Last Minute Toy Shopping Under $20 #GiftGuide

 

Adorable plush Rescue Runts and Cinco Linko game are under $20 and available in-store at thousands of Walmart stores across the country. You can shop local and not worry about products shipping in timeThese toys are family-friendly, encourage creativity and offer year-round fun!

Cinco Linko (Big Potato)

Cinco Linko is a super-simple five-in-a-row tile game that you can clip to your bag and play on the go, no matter where you’re headed. With no game board required, any flat surface can be your playing field – whether it’s the coffee table at home, the tray table on an airplane or even the sand on the beach.

Learning is easy. Just choose a color, grab your stack and take turns laying down tiles side-by-side until someone manages to get five-in-a-row of their color, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Sounds simple, but when there’s players blocking you at every turn and a board without any boundaries, winning can go from simple to tricky in a flash. Run out of tiles? Well, that just means you’ll have to pick up the ones you’ve already placed and reposition them one by one until you manage to sneak your line of five past the other players.

Cinco Linko comes with 60 tiles (15 pink, 15 yellow, 15 green, 15 orange). The tiles stack easily onto four included racks that clip together with a connector to keep everything together on the go. Just use the included carabiner clip to hook Cinco Linko to your bag and you’re ready to play anyone, anywhere. Value: $9.99, 2-4 Players, Ages 8+, Available in Walmart Stores.

Rescue Runts (KD Kids)

Rescue Runts need a home to call their own! The super soft plush puppies and Limited Edition Rescue Runts Unicorn arrive in their crate packaging with matted fur full of fleas, dirty paws, bruises and bumps, tears in their eyes and downturned ears. Care for your Rescue Runt using the included grooming kit to pick out the fleas, remove the cast, clean the dirt from their paws, wipe away their tears and brush their messy fur. Perk up their ears to complete the transformation from ragged runt to perfect pet! Choose a name and write it on the collar to make the adoption official.

Just like any pet, Rescue Runts will need regular grooming, love and care so kids can engage in repeated animal rescue play. Rescue Runts’ fur will become messy again over time, so brunch them each day to keep them well-groomed. Dirt will reappear on their paws, so clean them up again and again! Rewrap the cast to care for their injuries. Place the fleas in their fur and tweeze them out. Flip their ears up or down to go from happy to sad.  Rescue Runts include one pet, a brush, collar, tweezers and towel.  MSRP $19.99, Ages 3+, Available at Walmart

Adorable Moosh-Moosh Stuffed Toys #GiftGuide

smoosh toys

Do you know someone who loves soft, squishy toys? My son (and my partner) both loft pillow-like toys, especially when they are super soft on the outside. They would be great gifts this holiday season. If you know any kid (or kid at heart) who likes to collect stuffed toys, these are sure to be a hit.

Moosh-Moosh is an adorable new, marshmallow-soft, squishy stuffed animal/pillow. You can use it as either or both (we do). You can find them in the aisles of Michaels Stores or CVS,  Moosh-Moosh comes in quite a few sizes and options. More than three million cuddly characters have been sold since they first came out this year. Cuddle, snuggle, squish or stack these cuties, they are fun to collect as well. Moosh-Moosh makes the perfect December present for stocking stuffers, dreidel game prizes or an under-the-tree surprise.

You can get these soft plushies in a palm-size 4”Clip-on ($5.99) to a huggable 7” Regular ($9.99) to the ultimate 10” Large ($14.99).

Shop for over 72 styles online at Moosh-Moosh.com . You will have a hard time choosing just one, but as with all things, they are better with friends.  These have been hot sellers at neighborhood Staples, JOANN Stores, AC Moore, and Party City, as well as select Hudson News airport stores.

 

Companies that Care- GOOD DEEDS

Behind the Moosh-Moosh logo is a caring company that donates plush buddies as need arises. A Kindergarten teacher in the Washington, DC area was looking for an educator discount to buy her 28 students plushies for reading circle. Imagine her surprise when Sean Price, VP of Business Development and Marketing for parent company MMG Brands, shipped her two dozen soft friends.

A bigger shout out came from Omaha, Nebraska, home of Elliott’s Hoedown for ATCP. After learning about the A-T Children’s Project, MMG Brands donated $11,000 worth of toys! The Midwest charity creates awareness for A-T (a rare, inherited disease that affects several organs and systems, including the nervous and the immune systems) and funnels donations to Johns Hopkins’ A-T clinic in Baltimore, Maryland.

