Holiday Toy & Gift Guide 2011
Click on pictures for reviews or buying information; prices (including best/worst deals) are meant as a guide and were true at the time of posting (retailers continuously change prices so we apologize if a "deal" is no longer current).
Free Shipping Deals! Avoid the stores and shipping charges. Free Shipping Day is December 16 - shop with participating merchants. Also, Real Simple Magazine's list of online retailers offering free shipping
Educational Books, DVDs and Games
Little Pim Language DVDs
Little Pim- Foreign Language DVDs for ages 0 to 5 in Arabic, English (ESL), French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian & Spanish - see our review
Leapster 2 Learning System - ages 4 to 8; Leapfrog's handheld learning system with more than 40 games with popular characters including Disney Princess and Toy Story; green or pink console or limited edition princess Leapster; average price $39.99 plus the cost of games; sold at Leapfrog, Amazon, Toys R Us, Walmart (which sells bundles of the console & games), Target
MobiGo Learning System - ages 3 to 8; V-Tech's handheld; touch-activated screen and a QWERTY slide-out keyboard; dozens of games with popular characters including Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse & Cars ; comes in blue or pink with one game cartridge; average price is $59.99; sold at Vtech, Amazon, Sears, Target, KMart, Walmart & Toys R Us; Walmart has best price of $49.54 (if you can get them); Amazon also good price of $49.99 with free shipping
Encyclopedia Britannica Talking USA Puzzle - for ages 4 & older (choking hazard for under 3 yrs); talking puzzle has a voice that identifies the state name, capital city and nickname for each of the 50 states; retailers include Amazon, Toys R Us, Target, Walmart; $25
Leapfrog Interactive Maps - for Tag Reader pens; there is an American map and a World map; they retail for $19.95 but Leapfrog and Amazon sometimes offer deals
Learn & Groove Musical Table - for ages 6 to 36 months (although my 4-year-old still loves it so you'll get a lot of mileage out of it); you can get bilingual spanish/english; available at Amazon, Leapfrog, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Ebay (these are pretty durable so used should be fine, but confirm condition); best price $35.54 (with free shipping) at Amazon
Crayola Dry-Erase mats -
Lamaze Plush Learning Toys - infant to toddler; cute animals with crinkly limbs, jingling parts and different textures for little ones to explore; variety of animals including Stretch the Giraffe & Henry the Hippo; about $10 to $12; sold at Amazon, Kohls, Babies R Us
Potentially Hot Toys
Some of the hot toys this year? This list might help with ideas but it's kind of odd that the Elefun Ball Popper is on the list, a toy that is at least a few years old
Learning Tablets for kids - the top contenders are Leapfrog's Leappad Explorer which retails for $100 and VTech's Innotab selling for about $80 - the main differences: Leappad Explorer is smaller and has a built-in camera and video recorder; the Innotab has an SD card for expandable memory and a music player
Sing-A-Ma-Jigs - 3 to 6 years; plush toys that sing when squeezed; characters have different vocal ranges and can sing alone or harmonize with other Sing-A-Ma-Jigs; they still seem to be pretty popular among kids; average price about $13 but you can find some cheaper; sold at Toys R Us, Target, Amazon (most expensive), Walmart has best price of $9 if you can find them
My Keepon -
A Little Bit Different
Strong Start Solar Laptop - for ages 4 & up; preschool games & activities, plus 10 number buttons that convert to a musical keyboard; uses 3 AA batteries while solar panel recharges; $39.95 at Young Explorers; Amazon sells a similar solar laptop for $34.95
Recordable Story Books - all ages; Hallmark offers 15 titles for $29.95 (but you can now take $10 off) where you can record your voice; Amazon also sells books ranging from $5 to $20, depending on the title; a great gift idea for the child who doesn't live nearby
Personalized Books - kids who can read will appreciate this more but all ages will enjoy literally becoming part of the story when his or her name is included in the narrative; Identity Direct sells the major brands such as Disney Fairies for $12.99; DH Books also offers personalized books for $12.95 for superheroes like Batman, Scooby Doo and Sesame Street and other titles for $10.95
Lego Duplo Play with Numbers - for ages 2 to 5; big blocks ideal for little builders and for a bonus, they can help teach numbers; $25; can be found at retailers including Walmart, Amazon (the cheapest with free shipping), Sears, Target, Toys R Us (seemed most expensive). Note: some retailers call it Duplo Learning 5497
Fisher Price Little People Farm - ages 1 to 5; barn that makes sounds, Little People animals & farmer; the youngest will learn what sounds animals make & older kids will enjoy playing with the set (& hearing the sounds); really any Little People set is a great imaginative toy that grows with boys & girls; the farm retails for $40 but you can find it for less at Toys R Us, Walmart & Amazon but best price at Target for $29.09
B. Toys Parum Pum Pum Drum - suggested for 18 to 24 months (but preschoolers will enjoy; see review); a drum and other instruments including a tamborine and maraca; retailers include Target (in stores only), Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble (BBB & B&N were most expensive) $20
Felt Tales Storyboards - ages 2 (with parent) & 3 to 7; parents & kids can create stories & scenes with felt people & animals; fosters imaginative play; various boards/scenes from farm animals, to pirates to princesses; average price is $19.95 at Buy.com, Babaluinc & sometimes Toys R Us, which but you can find them cheaper; for example, a pirate & princess on are selling on Amazon for $15
Hi-Tech Wish Lists for Santa
You can avoid the long lines at the malls & hop on your computer to tell Santa your holiday list.
Kids (with parents) can chat with Santa online, send him an email & even get a personalized email from Santa Claus.
Game Console Systems
Check our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide for detailed information.