Meaningful Gifts That Give Back

We can’t think of a better way to approach the holidays and the end of 2016 than in a socially conscious way.  Many of us have a new perspective this holiday season and hope to make our gifting more meaningful than ever.  We have suggestions for ways to touch the hearts of friends and loved ones with charitable gifts that give back and carry lasting impact.

Instead of material gifts that may soon be forgotten – invest in making a difference by supporting the volunteer rescue workers in Syria rushing to the scenes of bombings to pull people out from under the rubble and carry them to safety by donating in a loved one’s name to The White Helmets. Contribute to the International Rescue Committee to help save refugee families in crisis. Give the gift of helping struggling families lift themselves out of hunger and poverty – and send a girl to school through Heifer International.  Help CARE continue to save lives with food and emergency assistance, education and economic opportunity in places that need it most – and your funds will be MATCHED if you donate by December 31st – doubling your gifted impact.

If you’re looking to wrap up a gift invested in making a difference – check out these great options that give back below:

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Help light the path out of poverty for adolescent mothers in Chicago by purchasing a handcrafted candle from Bright Endeavors – a paid job training program providing critical guidance to help young moms secure quality employment.

Assist in ensuring a safe pregnancy and safe birth to every mother, everywhere, by making a donation to Every Mother Counts in a loved one’s name – or purchase a gift from their shop.  100% of net proceeds from this lovely Flat Clutch will be donated to Every Mother Counts.

Purchase an adorable ethically produced hand-knit doll crafted by Peruvian artisans from Cuddle + Kind, and ten meals will be provided to food insecure children, through the World Food Program USA.

Give the gift of cozy socks from Bombas knowing that for every pair purchased a pair will be donated to a homeless person in need. Best of all, the donated socks are engineered to meet the specific needs of people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day.

Consider gifting from Mercado Global and helping indigenous Guatemalan women to overcome poverty and become agents of change in their communities. Check out this beautiful Amanecer Pillow that draws inspiration from traditional handwoven techniques that originate from Comalapa, an artisan village in the Central Highlands of Guatemala.

Gift a Mini Kane STATE Bag and let your teeny-recipient know that their gift also provides a hand-delivered STATE bag loaded with essential tools for success to a child in need in the U.S.

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Holiday Gift Guide 2016 + AMEX Giveaway!

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? From gifts for kids (both big and little) to presents for her and him too – our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide has gift suggestions for everyone on your list.  Check out our pre-tested favorites for Christmas and Hanukkah gifting and scroll down to enter to win an American Express gift card giveaway to purchase something special from our curated lists. Happy gifting!

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  • For Kids

WowWee CHiP: Want to wow your kid this holiday?  This intelligent, and trainable robotic toy dog responds via touch, the included SmartBand, and the free ChiP app. Just like a real dog, he’ll follow his owner around and even play fetch and automatically return to his SmartBed when he needs to recharge.

Yvolution Y Glider Deluxe Scooter: This fun three-wheeled scooter is perfect for beginners. Suitable for ages three and up – little kids will love zipping around on this fun scooter – and the “learn to steer” design will help younger children master riding in no time.

IncrediBuilds Deluxe Books and Model Sets: Fuel their creativity with a 3D wood model set and thrilling hardcover books.  Kids will love the building and reading combo, available in favorite themes like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts and more

BOSEbuild Speaker Cube: Big Kids now have the chance to build their own blue tooth speaker with fun, vibrant lights, and customization covers. They’ll learn all about speaker components (like, coil, magnet, and paper) while making the adults in the family jealous with Bose-quality sound.

Razor RipStik Electric Caster Board: Thrill-seeking big kids (ages 9 and up) will enjoy cruising around on Razor’s RipStik Electric featuring powerful 100-watt technology and a kick start in-wheel hub driven motor that pushes speeds up to 10 mph.  Just remember to include a helmet!

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register: Packed with tons of learning fun for little kids – this cute singing cash register has plenty of numbers, counting and role play skills in store.

