It's just over a week to go until Santa pays a visit and the nation is divided into two sorts of people : those who are chilling out feeling smug that their Christmas shopping is done and dusted and those who are looking slightly wild-eyed, desperately browsing through online stores and trudging around the shops looking for those final gifts. Well, I have some last minute inspiration for stocking fillers and Christmas gifts that will appeal to all ages.
You can't beat a modern twist on a traditional game because it means that the parents and grandparents can jump straight in and play without having to wade through complicated instructions and rulebooks, but the kids will recognise characters from recent films that they love. Esdevium Games have some great Disney-themed games on offer. Disney Rummy features all the most popular Disney characters - Buzz, Woody, Lightning McQueen, Remy, Nemo and all their friends - and is a great introduction to the game because it gives you two ways to play. The "Discovery" game helps children learn the basics whilst the "Family" game gives you all the fun of classic rummy. I used to love playing rummy when I was a child but it was always tricky holding on to the cards as I tried to sort them into colours with the same number or a run in the same colour. The Disney Rummy game includes four tile holders along with the 52 tiles, which makes it much easier for young players. Disney Charades is a Disney take on the classic Charades game, which sees players acting things out as Disney characters (the other players have to guess both the action and the character), which is a lot of multi-generational fun that's perfect for Boxing Day ! Charades RRP £12.99, available on Amazon; Rummy RRP £ 17.99, also available from Amazon .
UKick gets a big thumbs up from me because not only is it great fun, it is also a great way to get the kids (and even the grown-ups) outside and getting active. Time to burn off a few of the excess Christmas calories ! It encourages interaction and hand-to-eye coordination and is totally addictive - imagine playing keepie-uppie with a cross between a ball and a shuttlecock ! The aim is to keep UKick off the ground for as long as you can, using your hands or feet - there aren't really any rules, which is what makes it so enjoyable. It has been featured on Dragon’s Den, was voted Best New Toy at London Toy Fair and is set to be the biggest playground craze of 2016. The Wicked UKick costs £7.99 from Smyths.
I already told you about the personalised photo gifts that I made at Snapfish but I wanted to show off the finished articles. I love the placemats that represent special memories from the past year.
The personalised notebooks look great - the photos come out really clear and I can't wait to see what secrets and random scribblings will be filling their pages once the kids get hold of them ! - and the photo name stickers will be a great way of labelling all their belongings for school, although I can see these being stuck on anything that doesn't move, if past experience is anything to go by !
Battat Toys are a North American-based toy company with a huge UK market and they manufacture some fabulous lines, including Our Generation Dolls & Accessories, Terra Universe, Lil’ Woodzeez and Lori dolls.
I still remember the little red nurse's kit I had as a child and the endless hours I'd spend, checking reflexes, taking temperatures and administering medicine, plasters, slings and lots and lots of injections to any dolls, pets or family members who didn't get out of the way quick enough (!), so I just knew Pierre would love the Wee MD Doctor's Playset. It contains 14 implements, including a clipboard with paper, reflex checker hammer, ear checker, thermometer, bandage, MD name tag, scissors, tweezers, syringe, ... The coolest (in my opinion !) pieces of kit are the stethoscope with heartbeat sound (even cooler is the fact that the batteries are included), blood pressure cuff with gauge and spinning needle and beeper with light and sound for busy little doctors (2 x AAA batteries required and not included for this one, which is a bit strange as they were included for the stethoscope). It all packs away into a sturdy case with a carry handle. Hours of fun guaranteed for kids of both sexes - I've even been enjoying being a patient ! (RRP £27.99)
Another toy that was a real trip down memory lane for me was Stackadoos Bristle Blocks because I remember playing with these (or something very similar called Sticklebricks) in my childhood. They're much easier to join together than Lego-type construction bricks and you can be more creative because you can use any combinations and vary angles, rather than stick to right angles. I also vaguely remember how nice these felt to chew on when I had sore gums (I can't have been very old if I was teething - can you really remember back that far ? Maybe it was when my milk teeth fell out !). RRP £26.99 for 68 bricks in a storage barrel.
Musical instruments are another must-have toy for babies and toddlers and the B Parum Pum Pum set has everything you need for children aged 18 months upwards to create their own one man band ! It contains a Shaka egg, busy bee maraca, caterpillar tambourine, jingle bell ant, silly centipede drumsticks and a beautiful drum which cleverly doubles up as a storage box. The cute characters, bright colours and different sounds that you can produce make this an absolute winner for little musicians. RRP £31.99.
Staying on the musical theme but for older children and wannabe musicians of all ages (including adults), Compose Yourself is a fun and creative way to start creating original music in minutes with no prior experience. It includes 60 transparent cards featuring different notes/combinations that you simply arrange in any order you wish - the cards can go any way up and can be flipped over too so there are millions of combinations possible - then you can upload the codes to a website which subsequently creates an mp3 recording of your particular composition, performed by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and a world class full symphony orchestra and recorded at the historic Abbey Road studios. How amazing is that ?! The game has been invented by world-famous composer and cellist Philip Sheppard so has real weight behind it. It's a great way to help build beginner musicians' confidence and is a really gratifying experience. RRP £13
Hopefully that's given you a few ideas for some of those hard-to-buy-for recipients !
Disclosure : I received the products in order to write an honest review.