As busy parents, you don't have time to research toys with the best play-value and quality—especially since most of them are not widely advertised! TDmonthly has compiled a series of alternative holiday shopping lists by age to take the guesswork out of finding unique, fun toys for that special girl in your life. Keep this page on your SmartPhone when you shop. Click on any item to learn more about it, or simply scroll to the end of the list—please be sure to double-check age recommendations.
One of four styles, Sassy Black and White Shih Tzu is dressed to thrill in a pink leopard dress with hot pink satin bow. A soft pink bib attaches the dress around the neck with a cozy feel. Also available are Sassy Pug, Sassy Cream Shih-Tzu, and Sassy Bichon. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval — In a June 2013 survey, three out of 11 retailers told TDmonthly that Douglas was their best-selling plush brand. "The dogs are so soft and cuddly and they look very realistic. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive. We sell one almost every day!" Suzi McMullen, manager of e-commerce at Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va., said.
Baby Doll, 12 inches tall, with a flexible, lightweight body that is soft to touch. Thanks to its cuddly soft, beanbag body, Calin Laughing Blueberry can be posed just like a real baby. Calin baby dolls can wear any fashion from the Mon Premier collection. Corolle also offers a wide selection of nursery accessories specially sized for Calin babies. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval — In a June 2013 survey, two out of 11 retailers told TDmonthly that Corolle's Calin is their best-selling doll.
Inspire younger minds with this great LEGO Duplo Bricks & More Brick Box - Pink (4623). Designed especially for young girls, this cute starter set features rabbits, carrots, flowers and an assortment of basic LEGO DUPLO bricks in both pink and classic DUPLO colors. Comes in a sturdy LEGO brick storage box and includes an inspirational idea booklet.
This three-story house comes with furniture and two dolls for various imaginative play. The two-sided play mat serves as a wall and roof, or can be laid down to become a garden. Tools and screws not required. Made of PlanWood and solid rubber wood.
Fairy Town Train Set: The land of railways and trains just got even more exciting. Enter a magical world of colorful cottages, bridges and trees, designed in a gorgeous princess themed purple and pink. This bright and cheerful wooden train set contains 75 pieces. An ideal first train set, it contains a chunky engine and three detailed royal carriages, which attach using a magnetic system – perfect for little hands to use. Can be used with any wooden railway system. "Compatible with existing wooden rail systems. The Fairy Town Train Set is among the few available train sets specifically designed for girls," Liza Grando, President of The Moss Tucker Group, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2012. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
A beautiful garden of flowers contains eight circles of the same size and shape for mix-and-match play. Each piece is a different color with a matching color as well. Made from 98% post consumer recycled materials and printed with eco-friendly inks.
A best-selling concept — children's dramatic play kitchens — just took a great leap forward with the addition of the Hideaway Playtime and Country Kitchens. In a few simple steps, the Hideaway Kitchen compacts to a depth of 6", allowing it to be efficiently stored when not in use. Offers plenty of features including a sink, a stove; an oven; a dishwasher; functioning knobs, clock and more. Adult assembly required. 30"W x 15.25"D x 38"H — In a May 2012 survey, Maryalice Miner, co-owner of Miner's Doll & Toy Store in Ocean Springs, Miss., told TDmonthly that she sells 3-4 of this high-ticket item each year.
BIT is the ultimate machine to help children take their first steps in the world of two wheels, run on their own and develop their balance and coordination. BIT features wide wheels to help keep balance and stability, while the ergonomic, innovative handlebars are integrated into the chassis to ensure a good driving position. The handlebars become a convenient carrying grip as well as a hanger in small spaces. Made from curved wood, aluminum and EVA.
This FUNctional set is fit for a princess and includes the special message: “Always a Princess”. The desk top opens to reveal a roomy storage area with multiple compartments. Slow-closing metal safety hinges are included on both the desk and chair. The chair features a removable padded seat cushion and a storage compartment beneath the seat. The space-saving design allows chair to slide under desk when not in use. Desk dimensions: 24” L x 18” W x 46” H, Table surface: 21.5", Chair dimensions: 15” L x 15.5" W x 21” H Height of seat: 12”. Launch dare: January 2012.
