Over the past ten years, I have found that kids will ask for anything they see on TV for Christmas. They are excited to open those gifts and then they lose interest. I tend to also get them something they would never think of themselves that I would enjoy myself, and those are the gifts that provide lasting memories. Trust your own instincts when buying gifts for children. The odds are, if it’s something you would play with, they will love it.
LEGO Dynamo Torch
You already bought them every kind of LEGO set, so how about a cool LEGO accessory? The LEGO Dynamo Torch is a rechargeable flashlight that sends a LED beam from the LEGO man’s foot. Batteries are included, and you never have to buy any more. Recharge them by cranking his arm! Yes, that’s the beauty – your child will learn the value of power and how much work goes into producing it. $19.99 from Amazon.com.
6 in 1 Solar Robot Kit
Robots? Build it yourself? Solar power? What’s not to like about this kit? The 6 in 1 Solar Robot Kit is advertised as “educational” because of the solar power, which I suppose is a good thing. This little pocket-sized generator runs the kinetics of the robot outside on sunny days, or inside under a 50-watt halogen lamp. The parts go together to form six different shapes of robot: a car, a puppy, an airboat, a plane, a windmill, and another plane that flies around a pole. No screws are involved in the assembly, so it should go pretty fast. And when you get tired of one configuration, just reassemble it into another shape! $19.99 from Robotikits, or £0.99 across the pond from Iwantoneofthose.
Consider the Gyrowheel if you are buying for a child who is getting their first bicycle. It’s a replacement front wheel, with a spinning disc inside that stabilizes the bike and keeps it from falling over as the child first starts to ride. The motor is powered by a rechargeable battery. The disc has three speeds, so you can adjust the stability down as your child learns to balance, until he/she no longer needs the help. Then you can either leave the wheel without using the motor, or you can remove it and use it for the next child who learns to ride a bike. No more training wheels!
Loopa Gyro Bowl
For even younger children, here’s their very own bowl they can carry around -and it will make a toddler’s parents happy, too! Despite the name, the Loopa Gyro Bowl doesn’t come with a spinning gyroscope to stabilize it. The bowl is weighted, and the hinged loops around it allow the bowl to swivel in three dimensions. Plus they make the bowl look like Saturn with its rings! The outer ring has holes that little hands can fit into, giving the bowl its own handles. The developers make it clear that this bowl is for dry snacks only. However, any parent would love to spend less time picking up the crushed Frosted Flakes or popcorn that toddlers leave behind them. About $13 from Amazon.
Air Kicks Gravity Boots
Gravity Boots are a first step towards extreme pogo stick or Powerboks. Recommended for children 8 and older. If I had these as a kid instead of the wooden stilts my dad made, I might not be so clumsy now! Or at least I can think that. Available in various sizes and prices @ Amazon.com.
Yes, a set of building blocks. Wedgits have their own charms, however. They are wedges in various diamond shapes that next together so your creations have stability you won’t find in square blocks. Sets are available for children as young as one year old (too big to swallow) and for older kids with more sizes and shapes. Prices vary as many sizes and configurations of sets are available, up to classroom supply size.
Desktop Carnivorous Plant Set
One Venus Flytrap will make a kid happy. Seven varieties of carnivorous plants should make a budding geek jump up and down! This kit comes with seeds, container with dome, potting mix, decorative rocks, decals, and instructions. This is only good for a kid with patience, as the plants will take months and some TLC to grow. Then they’ll need insects to feed them! $24.99 from Think Geek.
Tim Kehoe worked on making colored soap bubbles for fifteen years, several of which we’ve waited for the product to be available “soon”. Finally Zubbles are available to the public. So far, the bubbles only come in pink and blue, but more are in the works. The latest version of the dye makes your clothing pink (or blue) but is supposed to disappear in about 15 minutes. Get two bottles (one pink, one blue) for $14.99.
Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up warm and cozy just like Luke Skywalker inside the carcass of a Tauntaun? This awesome Tauntaun Sleeping Bag started out as an April Fool’s joke, but demand was so overwhelming that Think Geek had to make it real. Making it was the easiest part. Licensing was a different story. Lucasfilm’s blessing came a couple of months ago, and serious production began. The bag looks like the animal, except for being comfortable and the right size for a human. You open it by pulling a little light saber zipper pull, just like Han sliced the Tauntaun open in the movie. Inside, you see the Tauntaun’s internal organs printed on the fabric! Climb inside and rest on the pillowy Tauntaun head. The bag is big enough for an adult, and machine washable (yes, it smells much better than a carcass). $99 from Think Geek. In stock today, but they won’t be for long!