Reindeer In Here book and plush #GiftGuide

Not everyone is a huge fan of “Elf of the Shelf”, for various reasons. Some people don’t like the elf’s antics, some feel that the kids should not have bad behavior reported to Santa. While I have no such qualms (and our Elf does NOT get into mischief that takes hours of prep time and then more to cleanup, thank you) there is a cute alternative or addition to the Christmas Elf.

elf on the shelf

According to RIH, “Since its 2005 release, Elf on the Shelf has proven to be both a Christmas tradition and commercial success, leading holiday sales charts each year. As time wore on and its popularity grew, the story began to receive criticism from both parents and experts on child psychology.

Owner and creator of Reindeer in Here was looking for a Christmas tradition to start with his own family after the birth of his daughter and quickly discovered that he too became one of the parents questioning the elf’s effectiveness. REINDEER IN HERE is his attempt at providing a friendlier, more positive tool for parents and children to get into the holiday spirit.  As the children bond with their Christmas friend the entire family creates a lasting Christmas tradition as everyone looks forward to REINDEER IN HERE coming back year after year.

“Not only have we shelved the elf,” says Reed. “But in doing so we’ve created LESS STRESS for parents and MORE CHRISTMAS for families across the globe.  I couldn’t be more proud of our little REINDEER IN HERE and all it has accomplished in such a short time.”

“For those ready to change things up,” begins the glowing review by The National Parenting Center, “Reindeer InHere offers a cute, loving and stress-free alternative to help you celebrate the magic of Christmas throughout the month of December.”

Created by a Dad, the Reindeer In Here book and plush “magically” arrive in early December, setting the stage for a new yearly Christmas tradition.  It’s the child’s very first gift of the holiday season from Santa — and can return year after year.  Read part of the delightful 2018 Seal of Approval review, below:

“Parents couldn’t wait to embrace a new, positive and refreshing tradition. The reasonably priced kit comes in a beautiful box and includes a book introducing the Reindeer tradition to your children, as well as the cute Reindeer plush. The plush is a good size and struck parents as being of a great quality, which meant that it could last through several Christmases.”

Reindeer In Here can be found at many specialty stores including Hallmark and Learning Express. To find a neighborhood store nearby, simply click on their online Store Finder map at www.ReindeerInHere.com. There is also a limited supply available on Amazon.

Portable North Pole Toys for the Holiday Season #GiftGuide

Portable North Pole (PNP) brings the magic of Christmas to life with personalized video messages and calls directly from Santa to children young and old. Children (and parents) have sent more than 210 million videos globally since they started 10 years ago.

New for 2018 – the10th Anniversary of Portable North Pole- a line of adorable products, toys and plush dolls that lets kids live the magic of the season while encouraging good behavior:

  • NEW! Letters to Santa Kit: Take your personalized video to the next level using the Letters to Santa Kit, as the included video message reply will include your child’s hand-written letter. Each kit comes with stationary, envelopes, festive Christmas stickers and an officialNorth Pole post office stamp and ink pad. MSRP $12.99.
  • NEW! Twenty-Four Sleeps Until Santa Christmas Storybook:Kids count down the days of December with Santa! Every page offers the “Search and Find” game where kids hunt for Santa’s missing keys and a merry advent verse to read each day. Plus, the book can be personalized with a child’s photo and details. MSRP $12.99.
  • Do-Good Elf:Inspires learning about the true spirit of the holidays by encouraging kids to teach their elf the difference between naughty and nice.

The Do-Good Elf catches you doing GOOD vs. other elves that “spy” on you and report bad behavior back to Santa…

Comes with four (4) personalized videos where Santa checks in on the child teaching progress and more. MSRP $24.99.

  • Karamelli Santa’s Sweetest Baby Reindeer Plush and Okida Santa Playful Husky Puppy Plush: Children teach their cuddly baby pet about the spirit of Christmas. MSRP $12.99.

All toys will be available across North America at most Walmart locations and at Walmart.com this fall.

Gifts For the Gamer in Your Life #GiftGuide

If you have a gamer on your holiday shopping list this year, there are some fantastic games that have recently come out that we think they will really like.

LEGO fan? Who isn’t? No matter what age, in this house, everyone likes LEGO. Combine it with video games, then mix in the DC Universe, and you have the recipe for a win right there.

“LEGO DC Super-Villains” has just been released, and let’s gamers play as villains for the first time ever. In collaboration with DC Comics and joined up with DC Super-Villains including The Joker, Harley Quinn, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Killer Frost, Sinestro, and more from the Legion of Doom, players set out to create chaos and strike out against good.

