Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner, and if you have children, they might already be looking forward to the holiday season. Gift-giving is a big part of the holiday season, as it has been for a long time. Commercialism is the most popular American religion as we approach the end of the year. Stores will do their best to attract shoppers this year with sales for the best holiday toys and displays designed to take advantage of all the tricks that psychology has discovered about retail suggestion. The television commercials will be attacking children directly.
Some families succeed at resisting the materialistic urge, making the holiday season about something other than receiving presents. I’d like to think that when I have children their desires will be deeper than toys that will receive attention for a week then be stored in a closet. I am a realist, though, and considering I’m prone to enjoy “toys” like cameras and electronics, I’m sure my kids, not being able to escape their peers and their influence, will be desirous of the things most marketed in their general direction.
Confounding the problem but possibly easing the stress for parents who do want to indulge their children’s materialistic dreams, CNN has assembled a list of the most popular holiday toys. There are a few that I probably would have enjoyed as a kid. Here are some of the more interesting items from the list as well as a few others I’ve added after researching this year’s interesting toys for kids and young adults.
These prices are current as of November 1, 2011.
|Angry Birds: Knock on Wood Game. Angry Birds is a highly addictive, award-winning game, generally for mobile devices. With this new edition, the game crosses over to the real world. While it isn’t as portable as a cell phone app, it will, at least for a short time, get your kids to look at something other than a small electronic display.
Today’s price: $26.98.
|Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set. What I like about this toy is that it takes the matchbox car idea to the next dimension — literally. No longer are kids confined to designing tracks that operate in mostly two dimensions (allowing for hills and loops). These tracks can be applied to walls, increasing the opportunity for creative civil engineering.
Today’s price: $27.99.
|Vtech – InnoTab Interactive Learning Tablet. While the Angry Birds game coaxing kids away from their mobile devices, this tablet draws them back to electronics, particularly appealing to kids who see their parents playing with their iPads. Apps on this tablet include an e-book reader, a calendar, and a coloring book.
Today’s price: $79.00.
|LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet. One table for kids obviously isn’t enough. Like the InnoTab, this device offers educational apps and games, but there are more apps available for purchase. The applications are focused on learning and will adjust to your kids’ reading ability. The device also includes a camera.
Today’s price: $99.
|Lazer Stunt Chaser Dragonfire Remote Control Car. Kids without cats in their household don’t experience the joy of having something chase after laser spots. Rather than getting a cat, take a look at this remote control car that automatically chases the laser. Rather than the standard remote control devices, this car comes with a laser pointer as well as a ramp. This car will do more tricks than your cat.
Today’s price: $59.95.
|Logo Board Game. Perhaps leading to a good lesson about how people, particularly kids and young adults, are influenced by branding, this game pits family member against family member in an effort to recognize the most brands. A good logo is instantly recognizable, but what’s the effect of a memorable logo when we go shopping? A recognized logo makes us feel comfortable, and shoppers like that feeling. A game like this further enhances ability to recognize the logos. I wonder if the brands need to pay in order to be included in the game; it’s something of an advertisement.
Today’s price: $19.84
|Qwirkle. This is a family game where the object is to use the provided tiles to create lines of matching shape or matching color. I suppose it’s a mix between Uno, dominoes, and Scrabble. I’ve played this before and I can see a family enjoying the game. It doesn’t take very long to finish.
Today’s price: $17.69
|Polaroid 300 Instant Camera. Everything old is new again. Technology has advanced so much that digital cameras are inexpensive. Even the most recent batch of phones have lenses and sensors that can produce decent photographs. But there’s something special about a toy camera that can produce a print almost immediately. Polaroid is bringing analog back. Keep in mind that you’ll need to buy film separately, and at $1.30 a print, instant photography is not exactly an inexpensive hobby.
Today’s price: $89.98
|Sesame Street Let’s Rock Elmo. What would the holiday season be without yet another Elmo toy? This year, the “Let’s Rock” Elmo will likely be hot. Elmo comes with a microphone, tambourine, and bongos, and can interact with the instruments. Other instruments, also with interactivity, are sold separately. If keyboards or guitars capture your child’s imagination better, the options are available.
Today’s price: $57.21
Updated November 1, 2011 and originally published October 17, 2011.