Jane Ray’s layered cut-paper artwork elegantly retells the time-honored tale of a scullery maid turned royalty. Six meticulously detailed tableaux include a shabby kitchen, a gorgeous nightscape in a magical garden, and a sparkling ballroom filled with nobles, as well as Cinderella’s iconic gilded pumpkin coach. Side panels unfold to reveal the story’s text and evoke an evening at the theater. Little girls who dream of fairy godmothers will adore this unique portrayal of the world’s most famous princess - no glass slippers required. Launch date: September 2012.
The patented, original Swiss-made Magnetic Construction System. Helps kids advance in creative thinking and logical reasoning abilities. Fun, 36 vibrant magnetic rods in a brilliant bubble gum pink color, and 30 non-magnetic metal spheres. Complete instructions to assist with simple & complex structures. A starting set for discovery with Geomag. Made in Switzerland.
Zip-Itz Pillowz came to life after a mysterious machinery malfunction on the Pillow and Linen Assembly Line #316 at the Zany Zipper Factory. They are sleepy and scrappy little creatures that love to hide treasures in their pockets and love to snuggle up for nap-time. Launch date: August 2012.
There's a party tonight, and the players have been asked to bring the cupcakes. Be the first player to mix, bake, frost, and top the cupcake by visiting all 4 corners, and collect sprinkles along the way. The first player to reach the part with a completed cupcake and a sprinkle of each color wings the cherry to put on top. Launch date: June 2012. Watch Video from ASTRA 2012
This plush item is based on the real life Boo, a Westminster Dog Show champion who has more than 3 million Facebook fans. Launch date: April 2012. — In a May 2012 survey, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., told TDmonthly that "Normally I would tell you a line of plush sells well rather than an item but this past month there has been a standout. We quickly sold out of a dozen of 'Boo' from Gund, the Westminster Dog Show winner. I have more on order." — Greg Larson, owner of Larson's Toys and Games in Columbus, Ohio, told TDmonthly in a late Summer 2012 survey that Boo from Gund is one of their top-two bestselling novelty items.
Almost everybody can bring her doll to the sleepover. After all the dolls are snuggled down in their matching, stacked bunks, the slumber begins inviting everyone to awaken on the sunny side of the bed. Includes: (3) mattresses, (3) pillows, Dowel stacking devices, (3) sets of Round fenials. Designed in the Windsor style of quality constructed wood. Measures 21.5” x 29” x 11.5”.
Girls can paint their own wooden patio furniture with the Groovy Girls Chillaxin Patio Set. Paint the table and two chairs with 5 posh paint colors, 4 glittery pens, stencils and 30 bedazzling gems. Helps develop fine motor skills and encourages creative expression.
What could be better than a stack of pancakes for breakfast? Sliced strawberries and maple syrup add the finishing touches. "Combination of felt and wood with silk screen printed details on the strawberries. Nutrition facts on the back of the pancake box suggest playing with this Hape toy boosts the imagination," Robin Lehnert, Marketing Manager for Hape North America, told TDmonthly. Launch date: January 2012. Awards: 2012 Finalist for ASTRA Best Toys for Kids
Schoenhut's miniature version of a baby grand piano is designed to encourage a child to play and develop a love of music. Elegant in appearance with graceful spindle legs, yet extremely durable and sturdy, it makes a beautiful addition to any home. Lovely chime-like tones are produced by small hammers striking metal rods, the sound that makes Schoenhut toy pianos unique. The two-and one-half-octave span of full-width keys provides a good foundation for the transition to a larger model. Includes: Schoenhut's Learning System and bench. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
A complete art kit for families on the go. This natural cotton carry case with built in crayon holster, pencil holders and pockets is fully equipped with a 6"x9" recycled paper notepad, 10 soy crayons, 5 drawing stencils including a 6" ruler (metric and inches), 2 wood pencils, and plenty of storage! Perfect for restaurants when waiting for your food, airports, and road trips. This 8"x10"carry case fits in a baby bag and has built in handles for the little ones to carry proudly. Made from Plants - primarily natural cotton, soy, paper.
This marvelous manners game encourages empathy, develops social skills and nurtures a kindness of spirit that will help each player lead a more enjoyable and thoughtful life. — As of 10/4/2012 this product had 5 out of 5 stars from 5 reviews on Amazon.com.
