Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Children’s Christmas Gift Guide

I have been kindly sent some items to feature on my gift guide.  My two boys (aged 5 and 7) have quite clear ideas about what they would like for Christmas so they are not too difficult to buy for, but if you are stuck for inspiration hopefully you will find some useful suggestions here.

Skylanders Trap Team

We have all the earlier installments in the Skylanders series so receiving Skylanders Trap Team to review is the icing on the cake!

We went to LolliBop earlier in the year and the boys had a demonstration of the game, since then its been a countdown to the release so they can get the hang of the new trap technology. The developers keep the concept fresh each time with the introduction of something completely new and this time round as the name would suggest its all about the traps.

We have had bigger characters with the Giants, interchangeable characters with SWAP Force and now we have the ability to trap the bad guys!  When you defeat a boss you can claim it as yours if you have the right kind of trap.  Again its going to get expensive as you will find your children say they NEED all the different elemental traps to make adequate progress or just to see everything the game has to offer!  Mine are terrible for that, they are never happy with the standalone game they need all the additions and they want them NOW.  The good thing is the traps are not too pricey, on Amazon for £14.99 they have a multi-pack of tech, magic and earth ones which can start you off quite nicely.  Plus you can use all your old characters so if you lose a figure in battle I know we will have heaps more to come to our aid!

If your child is getting Trap Team for Christmas you can also suggest family and friends help buy the traps, new figures and adventure packs so they can knuckle down and make real progress over the festive season. You will never have a dull moment with this game in your house anyway.  I think its interesting getting to control the bad guys for a change and then try out all their special attacks! They seem to have developed their personalities as they get drawn into the trap its hilarious hearing what they come out with and the general comic chatter continues when you play with them.  

The rest of the game play is more of what we love, an epic adventure, plenty of mini games and little challenges, a quirky story line and of course amazing graphics!  I do not mind that you do not get a physical bad guy to play with separately, as we are really running out of space to store all our figures, so trapping characters instead might be a better solution all round.  I do like that Skylanders lets you revisit your old characters you love so much and let them continue on these new adventures, Disney Infinity seems much more restrictive with the toy box being the main place unless its a character specific play set!

We all love the look of the latest portal!  It's very impressive.  I feel its a quality product as I have always found Skylanders figures to be very robust.  We have never had a breakage and we own a lot of figures and I have two very boisterous boys!

I hold the team behind Skylanders in high esteem they manage to keep creating fantastic new figures.  I would love to get inside their head and see where all these incredible ideas come from!  The Wii version we were sent includes a free download for the Wii U version of the game, I think this is lovely (and very generous of Activision) just in case Santa suddenly comes along with a Wii U for us for Christmas (I can live in hope!).


Naturally LEGO always features in some form or another and this year it’s ALL about Minecraft for them.  The new sets are an absolute must for fans of the game.  I like that they have managed to bring the same excitement of the game into the LEGO form, my two really could not believe their eyes when they saw the box and have been building different worlds since.  

We had the Crafting Set (RRP £49.99) this came with quite a generous assortment of blocks to create a number of Minecraft possibilities.  The instructions are very comprehensive but flexible too, you can construct one of eight worlds or build different elements separately to find your own ideal combination, my eldest built a bungalow!  Steve is stomping on skeleton's head in this picture!

Eldest was pleased the set came with a poster for his room!

I like that the boys can still enjoy their love of Minecraft but without committing so much time to watching it on a screen.  I like seeing them play the Minecraft LEGO together, it does seem to encourage co-operative play.  You can see their imagination going into overdrive.  I am keen to get a couple more sets for them for Christmas.  If you play the game there is nothing like surviving the first night, quickly getting the hang of how hard the game becomes when darkness falls and spiders, zombies and skeletons are getting hostile!  You soon value having a safe retreat, a comfortable bed and plenty of torchlight!  So LEGO Minecraft The First Night (RRP £39.99) is a must to re-create that level of tension and suspense, quickly build up a shelter and keep yourself out of harms way.

Depending on your budget this Christmas you can spend a bit more and buy the Mine Building Set, at RRP £89.99 its more expensive but it comes full of features that hardened fans will love!  You also get more in the way of figures with a skeleton, zombie, spider and creeper.  Let the LEGO Minecraft adventures begin in earnest this Christmas.

