Gifts that let kids be kids

Goodminton bills itself as the world’s easiest racquet game.
Goodminton bills itself as the world’s easiest racquet game. TNS

Huggable art

Budsies turns your kid’s drawing or your photo into a custom plush creature 16 inches tall (or supersize it to 30 inches for an additional $29). Snap a photo or scan a drawing; send it to and wait for a huggable objet d’art to arrive, with an optional birth certificate (plus $5) and a three-dimensional reminder of their earliest artistic talents. Act now to pay less — the closer to Christmas, the higher the price. (At last check, the price for a 16-incher was $89.)


This is not your average bouncy ball. The Wubble X helium ball defies gravity and inflation (the financial kind) at only $7.99 for the ball and $7.99 for the can of helium. Fill it and watch it hover in the air like magic for 5 to 30 minutes. Wubble X balls can be refilled over and over with the Wubble X Helium can. Adult supervision suggested.


Rediscover the fun of unorganized sports with Goodminton.The feathered birdies slow down as they spin, making them easier to hit for younger players. Pick a long-feathered birdie to go slower or a short-feathered one for a faster game. $24.99,


Just this week, a glimpse at DK Publishing’s “Who’s In Charge?” helped my 9-year-old daughter grasp the three branches of government and earn an A+ on her social studies test the next morning. “Picturepedia” is visually dazzling, yes, but also fact-dense, true to the “Encyclopedia on Every Page” fine print on the cover. $29.99,

Family bonding time

This month Ikea introduces its Lattjo collection of toys and games designed to bring adults and kids together for the interpretive dance equivalent of play. Don’t expect detailed instruction manuals with some of these objects — the idea is to unleash creativity and encourage quirkiness, as with elastic ribbons ($2.99 each) that you can string between chairs to create an obstacle course for kids and adults to crawl through. There are clearer-cut options such as numbered bands you can wrap around water bottles for indoor bowling ($2.99 for 10), domino games ($12.99 each) and puzzle globes ($7.99). Pick up the “Let’s Play Together” guide to games for children of all ages if you need a little more fuel for your imagination ($9.99).

The Force sleeps with them

“Star Wars” regalia will top many boys’ letters to Santa, but nestled among the light sabers and Death Stars, they probably won’t expect to unwrap Luke Skywalker as Mr. Potato Head or Chewbacca as their overnight companion. The Mr. Potato Head Mashters of The Galaxy play set from Playskool comes with two potato bodies and 28 accessories (for Darth Vader too) for ages 2 and up, $49.99 exclusively at Kohl’s. The Chewbacca (or R2D2) sleeping bag is $199 at

Screaming guitars

Are the kids a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll? Real, wooden six-string guitars by Vilac suit small hands and wide musical tastes in eight themes, from punk to Hawaiian. Sure, tots might strengthen their fine motor skills and spark an interest in competitive play, but they also might just fantasize they’re a guitar hero the old-fashioned way. Each design is 20  1/2 inches tall by 7 inches wide. $33,

The Look

The clothes, the hair, the French bulldogs! The budding (or full-grown) fashionista will lose herself in “The Look: An Around-the-World Fashion Coloring Book,” with its outlines of the haute and haughty on the streets of Paris, Antwerp, Stockholm, London, Milan, Tokyo, New York, Seoul and Shanghai. $15.95,