by Sharon Lovering
If you have children or grandchildren in your life, you’re probably searching for last-minute holiday gift ideas as they’re making their lists and checking them twice. To help you out, I scoured the toy lists on Amazon and at Good Housekeeping. Toy availability is not guaranteed.
Blocks and Bricks
One toy that’s stood the test of time is LEGO. Their Classic Medium Creative Brick Box offers 484 pieces that can also be used to build other sets. Best for ages 4 and up.
LEGO also has the “Harry Potter” Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit available. Its 878 pieces include a potions room, treasure room, sorting hat, and the Mirror of Erised. Recommended for ages 9 and up.
Would you like to build a robot? Check out LEGO’s Boost Creative Toolbox. It includes more than 840 bricks, a “move” hub and an interactive motor. Best for ages 7 and up.
Cars and Trucks
One of my favorite childhood toys was a purple two-door Hot Wheels car. Hot Wheels cars are still around, with far more accessories than were available in the ‘70s. Now there’s a Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash Track Set, with three motorized speed boosters, a drop-in ramp, and wild corkscrews. Best for ages 5 and up.
For Barbie fans, there’s a new Barbie Care Clinic Vehicle. It looks like a very tall ambulance, with working lights and siren. Lift the lever at the back of the vehicle to transform the ambulance into a care clinic. Includes small parts; recommended for ages 3 and up.
Got a “Paw Patrol” fan in the house? Check out their Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck. It comes with a 2-foot-tall extendable ladder and launching water cannons. Requires two AAA batteries (included). Best for ages 3 and up.
New to the Hatchimals line is the Hatchimals Mystery egg. Past eggs would let you choose which species you want, but with this egg, you have no idea what you’re getting. Best for ages 3 and up.
Num Noms now has a Snackable Cereal collectible line. They come in sweet scents with a magic spoon revealer. NOT edible. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Fingerlings Untamed Raptors are not as nice as last year’s monkey and sloth versions. Leave them in “untamed” mode and they will roar, hiss and chomp. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
The furReal Munchin’ Rex is a baby T-Rex that eats, begs and hops. When kids wave at him or feed him, Rex responds with one of more than 35 different sound and motion combinations. Includes the pet, bottle, plastic broccoli and caveman cookie, and instructions. Four AA batteries required. Best for ages 4 and up.
Straight out of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is Imaginext’s Jurassic World Jurassic Rex. This dinosaur’s eyes and mouth light up. Best for ages 3 and up.
Polly Pocket dolls have seen a resurgence in popularity this year. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Also high on the list are the L.O.L. Surprise! dolls. New in the line is the Glam Glitter Series Doll. It comes in a ball-shaped box. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Now available in the L.O.L. Surprise! line of dolls is the Bigger Surprise! This box is jam-packed with more than 60 brand-new dolls, accessories, and more. Best for ages 5 and up.
New in this line is the L.O.L. Surprise! House. The house is wooden, 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and comes with more than 85 surprises tucked inside. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Baby Alive has added Baby Alive Potty Dance Baby Doll to its line-up. The doll performs a little dance to let your child know she needs to use the potty. Once the doll is placed on her potty, she’ll tinkle. Best for ages 3 and up.
Osmo’s Genius Kit comes with five games for your iPad that promote math, spelling, and other learning skills. It comes with the Osmo iPad base (stand & reflector), game playing pieces (including upper- and lower-case words tiles) and stackable storage containers. Requires iPad to play. Osmo is compatible with iPad 2-6, iPad mini 1-4, iPad air 1-2, iPad pro 9.7 & 10.5 inch. Recommended for ages 5 to 12.
Science/STEM Activity Sets
Crayola’s Color Chemistry Set for Kids is for ages 7 and up. It includes 50 experiments. Adult supervision recommended.
New in the STEM arena is the Ozobot Bit Coding Robot. It teaches your kids coding by coloring on a tablet. Depending on the colors and designs they use, the robot will follow the commands they’ve coded. Best for ages 6 and up.
Kano has developed the “Harry Potter” Coding Kit. This kit teaches kids to code a wand that will respond to their movements. It works with most tablets and computers. Best for ages 6 and up.
littleBits’ Avengers Hero Inventor Kit comes with 18 projects, and includes electronic building blocks, LED matrix, plastic pieces, stickers and battery. Requires either iPhone (iOS 10.0 or later) or Android (5.0 or later). Best for ages 8 and up.
Cozmo is a friendly robot that lets kids interact, explore, and play games with the push of a few buttons. He can also help you learn coding. Requires compatible iOS or Android device and free Cozmo app. Best for ages 3 and up.
The Chow Crown Game, for ages 8 and up, is perfect for the kid who plays with his food at the dinner table. Players wear a spinning crown loaded with snacks – and have to try to eat everything before time’s up.
If you thought Twister was hard, check out “Don’t Step In It.” It has a mat, a blindfold, and piles of (fake) poop that you must avoid while playing the game. Best for ages 4 and up.
New in the games arena is Watch Ya Mouth Throwdown Edition Card Game. It has players wear cheek retractors that make saying words and phrases quite difficult. To win, their teammates have to guess what they’re saying. Recommended for ages 8 and up.
Many of us have played the claw machine game at the arcades at various beaches around the country. Moj Moj The Original Claw Machine Playset brings the arcade to your house. Best for ages 6 and up.
Another carnival-inspired game is Pie Face Cannon! Players have to aim and launch the whipped cream cannon at another player’s face. Whipped cream not included. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
According to Amazon and Good Housekeeping, Pomsies Speckles Plush Interactive Toys are huge this holiday season. These toys clip onto an arm, backpack, or clothes. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Hot Diggity Dance & Play Mickey sings and dances to the “Hot Dog” song from “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” Once he finishes, you can play interactive games with him. Best for ages 3 and up.
Teddy Ruxpin is back! The Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby Collection offers three styles of the bear, with his best friend, Hug ‘N Sing Grubby. Recommended for ages 2 and up.
Grumblies aren’t the sweet, cuddly stuffed toys many of us remember from childhood. These critters are cranky and have meltdowns! Best for ages 4 and up.
Scruff-A-Luvs are more cuddly. Each one comes as a matted ball of fur with just its eyes showing. Once kids wash, dry and style its hair, the new pet is revealed. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Melissa and Doug’s Examine & Treat Pet Vet Play Set is great for animal lovers and would-be veterinarians. It’s a 24-piece pretend play set that includes a stuffed dog and cat, stethoscope, thermometer, syringe, ear scope, tweezers, clamp, cast, bandages, and several other items. Best for ages 3 and up.