It’s that time of year again, and I’m not done with my Christmas shopping yet, are you? Well, in this house, we tend to procrastinate. Most of the items on my holiday gift guide this year were provided to me for review by various brands and agencies, but there are a few things I paid for with cash instead of coverage, and those items probably have some sort of affiliate link so you can buy them on Amazon. Consider the commission a small thank you gift to me for helping you with your shopping! (Click the pictures to learn more about each product.)
Gifts for Kids
Pokemon Black 2 and Pokemon White 2 for Nintendo DS
Pokemon Black 2 was the only thing TJ told Santa he wanted for Christmas back when we first asked him what he wanted for Christmas. The only thing. He’s since changed his mind about wanting other things, but this is the OMG SANTA GET ON THIS gift in our house this year. TJ is more than a little obsessed with Pokemon, so I’m fairly certain Santa will make sure this is under our tree this year. And I’m pretty sure Tom grabbed himself Pokemon White 2 for good measure when he went shopping. (This had to be done early, since there was a limited edition Pokemon you could only get with a Wi-Fi connection in early November.) You know, so they can trade Pokemon with each other.
Double Shutter from Blue Orange
There are so many educational games out there, but I can’t ignore the appeal of the craftsmanship of the games Blue Orange produces. When Blue Orange reached out to me about reviewing one of their games this year, I remembered how much enjoyment we got out of their wooden Quack Quack game, which has been discontinued. My contact worked with me to chose just the right game to help TJ practice his math skills, something I told her was important for my second grader. We haven’t played it yet, since it’s going to be under the tree, but I opened it up and checked it all out. Sturdy tin, high quality pieces, and easy to follow instructions. Double Shutter can be played alone or with others and is recommended for ages 8-12. For the socially conscious, Blue Orange plants two trees for every tree used in the production of their games.
Easy Bake Ultimate Oven
My son has been asking for an Easy Bake Oven for at least four years now. The box says it’s for ages 8 and up, so this year we decided that 7 was “close enough.” In my black Friday preparations, I was disappointed to see that none of the stores were offering Easy Bake Oven deals. Everyone had the same price, ~$39. Of course, when I went to Target on Black Friday, I discovered that was the sale price. These babies go for $50! While I think it’s ridiculous that they charge as much for a kids play oven as they do for real kitchen appliances, I sucked it up and bought it. The Easy Bake Ultimate Oven is no longer light bulb powered. This sucker’s electrical. But aside from the price, my biggest complaint is the marketing. Everything about it is geared toward girls. The box is bright purple and pictures girls using it. The oven itself is purple with girly designs on it. My son is not the only little boy who reallywants an Easy Bake Oven. Hasbro needs to get with the times and revamp their design and marketing efforts in include both boys and girls.
The Original Christmas Classics Gift Set
It’s so nice to be able to watch all those old Christmas specials without commercials. I was given the opportunity to review this DVD set, which sure beats watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Frosty the Snowman, and Frosty Returns on network television. (TJ goes to bed at 8:00 anyways, which means he’s never awake when they play on TV.) Who wouldn’t want the chance to re-visit the Island of Misfit Toys or hear Frosty say, “Happy Birthday” without commercial breaks? This DVD set is a great way to introduce your kids to the old holiday specials even if they have an early bedtime.
Though TJ isn’t as sensitive about his clothing as he was in preschool, I’m still a big fan of SOFT Clothing. They make comfortable clothing for children with sensory issues. No seams, no tags. Honestly, I’d love it if they made some of their seamless socks and seamless underwear in my size! TJ wore a few of their tagless t-shirts before he outgrew them, and they lasted really well in the wash. When we finally have our yard sale, some mom will be very happy if she finds those. If you have a child with SPD or other sensory issues, check out SOFT Clothing’s line of shirts, pants, skirts, socks, underwear, outerwear, and loungewear to help them feel more comfortable.
Gifts for Adults
My Baby Rides the Short Bus Book
I cannot tell you just how much I love this book. I think that every special needs parent should read My Baby Rides the Short Bus by Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman, and Sarah Talbot. I laughed hysterically at some stories in the collection. I cried hysterically at others. Tom looked at me funny several times while I was reading this, and I remember going, “That is so true!” on more than one occasion. This collection of essays earns its subtitle, “The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities.” Sometimes the brutal honesty made me uncomfortable, but what about our jobs as parents has ever made us comfortable? If you have kids with special needs, I bet you’ll find you can’t put this book down.
Girl Trunks Swimwear
This is where I confess that I no longer fit into half of what they sent me to try out for them, which stinks, because I really like the whole set. Girl Trunks makes swimsuits that are more comfortable for the many of us who are uncomfortable with wearing traditional swimsuits where other people actually see us. Men get to wear swim trunks that aren’t revealing of every flaw in their backside and legs, so why not us? The black and white tank top I got still fits me quite well, and I like to wear it as my shirt when we go to Six Flags Great Escape in the summertime. (No need to get my bra uncomfortably wet on water rides!) The trunks look awesome on me, but I can no longer bend over without them popping open on me. This is a problem if you want to go swimming! (Insert grumbles about moving up from a size 8 to a size 10.) My favorite part about my Girl Trunks (when I could still wear the whole ensemble) was that you can actually get away with wearing your swimsuit in public – to the store or even a restaurant – without anyone realizing you’re in a swimsuit. This is super helpful for family vacations when you don’t want to have to waste time changing your outfit when you get to the beach or pool.
Bulldog RS82B Remote Vehicle Starter System
I’m pretty sure my contact has given up on me for this one. I still haven’t been able to get my remote car starter installed. It’s my own fault. But I swear, I really want this installed in my van! I have to get in touch with my cousin to do it for me. Because it gets cold here in upstate New York, and I don’t do well in the cold. (It also gets super hot in the summer, and I get very sick when I’m overheated… something that happens too easily when I get into a hot car.) The remote transmitter on the Bulldog system works from up to 400 feet away, which will work beautifully from my living room or from the front of a store or restaurant. [Ooh! Tom just agreed to set up an appointment to get this installed for me now. I'll try to remember to update when it happens!]
The Artisan Soda Workshop Recipe Book
I got a chance to review The Artisan Soda Workshop by Andrea Lynn, and it has some very tasty recipes! At the moment, we need to order more CO2 for our SodaStream soda maker in order to enjoy the apple cider soda and homemade Fresca recipes in this book. (Seriously. Apple cider soda.) The book contains basic soda syrup recipes, like cola and orange, but it also has some wacky things I’m not willing to try, like blackberry lavender and apricot-cinnamon. So there are soda recipes for boring people like me and the more adventurous types.
Tags: clothes, games, Holiday Gift Guide, product recommendations, toys, video games