Last Minute Holiday Toy & Gift Guide

This post contains affiliate links.

It’s officially the LAST DAY to order gifts using Amazon Prime if you want them to arrive before Christmas. I asked my good friend, Abby Geismar, to share some last minute holiday gifts because she is the best gift giver I know!  And since Christmas will be here in just a few days, read on and start adding these items to your Amazon cart. Instead of looking like a SLACKER, you will look like a STAR!

Take it away Abby…

Ah – it’s that time of year again!  Shopping without guilt – shopping because you MUST – shopping because Santa is coming soon!

As the ultimate consumer/customer/bargain hunter/shopping master/parent…I feel fully equipped to provide this year’s 2015 Best Toy and Gift Guide.   This is not a list of the newest and “hottest” toys or the best marketed toys, or even the most requested toys, it is a list of items tried and tested and proven to be worth your holiday dollars.  And, my personal favorite qualifier, the toys will keep your child busy and entertained (perhaps even educated!) without your constant involvement.

I tried to avoid anything too trendy or linked such as toys related to current movies or newest toys in a long line.  Also – I understand the need to avoid complicated toys with many pieces so I try to make sure that any toy with many pieces is well worth having and reasonably easy to keep track of.

The toy links are all Amazon Prime products to ensure Christmas delivery.

Happy Shopping!

2015 Holiday Toy Guide

Snap Circuits Electronics Discovery Kit

Snap Circuits Lights Electronics Discovery Kit

I love Snap Circuits, they’re a great way to combine building and tinkering with STEM skills and kids love the fact that they are actually producing something with the final product.  The Jr kit has 100 projects including those with light and sound.  Despite being recommended for 8 and above – my four year old enjoys using it with supervision and any 6 year old could definitely do it on their own.  With 175 possible projects that can be made in increasing complexity – the Snap Circuits Lights kit has enough to keep an older grade schooler or middle/high schooler busy for hours (more than once!).  Best of all, it connects to your iphone/ipad/mp3 player so that the lights work in conjunction with your music.  Younger kids can use Mom or Dad’s device to play their favorite songs and older kids can connect their phones for a personalized light show.  So first they build it – then they can enjoy it.

Learning Resources Pretend and Play School Kit

This is the best comprehensive pretend school kit I’ve come across.  It has been around forever but it’s still a winner.  Everything folds up neatly into a Velcro sealed tote, which is a bonus.  It includes a dry erase board, pointer, pads for report cards and hall passes, map and calendar, etc.  My kids got years of play out of it because even though you will find and dispose of grade sheets often – they provide enough to last a few years.  It’s even fairly portable – when your older child is done with it – they still seem to enjoy ‘teaching’ your younger child with the same kit so it lasts longer than advertised ????

Magna Tiles

There are a lot of magnetic building tiles and blocks on the market but I truly like these better than any we’ve tried.  They have more magnetic points than the others so you are able to connect them from all sides including top and bottom.  Plus, unlike the non-name brand magnetic tiles – they have very strong magnets that hold.  Your child can build rooms and towers and buildings that can actually house their other toys.  I recommend a larger set if you can swing it – even very young kids enjoy just stacking them and lining them up.  They are good for any child 2 and up in my opinion since no piece is small enough to fit in a mouth and the magnets are fully encased inside the plastic which is like iron and seems unable to break or crack.

Perler Beads 

 Pearler Beads Pattern Pad

There are a lot….a LOT of craft and art items out there for kids these days.  My main complaint is that most of them are messy as all get out.  If I never see another can of play doh or another box of “NO MESS” kinetic sand (it’s a LIE I tell you, a LIE)….it will be too soon.  Now, I do admit Perler beads have thousands of the tiniest pieces you’ve ever seen….BUT….they are actually pretty easy to contain.  Just mix them all up together in a tub, and any random casualties are easy for little kids to clean up.  I do admit stepping on them barefoot is only slightly less painful than stepping on legos.  The regular size Perler Beads are really for kids ages five and older… but they do provide hours and hours of  quiet time.  Get the beads, the tweezers and at least one of their creation idea books.  For those with younger kids – my four year old has been doing the ‘biggie’ beads for a year now and loves them.  He’s able to do the standard Perler beads now with supervision as well, but the biggie beads are an easy way to let the little kids get involved in the play.