WowWee COJI: This incredible, intuitive coding robot toy helps to develop STEM skills through emoji language (that kids love!).  Kids will have fun playing games that reinforce memory and problem-solving skills while having their own cool robotic toy.

Lakeshore Slot & Build Texture Shapes: You can never go wrong with a gift from Lakeshore, and these flexible, imagination-igniting building shapes are ideal for little hands.  Tots will have endless fun while exploring and creating with unique textured shapes.

Yo-kai Model Zero: Yo-kai fans will have fun projecting short character animations onto surfaces while rocking this fun, bright watch that plays tribes songs, summoning sounds, and Yo-kai names.

Kamik Boots: Give them the gift of staying warm and dry for snow play and sledding!  Kamik always has high quality, stylish, durable options to keep kids feet toasty while having fun.

Skylanders Imaginators: This fun toy-to-life video game allows players to create their own characters, called Imaginators.  This gift is sure to be a hit for the gaming kid and is available for PlayStation 5, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Xbox One.

Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing: Gift the gift of growing dozens of dazzling crystals while learning all about their structure and geometry. This great kit allows kids to mold plaster shapes and use dyes to grow a rainbow of custom colors.

LeapFrog Lean & Groove Musical MatImpress the toddler in your life with this fun interactive musical mat that encourages movement and play – while reinforcing gross motor skills, music, rhythm, and numbers.

Lakeshore Young Scientist Chemistry Lab: Encourage your budding scientist with this incredible hands-on lab that allows children to brew up mind-blowing projects –  like glowing ice spheres, jelly worms and more. Kids will learn all about chemical reactions with over 20 chemistry tools and detailed instructions.

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  • For Her

Citizen L Circle Of Time: Give her the gift of time-keeping with this stunning, timeless watch powered by Ec0-Drive technology (light!) which never requires a battery change.

Adidas Superstar 80s Shoes: Nearly every outfit can be styled with Adidas Superstar sneakers, and these are elevated with a flashy, textured metal shell toe.

May Designs Custom Planner: Give her the gift of organization with a lovely paper planner that can be personalized in every way.

Luminara Flameless Candles: She’ll love having a bunch of real flame effect candles in her home without the hazard and hassle of having to light real candles. Luminara’s battery operated flameless candles will bring coziness, glamor, and comfort to any space.

Nerium AD Skincare: Nerium AD Age Defying Night and Day Creams are back on our list this year because they continue to provide visible results!

  • For Him

Wolverine Boots: For they guy who needs serious durability – Wolverine dura shocks provide serious comfort with every step to power through any job.

Hanes FreshIQ:  Tuck favorite everyday basics like socks, T-shirts, and underwear into his stocking with built-in advanced odor protection technology that attacks odor-causing bacteria in clothing  – to help him feel fresh all day.

Tifosi Optics Sunglasses: The sports enthusiast will love the functionality, comfort, and fit of Tifosi’s sleek and lightweight frame styles made from polycarbonate materials providing 100 percent UVA/UVB protection.

The Real Deal Brazil Gravata Tablet Case: He’ll appreciate the Eco-friendliness and cool look of this durable tablet case handmade in a remote small town in rural equatorial Brazil from recycled tarps.

WIN IT! Enter to win a $100 American Express Gift Card for your holiday shopping! Simple entry via the Rafflecopter below – U.S. only. Best of luck and Happy gifting! 

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Special thank you to Time To Play Magazine, The Toy Insider, and all of the companies partnering with Marino Bambinos. Some affiliate links are included.  

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Something For Everyone: Holiday Gift Guide 2015 (+ Giveaway!)

‘Tis the season to spread cheer and shop for the important people in your life. From gifts for kids, to her + him, and for the home too – we’re sharing our pre-tested favorites for Holiday 2015 with a keen eye for fun, style, and appreciation for lasting functionality.  Scroll down for an exciting AMEX gift card giveaway to purchase something from our curated lists.

