Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hot toys for boys 7 to 9 in 2011 – Christmas and Birthday gift ideas

Every boy is different, but there are some common gift ideas that most boys between 7 and 9 would like to receive. The good thing about kids between 7 and 9, they usually are more than willing to let us know what they would like for their Birthday or Christmas.

1. This year video games, computer games and game consoles are on the top of most boys 7 to 9 Christmas or birthday gift lists. The Wii and Xbox Kinect are both popular this year. Hand held game systems are also popular such as Nintendo 3DS. The real problem I have is not finding the games boys 7 to 9 want as Christmas or birthday gifts, but finding ones that are ok to give to them. They seem to want games that are rated for 10+, 13+ and even 18+.

Top video games are going to depend on the system or console they have. On computers the new Star Wars The Old Republic MMORPG is being released Dec. 20, 2012. Star Wars has been popular for generations. So both parents and children are interested in Star Wars - The Old Republic MMORPG. Even though this game is not considered a children’s game many parents are buying it for their children and getting them monthly subscriptions. There are many guilds that include family groups. Kids and parents are both playing. I have been lucky enough to see the game being played by my husband and son as part of the beta testing. From what I have seen the game is amazing, and does the Star Wars legacy proud. However, if children are playing it they may need a parents help unless they are already experienced MMORPG players. You may be able to control what your children do, but you cannot control the other players your kids may come across. Fortunately the game is set up so that kids and adults alike can play in a player verses environment instead of player versus player environment.

The Wii always has several popular games available. I do think that The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is going to be a big hit this year. The limited edition bundle with the special Wii remote will probably be extremely popular. Any and all of the Lego Wii games are popular. The Harry Potter 5 -7 will be popular, but I think more because it is a Lego Wii game then because it is a Harry Potter game. Happy Feet Two: The Videogame looks like a lot of fun and so does Puss in Boots. Jaws Ultimate Predator is for teens. Many boys may have this on their Christmas or birthday gift list because they love anything to do with sharks. This has a Teen rating for a reason and should be checked out by the parent before ever letting their son play it. Though I can clearly see why it would be popular with 7 to 9 year old boys.

Xbox Kinect has many games that are of interest. However, Halo is still the game boys seem to want. I think it is too old for them, but for some reason it is very popular with 7 to 9 year olds who have been shown the game. I know my son has been asking for two years to get an Xbox so he can play Halo. There are quite a few other games on the Xbox that 7 to 9 year olds, and older, boys have on their birthday and Christmas gift lists.

2. Hot Wheels wall tracks have got to be one of the more popular toys for boys 7 to 9 this year. They are great, with a starter set and two extra expansion kits. The best part is that they can be moved around, be put up, taken down and put up again. It even looks like it can be easily set up and taken down. I think they are perfect for people with limited room. I know my son loves Hot Wheels. This would be perfect for him. It looks like a lot of fun, and the best part is there is no real clean up when he is done. The cars get put away, and the track stays where it is, up off the floor for the most part. It is not all over the place and because it is on the wall it is less likely that parts are going to go missing.

3. Lightsabers are still big with 7 to 9 year olds. There are new lightsabers out ever year, usually just in time for Christmas. With the popularity of Star Wars it is not surprising that Lightsabers are on many Christmas and birthday gift lists.

4. Lego. The joy of Lego is that there are so many different kits that you can find one for just about any kid. You can find theme items like Star Wars, Ninjas, Cars, Transformers and just about anything else in Lego. There are castles, dragons and even pirate ships. It is difficult not to find a great Christmas or birthday gift in Lego. Also when kids have a lot of kits they can always use the basic box of Lego to build even more stuff. This year the hottest Lego Christmas gift are the Lego advent calendars, the Lego City Advent Calendar and the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar both have a lot to offer. However, they are going quick. If you want a Lego Advent Calendar you need to buy it early.

5. Yu Gi Oh and other collector or game cards are still popular. There are always new collector game cards coming out. Always check with kids which cards they are into now. It seems to change in the blink of an eye. Also some boys will not be interested in cards anymore, even though they were asking for them just a few weeks ago. My son and his friends still play Yu Gi Oh and have not moved on to the “newest” cards. There is a Wii Yu Gi Oh game out, Yu Gi Oh 5D’s Duel Transer. This came out last year and can be found on sale. It can still make a great Christmas or Birthday gift for boys who love Yu Gi Oh and have a Wii.