Anki-Overdrive Race Track

I’ll be honest,  I don’t actually have this toy.  However, based on everything I have seen and read – it is the coolest toy ever.  I would like one for myself.  Unfortunately with an 8 year old girl and a 4 year old boy, it’s not the right toy for our household right now….but, if you have older boys or girls who loves fast cars and technology – I can’t think of a better ‘big’ investment present.  The cars literally work through your iphone or other tablet – it’s like a live action video game for multiple players and the vehicles respond to your every choice.  Did I mention I want one

New Kindle Fire (with Freetime)

So no, it’s not an ipad.  And no, you won’t think ‘Oh, hey, it’s just like my ipad”…. however, at the average cost of an Ipad case – you get a tablet that is a good size, has a decent screen (and resolution is fine, there is no reason any child under 12 needs the HD version), has tons of built in apps and games, is capable of running many apple and android apps, is more durable than any ipad, and can take SD cards to play your own shows and movies.  Battery time is pretty good as well.  Instead of the amazon kids kit, I purchased the $49 version with a kid-safe case and was happy to find out that as an Amazon Prime customer, I automatically got Kindle Freetime which is a great program that includes hundreds of kid friendly games and apps and books and also enables the parent to control how much time kids can spend on the device and what they can access.  It also enables the parent to switch between user modes so the parents can use the device as their own kindle/tablet without having to navigate the kids apps.

For $49 I can’t recommend this enough – even just as a great item for car trips, it’s worth every penny.


Mom’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

OH!  And thank you for asking!  There indeed are a few things Mom would like for Christmas this year….sure they might be a tad pricey – but for all Mom does…..she’s worth it ????  If you aren’t able to buy these before Christmas, then consider hitting the after-Christmas sales to spend your Christmas cash and gift cards.

Tory Birch “York” Buckle Tote

Yes, it’s $300, and that’s a lot…. but this is actually the most versatile bag around.  It’s got a computer sleeve so it’s a briefcase…. it’s huge, so it’s a tote….it’s got tons of compartments, so it’s a diaper bag…in other words,  it will last forever and fulfill just about every need.  Plus it comes in great colors and women love Tory Burch – seriously, we all do, we just do, we don’t know why.

Tieks Ballet Flats

Yes, these are also expensive, in fact…I think they went up $40 from when I got my pair two years ago – but they are still just sliding in as ‘worth it’.  My reasoning is thus:  they seem to be physically indestructible – I’ve worn them a hundred or more times per year for two years and they still look like I took them out of the box yesterday – not kidding.  They are by far the most comfortable flats I’ve ever owned, and as a shoe addict, I have owned many, many pairs of flats.  The packaging is so stinking adorable you could give someone dirty socks in it and they’d still ooohh and ahhhhh.  Go with a basic color – you probably won’t want to splurge for a rainbow of shades.


Suede Boho Zip Pouch by Mark and Graham

So I live for pouches….all sizes, shapes and colors – I do not discriminate.  However, these are an excellent size to keep your necessitites in one bag and simply drop it in a different purse or tote anytime you feel like switching.  No more leaving your favorite hand cream in your other bag or forgetting your checkbook – put the essentials in here, get a cute little monogram and always have what you need at hand.  You can even use them as clutches at night.  If you look on their site – there are often great deals on older colors or styles of pouches as well.  One can never really have too many pouches – except under the eyes where any at all is too many.

 JR Watkins Sugar & Shea Scrub – Any Flavor

Hello – stocking stuffers are for Mom too!  I have tried many, many body scrubs to slough off the alligator who’s skin I inherit every winter – and while they all do the scrubbing part fairly well – few of them can moisturize winter skin for more than a few fleeting moments.  I have even made my own sugar and shea scrub (trying to copy this one actually) and while it did essentially work – it was hopelessly messy and no amount of essential oils can re-create these yummy scents.  So for my $11 – I’m just going to subscribe and save and never run out until summer arrives.  This stuff is one of my ‘can’t live without’ products for cold weather months.

Abby Geismar lives in Annapolis and is a busy Household CEO with one husband and two kids at home (Sophie 8, and Cooper 4), and one 21 year old “kid” at UVA.  She considers herself a writer/expert shopper/bargain huntress/wine afficianado/part-time chef/fashion maven and lover of all things organization.



Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…

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