If you are anything like me, I both love and hate the holiday season. Ok, maybe hate is too strong, but I mean it in the nicest way possible though. I love all the traditions and family time, but I strongly dislike the finding the perfect gifts for people sometimes. I seem to have a harder time finding gifts for the younger kids than anyone else. I like to think out of the box and not buy everything “Frozen” brand or “Hot Wheels.” I like to find things that are unique. Or if they are “Hot Wheel” there is a twist to it. You know, the gifts that you wish you knew about before. With that being said, let’s delve into some cool toys to check into for this holiday season.

All-in-One board of Gizmos and Gadgets a plenty

The first one that I love and have only seen a handful of these are the “sensory” style boards. You can definitely do it yourself if you want or you can also buy it premade. They are great for infants to toddlers. You can travel with them if they are small enough as well. This is a unique and fun toy with educational aspects built in. 

They are a board of many different things such as a chain you might have on your front door, door knob, push buttons, string to tie and other such things. There is enough things to do on it, that it keeps even the busiest of children occupied and they are also learning whether they realize it or not.

For a higher end board, check this out;

For a mid range board; this one is super neat;

Here is a do it yourself one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwapkSZ9WME

“Water” color book extraordinaire  

So my children have always loved to color and draw on everything. And I mean everything. I have stock in magic eraser. Only kidding! My kids love to draw unicorns, cars, our family and flowers. They love drawing me pictures in their coloring books, on computer paper and even my living room walls! I still love hanging up their drawings and saving them for when they are older, but after 572 drawings of the perfect circle, the garbage may get full quickly. So that brings me to my next favorite gift. The aqua doodle! This is only one name for them so you know, but they come from different brands and places. So what is it? It is a refillable water pen that comes with a special mat. The water pen draws on the mat and the mat soaks up the water and the drawing will just disappear in time so your little one can draw on it over and over again. If your little one misses the mat and draws on the floor, it’s just water. Or if they decided to veer away from the mat and try and draw on kitchen cupboard, it’s only gonna get wet. You can get this in a large floor size mat or a travel size. There’s pretty much a size for whatever you need.  Some of the mats have activities you can play too such as tic tac toe, color in the lines, follow the lines and other fun stuff. Some of the activities are also educational with numbers, letters and such. It’s so easy to use and travel with and mostly mess free. Check out these links.

On a side note, this mat shows you can purchase it at Wal-mart, Amazon or on many online shopping websites and it isn’t too expensive either My oldest loved his mat and we would roll it up and bring it with us to Grandma and Grandpas, or if he was going to a friends for a sleep over and it was always a hit. 

Polar opposites or a day of fun?

This next one can be as simple or elaborate as you want. If you are going with a store bought version, they have different price points and activities. If you are doing it yourself, you can slap together almost anything for your little. I’m talking about good old fashioned magnets and magnetic boards. There are some boards you can buy or order that have very well made letters, numbers, shapes, animals, cars, etc. You can build and rebuild as many times as you want. You can work with your kid  on learning colors, shapes and just use your imagination all day. You can use the shapes to make a dinosaur and a house, then destroy the house. The best part is storage and clean up are next to nothing. It only takes up a small spot in a room and the magnets stay right with it. My youngest thinks that magnets are like the cream of the crop. I can’t keep them on my fridge. She is always pulling them off and playing with the,. You can also use the magnets themselves for travel play. Again, my youngest takes magnets with us in the car frequently. She likes to see how far away she can put the magnets before they connect.  The different sides and how they attract or push apart can make for sometimes hours of play as well. 

Quick story, my daughter plays with magnets almost every day and she is 3. When she started about 6 months ago, she was just pushing them around on the fridge. Now she will get her magna doodle and draw with them on it because she through trial and error, she learned that they work on it too. She will put them in her pockets to play with in the van ride. She has difference shapes and colors now too. She uses a board to make animals with the magnets using the shapes. She can also name the shapes and most colors as well. It is such a small thing that can be so much fun and entertaining for hours.