For Kids Holiday Gift Guide Papinee John Deer Roominate LeapFrog Epic Magformers Skylanders Playmobil Advent MiPosaur

  • FOR KIDS

Papinee: Gift the gift of imagination with a beautiful keepsake gift set from Papinee.  Ignite curiosity and encourage children to follow their dreams as they explore the green grasslands of Kenya with this lovely Pantha the Lion set.

Roominate: Encourage your budding engineer and scientist with wired building toys that promote cognitive development and spatial skills. She’ll love building her own amusement park complete with spinning rides and lighted contraptions galore.

John Deere: Powered by scooting motion or the rear walking bar.  Little ones ages 12 months and up will adore scooting around on their John Deere Pick-N-Pop Combine.  Simply place the enclosed balls on the floor and watch your little one scoot around to collect the balls and then watch them drop out the side. Press on the GPS to hear fun musical tunes.

Magformers: Magformers magnetic technology encourages unique constructional play experiences with endless possibilities.  Kids will have so much fun learning about kinetic motion and structural building with these exciting magnetic toys.

Playmobil: Looking for a special way to celebrate advent minus the daily chocolate? We adore Playmobil’s Advent Calendar Christmas Room with Illuminating Tree.

Skylanders: Skylanders fans will adore the Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack while piloting their SuperChargers over land, under sea and through the sky to stop Kaos and save Skylands.

Miposaur: Kids will love having their own highly intelligent dinosaur pet with evolving intelligence and personality. The Miposaur interacts with an included trackball allowing kids to take it for a walk, play fetch and so much more.

LeapFrog: Fuel their tablet craving with a kid-safe device packed with fun. Read our complete review of the LeapFrog Epic Android based tablet here.  We love the Internet connectivity with parental controls.

Holiday Gift Guide For Her and Him O- venture nerium Filson bag Areaware

  • FOR HER

Lenny & Eva: Gift her meaningful jewelry with a thoughtful piece from Lenny & Eva’s interchangeable jewelry collection. Go for a dainty necklace or special inscription.

FRENDS Headphones: Give her the gift of unparalleled sound, while turning heads in these stylish over-ear headphones in FRENDS’ signature jewelry-inspired design. Hand-crafted in beautiful Taylor rose gold and white.

Nerium: The gal who loves visible results will love Nerium’s limited-edition holiday gift sets.  Their 3-piece Total Anti-Aging Skincare Gift Set including their Age Defying Night and Day Creams and Firming Body Contour Cream is sure to please.  I love how the night cream creates a palpable sense of tightening.

O-venture: She’ll never lose her keys again with O-venture’s Big O Key Ring. This stylish leather bangle saves my life on the daily – and we adore the new solid gold rush croc design.

Tria: In just 2 minutes a day she’ll be able to work on those pesky wrinkles with Tria’s breakthrough anti-aging laser that is uniquely designed for treating the eye area. This FDA-cleared Age-Defying Eye Wrinkle Correcting Laser corrects fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes for eye-opening results.

  • For Him

O-venture: Not just for the ladies! O-venture helps keep men organized too with a stylish O-boy Money clip. I can’t wait to upgrade my husband’s metal binder clip to this smart cognac embossed lizard clip.

Areawear: Spread cheer in his drinks with the gift of Drink Rocks from Areawear. Chill the the cool shaped stones in your freezer before fixing him an evening cocktail.

Minnetonka: Give him the gift of comfort in a great part of slipper moccasins from Minnetonka. We love the double bottom fleece!

Rodan + Fields: He’ll appreciate the gift of a perfect shave with this three-step BEYOND THE SHAVE from Rodan +Fields. The regimen is clinically proven to alleviate razor irritation and reveal better-looking skin.

Filson: All men need a great duffle bag, and we love this lightweight dry duffle from Filson in green.HOME Gift Guide Epson Eco Tank Wolf Oven Nutri Ninja Shark Cordless

  • FOR THE HOME

Wolf GourmetThe Wolf Gourmet countertop oven with convection will make you never want to use your range again.  The integrated temperature probe gives you precise roasting control without ever opening the oven door, and the unique perimeter convection mode ensures uniform heat throughout the oven. This gift is for the person who enjoys faster, more consistent, more predictably delicious results while baking, roasting, and broiling (or heating up frozen waffles:)).

