I have thought long and hard about what to put on my gift guide this year. I've combed through various sites, taken into account my own kids' preferences, and gone to various baby shows (that's a show featuring baby gear, not a show with babies performing, although the latter sounds more fun).
I haven't paid much attention to this year's "hot new toys", mainly because last year it was topped by the Furby (now in zigzag stripes!), which is the most annoying toy in existence. Also, who has time for such things? I don't need to drive myself crazy tracking down the hot new toy when neither me nor my child knew it existed a week ago.
This is just some of my favorite stuff. Items we own, things I want, toys I'm thinking about getting my kids and a few sponsored products that I included only because I would recommend them anyway. I just didn't know about them until someone pointed them out to me.
I've also listened to you guys. When I talked about GoldieBloks the other day and the need for more math and science focused toys for girls, you said there should also be more miniature kitchen sets and dolls made for boys. If you do a little digging, there's actually a lot more available than you think. Just not where it's really important— when your child is walking down an aisle in a toy store.
While the toy stores sort all that in-person experience stuff out, let's all give a big hand for shopping online!
The following items are my picks for this year's best holiday gifts. There are promo codes and special offers for my readers throughout, along with a bunch of great brands participating in today's giveaway.
1. Off-Broadway Puppet Theater ($39) – This is great space saver too. It's just a tie-back curtain you can hang in a doorway and then fold and put in a draw when you are done.
2. Easy Playhouse Castle ($34) – Don't waste money on a huge expensive playhouse when your child will be tired of it within a month. Get the cheaper cardboard version instead!
3. Xonex Big Art Set, 1 count (30126) ($32) – Mazzy got this as a present for her third birthday. I wanted to steal it for myself.
4. Dexton 6' Great Plains Teepee ($116) – Throw a sheepskin rug in it, take a picture and you've got a Pinterest-worthy play area!
Benbini Watches ($99) are designed to be the perfect timekeeper for moms. They've got a patented double bevel that lets you mark your time so you know exactly how long it's been since you put the baby down for a nap, gave a dose of medicine, or had your last cocktail. And it has a clever right/left slider to make life easier for nursing mothers. Maybe if I had Benbini watch when I was breastfeeding, my right boob wouldn't be so much larger than my left.
Benbini is offering %15 off if you use the code HOLIDAY1, plus free shipping until the end of the year. They are also participating in our giveaway today. See details at the bottom of this post.
1. Rosie Revere, Engineer ($10) – The rhymes are just as clever and the illustrations just as great as Mazzy's favorite Iggy Peck Architect, we're just dealing with a female heroine this time.
2. Goldie Blox and The Spinning Machine ($30) – By now you've all heard of the Stanford graduate who designed an engineering toy specifically to appeal to little girls. I'd buy it just to prove to the toy industry that these kinds of toys are in high demand.
3. Melissa & Doug Super Heroine Role Play Set ($30) – Mazzy can't be the only Pink Crusader out there.
7AM Enfant was at the Biggest Baby Shower a few weeks ago and I was super impressed with the design and quality of their winter gear for babies. Not only do they make thick cozy stroller footmuffs ($172) in multi-colored Chevron, they also make these ingenius mitts for your stroller called Warmmuffs ($38). The fingers are velcroed around the bar so you can just slip your hands in and out to tend to your baby with bare hands or fumble in your purse for your keys.
7AM Enfant is giving away one pair of Warmmuffs at the bottom of this post.
1. Wonderworld City Skyline Glow Block Set ($50) – These ridiculously cool building blocks shaped like NYC skyscrapers glow in the dark.
3. Daron MTA Licensed Articulated Bus ($19) – I gave this as a gift to a friend's son for his third birthday. She told me when they went on vacation, it was the one toy he insisted on taking.
Piccolini is giving away one NY onesie at the bottom of this post.
Moochie Custom Kid Calendars ($44) are customized with 12 personal photographs, a personalized cover with your kids' names, and a hand stamped bag with their initials. It is printed on beautiful thick paper and comes with a wood stand for an easy elegant display.
Even better, Moochie gives a discount for people ordering three or more so you can put together one calendar and then send multiple copies to friends and relatives. That takes care of both sets of grandparents!
Moochie is giving 10% off to anybody who uses the promo code MOMMYSHORTS.
1. Bitty Baby from American Girl ($80) – Nothing teaches a little girl how to help out with her little sister like having a baby of her own. Bitty Baby comes in a variety of different hair colors, eye colors and skin tones.
2. Big Sister Pillow ($30) – So much cooler than a Big Sister shirt.
3. Beco Mini Toy Doll Carrier ($29) – There is nothing cuter than walking down the street with your daughter wearing matching baby carriers. (Bear not included.)
4. Chloe, Instead ($6) – This is hands down my favorite children's book about welcoming a baby into the house. It deals with both the love and annoyance of having a little sister around.
1. Mustachifier – The Gentleman Mustache Pacifier ($10) – You've one week of Movember left; time to get started on your baby's mustache!
