10th Annual Holiday Gift Guide11/24/2021 ● By Kelli Matthews
I hope you find some great ideas that you may not have thought of before.
Soft & Sweet
With a new baby in the family, I was excited to hear about the Howdy Baby Box subscription. The box features ethically made baby and kids products from women-owned businesses in the U.S. for ages newborn through 24 months. The box I got was beautifully curated and would make any new mama swoon with delight. Available at: https://www.howdybabybox.com.
Preschool farmers will love the Kullerbu Farmyard Play Track. A fun twist on a train set, the
track comes with two sneaky farm "animals" (Selma the sheep and Simon the pig) that your track builder has to try to catch. The farmyard sounds add to the fun! Perfect for ages 2 - 8. Available at: https://www.habausa.com/
There's literally nothing softer (or sweeter) in the entire universe than a Slumberkin. This year, a few new friends came to visit — Dragon and the Caring Crew. Each Slumberkin encourages emotional growth through a story. Dragon reminds us that creativity comes in many forms and is something we can all do. The Caring Crew's How to Bee Helpful set includes five minis and promotes caring and kindness. Available at: https://slumberkins.com/
Moving & Grooving
There's no mistaking a Chance Basketball. The L.A.-based company has bold and vibrant
patterns that inspire kids to get out and play. Chance Athletics believes in spreading the love through donating products and raising funds for communities that need them through organizations like Boys & Girls Club, Hoops for Haiti, and Project Backboard. Available at Target or https://wearechance.com/.
My baseball-obsessed sons are preparing for the next season, so I was thrilled to learn about the Backyard League Gaming Baseball. It is regulation size and weight and connects via Bluetooth to the user's smartphone. It tracks catches, drops, and other metrics and features up to 70 hours of battery life on a standard 2032 watch battery. With activities and global leaderboards, kids can keep the game going year-round. Available at: https://backyard-league.com/
The iconic original, Rollerblade, will have your teen or tween rocking and rolling. The Advantage
Pro X.T. from Bladerunner has both men's & women's styles and sizes available and is a perfect starter skate for inline skating. The skates have an easy closure system, extra foot support and a durable frame to help with balance. Plus: it comes in hot pink! Available at: rollerblade.com or via Amazon or Dick's Sporting Goods.
The magic of bubbles really never gets old. When the American Bubble Company offered to send Bubble Tree Bubbles to try, we couldn't resist. The bubbles are the first-ever eco-friendly sustainable bubble system that uses a non-toxic bubble solution made in the USA. The bubbles come in aluminum bottles with poppy, vibrant designs. And the refillable bubble system saves money — there's no need to purchase replacement bubble wands and containers. Available at: https://bubbletreeusa.com/, Amazon and Target.
Fishing and living in Oregon go hand in hand, but finding a good rod and reel for young kids is
challenging. If you've got an angler-to-be that's ready to be on the water with mom and dad, the Shakespeare EZ-Grow fishing kit is a great gift. For kids as young as four, the rod starts at 2'10" rod with an oversized handle knob and extended length push button and extends to 4'5" for kids up to eight. The large handle knob and push-button extender can easily be removed as little hands grow for comfort during use. Available at: https://www.purefishing.com/
The Original Stomp Rocket® Stunt Planes gets kids out and moving, but it also
helps enrich those STEM skills. Dead simple, but endlessly entertaining! No
batteries required, and the soft tips means fun that is safe. Plus,
as a sneaky educational bonus, they have to think about gravity, motion
and force (whether they realize it or not). Also available at Target,
Target.com and Rite Aid
Outdoor play needs outdoor gear. Oregon Family favorites, Lone Cone Mud Boots come in tons of adorable and kid-approved prints and are made to keep toes warm and dry in any weather (rain, mud and snow!). Available at https://www.lonecone.com/.
We're not a golfing bunch, but my teenager has been begging for a set of clubs. I don't know much about what to get and
don't want either a discount set that won't last or a crazy expensive set that may not be right for him in the long run. I was lucky to learn about Stix. The company fits our budget and his interest level — plus they look cool. Available at https://stix.golf/
It's winter in Oregon so getting outside isn't always an option. might be the perfect way to get your kids moving. It converts from a pull-up bar to a kids' jungle gym, providing various lively indoor activities for the whole family. The pull-up bar has six different attachments: indoor swing, rings, trapeze bar, wood-and-rope ladder, and a knotted rope for swinging or climbing. Holds up to 300 pounds. Available on Amazon.
Thinking & Doing
If you've got a young engineer in the making, the Teni and Tayo Solar Powered Car Kit gives kids the material to build and paint their own solar-powered car from scratch. The kit works like a puzzle, which my kiddo found frustrating at first (where's the directions?!), but he quickly got the hang of it and was proud of his finished car. We also love that Teni and Tayo is a woman-owned business and celebrates diversity in all its products with just a "pinch of Africa." Available at https://www.teniandtayo.com/
We've featured dozens of OSMO products and extensions in our gift guide and they never
disappoint. The latest, OSMO Detective, is a globe-trotting adventure that takes kids to the world's most famous cities, searching for clues to help solve mysteries, using a real magnifying glass and physical maps. Available for iPad or Fire. Available at https://www.playosmo.com/, Wal-Mart or Target.