Following the trio of “LEGO Batman” , it is a similar style action-adventure game featuring a features a two-player cooperative multiplayer mode. It is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

LEGO video games

For another LEGO game, check out “LEGO The Incredibles”.  Coming out in time to join the new Incredibles movie, this fun-filled game features all your favorite characters getting themselves into and out of trouble. Take control of your favorite Incredible and act out sections from the movie, recreate favorite scenes and home and family life. Make sure you battle and defeat all the bad guys and team up with other members of the family while you save the world, LEGO style.  Available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

lego game

Can’t get enough LEGO?  We were really looking forward to the “LEGO Harry Potter: Collection” game, and cannot get enough of it. The LEGO Harry Potter games were the first ones that created a huge hub to interact between missions or chapters. There are many secrets to discover in Hogwarts and it’s grounds. You can play as many different characters once you unlock them, and you will need to do so in order to progress to different areas. This compilation brings LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One with both top-selling videogames remastered into one.  This game will cast it’s spell on everyone, young and young at heart alike.  Available now Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

best video games

“Scribblenauts Mega Pack” is a  new two-game collection which features entire versions of both “Scribblenauts Unlimited” and “Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure”. You also get special bonus content for both games. “Scribblenauts Unlimited” follows the storyline of trying to save your sister, who is trapped. You have to solve puzzles to save her. Each gamer can create and summon anything they can imagine, from characters like Mario to a puppy to a rainbow to whatever else. Your creations then run about in your world. You can share creations with other players, as well, by putting them in a “hub” or shop. This is a 1 player game.

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure lets your imagination run wild(er) by combining the Scribblenauts world with thousands of DC characters and objects. Available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

yo kai video game

My child is obsessed with Yo-Kai, and I’m guessing he’s not alone. The latest Yo-Kai games, “YOKAI WATCH BLASTERS: Red Cat Corps” and “YOKAI WATCH BLASTERS: White Dog Squad, let players team up with up to three other friends either at home or online (parents, be on your toes as to whom your child “friends” online) to fight the “Big Bosses”. Develop and use skills and special “Soultimate Moves” and befriend more then 400 Yo-Kai on your journey. These games are different from previous Yo-Kai games in that instead of playing turn-based battles, the “Yo-Kai Watch Blasters” games have gamers play in fast paced, real time battles and missions with action-RPG throughout. During these battles, you directly control your Yokai as you strategize with different skills and equipment to defeat bosses.

YOKAI WATCH BLASTERS: Red Cat Corps and YOKAI WATCH BLASTERS: White Dog Squad are available for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems for $39.99 each.

harry potter video game

Sudara Clothing – ethically made and helps women #GiftGuide

If you are anything like me, you like to shop as ethically as possible. Most companies and stores don’t give a fig about you, me, the environment, or anything other then profit. So, when you know brands that give a darn, they are ones you tend to do your shopping with.

give back

I’ve recently discovered Sudara. This brand came about because of a desire to help women escape sex trafficking in India.  12 years ago, Sudara partnered with a sewing center in India and taught six women how to sew a pattern for pants. The previous year,  founder, Shannon Keith, had returned from a trip to India and heard story after story of women who were sold into sex slavery. She also heard stories of women who were at a high risk of being forced into the sex trade by their families or picked up off the streets by local pimps. The reasons they were at a high risk? Because they lacked an education or the resources or the skills to, truly, have a choice.

She returned home from that trip and formed a small team of family and friends. They have since made 10 sewing centers and hundreds of women have found both freedom and living wage employment.

The pants are awesome. Comfortable, easy to wash and wear, pretty, and unique. The are no sacrifice to wear, and it’s great knowing that my purchase is helping other women and supporting a company that does good in the world.

They also are ethically and sustainability made for the good of the environment as well. They are a Certified B Corps, which means they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems. So- you know. A good company to buy from. The good guys.

ethically made clothing

Sudara Brand Description:

  • Sudara is a lifestyle brand that creates jobs for women in India who are at the highest risk or survivors of human trafficking. They pay living wages and provide access to counseling, medical care and resources that empower women to create their own self-sustaining future.

  • Every pair of these Sudara Punjammies are made through living-wage employment by women in India who are at the highest risk or survivors of sex trafficking. Every purchase is an investment in Sudara’s freedom-filled work and empowers women who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.

  • Sudara offers beautiful and comfortable clothing with a freedom-filled purpose. Their women’s pajama pants, loungewear and robes are ethically-made in India through living-wage employment programs. Every purchase is helping empower women in India with the resources and skills they need to create a better life for themselves and their family.

Keep up with Sudara on social media as well- sudara.org  facebook  twitter  instagram

The Flex Brush – Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Anyone with Hair #GiftGuide

If you have tangles in your hair, if you think your hair is impossible, hard to manage, or just makes you crazy, you will want to know about the Flex Brush. It sounds too good to be true, but it really works. I used it on my partner’s wild and curly hair, and it not only sailed right on through his tangles and knots, but didn’t hurt him in the process.