2. Someday I'll Grow A Mustache Onesie ($13) – Self explanatory.
3. Incog-NEATO Mustaches ($7.95 each) – It's hard to choose but I'd go with the Fu Manchu.
4. Mustache Pillow ($32) – This handknit pillow by Estella is 24" long and the perfect addition to any little hipster's room.
Casetagram's mobile phone covers ($39.95) is what I would want if I was your friend, FYI. You can buy one of their incredibly cool collection cases or you can build your own to include whatever layout of your instagram photos you wish. To make things super easy, you can create the whole thing and buy it right from your phone. Come to think of it, a custom Casetagram would also a great gift for the grandparents. If they are no longer using a rotary, obviously.
Casetagram is giving readers 10% off all purchases if you use the code MOMMY10 up until December 25, 2013. They ship for free worldwide and are giving away one custom phone case at the bottom of this post.
1. Imagine I Can Knitting Beginning Kit ($17) – A few years from now, when you are lounging around in your beautiful handknit blanket with matching hat, you'll thank me.
2. Artterro Wool Felt Wearable Kit ($20) – The cool kids create their own accessories.
3. Rainbow Loom ($20) – I've seen it. I've never tried it. I keep hearing about it.
Momma Love: How The Mother Half Lives ($45) by Ali Smith was voted the #1 Mother's Day gift by the New York Times Motherlode Blog and is definitely a great holiday gift as well. Inside are beautiful photos and stories from real mothers depicted in a way that is honest, heartbreaking and inspiring.
But don't trust me, trust Gloria Steinem…
“Ali Smith has given us a gift with Momma Love: a fresh, eye-opening, firsthand manisfestation of motherhood's contemporary realities."
Ali is selling her book for 30% off the cover price up until December 24th. She is also giving away a copy of Momma Love at the bottom of this post.
1. Mixie ($18) – This formula-mixing baby bottle invented by a dad totally blew me away at the Biggest Baby Shower. The formula compartment has a patented, airtight design so it can be filled in advance and mixed at feeding time. Somehow, the lid acts as a free-floating agitator to prevent any clumping.
2. The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance ($12) – Someone gave this book as a gift to Mike when we first had Mazzy. It was meant as a joke, but it's actually ridiculously informative and very easy to use when you have emergency questions that you are too embarrassed to call a doctor about.
3. Magnificent Baby Footie ($30) – While this looks like regular old pajamas, it's actually a high tech piece of fabric held together by magnets. Well, it's not that high tech. But it makes it much easier to change a diaper in the dark when you don't have to fumble for snaps or buttons. Especially when your baby is squirmy.
Baby Jack Blankets creates sensory ribbon tag baby blankets by hand, with vibrant colors, modern patterns and plush dimpled backings. Each blanket has a variety of textures that babies love instinctively. And falling in love with a blankie can be a miraculous thing for both parent and child— allowing for quiet car rides, easy transitions and pleasant vacations when your child must feel comfortable sleeping away from home.
Baby Jack Blankets is offering %15 off if you use the code HOLIDAY1, plus free shipping until the end of the year. They are also participating in our giveaway today.
1. Ikea Duktig Mini-kitchen ($80) – Totally gender neutral and matches any home decor.
2. Asher Doll by Groovy Girls ($12) – Next step for Groovy Girls is changing their name, I hope.
3. Little Henry Vacuum ($33) – Everything about vacuums is intriguing for little kids. Which is great, because if you train them early, you might be able to make them actually useful.
Baby Jives made this beautiful handmade mobile ($50) for Harlow before she was born and it remains one of my favorite things in her room. Her mobiles come in other varieties like hearts, boats and birds and are the perfect addition to a modern nursery.
Baby Jives is giving away a $50 credit today.
And finally, since I'm Jewish and Chanukah is starting next week, I thought I'd throw in one last thing…
1. Mensch on the Bench ($36) – As the Jewish version of the popular Elf on the Shelf, Moshe the Mench is here to add one more tradition to Chanukah. However, he's currently sold out. But you can pre-order one for 2014!
2. Chanukah House Do-It-Yourself Kit ($20) – With all the strutural cookie pieces, icing to hold it together and decoration you need to make it truly festive inside the box, making a Chanukah House with Mazzy was actually my very first time making a gingerbread house. That's a tradition I am happy to adopt going foward.
Today I am giving away one Benbini watch, one $50 Baby Jives gift card, one Casetagram mobile phone case, one I Pretzel NY onesie, one pair of 7AM Enfant Warmmuffs, one copy of Momma Love, and one Baby Jack Blanket.
There will be a different winner for each item.
1) To enter, you must be a Mommy Shorts facebook fan. Then, simply leave a comment below saying what you want for the holidays this year. Not your kids, not your spouse, not your mother. WHAT YOU WANT.
2) If you would like a second entry, follow Mommy Shorts on pinterest and pin the giveaway graphic with #mommyshorts_holidaygiveaway.
Seven winners will be announced on Friday December 6th.
UPDATE: This giveaway is over. To see the winners, click here.