Holiday Gift Ideas for the Kids on Your List

This week I had the fortunate experience of listening to John Levy, C.E.O. and head toy buyer for Mastermind Toys talk about toys. This guy is passionate about toys – think, Tom Hanks in Big. He gets as excited as a schoolboy about a battery operated remote control balloon but extols the educational virtues of good toys (versus bad toys) with the finesse of a true expert.

If your house is anything like mine it’s cluttered with toys. Junky toys, defunct toys with missing parts, battery dead toys, and my most dreaded, toys with a million pieces that seem to take over the house.

That said, I am quick to purge the toy room and I have been known to be ruthless. But I am hesitant to replenish the stash of toys. I rarely buy toys for our boys. They usually make their way into our home via a gift bag and a flurry of wrapping paper.

My thinking is simple: I don’t want to replace crap with more crap.

For the past few years, I have followed the suggestions of John Levy. After all he’s not only a toy guru but a parent. He gets that kids like toys that continue to captivate long after the initial rush of playing with something new. He understands that parents want value for their dollar and that poor quality and hazardess materials need not apply. Most importantly, he knows what is not crap.

This year I have John’s top new picks for toys for the holiday season and because I am nice person (not because I am getting paid or getting anything for free), I wanted to share with our readers and perhaps make this holiday shopping season stress-free.

Age 0-18 months

cloud.b Twilight Turtle, $39.95

Edushape, Magna Giraffe, $24.95

Vtech, Explore and Learn Helicopter, $29.95

Age 2

educo, Creative Peg Puzzle, $19.95

WOW, Coastguard Carl, $39.95

Kid Galaxy, My First RC, $24.95

Age 3

Alex, 3-D Zoo Puzzles, $14.95

Vtech, Kidizoom Camera, $49.95

Kidoozie, I Can Learn Spelling, $24.95

Age 4

Breyer, My Dream Horse, $19.95

Creativity for Kids, Puppy Spa, $19.95

Scientific Explorer, My First Science Kit, $24.95

Age 5

Melissa and Doug, Sticker By Number, $14.95

Laser Peg, Laser Peg Bot, $23.95

Thinkway Toys, Lazer Stunt Chaser, $49.95

Age 6

Folkmanis, Crocodile Stage Puppet, $24.95

Uncle Milton, Fireworks Light Show, $34.95

WMC, Remote Control Flying Shark, $39.95