Ninja: The Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Pro Compact System is a gift that the entire family will enjoy. Make delicious smoothies and more with nutrient & vitamin extraction AND high performance all in one machine.

Shark: Give the of comfortable cleaning with the light but mighty Shark Rocket Powerhead. At only 9 pounds, not including the cord, this vacuum provides the cleaning power of a heavy-duty upright. It’s small footprint, and big cleaning capabilities will make you toss the bulky upright and never look back.

Epson: Can your printer not run out of ink for TWO YEARS?  The wireless Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer delivers convenience and value, loaded and ready with up to two years of ink in the box – with innovative refillable ink tanks and ultra-low-cost replacement ink bottles.


WIN IT! Enter to win a $100 AMEX Gift Card Giveaway for your holiday giving.  Visit the rafflecopter below and check back to see if your name pops up as the winner.  Best of luck and Happy Holidays!

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Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway

The Holidays are quickly approaching, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite gifts!  We love giving gifts and spreading the love with great giveaways from some of our favorite brand partners. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for an exciting giveaway from LeapFrog!  Gifts that give backWorld Vision: There is nothing quite like gifting meaningful gifts that give back, and we are steadfast supporters of World Vision.  Wold Vision has well over 250  life changing gifts to select from, allowing the giver to bring urgent help and lasting hope to a child in need – in the name of a loved one.  In addition, World Vision has a lovely selection of handcrafted gifts to give.  For gifts with incredible impact, including sponsoring a child in need, look no further than World Vision.

Beautiful and Beloved:  This lovely boutique supports global job creation in the fair trade industry through the sale of items created by survivors of slavery.  All purchases help to empower survivors of slavery – and make for beautiful gifts that teach true giving.

kissy kissy and little me pajamas sigg waterbottle red bubble mugLittle Me: Special Holiday pajamas are a sweet tradition to wake-up in on Christmas day.  Give the little ones a new pair of comfy and classic holiday plaid PJ’s from Little Me.  They will make you nostalgic of your own childhood!

Kissy Kissy: We swooned when we learned that the iconic Children’s brand Kissy Kissy extended their incredibly soft jammie line to kids!  Your kids will never want to take them off!

SIGG: We continue to purchase SIGG water bottles every year because of their durability, functionality, and safe materials. Ask Santa to help replace the bottles lost in the school-shuffle with a new bottle filled with a tasty beverage on Christmas morning.

Redbubble: We adore the artistic selection created by Redbubble’s  independent designers.  While the kids are enjoying morning juice, gift the adults a new mug filled with great coffee or spiked eggnog. 🙂

Holiday gifts for HerJulie Brown:  If you’d like to wow her with that perfect frock.  Julie Brown is your girl! We think that the Harmony dress is absolute perfection and if she’s into twinning with her mini mini – Julie Brown offers pint sized mommy-and-me matching collections as well.

Hydropeptide: We’ve been lucky enough to sample several skin care products from the Hydropeptide line for well over a year now and are officially obsessed.  You can’t go wrong with the anti wrinkle polish and plump peel or the purifying mask.

PRIV: This incredible beauty and wellness app brings a plethora of services to you (at home, office, etc!) for incredibly affordable prices.  They recently hooked me up for the American Music Awards in L.A. – and I am absolutely singing their praises! Look out for my full review soon.

holiday gifts for himEddie Bauer: We love gifting warmth and coziness and always happen to find it at Eddie Bauer.  We happen to love many of their products for men including their great layering options, accessories, and slippers.

the best holiday gifts for kidsTransformers: You can’t go wrong with a morphing action figure and the new Transformers are better than ever!

Home Grown Books: We believe in the power of books for every Holiday and love the great collections from Brooklyn-based Home Grown Books.