Even if you think this may be too simple, you will be surprised at what fun, learning and imagination will come with magnets. Look what I found below.

Stretch and Yoga into the new year

By nature, kids will mimic what almost everyone does. If you are standing in the kitchen with your hand on your hip, you child will probably start doing it as well. If you sing in the car, you child will most likely sing in the car. If you stub your toe or walk on a Lego and drop a not very nice word on accident, your child will follow suit. That being said, there are these uber cool kids yoga blocks. If you are trying to instill some more fitness and health in your lifestyle, this is a cool way to do it. If you are doing yoga, more than likely your little one is attempting downward dog or child’s pose with you. These come with multiple different poses that you can add to the blocks. Your child than can play with the blocks and use them for building a tower or they copy the poses that are on the blocks. These can be cool for the energetic child to focus their energy without even realizing it. The nice thing is they can be played with as blocks for building as well so they are technically multipurpose.

I love multi-purpose….well anything so try these out!

Tiny tots Fidget block

For that busy body child who is always fidgeting and can’t sit still, try this toy. I personally call these the baby fidget spinners. They have many different things similar to a sensory board, but they can brought on the go easier and even thrown into the diaper bag. There is enough activities to keep them busy while activating some brain muscles and unexpected learning. The best of both worlds in my book. I tend to stay away from the regular fidget spinners for the younger kids for fear of them putting them in their mouth and one of the smaller pieces breaking loose. This age appropriate toy is so much more fun too! Keep those long boring car trips busy for your peanuts! Look below for some options.

Toy flip on bubble wrap?

As an adult, I catch myself doing things like pushing all the tabs down on my pop lid at McDonald’s or popping the bubble wrap until I can’t hear any more pops. Children like to do the same thing, but tend to be more frustrated when they can’t continue pushing the lid tabs up and down because they are a onetime deal only. That’s why this next toy is the coolest and you may even catch yourself playing with it while you are watching television. Just remember, that some of the more simple toys can truly be the best toys ever. I almost bought one for myself. Here’s a link.

Ultimate spinner rocker chair

How about that child who likes to sit in their rocking chair and spin. Or the kid who loves their sit and spin? Or how about just a kid size chair for your little to feel important in their own chair? Well this chair is  all that and everything else you can think of. So, I know this sounds weird, but what about a chair that you can sit or spin or rock or climb on? A chair that your child can just play with by carrying things around inside of it too. This crazy simple and genius idea is like a multipurpose toy for your child. Your littlies can sit inside it and rock whichever way they want in a 360 degree manner or spin in circles. Your peanut can just sit and watch television too if they want to. If your kids are anything like mine, you they can load they toys in it and carry them around or make it into a garage for their cars. And the best part is it is fairly small. This is like the ultimate chair for your kids that can’t sit still, but can sit while they umm…can’t sit still.

Frog “Pen” pal

And for my number one favorite toy that both my kids have loved along with me is the Leapfrog Leap reader. You buy the pen and download it onto your computer. Then you pick and choose what books to buy and you download them as well to the computer. Now you not only have new books to read, but the pen will also do a few different things such as read the book in one mode, tell you what pictures are or even just words on a page and there is even games. The games have a couple levels too for easy and hard. You just turn the pen on and tap it on the picture or word and it will tell you. Or you can click the book picture and it can read the page for you. If you have a picture you want to know about, tap the picture and the pen tells you what it is and such. It helps your child gain more independence, but it also allows them to enjoy the book and understand what things are with a more hands on experience. I have had the same one for about 10 years and it’s just like brand new. It’s a must have investment. You can literally put this in your pocket and stash a book in your car and bring it out anywhere. It is an amazing option for “toys.” Check out the Leap frog option below. Side note, there are other brands out there too that are similar to this. I just had the best luck with Leapfrog as they seem to last for ever.

On a parting note, you know there are other gifts out there, but I wanted to give you some better “out of the box” ideas that I think are not only cool, but extra-ordinary for your child. In an array of personalities for children and budget for us adults, I hope some of these are a home run for your families and help take the guessing out of some of your shopping!