Sometimes our gift guide recommendations are hard to explain but stay with me. Blinks tabletop game is powered by artificial intelligence. Each game piece is responsive to your touch, works with the other pieces, and thinks for itself. Every piece knows its own game and can also learn new games. In short — it's amazing (wow! Did you see that?!) and a ton of fun. Available at https://move38.com/ or Amazon.
A portable Bluetooth speaker is becoming a "must-have" for kids on the go.
The Speaqua Bluetooth speakers are designed to bring your tunes wherever you go. The Barnacle speakers are waterproof and have a suction cup to stick anywhere. The major bonus is that the Barnacles can store up to 2,000 songs directly on the speaker, so you don't need wifi or a phone to enjoy music. It's shockproof, dust/sand proof with a 5-8 hour battery life and it even floats. Available at: https://speaqua.com/
Imaginary play is everything. The Hess Cargo Plane and Jet is a brand new option from this award-winning company. A high-flying adventure awaits with six-button and motion-activated flying sounds and lights. There's a lot to discover with retractable folding jet wings, push-button cargo bay doors and a hidden slide-out ramp to maneuver. The jet is 14 inches long and has a wingspan of 15 inches. It's hours of fun! Available only at https://hesstoytruck.com/.
When you're young, there's still a lot of excitement about getting something in the mail just for you — you can be pretty sure it's not a bill. MailPop meets this excitement with a weekly mailed envelope with a newsletter, activities and a papercraft. Sign up at https://www.mailpopkids.com/.
Whether your kid is a bookworm or you struggle to get them to sit
still and read for 20 minutes a day, OwlCrate, Jr. for ages 8 - 12, can help. The box comes with a brand new hardcover book, activities, stickers and other goodies. It's beautifully presented and my reluctant reader loved exploring everything inside. And we've been reading the book together, which has been a delightful pre-bedtime routine. There's also an OwlCrate for older kids (ages 14+). Available at: https://www.owlcrate.com/
Around the Table
Ghosted is a fun twist on the traditional game of Clue. It's "whodunnit" murder mystery game where you're the ghost trying to solve your own murder — which character had it in for you, what wacky weapon did they use and why did they want you of the picture? This game is a new family favorite with quick play, easy directions and lots of laughs and silliness. Available at Target.
Who said politics can't be fun? Election Night is fun and educational. Winning the electoral college includes a lot of math! Two players or teams battle for critical electoral votes in the race to win the presidency. To get there, you have to sharpen your U.S. geography and political system knowledge and stay on your toes. Good for ages 8 and up. Available at https://sempersmartgames.com/ and Amazon.
I've got a Revolutionary War-era fanatic in my house (Thanks to Hamilton the Musical), so we were excited to try the Spies of Liberty escape room style game from Escape Notice Games. Players are all members of the Culper Spy Ring where they help George Washington outwit the British forces and turn the tide of war in favor of the patriots. Historic spycraft tools help players solve puzzles, read ciphers, navigate vintage maps, and uncover hidden codes - it's beautifully and thoughtfully done and we had a lot of fun. No internet required! The game works best for 2 - 6 players, ages 14 and up (but my 9-year-old could join in). Available online at EscapeNoticeGames.com and Etsy.
The original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie was released 50 years ago! Still a
classic, you can celebrate with a rewatch and the new Golden Ticket family board game. Use strategy on every move and play your Wonka Candy cards to collect as many Wonka Bars as you can. When the last Wonka Bar is picked up, everyone opens up their collection to see who's got a Golden Ticket! Play as one of the movie's original characters, including Charlie, Veruca, Violet, Mike and Augustus. Start with the beginner side of the board and move to advanced mode when you're ready. Available at Target.
Who Runs the World? Girls!
Your favorite fashionista will love the fun new Alphabet Bead Necklace from Oregon Family-
favorite, Isabelle Grace Jewelry. Personalize with her name, her favorite people's names, short sayings or cute messages, and you can also add a colorful heart bead. The chain is sterling silver or 14kt gold fill.
Oregon-based Love and XO Julia is a curated collection of clean skincare and beauty products and accessories for tweens and young teens just beginning their self-care journey. We love that the ingredients are all sourced to be good for young skin and the products help young adults kickstart their experience with self-care and confidence. The products make them feel good and support wellness. Available at: https://loveandxojulia.com/
A glitter-filled inflatable chair? Yes, please! AirCandy has fashionable, affordable and
easy-to-use inflatable chairs. The chairs are jumbo and comfortable like a bean
bag, yet strong enough to hold up to 250 pounds. AirCandy is made with
heavy-duty PVC material and is 100% waterproof. Available at https://www.poolcandy.net/ and