Isabelle Grace Jewelry: Personalized jewelry is an incredibly special gift, and we adore the delicate hand-stamped options from Isabelle Grace Jewelry.

Li’l Woodzeez: Woodland creatures are all the rage.  How cute is this Family Treehouse Playset and Owl Family from Target?  We love the affordable pricing and creative play options.

Little Live Pets Bird Cage: Our kids have a hankering for pets of their own, and the fun Little Live Pets Bird Cage toy comes with a special bird that responds to your child’s touch!  Your kiddo will get a kick out of recoding their own voice and having the bird repeat it back!

Downtown Bookworks: We adore the creative selection of children’s books from NYC based Downtown Bookworks. With interesting book bonuses that include things like a bug in resin – their book collection will certainly keep your gift recipient engaged.

Beados:  Kids will love watching Beados magically transform together with water.  And the Beados Quick Dry Design Station provides a designated spot to make, spray and dry fun Beados designs!  We like the quick dry fan, special bead pod storage, design tray, scoop pen and 500 Beados included in the design station.

Crayola Virtual Design Pro: Quality art supplies are a must for children, and the Crayola Virtual Design Pro set gives kids their own sophisticated set of supplies.  The great Virtual Design Pro sets allow kids to decorate their own car or clothing designs and watch them come to life in the included app!

Our Generation: Realistic, large dolls are all the rage right now.  The amazing Our Generation collection from Target offers a great variety of dolls and accessories for reasonable and affordable prices.

family holiday giftsMakey Makey: Makey Makey is a revolutionary kit that will get the entire family excited about STEM and engineering.  It allows you to create objects into a game controller or computer key. We’ve had great fun making play-doh and banana drums. Best of all, the parents will enjoy it as much as the children!

My Monopoly: You can’t go wrong with family board games and My Monopoly morphs the iconic game into a personalized one including the option to personalize player photos!

LeapFrog Leap TV GiveawayLeapFrog LeapTV:  This educational, active video game has been all the rage in our home, and we think it is the big gift of the season! Check our full review here.

WIN IT: We are so excited to partner with LeapFrog again this Holiday season to giveaway a LeapFrog Leap TV to one lucky person (150 value)!  Enter via the rafflecopter below.  Please note that this contest is open to US only, and entries are verified.  Wishing you a beautiful Holiday!
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Some samples received, however, opinions as always, are my own.  Special thanks to Time To Play Magazine, The Big Toy Book, Momtrends and KidzVuz  for inclusion at their holiday events.

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Expectant Mama Gift Guide + Diono Radian® RXT Car Seat Giveaway

This season, I’m partnering with a bunch of great brands to share some of our favorite products, holiday gift suggestions and incredible giveaways.  We’re kicking the gift guide season off with an expectant mama focus and an exciting giveaway with Diono!