6. Bayblade Metal Masters is creating new interest in Bayblades. Bayblades Metal Fusion is becoming more popular again, now that they have the TV show and real live Beyblade battle competitions. There is a huge variety of Bayblade Metal Fusion toys available.

7. Bakugan is still popular. It combines a toy and cards in the game. There are always new cards and actual Bakugan. However, I have noticed a decrease in popularity. I am not sure how much longer this toy/game is going to last. I do think that Bayblades are becoming more popular.

8. Though many boys 7 to 9 may not admit it, Build a Bear is still fun.

I am sure I will come up with more great Birthday and Christmas gifts for boys 7 to 9. Right now Star Wars is the biggest thing in my home. For others families it will be Transformers or other themes. I do find it interesting how many children are being given the new cell phones. They are really mini handheld computers. People like them because they can load music and movies onto them, or go online and play games. I can see that it is like having a phone, hand held game system, computer, camera, GPS tracker and more all in one. I know my son is not ready for one, but some 7 to 9 year olds are.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas and Birthday Gift Ideas for 14 year old boyfriend

I was recently asked: My boyfriend is 14 and we have only been for a couple of weeks his birthday is next Wednesday what do I get him?!?!?!

Because this is so close to Christmas I am looking at what would make a good Christmas gift for a 14 year old boyfriend as well as birthday gifts.

The first step is to think about what you have in common. What things do you both like to do? What things does he like? Also what type of budget do you have?

For a relationship that is only a few weeks old it can be very difficult to identify a meaningful birthday or Christmas gift. At this point you want something that says. “I like you and I know it’s your birthday/Christmas so I am showing you that I care enough to try and give you something you like”.

Because I don’t have a lot of information I am going to make an assumption, something I don’t usually do. I assume you don’t have a large gift budget, so you want something nice but not expensive. This makes it even more difficult to find the right gift for him. A simple solution is probably going to be the best way to go. It has been a long time since I was 14 but I will do my best here. A lot is going to depend on his personality and yours. You need to think about what you would like to give him, and then figure out what suits him best. The lack of a budget is really what is holding me back.

Here are some Birthday/Christmas ideas for the average 14 year old boyfriend, just keep in mind no one is ever really average.

1) Homemade cupcake with a candle in it, or cake if you like. You can always buy a cupcake if you don’t bake. It is a bit corny but it could be fun, simple and not expensive.

2) Music downloads for his phone, iPod, MP3 player, or computer. CD if he uses a CD player.

3) If he does not have an iPod or MP3 player you can find some inexpensive ones. I have seen some under $20.

4) If you have the budget a video game for a system he already has.

5) A poster or other theme item around something he really likes. Maybe even a T-Shirt or hoodie if you feel comfortable with giving him clothing. It has to be with an image or logo of something he really likes. Sports, music, band, movie or just about anything. I suggested the poster because they are usually not too expensive and you can find a large variety of themes that can fit just about any personality. For example I have in the past found some great unusual theme posters and other items at Think Geek. www.thinkgeek.com. However, don’t limit yourself to just looking at Think Geek. There are tons of theme gift items for just about anything and everything you can think of. Some of them are easy to find, and are not that expensive. Your best bet is to check out what is available at your local store.

6) Theme items that are fun, unique and not too “sappy, committed or clingy”. Again Think Geek has a lot of cool small gifts from clothing to toys that are not for “kids”. There are a lot of items on the Think Geek website that can be great birthday gifts for the right person. However seeing as you only have a few days I would suggest you look at the site for ideas and then find what is available in local stores. You may be able to get a head start on a Christmas gift for him as well.

a. I thought the Led Magnetic digital Graffiti was fun, and not too expensive.

b. If you had been together longer and he was into computers I would suggest the Led flashing Sweetheart kit, though it is corny.

c. The USB plasma ball is something I would actually buy my husband and son, so it kind of fits any age.

d. The Giant plush microbes are different, but fun at the same time.

e. There is the Melodyhorn Air Powered Synth if he likes to play music.

f. The crystal growing kit and the root beer brewing kit both looked interested but would appeal to different personalities.

g. The emergency inflatable brain could be funny if he has a sense of humor, but not very “romantic”.

h. The Pentominoes 3D puzzle cubes are good, but only if he likes that type of thing.

