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Holiday shopping can be a complete nightmare for moms. Trying to find the hottest toys of the season without breaking the bank (or your sanity) can be an exhausting task. Having three boys close in age, people assume holiday gift giving for my kids is much easier since they have similar interests and can all share their toys. WRONG! This actually makes it so much harder! Trying to decide who gets what without the other kid throwing a fit that he didn’t get the same toy leads to many sleepless nights of list making, deal hunting, and trying to decide what’s worth buying and will cause the least amount of fighting or jealousy. To add insult to injury, my six year old is obsessed with a particular toy review YouTube channel that tends to promote the most expensive and messy toys of the season, and he spends months begging me for his top holiday choices. Trying to explain to a six year old that he is in fact too young for a hoverboard when he watches an even younger child playing with one on YouTube has caused many tantrums! So instead we go through toy catalogs and websites that promote more age (and budget) appropriate options and come up with more reasonable Holiday wish lists.
Having six years of experience under my belt raising boys and dealing with endless mountains of boy toys over the years, I’ve also been able to filter out and develop an eye for which toys are worth the investment (and space), and will provide long term enjoyment and play for my kids versus the junk that will break within days or cause their interest to quickly fade. Below is a list of my top recommendations for 2017 Holiday toys for preschool to early school age boys. It includes toys that we’ve either personally owned or will be buying for our kids ourselves this holiday season after much research.
Fingerlings Interactive Finger Monkey
This is THE hot toy of the season, for both boys and girls. My six year old just HAS to have one, and of course I can’t get one for him without getting one for his four year old brother unless I want to deal with my living room looking like a WWE ring for the next few months until the thing gets broken. Fingerlings are interactive monkeys that cling to your finger and respond to sound, motion, and touch. They know when they are being pet, talked to, or hung upside down and they react by hanging onto your finger, blinking their eyes, turning their heads, blowing kisses, swinging by their tails, talking in monkey babble, and much more. They include over 40 different animations and SFX and come in a variety of colors. There’s even a unicorn and a sloth one as well! Unlike similar interactive pet items that tend to cost $60 and up, priced at only $14.99 this is a pretty great gift idea! I’ll admit, even I’m excited to play with them! Unfortunately, being such a hot item at such a great price, they are extremely hard to find. I was lucky enough to score one on Amazon on Black Friday by stalking the listings, and another one on Cyber Monday off of the WowWee Fingerlings Website itself, which has delayed shipping but promises delivery in time for Christmas. Amazon releases them as they come in stock but they sell out within minutes so you have to be vigilant! Our local Toys R Us gets weekly shipments and those willing to line up outside of the store in the mornings have had good luck getting ones of their own.
Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage Playset
My oldest son spent months begging us for this garage playset for the holidays last year (thanks again YouTube kid). With a $90+ price tag and the enormous size of it, I was very reluctant and tried my very best to talk him out of it and bribe him into wanting other gifts. But he persisted and not wanting to destroy his holiday spirit I finally caved and bought it for him. It turned out to be one of the best toys we’ve ever owned! My boys are OBSESSED with Hot Wheels cars and since getting the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage Playset they can spend hours and hours playing nicely and quietly together in their playroom. SCORE!!! A friend recently asked me if it was worth the money to get one for her son and I had to admit that it actually was! It’s a year later and my boys still play with it every day! I don’t think we own any other toys that they play with as much or have held their interest for this long. We’ve owned several different car tracks and ramps over the years that are too flimsy and break and fall apart and wind up in the trash within a few weeks of purchase. But the Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage has stood the test of time and is still in one piece after a year of intense play which is nearly unheard of in my house. A huge plus! Even my one year old loves it and hasn’t managed to tear it apart. By deal stalking last year I was able to find one for about $75 on Amazon. There’s a newer, more expensive version out this year but older versions can still be found for a lower price. I definitely recommend doing your research and seeking one out for the Hot Wheels lover in your family!
Wondercrew Super Hero Buddy
I am over the moon excited about this doll created specifically for boys! Wonder Crew was created by Laurel Wider, a therapist and mom, after her son came home from preschool one day and announced that ‘boys aren’t supposed to cry’. Frustrated by many of the messages boys were (and weren’t) receiving and inspired by the way play influences child development, Wider created Wonder Crew to promote social and emotional learning, build confidence and imagination, and empower boys to see themselves as caring, creative and strong people. And it’s about damn time! I’m so sick of the double standard against boys when it comes to toys that are deemed to be too “feminine” or “just for girls”. Screw that! I truly hope to see more toys like this in the future!
There are four different Buddy’s to choose from and each Buddy comes dressed as a super hero with a cape and mask. A matching cape and mask is included for the child to wear on their adventures with their Buddy! Additional adventure packs are sold separately and include Space PJs, a construction worker outfit, and a jungle explorer outfit. Most retail toy stores carry the Buddy’s for $24-$30. I was able to get Buddy Will on Amazon for my four year old for this Hannukah for $17. Not too bad!
Lego Minecraft The Crafting Box Building Kit
Minecraft is all the rage these days among school age kids. I swear my kids could play it for days at a time without stopping for food or sleep if I let them. Legos are a classic favorite in our house as well, so this gift is a great combination of two of my kids favorite things in one! This 717 piece set features five brick bags, each with three alternative model configurations. It gives Minecraft players a new challenge by bringing their game to life while taking a break from the screen. Since I’m always battling my kids over their screen time limits, anything that engages my children away from a screen is a major win in my book! I bought this kit for my oldest son this year with the expectation that it will provide hours of quiet imaginative play and keep him from begging me for his iPad to get his Minecraft fix. Amazon is offering the kit for $47.99 right now with Prime shipping which is a great great deal! It keeps selling out so act fast!
