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I know, I know … most people don’t like to even start thinking about Christmas and Christmas shopping until they wake up from their turkey-induced Thanksgiving nap. But if there’s anything that 2020 and 2021 have taught us, it’s that we’re not living in typical times. And of all the unusual things that have happened over the past year and a half, one of the most recent is concern about toy shortages for the upcoming holiday season.

According to Forbes, “In July, the time when toy companies typically start shipping their holiday toys to retailers, prices for shipping containers increased by as much as 500%, according to industry group The Toy Association.

“Even if you pay these crazy $20,000, $25,000 prices, there is a delay to get it to you,” said Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, which makes the L.O.L Surprise! and Rainbow High fashion dolls, the Little Tikes outdoor toys, and other playthings. “Once it gets here, there are no truck drivers, no chassis to put the containers on,” Larian said. “Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong at the same time. It’s not going to be a fun Christmas, to be honest with you,” Larian said.

Forbes goes on to say that “this year’s challenges are likely to be more disruptive, resulting in price increases, and shortages of popular toys.”

With so much change and disruption over the past 18 months, the holidays are a time many people are looking forward to. It may be wise to start your Christmas shopping now to avoid disappointment. So, if you’ll be shopping for kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews or friends, here are 10 toy recommendations that you might want to buy now.

1 Animal Island AILA Sit & Play Plus Preschool Learning and Reading System

This tablet is a wonderful way for little ones to learn their ABCs, 123s, colors, shapes, vocabulary, reading and music. It’s small so it’s easy to travel with and it includes over 60 storybooks, 25 classic sing-alongs and 20 lullabies. Good to know: It’s hands-free, ad-free and subscription-free with free updates.

2 Surfer Dudes Classics Wave Powered Mini-Surfer
We’ve written about the ultra-cool surfer dude before (you can read our review here) but it seriously the coolest beach toy for kids. It’s available at a great price and will provide endless hours of fun, not just for kids but for adults, too. It’s like a boomerang – just toss it into the ocean waves and it will right itself and come back to you every time. Even if I didn’t have kids, I might have bought one just for myself!

3 Bubble Popping Fidget Toy
Don’t even think twice about picking up some of these for all the kids on your holiday or birthday shopping list. You know how oddly satisfying it is to pop bubble wrap? This simulates the same sensation but you’ll never run out of bubbles. Just flip the toy over and start again. I actually hide these toys from my kids and bring them out when we take a road trip or travel by airplane or even if we’re just going out somewhere where I might need them to entertain themselves quietly. It works like a charm. They’re fascinated by them.

4 Me Reader
Reading is a huge part of our kids’ lives and no day is complete without reading a pile of books. But when you don’t have time to sit down and read to your kids, these Me Reader books are amazing. The audio tablet reads the books and the kids can follow along using the physical book. My kids spend lots of time ‘reading’ with these and love them. They come in all kinds of different sets, from Thomas the Train and Peppa Pig to Disney Classics and Sesame Street.

5 Road Trip Adventure Kit
This road trip kit is compact and portable and comes with hours of activities to keep little ones occupied on a road trip. It comes with an activity pad to reveal hidden images and kids can find secret clues using the included secret decoder lens. Seek and find pages need the included magnifying glass and there are tons of stickers to decorate with. Everything packs up neatly into a plastic case making it perfect for when they’re on-the-go.

6 Magna-Tiles
Our daughter received a box of Magna-Tiles for her birthday and I can’t believe I hadn’t gotten these sooner for my son. The kids are so creative building all kinds of things from castles to rockets but best of all, it keeps them quiet and occupied for long stretches of time. Win-win! You can also get a storage bin to store all the loose pieces, which I recommend doing.

7 Foam Airplane Toys
We’ve tried all sorts of different airplane toys but these foam gliders are the real deal. The best part is that they can REALLY fly. They’re inexpensive and come in a set of four. You can read our full review here.

8. Crayola Ultimate Light Board Drawing Tablet
The Etch-a-Sketch from years gone by gets a modern-day makeover with this cool light-up drawing tablet. It comes with washable gel markers and kids can either draw free-hand or trace the provided designs to create a glowing masterpiece. It comes with built-in marker storage, making this art set easy to keep organized and to travel with.

9 LEGO Architecture London Skyline Collection
Kids will learn about the world around them and about iconic landmarks with LEGO’s Architecture Collection. This particular kit features the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, London Eye, Big Ben and Tower Bridge and includes a collectible booklet with information about the design, architecture and history of the famous landmarks. Other skylines like New York, San Francisco and Paris are available, as well as the Taj Mahal.

10 LeapFrog Magic Adventures Globe
This interactive globe teaches kids about more than just countries and continents. It will introduce them to the cultures, animals, habitats and more through more than five hours of BBC videos. It features an LCD screen that displays the video and animations with interesting characters that will guide children through the games and activities.

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2 Comments On "Too Early For Holiday Shopping? Not If You’re Buying Toys for Kids"
  1. Angie|

    This is a wonderful idea!

    I had no idea buying off-season toys could save 80% of the costs. I generally apply this method by buying winter clothes in the summer, and vice versa. But this post has expanded my horizons and given me some inspiration to do more deal-hunting for off-season items.

    Thanks for putting this together!

  2. Julie G|

    I’m in my fifties and I want to play with the Magna-Tiles right now.

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