Lets face it, shopping for holiday toys for the kiddos should be an exciting experience, yet a lot of adults rank kids’ gifts as a top stress factor during the festive season.
How do you know what to buy? What if your child asks for something that’s sold out (Tickle Me Elmo and Hatchimals anyone)? What’s appropriate for a child of a certain age? How can you get the best options within your specific budget?
Well, worry no more, my friends! Families can now shop easier, smarter and faster thanks to Walmart’s Toy Academy – an online, organized hub for all things toys, games and crafts! It’s truly a shopper’s dream. Simply visit the website and then choose from a variety of curated categories: gender, age, price range, top trending toys, top collectible toys, family fun activities and more. The shopping portal is a convenient, fast way to find top selections that will be perfect for that “nice” little one on your list.
Now, not everyone shops online (many of you act so surprised at how frequently I shop virtual stores — I buy everything from humidifiers to blue jeans) but the Walmart Toy Academy extends beyond the internet. We used it as a shopping guide — we checked out some of the top trending items online, within our budget and for specific ages, and then we visited a store to try them all out and make our purchases.
OUR TOP TOY SELECTIONS FOR 2017
We have two young boys so it’s no surprise that PJ Masks products (based on the hit TV Show) are at the top of their wish list. The Headquarters play set (which retails for $89.97) is an action-packed, double-sided playset which stands over 2 feet tall so we immediately added this to the cart. We put it on the floor at home and attached the zipline to a nearby window and the two little guys played for hours. There are three levels of character-themed, engaging features that will keep your little ones busy. This is a must have toy because it combines light, sounds, spoken phrases from your favorite heroes, a zip line, hanging rings, and a trap door & elevator. The set includes a Catboy Figure and a Cat-Car and works with all three inch figures and vehicles. This action packed, super powered playset has everything your child needs to help PJ Masks save the day… and night!
(2) Fisher Price Think & Learn MOVI
If your kids are fans of BeatBo (the adorable singing and dancing caterpillar robot) then this is the ultimate upgrade — meet MOVI! He’s the top sought-out preschooler tech toy ($59.94) playing tunes, teaching kids to dance and more. With 360 degrees of mobility, Movi the little robot encourages your wee ones to think about what they’re hearing and engage — he poses questions, asks them to point to things and isn’t afraid to encourage a fun toddler dance session. Our youngest son (20 months) loved the head & shoulders song and was totally engrossed by the playful instructions. Movi offers three game modes and six games. With activities like “Red Light, Green Light” or “Movi Says”, kids hone in on their listening skills and following directions.
Movi comes with batteries, which is a relief — you never want to be that person who gives a young child a toy that he/she can’t play with right away!
My toddlers love Paw Patrol (like most kids) and I’m always trying to find the newest, most engaging version of the hit show’s toy collection. I love finding those toy gems that totally captivate my kids — and this sea patrol boat is a winner! Equipped with flashing lights, sounds and a fun crane, this transforming vehicle is this season’s hottest Paw Patrol present ($79.94). It’s a dual boat/ land vehicle that allows your kids to play creatively over any terrain. The ship can hold up to two vehicles, and comes with Ryder’s Rescue ATV. They’re able to use it with their existing figurines and vehicles (which are sold separately) so it’s a great way to elevate and update toys that you might already own.
This interactive life-size (if you’re a preschooler) Food Truck is a must-have gift for 2017. We’ve seen the garden centre, play houses, miniature kitchens and outdoor toys, but this Food Truck experience takes gift-giving to a different level. With two fun sides of hands-on activities, this truck blends kitchen fun (which is so popular right now with YouTube kid cooking videos etc) with entrepreneurship. The kids run their own little restaurant – taking orders, creating dishes, serving “customers” and so on. There’s a cash register, a light-up grill and more.
Similar to the other Laugh & Learn toys, you can upgrade the level of learning as the child ages (with the three Smart Stages) offering up different songs, sounds and phrases.
This is one of those toys that we would build and set up in front of our Christmas tree, on Christmas ev, so the boys could wake up to it and keep busy (without tearing into all of the presents). Each year, we always pick one item/toy that sits out front of the tree so they don’t get overwhelmed by the gifts. We use this one toy to buy us some time to make coffee and get all of the family together and settled. So, this year, this super fun food truck will be it! There’s so much for the little guys to do that we’re not worried about them wanting to move on to other presents, too soon.
We’ve been playing family board games since my step-son was four-years-old (he’s now almost 13 years old). It’s become somewhat of a household tradition. We love swapping the latest and greatest board games as gifts and we’re always trying to be ahead of the trend. This holiday season GAS OUT is slated to be the next Speak Out (the hilarious board game where you read phrases all while wearing those dental type mouth inserts). GAS OUT is a card game that’s designed to keep your kids engaged and giggling. If you’re raising boys, you know how hilarious fart jokes are so you can be sure your youngsters will get a kick out of Guster the Gas Cloud — he’s full of intestinal discomfort and he’s ready to rip! You simply place him on the center of the table and then deal three Gas Out cards to each player. If you play a Number card, press Guster as many times as the number shown—but watch out! Guster’s blasts are not silent and they’re definitely deadly. If Guster farts, you’re out! Be the last player to keep Guster the Gas Cloud from farting during your turn, and you win! Includes Guster (the electronic Gas Cloud) and 56 Gas Out cards! Colors and decorations may vary.
Are you on the hunt for toys that pack elements of surprise and fun? The L.O.L Surprise Tots are seven layers (or five) of gifts. Each layer that the child unwraps reveals a new treasure. Kids are going nuts for these — they’re like a Kinder Egg on crack. Our boys are obsessed with surprise eggs of any sort (likely due to the YouTube movement) so these are a definite must-buy for this holiday season. At $13.87 they’re a great stocking item or gift for a neighbour or friend.
Tech, speed and remote controls are three key ingredients for a lot of top gifts these days and the Hot Wheels Ballistik Racer doesn’t disappoint. It’s a super-fast remote control device that turns on a dime and has off-road capabilities. It’s an absolute beast of a toy that goes all-terrain and can perform crazy stunt abilities. Our 12-year-old loves gadgets like this and it would add a great element to our cottage weekends and outdoor family time.
This is a great gift for kids ages 8 years and older.
This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the #ToyAcademy program. In exchange for this post, I have received perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.