My eldest loved building the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Van (RRP £39.99); he is a very competent builder.  Watching him concentrating hard following the instructions and then seeing his pride in the end result, gives me such a sense of satisfaction.  A gift of LEGO certainly helps build a child’s confidence.  It is something you can work together as a family activity or as they get more capable like my seven year old just admire their creations!

The Turtles Van is an ideal present for fans of the cartoon series, its good value as you get a few figures and a clever vehicle to speed into battle!  It’s full of modifications to handle the toughest of bad guys!  Eldest liked that you could pull back the roof.

Moshi Monsters

My youngest is keen to build his Moshi collection this Christmas, I was very fortunate to win a set of Series 11, so his wish will be my command!  But at £4.99 for a pack of five they make a lovely affordable stocking filler.  The boys always like how one of the Moshi’s is always hidden so it’s a complete surprise till you open the packet to see which one you get.  Aside from the figures themselves you can get some great complimentary toys.

The latest one is the Moshi Monsters Beanstalk (RRP £24.99), which looks extremely good fun, with a twisting vine slide for them to enjoy.  My youngest regularly plays with the sets we currently own, so adding another will please him no end. 

Moshi monsters never get boring; the figures all have quite individual and interesting personalities and the playsets come jam packed with appealing features.  With the Beanstalk, your Moshi can swing and slide or you can just make the most of the extra storage space in the lead pods to display your favourite figures.  Those who are building up their collections will be glad to get their hands on yet another exclusive Moshi, the Truffle Moshling is so cute and sweet looking.

I have bought a few of the Moshi Monsters Pirate Chests, as I managed to get them quite cheap.  The Moshi range has grown and grown and it’s easy to get something new and different for your child even when you think they must own pretty much everything Moshi related.

I have found another fantastic stocking filler with the Moshi Monsters Robotlings in Slime at only £1.50 currently from Amazon these look great, a tub of goo and 2 silver robotlings what more could a child want.

Doh Nutters

This is quite an interesting game; the elephant mask you wear looks comical and it makes it more enjoyable for my boys.  Sometimes it can be hard to get their attention away from the TV but this game manages to do that.  It’s quite a challenge loading up the donuts on your trunk, it gets progressively harder by the third donut you really have your work cut out!  It’s very frantic as the winner is the first to manage all three.

This game has sold over 1 million copies it’s easy to see why, its simple but entertaining game play.  Even if young children cannot manage to do all the donuts they will be pleased they managed the first.  It’s a game you can leave children to play on their own but you might find yourself wanting to join in the fun anyway!  An amusing game for Christmas day, a bit tricky especially if you have had a mulled wine or two but hilarious nonetheless!

I think it’s pitched well for its age group 4+, its bright and colourful and an easy concept without complicated rules to digest!  It might also help a child’s co-ordination as they try there hardest to catch donuts.

T-Rex Projector & Room Guard

My boys were thrilled with this, they are treating it as their very own pet dinosaur because they like how it protects their bedroom door!  They have been sleeping more soundly since they realised they that their new friend will growl if anyone passes by.  It can make checking in on them a little bit more tricky but if it means they feel more secure and happy then I am all for our new roaring guard!  It's great fun with the realistic sounds but on top of that you can also project dinosaur images.

Eldest liked how you got a T-rex sticker so he could put it in his window and everyone would know he had a dinosaur that you should watch out for!  The dinosaur is a good size and is packed with features.  You have hidden storage for the projection discs and his little arm can be used to focus the image.  

Such a clever dinosaur from Brainstorm Toys with no less than five mighty roars!  It might stop the puppy from coming in to their room to try and sneakily chew their soft toys!  One big grrrr and she will dash off in a panic!  Hopefully it will keep the little scamp in line.

It is very educational you get a booklet with the names of all the dinosaurs on the projection discs, so you can soon brush up and recognize more dinosaurs than you ever did before!  For £30.00 it makes a really unique gift for dinosaur fans.

Make Your Own Chocoholics Pizza

This will appeal to creative children, its good fun making your own chocolate pizza and nothing beats the satisfaction of eating it afterwards.  I think its reasonably priced for £14.99 as the chocolate itself is delicious, its pitched as gourmet chocolate and it certainly is that you can taste the quality!  

