Now that November’s hit, it’s a great time to get into gear and avoid the potential meltdown of having to face the Christmas rush with hoardes of other desperate parents. We’ve done the footwork ahead of the pre-Christmas crush to tell you what this year’s must have toys are, where you can find them for the best price, and of course, their more affordable alternatives. You can thank us when your tots are squealing in delight come Christmas morning.
1. The teddy
There’s been a lot of uproar and less-than-impressed parents this year about the £95.00 John Lewis Monty penguin from their gorgeous Christmas ad, but luckily Monty (and his penguin lady friend Mabel) come in a few different sizes and price ranges (starting at £12). Alternatively, the immensely cute Danish store Tiger have their own soft penguin offering for only €7.
2. The Frozen doll
After the triumphant reception that Frozen has enjoyed this year, it’s no real surprise that the Frozen Skating Elsa Doll has already become one of this year’s Christmas must haves. You can get yours for €38.99 in Smyths, or other Elsa dolls for €19.89 there too. Additionally, Penneys have an entire range of pretty Frozen pajamas, tops and other accessories to keep your kids cosy this winter.
3. The arts and crafts toy
There’s nothing more relaxing than the silence that ensues when your children discover a new creative outlet, nor cuter when they present the finished product for you, brimming with pride. This year, every toy store is talking about the DohVinci range. Think PlayDoh that sets and stays cute long enough for a few years on the fridge. If you’d prefer them to be playing with something a bit less messy and a tiny bit softer, they can also get their mitts on this square weaving loom for €7 in Tiger.
4. The toy gun
There’s a few toy weapons on the market this Christmas, but kids everywhere are abuzz about the BoomCo Rapid Madness Blaster. If you’d prefer to spend a little less, check out the Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster. Either way, we can’t guarantee that you won’t end up getting hit in the head with one of their flying missiles at the dinner table.
5. The new Furby
We’re not sure that anything will ever overtake the absolute bizarreness that was the Furby. The somewhat strange looking Xeno promises to be this year’s interactive doll essential though, and with eight touch sensors and forty different emotions it may be the one that your child learns a lot from. If you’d like to spend a little less, the Disney Store has a range of talking and singing pets for £13.
6. The interactive doll
With speech-to-text software and stocked full of general knowledge info to be asked about, My Friend Cayla promises to be a kid-friendly Siri. She also has a list of bad words she won’t discuss with your child, which makes her a little safer than Google. Alternatively, My Best Friend Talking Mila 70 sentences, sings 4 songs, can answer twelve questions and tells your child stories.
7. The robot
Transformers are leading the robot gift list this year, with the Transformers 4 Stomp and Chomp Gridlock at the very top for €79.99. There’s also the smaller but just as fun Bumblebee figure that comes in at €39.99 if Grimlock seems a little too pricey for your particular pocket.
8. The watch
Forget the iWatch, the kid’s must have watch this winter is the VTech Kidizoom Smart Watch, which has a built in camera and photo editing tools, alarms and games. And here’s us just having mastered what our most flattering filter on Instagram is… Smyths also have a great Spy Gear Ultimate Spy Watch for €12.99 if you’re not sure your child will need all those features just yet.
9. The dinosaur
Forget having to complain about walking the dog or emptying the cat’s litter tray, the essential pet this Christmas promises to be the Teksta T-Rex (€64.99 in Smyths). This electronic dinosaur responds to your child’s voice and even roars at the odd pat. Alternatively, the VTech Switch & Go Dinos – Lex the Rex (€19.79 in Argos) teaches your kid dinosaur facts and can transform into a car at the switch of the button.
10. The gadget
As the most expensive on the list, the Leapfrog Leap TV (€154.99 in Smyths) boasts of being one of the first electronic body motion educational gaming system, similar to an Xbox 360 Kinect. If you’d like to buy them a different educational gadget, VTech InnoTab Max BlueNow (€112.99 in Smyths) is also leading the way in the tablets for kids market.
Hannah Popham @HannahPopham