Holiday Gift Guide: 2018

. December 3, 2018.
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The holiday season is here again and time is going by too fast to get everything ready. While we can’t do your Christmas shopping for you, we’ve rounded up some of the top toys of the season for different ages and stages. Partnering with Learning Express, we picked out fun and educational toys— all available under $50 locally— that are sure to delight the youngsters in your life. Happy shopping!

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Infant

Do you have a little one celebrating his or her first Christmas? You don’t need to go overboard for this milestone since your babe likely won’t remember it, but if you’re racking your brain on ideas, here’s a few we suggest:

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Flappy the Elephant – this adorable animated plush sings and plays peekaboo with its ears. We promise it’ll make your baby smile! Birth +, $39.99

Dimpl – Little hands will enjoy popping the colorful silicone bubbles back and forth with this satisfying sensory toy. With safe, durable construction, this toy is great for keeping baby entertained in the car, in the highchair or anytime. 6 months +, $12.99

Preschool

There are a lot of great toys geared toward this age group, as preschoolers usually have a good grasp of fine motor skills and enjoy pretend play. Here are a couple of unique finds to put under the tree:

Kablocks – Part of the fun of building blocks to knocking everything over, right? With this toy, little ones use fine motor skills to stack and balance 30 soft foam blocks, then they use gross motor skills to jump and blast the blocks. And parents, you’ll have fun, too, helping to send the blocks flying! 3+years, $39.99

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Square Panda – Feel less guilty about screen time by turning it into reading time using your tablet (connect via Bluetooth) to play 10 interactive word games using 45 tactile Smart Letters. Children pick up and put letters in a tray to practice spelling, phonics, rhyming and more. Square Panda adapts to your child’s level. 2+ years, $49.99

Toddler

You need something that isn’t a baby toy, an engaging gift that’s not full of little parts or choking hazards. And most of us prefer something that doesn’t require batteries or make a lot of noise. Here are a few toys that help improve fine motor and sensory processing skills:

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Gecko Blocks – Blocks are a basic toy every kid loves, and these lightweight foam blocks stick and stack, making it easy for little hands to build. Coated with a safe adhesive to make them cling to each other and hard seurfaces – try in the tub! – this is a great go-to gift. 18+ months, $29.99 for a set of 28 blocks

SpinAgain – This puts a “spin” on traditional toddler stacking toys – this colorful disc-stacking toy has a spinning corkscrew motion. Once the discs spin to the bottom of the center pole, children push the pole to release and allow the discs to spin right off. As children grow, they can practice hand-eye coordination to manipulate the discs. 12-36 months, $29.99

Elementary

By this age your child probably has plenty of ideas of what he or she would like for Christmas, but if you need a little inspiration, or just want something different, here are a few toys sure to be a hit:

Slime Case Shaker Storage Set – Anytime is slime time and this set makes it easy for your child to create their own. This set contains six metallic slime powder pouches, three shakers, three figurines, glitter, confetti and stickers to customize the slime. Bonus – the mixing helps to teach basics of science and chemistry so your child is learning new concepts as they play. 6+, $24.99

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Harry Potter themed LEGO Sets – LEGOs are a great gift for this age, as kids can practice reading skills as they follow instructions to build specific sets. LEGOs are also great for encouraging creativity and imaginative play as kids build their own creations. Harry Potter themed sets are hot this season. 6+, $19.99 and up

Middle School

For this age group, it’s all about toys that encourage building, creativity and imagination. Middle schoolers will feel a sense of accomplishment when they successfully build a robot or create something that is uniquely theirs.

DIY Journaling Set – Your child can create, personalize and decorate their own journal, fully engaging in the creative process by using 80 die-cut shapes, stickers, glitter tape and more. Bonus – this helps promote language and literacy skills! Ages 12+, $19.99

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Auto Moto Transforming Robot Car – This 2-in-1 transforming toy changes shapes right before your eyes! It starts out as a sleek, RC sports car but say “transform” and your voice commands it to smoothly change into an upright robot that walks, spins and stomps around the room. Ages 8+, $44.99

For Others on Your List
More local gift options

One of a Kind
If you’re looking for a truly unique gift this year, make one! Simply State & Painted in Maumee is a ceramics painting studio where you can make one-of-a-kind gifts by painting mugs, ornaments, plates, and novelty items for anyone on your list. simplystatedandpainted.com.

The Gift of Music
Rock Christmas this year with lessons at Toledo’s Forte Music School. Whether your son or daughter has an interest in guitar, cello or any instrument in between, Forte Music School offers more instructors, more studios and more opportunities for your young musician to learn. With a wide variety of gift certificates available, you’re sure to find whatever meets your needs and your budget. fortemusicandarts.com.

Sneak Peek 3D
Stand out this year with a gift certificate to Sneak Peek 3D in Perrysburg. Packages are available to fit any budget, whether it is to see baby for the first time, 3D/4D Images, or to learn the gender! They also carry keepsakes such as frames, gender reveal supplies, and stuffed animals with baby’s recorded heartbeat! Check out our Maternity Package with four separate visits throughout your pregnancy and keepsakes to cherish forever. sneakpeek3d.com.

Art for Everyone
Toledo Museum of Art is a gem to the city…and the Museum Store is the perfect spot to find unique gifts for everyone on your list. You’ll find a diverse selection of specialty gifts inspired by TMA’s world-famous collection along with fine art books and supplies to apparel, children’s educational toys and books and jewelry. During the month of December, nonmembers who spend a combined $35 at the store, café or on exhibition tickets, will receive free parking. toledomuseum.org.