Monday, February 6, 2012

And The Winner Is ...

It's been 6 weeks since Christmas. In our house, that is sufficient enough time to determine what Christmas/Birthday presents were winners and which ones were duds. I am always surprised at which presents end up being their favorites, it's so hard to predict. So here there are, without further ado ...


Coming in first place by a landslide was the Discovery Kids MP3 Player ... or the boombox as me and my 80's tween self have dubbed it. It's pretty funny to hear your kids walking around talking about their boombox in 2012.

This thing is on 24/7, and I am not exaggerating. We downloaded a lot of the kids favorite songs onto the player and they have the freedom to scroll through them and play whatever they want. They LOVE this thing and have constant dance parties all over the house. The only downside is their tendency to want to re-play the same song 46 times in a row. If that's the case, I just make them take the dance party to their room so I can have a minute or two of my life where I am not being harmoniously serenaded by the Fresh Beat Band.

The best part about this gift was that we got it at an extremely good price on sometime in the summer. I saw it and bought it because I thought the kids would love it. Score one for me. Stockpiling gifts throughout the year is definitely the way to go with four kids. It's a lot cheaper and then I don't have to run around like a crazy person the last school day before Christmas break trying to find last minute toys.

Another hot gift this year was the Hide and Seek Safari JR Monkey. It's no secret that my kids loooooove to play hide and seek. They're not that great at hiding yet (or staying hidden before squealing with glee to intentionally out themselves), but they love to play.

The concept of this toy is really cute. Someone hides the monkey and then the finder(s) have a wand that they carry with them while looking for the monkey's hiding place. When you press a button on the wand, the money starts making all his monkey sounds. It's great for preschool kids because they can use their eyes as well as the sounds of the monkey to find him. Hearing the monkey gets them excited and they realize he is close and within a reasonable distance. This has been a great toy and the kids have not tired of it yet. Another bonus is that everyone can play with it together. We take turns with who holds the wand, but everyone can actively search for the monkey even if they aren't the wand-holder that time around.

MY favorite gift that the kiddos got this year were these animal hooded blankets ...

I can't remember exactly who made ours, but they look almost identical to these Stephen Joseph Animal Blankets. My kids were due some new blankets (they were still using baby stroller blankets for naps!), so I suggested this as a gift for a family member to give and it was a hit! Sam got a dog, Luke got a dragon, Peyton got a unicorn, and Adah received a cat. These are perfect for them because they are big enough to cuddle up with in bed and they also constantly use them while playing. They wear the blankets everywhere and pretend to be the animals while they play. There are even cute little "paw" pockets sewn in to the corners of the blankets where the kids can put their hands. I loved this gift because it was both functional and fun!

The last toy winner from the Christmas season was a set of Magnatiles blocks.

 It is no secret around here that my boys love their blocks. We've been very happy with the TRIO blocks that they have been using for the last couple of years, but we wanted to give them something different to add to their block collection. Enter these Magnatiles.

Now I will warn you, these are NOT cheap. They are not as expensive as they are being sold for right now (they are in high demand because the factory where they are manufactured flooded and they are back-ordered), but they ARE an investment so make sure that your kids will like them before you buy. We bought the starter set with the plan that we could add to it later if this set wasn't adequate or large enough for the boys (and girls, they like them too).

The kids LOVE them. The blocks come in various square and triangle shapes and they are magnetic on all sides. This allows the kids to make 3-D structures and encourages the use of their spacial reasoning and problem solving. But the kids don't know that, they just think they're fun! They've made all sorts of things from castles to fire stations with them. The possibilities are endless with these blocks and I hope that factory gets up and running soon so the prices on these blocks will go down and we can add to our set!

So those were the big winners this year in our house. Did you have any great toys that just stood apart from the rest this year? Do those of you with toddlers and babies feel like you have a hard time finding good gifts for your children at Christmas? What about those of you with older kids, what do they seem to like? I need to start getting some good ideas for a few years down the road!

Come back tomorrow where I'll let you know the big toy LOSERS from the Christmas season ... and why is it that these always are the toys you thought would be the biggest hits???

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