Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

With visions of sugarplums swirling in daydreams and the thud of Dasher’s hoof on the rooftop, many children will nod off on Christmas Eve this year anticipating a bundle from the bearded guy in the red suit. Here are some of the things that they (and you!) want to see under the tree:

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Care Bears are perpetual favorites for children, especially the Hide ‘N’ Seek bear, and budding artists will also marvel over the new washable Doodle Bear, which comes with markers for holiday decorating. Good Luck Trolls have been a holiday stocking tradition for almost fifty years now with their big, pastel hair and stubby toes. Don’t forget the heart-racing toy of the season: Speed Stacks cups, the official equipment for the new competitive game of sport stacking! All of these items and more can be found at www.playalongtoys.com.

Babies will be entranced by the new Bobo Glove, which is an idea so obvious that you’ll wonder why you didn’t invent it yourself. You don the Bobo Glove, which is festooned with items for baby to play with, and then let your fingers do the playing. See this and other enchanting toys at www.enchantmints.com. Toddlers will thrill to the beat of LeapFrog Baby’s Learn & Groove Alphabet drum, which features 40 songs and 15 musical activities. Available at Toys “R” Us stores nationwide.

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What would the holidays be without games? Crackernomics is a new game designed to introduce the world of business and commerce to children 8 years and older. Your little Trump or Trumpette will negotiate trades, invest in cracker mills around the globe, calculate return on investment, and balance accounts. Sounds like a parent’s dream! www.ksainteractivegames.com. The Great American Puzzle Factory can provide a whirlwind of gaming frenzy for children of all ages – and puzzles, too. The NAMiTS game is designed to travel and is the size of a key ring, so you can throw it in your purse and have hours of gaming fun on hand for children of all ages. Visit www.greatamericanpuzzle.com. Cranium creates a Hullabaloo with its Hullabaloo Amazing Animal Adventure DVD Game, which transforms ordinary living rooms into safaris that create hours of fun. The roster of unique games and puzzles at www.cranium.com is eye-popping, and will suit every age group. Finally, Front Porch Classic Games offers a refreshing alternative to hi-tech toys and video-based games. This line has high-quality wood and cast-metal game pieces with pirate themes, word games, baseball, Egyptian themes and more. These are the type of games you’ll keep for decades, long after other toys have broken. Visit www.frontporchgames.com to view the complete game collection.

Teen and tween girls will treasure Tess gift sets. This skin care and cosmetic line for young ladies is crafted by a mother with love and natural ingredients, and includes vanilla night cream, peppermint sparkling lip gloss, and a treasure trove of other products sure to delight daughters and nieces. Visit www.tessskin.com Another teen-friendly line is Lucky Chick, which has a celeb following and an array of delicious smelling products. Check out the gift-ready sampler kits at www.LuckyChick.com. AllyKats is a girly bath and beauty collection for the tween-and-under girl set, and the products are made of natural ingredients. They’re all cute, pink and sparkly. Visit www.allykats.com. Girls will also love Mad Gabs gift sets in Sugar Cookie or Candy Cane, as these lip and body balms are hard-working and all-natural. Sold separately for stuffing stockings, too! Go to www.madgabs.com.

Teen and tween boys (and girls too!) will love GameFly.com, which is the new Netflix of the video game world. For a minimal monthly fee, your children can sample and rotate an array of new and favorite video games. They’ll consider it awesome. Visit www.gamefly.com.

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Technology meets function and form with 180s gear for kids and parents alike. Water-resistant and waterproof, these are a far cry from the earmuffs and gloves of previous generations. Skiers, bikers, tobboganistas and makers of snowmen will love this spectacular cold-weather line of clothing and gear. See www.180s.com.

Reading material is always nice in conjunction with toys, especially when it’s Moo Cow Fan Club magazine, rife with quirky, educational fun (www.moocowfanclub.com). The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon (Knopf Delacorte Dell, www.randomhouse.com) is a charming find under the tree, as are Good Night New York City (Our World of Books, www.goodnighttourworld.com), Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara, Junie B. Jones, and Alphabet Explosion (all at www.randomhouse.com). Tweens and teens will love The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Vanishing Act: Mystery at the U.S. Open, as well as other titillating reads at www.randomhouse.com. Time for Kids magazine will keep your brood mentally agile all throughout the new year, along with Time’s Ready, Set, Write! and the Time Almanac 2007. A real-life treasure hunt is connected to the Secrets of the Alchemist Dar. Wouldn’t it be sweet if your child found one of the hidden diamond rings? Visit www.alchemistdar.com to read about this magical series of books.

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The frosted shimmering cases for Jacadi Paris trumpet a delightful gift for princes and princesses. Designed for the delicate skin of tiny tots, alcohol and paraben-free, the four scents of Jacadi Paris for children are lovingly light and playful. The Le Petite Prince line of innovative children’s fragrance, hair care and skin care products offers another nose-worthy holiday option. Le Petite Prince also makes a beautiful red backpack with a picture of the famous, wise little prince for children ages 3-10 to don for school. Les Triples is presented in a bell-shaped bottle pleasing for children and adults alike. For gift sets and complete lines on all of the above and more, visit www.berjangusa.com.

Kids will groove to The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas: The Musical, available at www.barnesandnoble.com and www.cdbaby.com. Another toe-tapper for the under-10 set is David Weinstone’s Taxi, which is rife with hilarious lyrics and delightful chords. Find it at your favorite music store after its release on January 16th in the new year.

Traveling families will appreciate the Keep Me Busy Bag for kids, which is useful in restaurants, hotel rooms and airports. Chock full of mind-engrossing and fun activities, this could be considered a sanity-saver for parents. Find it at www.interactive-initiatives.com. Also useful to traveling parents is the web site www.familytravelgear.com, which features the insulated Back Seat Organizer, an auto GPS, audio books, translators, and numerous shop-by-age items for any type of travel, whether by air, land or sea. Be sure to look for the 20Q Electronic Travel Game – your kids will thank you!

Stuff a stocking with Attune chocolate bars, which boast live active cultures, come in three flavors (including chocolate!), and are only 100 calories each. Your children won’t even know it’s good for them. Santa Rules! www.attunefoods.com

Originally published December 2006
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