A beautifully crafted 'princess and the pea' set. A tall bed piled high with mattresses - alas, the poor princess cannot sleep, as beneath the mountain of soft fabric lies a little crocheted pea! A wonderful toy with a little story book to accompany it. Awards: 2003 Scandinavian Design Prize
Sunflowers have been become an iconic symbol of van Gogh's work. Many of his Sunflower paintings were done in the Yellow House in Arles and were used to decorate the room he created for Gauguin. The vibrant colors and simplistic beauty of the paintings have led many artists to try and duplicate their beauty. The Sunflowers Master Kitz includes all the tools your child needs to create their own Sunflowers masterpiece and the learning materials to deepen their understanding of van Gogh the artist and the time he spent in Arles. Each Sunflowers Master Kitz contains: A sturdy, re-usable art tool box with magnetic closures; 3 Custom Acrylic Paints (child friendly); 1 van Gogh Roller specially designed to replicate van Gogh’s active stroke; 2 re-usable Sunflower stencils; 1 foam paint brush; 2 pieces deluxe art paper; Fun, easy-to-understand van Gogh learning materials; Easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
A Fairy Doll & Backpack that is Six Gifts in One. A gift that develops imagination & creativity for girls 3-8. The Follow Me Fairies ® Activity Pack is a plush child-sized backpack complete with an adorable removable fairy and a variety of fun play items. On-the-go playtime has never been easier for busy parents. Place the fairy right in the holder on the backpack, and children will be instantly ready to leave the house for a happy travel playtime experience. Launch date: November 2011. Awards:2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval, 2012 Parent's Choice Classic Fun Stuff Award; 2012 Tillywig Sterling Fun Toy Award; 2012 Creative Play of the Year Award - Creative Child Magazine; 2012 Travel Fun of the Year Award - Creative Child Magazine.
Grow dozens of dazzling crystals and conduct 15 illuminating experiments with this classic science kit. Experiment with four chemically different crystals each with different properties, including potassium alum crystals that form regular octahedrons, rapidly growing sodium sulfate crystals, long needle-shaped sodium acetate crystals, and plaster which is made from gypsum crystals. Mold fun plaster shapes and mix the dyes to grow a rainbow of custom colored crystals. Measure how the crystallization of solids out of a solution, and the dissolution of crystals back into solution, affect the temperature of the solution. Learn about the energy of crystallization. Investigate solutions, crystallization, and the chemistry of crystal growing. Learn about the structures and geometries of different crystal shapes. This kit is thoroughly tested and safe: Over one million units of this kit have sold worldwide. A full-color, 32-page experiment manual guides your experiments in crystal chemistry and Earth science. Launch date: Summer 2012. — Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthly in a Fall 2012 survey that kits from Thames & Kosmos are one of their top-2 bestselling educational products. They sell dozens each month. — Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va., told TDmonthlyin a March 2014 survey that crystal growing kits were a best-selling products.
Loopdedoo is a new spinning tool that makes fabulous twisted bracelets in just a few minutes. It's fast, easy and fun. Just wrap the threads around the Loopdedoo device, turn the knob, guide the thread and minutes later the bracelet is done. Kids can even make necklaces, anklets, belts and more. There's no pattern to follow so each accessory is completely different and unique. Kids can use as many threads and color combinations as they like, and can make them thick, thin or anywhere in between. Launch date: November 2011. — In a January 2012 survey, Barbara Finblum, owner of Barston's Child's Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly that Loopdedoo is their best selling arts and crafts toy. "They came in in December and we sold 194 out of 5 stores - 163 out of 3 stores alone. We sold out and couldn't get them back," she said. — As of 10/5/2012 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 8 reviews on Amazon.com. Pros: Easy to use; promotes creativity; fun. Cons: One user couldn't figure out how to start. — In a Fall 2012 survey, Dean Smith, owner of Jazams in Princeton, N.J., told TDmonthly that they sell 15 of this item each month, making it one of their top-2 sellers in the Hobby category.
Snap parts together to build different circuits, and watch the different pieces light up. Includes fiber optics over a light organ that can be connected to an iPod; the lights will flash to the beat of the music. Includes strobe lights with different plates so kids can experiment with strobe patterns, white LED lights, glow in the dark and lighted fan blades, a light up egg, and more. Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval