I’m starting to see mention of Christmas, gifts and Christmas celebrations in the media and, quite frankly, it scares me.  How did we get this far into the year without me realising it?

I’ve worked out a countdown process which helps me to stay on track during the lead up to the big day.  It helps me avoid that last minute panic and I don’t have to worry that I’ve forgotten something.  This is what I suggest you do.

Three months before Christmas:

  • Work out your holiday and travel plans.  If you are going away you will need to book accommodation and plane fares.  Some places are booked a long time in advance so if you can’t book into your first choice of venue you still have time to find an alternative.
  • Start shopping for the gifts for children who live overseas or far away.  Near to heart but far apart, remember?  Shop4Toys has everything you need.
  • If you need corporate gifts (for the children of employees at the annual family Christmas party) order them now and work out delivery arrangements.

Two months before Christmas:

  • If you are going to be doing a lot of driving, have your car serviced and checked over.  Yes, two months is a long time in advance but how much spare cash will you have closer to Christmas?
  • Avoid the postal hassles that build up closer to Christmas.  If you are sending toys overseas, do it now.  Let the parent know that the gift is on its way.  If it gets lost in the post there is still time to track it down or replace it.

One month before Christmas:

  • Sales will be all around you so now is the time to stock up on decorations and party products.
  • Also stock up on the little token gifts that you might need for those unexpected occasions.
  • Work out your menu and start emptying the spare fridge.

Three weeks before Christmas:

  • Check that you have all the necessary gifts.
  • Send out your Christmas cards.
  • Begin shopping for non-perishable foods.
  • Buy your gift wrap or bags and start wrapping those gifts.

Two weeks before Christmas:

  • Check your guest list and make sure of your numbers.

One week before Christmas:

  • Do the food shopping.
  • Double check that you have all the food, decorations and gifts you will need.
  • Ring and have a chat to the people you won’t be able to see over the Christmas period.

Christmas Eve:

  • Cook like you’ve never cooked before!
  • Expect visitors.
  • Buy more batteries.  You will never have enough.
  • Finally, put your feet up and relax.  Tomorrow will be a busy but fun day.

There you go.  Christmas is all sorted for you.

If you want to get a head start on the shopping, pop into Shop4Toys and start working out which toys will suit which child.

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As kids get closer to the teens they can be very difficult to buy for.  Perhaps for boys, gifts that have an educational or scientific edge can be more suitable or even toys that require something more physical.  With girls they may be moving out of their doll phase and now take more care with their grooming and have begun thinking about their image.  Maybe cosmetics, jewellery or perfume are likely to be more suitable as gifts.  Here are just a couple of examples to consider.

With the CSIRO Astronomy kit you can build a telescope, calculate the diameter of the moon, launch a film canister rocket, make a model of a space station and a whole lot more.  It comes with  a 45 page instruction book that makes learning fun, as well as lots of other bits and pieces for the budding astronaut.  For some outdoor fun and activity have a look at these kites that are ideal for kids of any age.  There are the Bright Eyes, Bat and the Cobra Delta kites that not only are bright and colourful but look great in the sky.

The DIY Perfume Factory would make a great gift for any girl.  It comes with colour instructions and all the supplies needed to mix and match fragrances to design their own style of perfume.  The Pretty Pedicure Salon is another great gift idea.  It includes an inflatable pedicure pool, towel, spa slippers, nail buffer and file and many more accessories.  It’s a perfect way for any girl to wind down after a hard day in the playground.

These are just a few ideas but on our site you will find many other great pre teen gifts

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Jul
20

Hammer It!

Boys usually don’t develop their fine motor skills as quickly as girls.  They are so busy being active with games like football or climbing that they tend to develop strength rather than dexterity.

But try to pin your boy down for a few minutes and have him practice skills like tying laces or creating fiddly crafts with pipe cleaners – impossible!

The answer is to give your boy a set that is both practical and fun.  A woodwork set is perfect.  It looks like something that Dad or Grandpa might do so that means it’s real men’s work.  What they don’t know is that it teaches them how to control their hands and fingers as they build.

The Woodwork Kit by SES contains wooden pieces in various shapes, a plastic hand to hold nails, nails, wood glue and an 18cm long hammer.  The pieces are big enough to hold but small enough to stretch their manipulative skills.  The plastic hand will hold the nails so you don’t have to worry about hammers hitting little fingers!

If your boy needs to improve his fine motor skills, choose a practical toy like this woodwork kit.  They will love it, it will improve their manual dexterity and it might even prompt an interest in a field that could become their career.

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Table decorations for kids parties don’t have to be expensive and with a bit of imagination they can be made relatively cheaply as well as add some colour and fun to any party.

Here are some great examples of decorations that are sure to have an impact and are fairly easy to make.  These ideas and designs came from the ever inspiring Rachael Ray.

These Space Balls are sure to grab the attention of the kids with their unique designs and bright colours.  Simple to make, all you need are a selection of foam balls that you can paint which are then placed on the end of skewers.

Now who doesn’t love lollipops?  Hunt down some small containers, cups or maybe bowls and fill with a range of lollies and stick in the lollipops.  Bright and colourful, these can be a great centrepiece during the party and can be given to each kid when they leave.

For the artistic, this floral based display can make a great decoration and centrepiece or for those opting for an arty theme, you can incorporate the pencils into the party games and activities.  Simply grab a baking tray and put some glasses inside and fill with pencils, crayons and pens.   Use the centre for some flowers or any other colourful decoration such as balloons.

For something a bit more glamorous and spectacular then this bauble display is ideal.  Simply use some wine and champagne glasses and decorate with necklaces, bracelets, earrings or anything else you may have.

These are just some simple ideas that highlight the fact that with a bit of imagination and creativity you can design and make a spectacular table decoration for your kid’s party.

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Despite the annoying graphics at the start, this video is a must see.  It’s an attempt at the world record for domino toppling and it is amazing.  I watch this and wonder who would have the patience to set it up.  Can you imagine what would happen if, half way through set up, you happened to knock a piece?

And how on earth would you have a practice run to see if it works?

This is definitely a boy kind of activity.  Most girls would have given up well before set up was complete.  Once a boy has the vision he can’t let it go, can he?

And then there is clean up at the end…

Well done to the boys who managed this great topple.

 

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How often have you known what toy to buy but have difficulty finding it?  You can spend a lot of time going to toy shops to find they don’t sell it or they are out of stock.  Alternatively, you have decided to go online to save time and after entering all the search criteria, you end up with hundreds of results and links to websites that are not relevant.

If this has been your experience in the past then we believe we have solved the problem with our All Toys Online site.  This site will help you save time buying toys online as it searches all Australian online toy shops both big and small for the toy you want.

To make it easy to use and to help you with your online search, it has three main search categories.

  1. Shops that Sell:  This is ideal when you know the type of toy you want to buy, such as an action toy, but are not sure what brands are available or what online stores sell them.  By searching through the listings you will get information on the brands and the online shops that sell them.
  2. Shop by Age:  This makes it easy to search for great ideas for kids of specific ages from birth through to teenagers.
  3. Shop by Brand or Character:  This is ideal when you know the brand you want to purchase or an actual character, so when you do a search you get the results for the online stores that sell these.

We constantly keep our information up to date to save you time and effort while at the same time being able to get the right toy that you are after with the minimum amount of fuss.

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National Geographic produce some fantastic toys that are fun, entertaining and educational.  The Star Planetarium is a great example of this and perfect for the budding astronaut or astronomer.  It comes with a slow revolving globe that projects onto the walls and ceilings, showing stars from the southern hemisphere as they slowly move across the night sky.

Also included is a CD that provides a commentary about the planets as well as a manual so you can get more information about the stars.  As you listen to the commentary you can use the pointer to locate constellations and show others who may also be watching.  The CD is also packed with great information such as charts for the stars, constellations and other objects form the solar system.  Information is also provided on the names of the stars and planets and how they came from ancient legends.