If you have a child who HATES hair brushing time, this will save both of you. Your sanity, their tears, and a whole lot of time. The detangling spray is also fantastic. For that extra added “easy glide”, it really makes things that much easier.  For one of the first times, I was able to run my fingers through his hair.

detangling brush

World-renowned celebrity hair stylist Angelo David Pisacreta, owner of the elite Angelo David Salon in New York City, and hair-tool veteran Jacob Guttman, founder and CEO of Creative Pro Hair Tools, introduce The Flex Brush—an all-purpose tool that safely detangles hair, massages the scalp and promotes health and hair growth. The brush’s versatility, combined with its flex technology, make it the most forgiving hair brush on the market.

 flex brush

The Flex Brush, designed for both wet and dry hair, bends to follow the contours of your head, massaging your scalp and stimulating the production of natural oils. The brush has vents that allow heat to pass through it, so blow drying won’t damage the brush. For ultimate detangling, pair it with FlexDetangle Spraya revolutionary leave-in conditioner that increases flexibility to minimize damage during styling and detangling. Here is what sets The FlexBrush apart from other brushes on the market:

 

  • It is the most versatile brush on the market, so whether your hair is curly, fine, delicate or thick—or if you have extensions or a sensitive scalp—The Flex Brush is your go-to hair tool.
  • The Flex Brush is made from all-natural rubber, and the coating has a soft-touch finish that’s comfortable and easy to grip.
  • The Flex Brush is vented and super lightweight, so it can be used while blow drying. Air can pass freely through the integrated vents, resulting in much faster drying times.
  • Thanks to its flexibility, The Flex Brush gives your scalp a soothing massage that increases the blood supply to your hair’s follicles. Increased circulation helps increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients that are essential for growing strong, healthy hair.
  • The Flex Brush is especially great for detangling children’s hair. Unlike traditional brushes, it flexes to avoid snagging on tough knots, so there’s no pain. Plus, you get damage-free detangling on all hair types, whether hair is wet or dry.

 best brush for kids

About The Flex Brush

The Flex Brush is the creation of two of the most innovative minds in beauty: Angelo David, owner and creative director of the elite Angelo David Salon in New York City, and Jacob Guttman, founder and CEO of Creative Pro Hair Tools. While on the beach in Aruba, Angelo was disturbed watching people destroy their hair, as they yanked rigidbrushes through knots, tearing ends and destroying roots. He contacted Jacob and together they designed The Flex Brush—an all-purpose tool that detangles safely, massages the scalp and promotes hair health and growth. It is designed for both wet and dry hair.

 

The Flex Brush comes in three variations:

The Flex Brush Petite Mixed Bristle for SRP $19.95

The Flex Brush XL Nylon Bristle for SRP $19.95

The Flex Brush XL Mixed Bristle for SRP $25.95

The Flex Detangle Spray is available in two sizes:

the 2 oz bottle for SRP $6.95

the 8 oz bottle for SRP $17.95

Stocking Stuffers for Teen and Tween Boys #GiftGuide

 Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for pre-teen and teenage boys? Since (lets just be real here) boys are pretty gross in general, a personal care kit won’t go astray.  There are several kits to choose from by Prep U that help that “smelly boy” syndrome.

boys deodorant

It’s a fact of life that boys eventually start to smell. No matter how cute or precious they are, they begin to mature, their hormones change and odor caused by sweat and dirt naturally begins to appear with varying degrees of intensity. The idea for Prep U came from a frustrated mom of two active, smelly sons who couldn’t find a suitable solution for her boys. The only products currently on the market were designed for babies or left her kids smelling like a couple of frat boys. She created Prep U, a line of personal care products that are the perfect antidote to smells of boyhood, offering parents natural, quality products they can trust and kids a line of products that celebrates their growing independence.

I like that these are all natural products. There are plenty of options out there, but not many natural products that actually work well.

Prep U has 7 NATURAL products to choose from, with a different assortment of kits to suit the needs of different boys. There are also 3 kits to choose from;

boys bath and body

Travel Kit ($29) – Travel-size Body Spray, Active Dry Powder, Soap, and Natural Deodorant, all packaged in a compact Dopp kit bag offered in two colors

Starter Kit ($34) – A few of our most popular items including the Body Wash, Natural Deodorant, and Body Spray

Sport Kit ($32.50) – Ideal for the super active boy: Sport Soak, Natural Deodorant, and Active Dry Powder

We’ve tried several of these products, and my sons like them. My youngest, 11, tried the deodorant and body wash. My oldest, 19, tried the body spray and body wash. I prefer the smell of that body spray so much more then most others he has used- I really hate most body spray smells, truth be told. We all like the scents, and they both like the results. Check them out yourself and see what your boys think.

Happy Holidays!