7) Very last resort, gift certificate and a card. Only do this if you just cannot make up your mind. It would be better to get the wrong thing and save the receipt then to give a very generic gift certificate unless it is what he actually wants. Though there are times when this is a great Birthday or Christmas gift. If for example there is a movie he really wants to go to but it is not out yet. You could get him a gift certificate for the movie theater to be used when the movie comes out. So really you are buying him something he really wants that is just not available yet. This also works for any CDs, DVDs, or games that are not out yet, but he really would love to get.

The 14 year old boys I know want cell phones, stuff for their cell phones, video games, money, clothing, skateboards, music, movies and anything that they see as adult and not kids stuff. However, I know for a fact that most 14 year olds don’t fit into the assumed stereo type. They may not be adults yet, but that does not mean they are children. Most 14 year olds have distinct likes and dislikes. I have to admit that I am trying to give you general ideas that may be stereotypical simply because I don’t have enough information to go on and I don’t know you or your boyfriend. Also because you are a couple I am not going to give you the same gift advice or ideas I would to a parent.

When it comes right down to it you need to go with your own knowledge about this young man. Find out what he would like, and go with that. Who cares if it fits into the typical gift category or is not what most people would give as a birthday gift or Christmas gift. What is important is that it is from you, and that you know it is something he is interested in. If he loves cooking, get him a cook book or better yet make him one from recipes you find online. If he likes working on cars find him the manuals for some cars, or tools he could use on cars. If he likes to paint get him paints or a sketch pad. The real secret about finding the right birthday gift is that it is for him and about him, not what other people think he will like or makes a great gift. It is about giving something that is as individual as he is.

Most important is that you do not give something that you would want to take back at a later date, or regret giving later on. This advice is for everyone of any age. It is not a good idea to take or give risky photos. Never give “sexy” pictures, they tend to show up in the wrong places at the wrong time and once they are out there you can never get them back. Never get a tattoo or other permanent body marking with a name on it as a gift. Things change and tattoos are hard to get rid of or change. I say this for two reasons. One a gift should be focused on the person receiving it, sexy pictures and tattoos put the emphasis on you, not them. Second, it is hard to undo some things, like a tattoo and things like risky photos are out of your control once you give them away, or send them by email. There are just some things you don’t want getting into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good by Anne McCaffrey, we will miss you

Anne McCaffrey died in her home Nov. 21, 2011. I am unexpectedly saddened by the death of a lovely lady I never met. Yet she touched my life in such a way that it should come to no surprise that started crying when I heard the news of her death. I am sure there are many others feeling the same way.

I read her books when I was young, and actually have never stopped. They were there for me when I needed to escape to a world where Dragons were real and bad things did happen, but the strong survived. Unicorns lived, talking ships and psychics and other people with unique powers all came to life in her books. They gave me a place to hide in when I needed it and an example of strength when I needed that. Maybe part of it is that her books are really the only connection my father and I had. We both loved her writing, and the only gifts he gave me I have treasured are hard covers of her work.

My favorite books were the Harper series. I have read them so many times the books are falling apart. There is just something about her writing that brings the books to life, make them seem real. It is too bad that she did not live long enough to see her books come to life in the movies. I look forward to seeing the first movie based on her Dragonriders in 2012. I hope the movie is as good as her books, and honors her writing.

She will be missed by many, even those of us who never met her, but enjoyed her writing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Final Inspection - A thought for Rememberance Day

I do not normally post emails sent to me, but this one got to me. Maybe it is because it is so close to Remembrance Day. It might be that my Grandfather was a soldier and my children’s Grandfather was one as well. My Grandfather died when my Father was just a child. My children got to meet their Grandfather only a short time before he passed. Remembrance Day was also his birthday. They miss him and Remembrance Day is very hard for them. I don't believe in war being the answer to anything, but I respect the soldiers who put their lives on the line, and often their lives for us.
A poppy is a small thing to wear to show respect for those who have died, and those who did not. Yet respect has been earned and I for one wear my poppy with pride, mixed in with more than a little sadness.

The soldier stood and faced God,

Which must always come to pass.

He hoped his shoes were shining,

Just as brightly as his brass.

'Step forward now, you soldier,

How shall I deal with you ?

Have you always turned the other cheek ?

To My Church have you been true?'

The soldier squared his shoulders and said,

'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.

Because those of us who carry guns,

Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,

And at times my talk was tough.

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,

That wasn't mine to keep...

Though I worked a lot of overtime,

When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,

Though at times I shook with fear.

And sometimes, God, forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around,

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,

It needn't be so grand.