It is a fun activity and its great you have the pizza mould to keep once you have enjoyed all the chocolaty goodness, so you can repeat the process with whatever chocolate you have in and regularly enjoy chocolate pizza's!  It is simple enough for children to manage and as a gift the presentation is spot on.  The pizza box is a nice touch and everything is included to get started straight away.

Getting Personal have some truly wonderful gifts for Christmas, we were also sent the monkey door hangers (£10.99), these are very cute and practical.  The boys can now hang up their dressing gowns and not just chuck them on the floor...

Given they are my cheeky little monkeys I thought the choice of door hanger was very appropriate!  They seem quite sturdy, the only thing I would say if you have a particularly thick door they do not work as well, but most people have slimmer modern ones anyway!

Cadbury's Chocolate

The Cadbury's Christmas range is perfect for stocking fillers, they have cute shaped chocolate at affordable prices.  I love the taste of Cadbury's chocolate and their mousse snowman are just the thing to excite children Christmas morning.  The shape and the flavour are both good and I like how you can get the vanilla or milk chocolate (new for 2014) variants depending on which you prefer or throw in both for good measure and hope your child might share!  The snowman shape is quite detailed, with a hat and a scarf, not that you will spend much time appreciating it visually as it gets gobbled up quick (well in our house anyway!).

The festive packaging is nice, with snowflakes on it and the trademark purple colour.  If I was to get a stocking still it being filled to the brim with Cadbury's products would make me a happy bunny indeed.  Cadbury's holds a dear place in my heart, so as you can imagine all the chocolate pictured was demolished at speed.

Worlds Apart Junior Readybed

These are fantastic, my five year old is permanently "camping" now or so he keeps telling me! When it arrived he would only sleep in it for the first few days and then after that he decided he wanted to keep it in the playroom so if he felt a little tired or wanted to warm up he would tuck himself in and look through a book!  He has had so much use out of this Turtles Readybed already, so excellent value for £24.99.

It is quick and easy to put up and its an ideal solution if you are hosting a sleepover and need another bed.  My seven year old has managed to squeeze into it, so you can use it for awhile if you buy it when your child first turns three.

The other day at a playdate in our house the Readybed was a focal point for a camping game, they had some sleeping bags and cushions out but the person deemed worthy of actually using the Readybed was the luckiest of all!  It seems very comfortable anyway, otherwise my youngest would not have been so willing to give up his proper bed to sleep on this instead.

Worlds Apart have lots of lovely products suitable for Christmas presents, they have a whole Frozen range, plenty of little girls will be thrilled about that!  You can get a mini flip out sofa, torch, ready bed, various storage options, a toddler bed and desk!  Basically you can transform their bedroom into a Frozen winter land.  But for my boys its all about the Ninja Turtles!

Peggylicious Books

These children books are adorable based on the adventures of two real life dogs Peggy and Archie.  

Having had our new puppy recently the boys are quite keen to hear about what this pair were getting up to.  I think we all relate to Coming Home and all the chewing Peggy is doing!  Our pup is just the same at the moment, mind you her specialty is socks!  The poor boys have hardly any left...  

Bear Comes Home For Christmas in particular is ideal for the festive period!  I like to include a few books in my boys Christmas pile, I like to encourage reading at every opportunity.  The books are available to buy from their shop at £5 each, which is very reasonable indeed.

The books are beautifully illustrated and very appealing to children.  I like how the font changes for emphasis as they read through the book.  The dogs are very kind natured and I like how they help find the lost teddy bear for the sad looking little boy in the Christmas book.

I love the glossy pages, these books are delightful from start to finish!  The dogs have a motto as the "do good dog clan"!  It's a message we should be telling our children, encouraging them to help those around them! Hopefully it will help me raise kind and caring boys.

Whimsy Wood Series

I love magical adventures and this series of books certainly provide them.  If your looking for another title specifically for Christmas then I can definitely recommend Posie Pixie and the Christmas Tree.  These are enchanting books, full of woodland creatures which will appeal to their imagination, my eldest was pleased one of the books had a rabbit on the front!

There is nothing like getting lost in a good book!  My eldest is like me in that respect he will happily sit in the top bunk with a pile of books and read away.  He likes varied reading material and is always pleased when a new book arrives.  This collection is great value at £24.99 for the five books in the series, you can order them direct from the abela publishing website.  I loved the Enid Blyton books growing up and these sound a similar idea, its wonderful seeing my children so enthusiastic for story time just so they can hear what Posie is up to next.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping!

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