what certain jobs entail. 

We were sent two of the series to have a read of, the first one was Richard the Vet. This is the fifth book of the series 'What do the grown-ups do?'. It's based in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, and the series aims to teach children aged 5-10 years about different jobs. The story is narrated through the eyes of the children, and the tone is kept light and fun while being informative. The story of Richard the Vet follows three local children who meet real workers and hear full accounts of the jobs that they do

. Richard is a large animal vet. Specialised in equine (horses), he spends most of his time between farms and stables. His hours are long but he loves his job. On their adventure, the children learn how Richard helps farmers to manage their prize bulls, how horses' teeth never stop growing, how to remove rotten teeth and how to avoid getting kicked!

The second book we have been sent from the series is Fiona the doctor. This story shows the children and the equipment in the doctor's bag that is used to help diagnose a patient's problem: the stethoscope, the otoscope, the oximeter.  They learn about the differences between blood pressure,  pulse, systolic and diastolic, GPs and specialists, and even why people get smelly feet! They also learn that doctors have their own jokes!

It is a lovely series of books that is sure to gain children's attention and maybe even get them thinking about their own hopes and dreams for the future.

The books retail at £7.99 and can be purchased from Amazon.

Boris and the DumbSkulls book is a traditional fantasy adventure for children 7+. The clever story and quirky humour makes it a great read not just for children but big kids (Mummy and Daddy) too! It's a a the perfect  read at bedtime, and what a story it is. It's the kind of book that's just filled to the brim with child eating witches, dead members of the aristocracy who come back to life to dance at the sound of music and a floating skull with a punk rock band made up of dwarves. The illustrations within the book will keep kids captivated with just how bold and colourful they are.

Boris and the Dumb Skulls retails at £7.77.

What’s not to love about a robotic pet that you aren’t going to end up looking after? A pet that if you forget to feed it (Which they will…) won’t pop it’s clogs!  The Pirate Robo Fish is exactly that, and priced at £12.00 it makes a very attractive stocking filler this year. The Pirate Robo Fish is the latest addition to the Robo Fish collection, with 6 new designs to collect! The fish are water activated, which means as soon as they are placed in the water they begin to move.  Each Robo Fish comes with a plastic Display Stand and two sets of batteries to keep the fun going longer!
For the older kids who enjoy a computer game or two, The Sims 4 may be a great addition. As a child myself the Sims was one of my favourite games, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t given the name game a run through its paces. The Sims really has grown up in 2014, the level of detail that you can apply to a Sim when you create and customise them is incredible. Do you want them to have freckles? Give them Green skin? Make them marginally obese on top and incredibly skinny on the bottom? It’s all possible.  I can’t help but see how far this game has come from the very original, and it is lovely to see my younger sister enjoying a game I once loved. The Sims 4 retails from £46.32 for the standard edition up to £59.99.

Christmas Activity Gifts…

As Christmas is the perfect opportunity to get together as a family, why not indulge in some chocolate crafting? For starters the Chocolate Sweet Creatures Set (£12.77) comes with 6 animal moulds and a selection of colourful foil wrappers. It comes with instructions so that you can get the most out of the set, and explains how to melt down the chocolate and carefully spoon it into the moulds. Or if you fancy something a little more elaborate, how about  the Chocolate Candy Cottage Set? (£13.15) It comes with everything you need to build a masterpiece of a chocolate house, and makes a great alternative to the traditional Gingerbread house. The kit boasts structure moulds and sugar dough embellishments. You simply have to melt the chocolate down and pour it into the included moulds and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Once you have created the walls and roof to your chocolate house, the fun begins and it is all about putting it together in the tastiest way possible using melted chocolate as the cement!

What’s In Santa’s Sack?

Cuddly toys are a must at Christmas, and Dinosaur plush toys are even better. The Tobar Snuggleasaurs is a soft huggable plush toy that can let out a real roar by pressing the button on its belly. It is covered in felt details including teeth, spine and claws. 

My little guy is slightly in love with trains and locomotives, so when I saw this I knew that it would make an ideal Christmas gift. The brightly coloured Tobar Bump N Go Bubble Train moves along and blows bubbles out of its chimney. When you activate the train it begins to roll forward and even makes a chugging noise if those bubbles aren’t enough to capture little one’s attention. This gift is perfect for a young train lover, or even for little one’s as an alternative to a traditional bubble machine. It retails at £14.99.

Building a den is a right of passage, growing up I was lucky enough to live in a home that backed onto woodland, and building (attempting) tree houses was something I thoroughly enjoyed as a child. I would love for Leo to have those same kinds of memories one day, to look back on a childhood full of adventure and smile. The Eden Project have the perfect den kit available that will provide children with hours upon hours of playtime, and memories to boot! The Eden Project Build a Den retails at £35.00 and comes equipped with:

- Tarpaulin
- Groundsheet
- Handmade mallet
- Tent pegs in a peg bag
- 10m rope
- Metal mug
- Camouflage face paint
- Camouflage haversack

As seen on BBC One’s ‘High Street Dreams’, this play house is great for outdoor adventures in the garden or as a fun indoors rainy day activity for kids. The absolute beauty about this gift is that the den can be absolutely anything that they want it to be, a secret hide out or just an adventure waiting to happen!

Now this next gift idea would have made me one happy little girl back in the day, The Barbie Glamtastic Change Bag is something a little bit special. Now part of me wishes my own bag had the capabilities this little beauty does.. and that is because this bag can change its colour in order to match any outfit. All you have to do is hold the Barbie handbag up against whatever you want to match it to, press the heart shaped button and watch it change colour before your eyes! In all it can match up to 100+ different colours and has a great selection of clip on accessories that really will make this bag the perfect choice for many Barbie fans out there this Christmas. The Barbie Glamtastic Change Bag retails at £29.99 but is currently on offer at Argos for £22.49.