We own a small set of magnetic tiles already and all three of my kids play with them every day. I bought the above set for my four year old for Hannukah this year to add to our collection and expand on their imaginative play. The fact that they are small and easy to store is a huge plus in our small and overcrowded playroom, and they are big and safe enough for my one year old to play with too. These are great travel toys as well as they can fit in a child’s backpack and can be played with in the car or on a airplane. An all around great product! There are many different types of these tiles and kit sizes to fit any budget.
Nintendo Switch is the new home video game system from Nintendo. In addition to providing single and multiplayer thrills at home, the Nintendo Switch system can be taken on the go so players can enjoy a full home console experience anytime, anywhere. At home the main unit rests in the Nintendo Switch dock, which connects the system to the TV and lets you play with family and friends in the comfort of your living room. Lift Nintendo Switch from the dock and instantly transition to handheld mode for on-the-go gaming. By sharing Joy-Con, players can go head-to-head while away from home. You can also enjoy the same great games in tabletop mode by using the included stand to prop the system up.
I’ll admit, despite the $300 price tag, I’m tempted to get this for my family. My oldest son has a 3DS already and has been hard core petitioning to upgrade to the Switch. At first I was adamantly opposed to adding yet another gaming system to our ridiculously large collection (my husband basically being a giant child and collecting as many systems as he can manage). But looking into it more I really do love the idea that it can be played in so many places and so many ways. I’m thinking we can possibly downside from our many large stationary as well as portable gaming consoles and rely on just this one for all of our gaming needs. It would also be nice to reduce the need for so many different types of games for different systems. We can get one game that can be played at home and on the go which we’ve never had the ability to do before! With all of the traveling our family does, I’m constantly searching for toys that can entertain my kids on the go. With the switch, they can not only play with it in the car or on a plane, but they can hook it up to the tv at our destination as well! If my kids are very well behaved over the next few weeks, just maybe Santa will leave them one under the tree this year…
I’m not a crafty, creative, or artsy mom. I pretty much hate all things messy or complicated. My oldest son has sensory issues and his OT send me a list of suggestions for sensory play and different bins and things I should be creating for him and I both cringed and laughed at the same time. It’s just something missing from my genetic code or something. I did try hard to do my best for my son’s sake. We went through endless amounts of play doh, sensory beads, rice bins, a traditional sand table, and several other types of sensory play that were all huge fails. My son basically just threw everything around or smashed it into the carpets, on the walls, etc. (clearly he missed the creativity gene as well). Finally at the suggestion of his preschool teacher I bought a kinetic sand castle kit and it was a game changer! It’s the only form of sensory play that both of my kids enjoy and spend time playing with without causing an unholy mess. I’ll admit it can be messier than advertised, but it is much easier to clean than play doh and most other sensory play items. The sand stays clumped together so it’s extremely easy to sweep or even vacuum up and, unlike play doh, it doesn’t stick to any surfaces. I also love that unlike most other fine motor activities like cutting, coloring, and play doh, I can leave my kids to play with this on their own while I’m busy with other things and not worry that my house is being destroyed or my kids are cutting their hair or fingers. It’s also cheap and easy to find and comes in a variety of colors. The sand is fun to mold and play with on it’s own or with kits and toys like the one above.
My kids absolutely love Playmobil play sets. We’re lucky enough to have a Playmobil FunPark not far from where we live, which is basically just a giant room filled with every kind of Playmobil set available and entry is only $1 a person. My kids beg to go here anytime they have a day off school. So of course each year they wind up with several different Playmobil play sets or vehicles on their Holiday or Birthday Wishlist. This year my oldest son is getting the above Ghostbusters firehouse from his grandparents for Hannukah and this NHL hockey arena and Zamboni Machine from my husband and myself. We already own the Police Headquarters and Cruiser, as well as many other vehicles and smaller kits and play sets. There’s also a Playmobil 1.2.3 line with larger figurines and pieces specifically for kids under 3, so there’s something for every kid in the house! My one year old loves our Take Along Farm. He carries it around the house and loves making all of the animal sounds. Similar in size and style to Lego’s, Playmobil sets are solid sets with much less smaller pieces so you get the same type of imaginative play without the mess or risk of the structures getting knocked over or pulled apart (especially by a younger brother).
An old classic, Lincoln Logs will always be a perfect gift idea for any little boy. Kids can build and create all sorts of structures. Parents and grandparents will enjoy the nostalgia of sitting and playing with a classic toy from their own childhood! I remember building luxury log cabins for my Barbies with my brother’s Lincoln Logs back in the 80s. My oldest son has an interest in architecture and loves building all sorts of cabins, building, fences, etc. My youngest likes to build houses for his calico critters. And of course they both enjoy stacking them high and knocking them down or demolishing the buildings with their cars and trucks.
Educational or STEM Toys
You can never go wrong with educational toys. For my six year old’s birthday this past year he received a bunch of science kits like the one above, which he absolutely loves. Slime kits are a big hit with my kids as well. He’s really into outer space lately so his grandparents are getting him a children’s telescope this Holiday season which I know he’s going to flip out over. Microscopes, engineering sets, K’nex, the list goes on and on. I would much rather spend money on toys to help my kids learn and develop skills over anything else. Gifts like these never go out of style and can provide endless hours of entertainment.
Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!