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,

Where the saints had often trod.

As the soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

'Step forward now, you soldier,

You've borne your burdens well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell.'

Author Unknown~

Thinking of all the Canadian American and British Soldiers

It's the Military, not the reporter who has given us the freedom of the press. It's the Military, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech. It's the Military, not the politicians that ensures our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It's the Military who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag.
If you care to offer the smallest token of recognition and appreciation for the military, please pass this on and pray for our men and women who have served and are currently serving our country and pray for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Great Christmas gifts for girls 5 to 8 in 2012

Christmas is only a few paychecks away yet again. Time to find the best Christmas gifts now, before they fly off the store shelves. As with any gifts, what is the right gift will depend on the girl. However, the popular gifts listed are considered popular because a large number of girls want them.

There is no question about what the top toy for most girls between the ages of 5 and 8 is this year. Anything Lalaloopsy is flying off the shelves already. The large dolls are extremely popular, and there is a nice variety of them to choose from. However, some people are buying many different Lalaloopsy dolls, not just one. I have found them around $30, but there are some around $50. The mini Lalaloopsy dolls are also very popular. They make great small gifts or stocking stuffers.

Monster High dolls are also still popular. They just came out with a new line that seems to be popular. The one hour TV special is only going to increase the popularity of the Monster High dolls. I suspect that Abby Bominable is going to be a popular doll. Though I think Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura and Franki Stein are going to continue to be very popular as well. I know my daughter would love to receive more Monster High dolls for Christmas. However I found a Monster High video game, which is a great gift. Monster High Ghoul Spirit was released on October 11, 2011. It is available for Nintendo DS and the Wii. The Monster High books, written by Lisi Harrison, may also be a good gift option.

Fijit Friends is another top requested Christmas gift. It is interactive, dances and tells jokes. The kids seem to all respond to the commercials. However, I am not sure how sustainable this toy will be once the first thrill of playing with it passes. The kids seem to love it and ask for it every time they see the commercial, but as a parent I am not drawn to it at all. But then I am not the one who would be playing with it. Who knows, maybe the Fijit Friends will entertain the kids longer then a day or two. As always though it is about what the kids want, not how long they will play with the toy and they seem to love Fijit Friends.

Furreal Friends toys are consistently popular. The small Furreal Friends animals are wonderful for small gifts and stocking stuffers. They even seem to maintain children’s interest. My daughter still plays with the ones she received last Christmas and the last two birthdays. However, she treats them more like dolls then moving toys. The larger Furreal Friends are always popular Christmas gifts. This year Cookie my playful pup is getting a lot of attention. So are the Furreal Friends Newborns, Walking Kitty and Go-Go Playful Pup.

The Teacup Piggy Basic and other Teacup Piggies are cute and little girls seem to like them. They combine the appeal of baby dolls and animals.

Swquinkies and Zoobles are also great Christmas gifts. There are Swquinkies and Zoobles gift for every budget. There are large items – play areas for the Swquinkies and Zoobles and there are small individual Swquinkies and Zoobles for small gifts or stocking stuffers. The Zoobles are like a colourful variation on bakugan. They role, pop open and can be played with. Swquinkies are little dolls, animals and other characters to play with. Swquinkies and Zoobles look cool and they actually get played with. Mind you, they can get lost quickly.

The Wii or Nintendo 3DS can get a great reaction on Christmas morning. More importantly there are always new games coming out that will also get great reactions. For example last year Zu Zu pets where big last year, we found a Zu Zu pets Wii game, which actually got more play time then the actual Zu Zu pets the kids received at Christmas. I found a wonderful Monster High Doll Wii game that I expect will be popular with my daughter for a long time. There is even a Lalaloopsy DS game out this year.

Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pocket always have new toys that are popular. This year both the Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pocket have jets out this year. The joy of the Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pocket is that there is always something new. The toys will range from the very small, and inexpensive, to large and expensive.

Barbie, the always popular theme gift. There are more Barbie gift ideas than ever. There are always new Barbie’s out. Then there are the accessories, cars, pools, planes and even castles. Barbie has more clothing options then most fashion lines. There are movies, video and board games, books and more. You can find clothing, posters, furniture and even crafts with the Barbie theme.

There are many more Christmas gift ideas for girls between 5 and 8. I have only listed ones that have stood out so far this year. If you think a gift is perfect then it probably is, even if it is not on this list or any others. It is about finding the right gift, not always the most popular one.