Baby Annabell Brother Baby George Doll will be joining the families of many over Christmas 2014, named after the Royal Prince he is set to be on many a Christmas List. George is just like a real baby (46cm in length), he has realistic sounds and movements, he babbles, gurgles and sucks on his very own dummy. This little guy can even be fed from his bottle, and while he drinks he makes sounds while his mouth moves. If you lay Baby George down on the floor and touch his forehead, the little guy will let out a big yawn and drift off to sleep. Just like any baby, Baby George has moments where he is far from happy… And when he cries, he can cry real tears! This baby doll has so many different features that really does make it stand out from the rest, and come Christmas Day there will be many houses waking up to a new addition!

Baby Annabell Brother Baby George Doll retails at £47.99.

Now for the ultimate boy’s toy that I know my 3 year old would just go barmy over – The Fisher Price Imaginext Super Nova Battle Rover, the absolute ultimate outer space experience for your little one to enjoy right here with their feet firmly on the ground! The Battle Rover is a very generously sized play set, and vehicle all in one that boasts it’s own removable space shuttle! This one play set includes projectiles, disk launchers, an alien detecting chamber that lights up, 19 lights and over 200 unique sound effects and phrases!

The space shuttle has transforming capabilities and even includes it’s very own projectile launchers, sounds, kid activated control panel, pull out drill, saw blade and crane, three figures and even a small vehicle. The entire set is just full to bursting and is sure to capture the heart and imagination of every child that comes into contact with it. Leo and I will be posting a full review on this rather epic toy very soon!

The Imaginext Supa Nova Battle Rover retails at £129.99 but is currently on offer at Smyths for £99.99.

Each year Leo will get one main Christmas present, and this is something that we are prepared to spend a little bit more on. This year Leo has asked for a Nintendo DS and after doing some research we decided that the 2DS was the most realistic option. 

The Nintendo 2DS really is the perfect entry level console for a younger child, they are advised for children aged 7 up, but Leo has shown an active interest in playing and has picked up the skills to be able to give it a pretty good go!

I found the 2DS the most attractive option initially because of its one piece design, it  takes out the need for hinges to fold it, and removes the risk of the screen snapping in clumsy little fingers. My only concern with not being able to fold the DS like you would the more traditional models, was that it may be too big and take up more room when taking it out and about, but we haven’t experienced this at all. In actual fact it’s a really nice size, and Leo can hold it happily with two hands while he plays.

You can hold the 2DS like you would a tablet and it boasts twin screens with touch screen controls. This makes it easy for younger players to operate and navigate through the menus and of course the games. Leo like many children is no stranger to touch screen operation, and he has very quickly worked his way around the 2DS, all be it a little through trial and error, but even though he doesn’t read it hasn’t held him back. The 2DS menu screen features words alongside images, which assists pre-schoolers in being able to enjoy.

The Nintendo 2DS with Mario Kart pre-installed can be purschased from GAME for the bargain price of £109.99.

LeapFrog have a number of exciting toys for Christmas that suit a vast age range, proving to be very popular this year is the new LeapPad and the highly anticipated LeapTV. Among the selection we have My Pal Scout, an interactive plush toy that holds many hidden surprises. You can personalise Scout’s content, and he can even say your little one’s name, you can choose the songs he sings from a list rather than just making do. You can choose your little one’s favourite nursery rhymes and watch their face light up with wonder when he calls them by name. Scout has been a firm favourite in our house over the years and it really isn't hard to work out why. Scout retails at £19.99 but you can pick him up from Amazon for £14.53 right now.

The Read with me Scout would make an ideal Christmas gift for children aged between 2-5 years old, and he has been designed to help little one’s with their reading. Read with me Scout is soft, interactive and great fun to play with. He comes with 5 board books and he can read each of the included books aloud to your little one. Each of the books is numbered 1 through to 5, and it couldn’t be easier for little hands to pick a book and to get Scout reading it. All you have to do in order to set Scout up is to choose the book you want him to read, look at the number and pick the corresponding number on Scout’s collar. Read with me Scout retails at £29.99 but is currently on offer at £24.99 at Amazon.

Being small provides you with the god given right to take advantage of the sit and ride vehicles on the market, and this is never as true than at Christmas. Take the Smoby Big Bobby Car Ride On for instance, from and produced in Germany. This ride on is as solid and sturdy as they come and can hold a child up to 50kg (110lbs, 7.8 Stone) so you can rest assured that this is going to last your child for some time. It comes in two colours, Red and Blue and even comes equipped with a horn! It retails at £35.14. have it on sale at £30.99

Got children who don’t respond well to getting up in the morning? How about the Beurer WL30 Wellness DawnSimulator Light to help ease the morning dramas? The Wellness Dawn Simulator Light gradually increases the light intensity, mimicking the sunrise to help you (or the kids) wake up gradually and in a more natural way, especially on dark winter mornings like we are experiencing right now! You can set alarms just in case the light doesn’t wake you up, and what really pleases me about this is that you can have soothing sounds to bring you around gently, rather than a traditional alarm clock making you jump out of your skin the moment it goes off. Maybe it will even help the kids be in a better mood for the return to school after the Christmas break!?
The Wellness Dawn Simulator Light retails at £49.99 but it is currently on offer at Amazon for £49.86

Disclaimer: I was sent the above products for the purpose of this gift guide. Prices correct at time of publishing. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

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