Diono Radian RXT

  • Give Mama Peace of Mind with Diono: Diono‘s Radian®RXT Convertable + Booster car seat provides outstanding safety and security.  Premium materials and superior safety including a steel alloy frame (yes STEEL!), aluminum reinforced side walls, energy absorbing EPS foam, and a five-point harness.  Parents can rest assured that their little ones are transported safely and soundly with Diono.  Suitable from 5 to 120 pounds (allowing for comfortable rear-facing from 5-45 lbs, forward-facing from 20 – 80 lbs in a 5-point harness, and converts to a booster for children up to 120 lbs) – the Radian®RXT will carry your kiddo from big to little in unmatched safety.  This car seat folds flat for travel and is FAA certified for aircraft travel.  We love that the Radian®RXT is incredibly comfortable for our picky six year old.  The low-sitting profile is easy to climb into and it is a product that we can recommend for families of three or more – as the innovative design accommodates a three across fit in most mid-sized vehicles!  
  • Stylish Engraved Bracelets by Hope Page: Bracelets by Hope Paige designs offer a stylish way for mom to stay safe with a variety of unique accessories. Comprised of gorgeous beading, leather bands and sterling silver charms, each bracelet comes customized for the wearer and is available in a plethora of color combinations. Hope Paige developed their first medical bracelet for a teen disappointed with clunky, old fashioned medical identification bracelets that were the only option offered at that time. Shortly after, an entire line of fashionable, medical emergency bracelets for men, women, boys and girls emerged.   Developed initially to raise awareness of breast cancer, Hope Paige quickly branched out to help other organizations raise awareness.  Today, Hope Paige partners with Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Kids With Food Allergies, The College Diabetes Network and many others.
  • A well-nourished bundle of joy with Be Well Rounded! Prenatal system by Healthy Mama Brand: If you’re trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding – Be Well Rounded! Prenatal system provides 17 essential prenatal vitamins and minerals in easy to swallow soft gel caps. They contain chelated minerals which are more easily absorbed (Ferrochel® Iron) and reduce the instance of unpleasant things like gastric upset and nausea. The DHA supplement is naturally enteric-coated which creates efficiency delivering the Omega-3 and eliminates the dreaded fish burp. Omega-3 is important in supporting healthy fetal brain and eye development during pregnancy and nursing and will pass through the milk during nursing to continue its mission.
  • Sip healthy nutrients with delicious Bump Water: Healthy babies start with healthy women and  folic acid works hard to give your baby the best start possible. Getting enough folic acid is critical to healthy development and tasty Bump water is packed with it.  We had such a great time taste testing these yummy sparling beverages!   They are perfect for the expecting mom looking for a refreshing beverage with benefits. Stock the expecting mama’s fridge with these drinks and she’ll get the added benefit of folic acid-and a bunch of other baby-nourishing vitamins.

Win It!

Diono is generously giving-away one Diono‘s Radian®RXT car seat to one lucky winner ($339.99 value)!  To enter, please visit the rafflecopter below.  Please note that this giveaway is open to U.S. only, and entries are verified.  Best of luck!

Diono Radian RXT convertible Booster Car Seat

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Marino Bambinos received samples. Please consult your Dr. for all medical advice. 

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My Top Holiday Gifts For Kids & A LeapPad Ultra {Giveaway}

We’ve been busy rounding up our top holiday picks for children!  I’ve met with brands at toy shows here in the city, and put my own toy testers to work at home.  My gift guide reflects some new products that we are excited about, a few of our favorite well-loved toys and one powerful gift that I hope everyone will consider giving.  There is also an exciting giveaway!

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1)  LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet:  This learning tablet has topped the “hot toy” lists this season for several reasons.  With a 7-Inch hi-resolution screen, kid-safe Wi-Fi (with parental controls), and 8 GB of memory – this kid tablet feels and functions like one built for adults.  My kids have been enjoying the 11 included apps, the front-and-back cameras, and the ability to text message each other.  Mama loves the built-in rechargeable battery and the fact that we can play our “old” games on it (it works with LeapFrog’s library of 800+ apps, games, eBooks, videos, music and more).  I have three words for those thinking of purchasing an adult tablet for a child: Leapfrog. Won’t. Break.  Purchase the LeapPad Ultra at LeapFrog.com for $149.99.

2)  Goldie Blox and the Parade Float: I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a toy designed to inspire the next generation of female engineers! Lucia has been having incredible fun creating structures while building her problem-solving skills.  She has constructed all of the projects in the included book and made many of her own vehicles.  This is absolutely my go-to birthday party gift for Lucia’s female friends.  This product retails for $19.99 and is currently sold out on the Goldie Blox website. I did find some Goldie Blox products on amazon.com (but be prepared to pay higher prices).

3)  Paper Culture Memory Game:  This eco-friendly memory game is unlike any other because it is personalized!  A photo can be selected for each of the game pieces (hello grandparents, pets and those special baby photos!!).  I can’t wait to create one for my nephew and my own kiddos.  Best of all – Paper Culture plants a tree with every order.  Order it at Paper Culture for $24.99.