Imagine how much fun it will be to tuck your children into bed and then sit there with them, looking at the night sky and talking about the wonder of stars.  How peaceful it would be.

The Star Planetarium can also be used as a night light so your children can fall asleep while watching the stars and planets cross the skies.

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The Makedo concept is a brilliant idea as it allows your kids to use materials found around the house that may normally be thrown out and make them into toys, furniture, costumes or anything that your imagination and creativity will let you do.  Makedo is a connector system that allows all types of materials to be joined together with reusable connectors and made into creations using safe items without risk of injury.

Here are some examples from the Makedo range we currently have in stock:

  • Makedo Find & Make Car:  Turn cardboard boxes and other packaging found around the house and build a car.  Ideal for children aged 5 +, this is great value at $19.95.
  • Makedo Find & Make Dollhouse:  Use the cardboard boxes left around the house to create the ultimate dream house for dolls.  Ideal for children aged 5 +, this is priced at $19.95.
  • Makedo Find & Make Plane:  Build your own plane from paper cups, plastic bottles and other containers and packaging.  Ideal for children of all ages this is priced at $14.95 and sure to be popular.
  • Makedo Find & Make Robot:  Use paper tubes for arms, cardboard boxes for the body and the stickers that are supplied to make a spectacular robot.  Priced at $14.95, this would make an ideal gift for any child.
  • Makedo Find & Make Space Pod:  Using large cardboard boxes, egg cartons and other containers, this space pod can be made large enough to get inside and travel to the stars.  Ideal for ages 5 +, this is priced at $19.95.

This is only a small sample from our range of Makedo products so check out our store to see the full range that we currently have available and in stock.

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Childhood obesity continues to be a critical health issue for our country and fast food chains have played a major role, that some would say is at epidemic levels.

The major fast food chains use toys in meals as a major part of their marketing strategy and to highlight this; in 2006 the 10 biggest fast food chains in the United States spent $360 million on kids’ toys.  Even though some of these fast food chains have introduced healthier options often the attraction of the unhealthy option is the toy that comes with the meal that will usually have the high sugar, fat and salt content.

Recently in the United States a number of Counties have introduced laws that ban fast food chains from selling toys with unhealthy meals.   In some cases this forced some of the fast food chains to modify their meals to make them healthy and meet the nutritional requirements.

In Australia there has been a lot of discussion around a “fat tax” and other possible solutions but so far nothing has been formally introduced.  Of interest is the fact that Kentucky Fried Chicken has voluntarily decided to remove toys from its children’s meal across all 600 stores across the country.  Perhaps that is the solution where the fast food chains put health issues first instead of profits and introduce self-regulation.

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The new Tosy UFO is one of the most exciting toys to come onto the market and is sure to be a hit with kids as well as adults.  It is great fun and safe for use either indoors or outdoors.  What makes this UFO different from similar toys is that it has 6 different flight patterns.  These include:

  • GYRO:  Spins just like a spinning top on any floor that has a smooth flat surface.
  • WALL SLIDER:  Clings to any smooth wall.
  • ROOF ROCKER:  Hovers on the ceiling.
  • ROCKET FLIGHT:  Shoots up into the sky just like a rocket.
  • WILD SIDE:  Flies forward just like a frisbee.
  • BOOMERANG:  Flies in an arc and returns.

The boomerang flight pattern is worth highlighting as it is a unique feature that allows the UFO to fly in a wide circle and then return from where you started.  This is sure to fascinate your kids and with the flashing lights that turn on in flight, it is sure to make a spectacular impact.

Have a look at this short video that demonstrates some of these features:

Get your kids to use their imagination and make up some games.  For example, play UFO golf with two UFOs and see how many goes it takes to reach a target.  Maybe see how far they can get their UFO to fly or even time it to see who can keep their UFO in the air for the longest time.

The Tosy UFO is fantastic value at $19.95 and as there is plenty in stock, your kids won’t have too long to wait until they can experiment with their very own UFO.

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