4)  31″ Giant Darth Vader If you have an action figure lover, I imagine that he/she will be thrilled with one of JAKKS Pacific’s GIANT iconic superheros.  I can’t wait to see the look on my son’s face when he meets the biggest Darth that he has ever seen.  Find it at ToysRUs for $34.99.

5)  Shimmer n Sparkle Cra-Z-Loom Rubber Band Bracelet Maker.  This is the one toy that my 6 year-old is asking for this year.  In addition to the bracelet maker it includes 600 latex-free assorted-color rubber bands, The “S” hook special weaving tools and an illustrated booklet.  Find it on sale at ToysRUs for $11.99.

6)  Safari LTD figuresThese hand painted educational toys make perfect stocking stuffers.   I especially like their safariology science collection including solar system figures and life cycle replicas.  Find them at Michaels.

7)  Deluxe Pixie Party Fashion DollsA recent trip to Disney World renewed my daughter’s fairy interests.  What’s cooler than seeing Tinkerbell fly?  These dolls have an updated look and are sure to please the doll lover.  Find them at Walmart for $16.99.

8)  Hape Toys All Seasons House (Furnished) Toy SetOf all the toys that my kids have played with over the years, they have gotten the most use out of toy houses and farms.   I happen to love this open wooden design (complete with parts). Find it at Hayneedle, currently on sale for $180.

9)  Hugg-A-Planet Planet PillowAs parents, I think it’s important to raise global citizens with an understanding of different cultures and communities.  I bought this pillow shortly after having my first child, and it has functioned as a pillow, a ball and an educational tool.  For the record, the kids also have a real globe, and it’s been glued back to its stand more times than I can count! Find this one for $30 at one of our favorite NYC stores, Piccolini.

10)  Rainbow in My Room by Uncle MiltonMy husband purchased this amazing rainbow projector for Christmas last year.  It has become a magical part of the kids’ bedtime routine as it projects a colorful rainbow on their bedroom wall.  Best of all, it has an auto shut-off.  Find it at Barnes & Noble for $24.95.

11)  Marble Sparks Twas The Mouse Who Saved ChristmasWe reviewed this book last year, and pulling it out again this year made me realize how special it is.  Books are fantastic gifts and personalization makes it a meaningful present to give.  Order it from Marble Sparks for $29.95.

12)  Modern-Twist New York Placemat and Markers Coloring Set:  I really like this Big-Apple themed 100% recyclable reusable place mat.  With kid-safe dry erase markers, it’s sure to offer hours of coloring fun.  Find it at Barneys for $25.

13)  Oxfam America Unwrapped Gifts: Last but not least is my favorite gift of all – a gift that does great good.  Oxfam is a nonprofit organization committed to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and injustice.  We have previously given Oxfam and Heifer International gifts in family members names, and believe that giving gifts that do good is an integral part of the Holidays.  These gifts are also a great way to instill the gift of giving in young children.  From school meal programs to mosquito nets, chickens and even midwife training – these gifts give support to Oxfam worldwide programs in over 90 Countries.  Kids can help select gifts for family members via the web.  Perhaps scale back on the toy purchases to give Oxfam gifts to children too.  Visit the Oxfam website for more information (these lasting gifts begin at only $18).

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Win It:  I’m happy to share that I’ve teamed up with LeapFrog to giveaway one of the hottest toys of the season – their award winning LeapPad Ultra.  LeapFrog is one of the first brands that I started working with and I’m thrilled that someone will start off the new year with the ultimate kids’ learning tablet.
LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Giveaway
To enter:
UPDATE:  Congratulations to winner Linda C!
  • Simply leave a comment below.
  • A third entry will be given to Marino Bambinos followers on twitter.
Please leave a separate comment telling me how you follow (three comments total).  A winner will be selected via random.org on December 26th, and the prize will ship in the new year.  Please note that this contest is open to US only.  Happy Holidays and my best to you all!
Special thanks to Time To Play and The Big Toy Book for having me at their holiday toy shows.  Samples of items 1 – 7 were provided.  Item 11 was reviewed last year.  As always, opinions are strictly my own.
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