Spreading Holiday Cheer

Unwrap smiles with these great gifts for children.

Plush Goodies

Surprise Pet

What happens when you combine an electronic game with a plush toy? You get My Meebas. This exciting new toy provides children with seven levels of games and activities. After kids take care of a My Meebas character through electronic game play, it “grows up,” meaning the tube the character lives inside pops open to reveal the plush likeness of the character. There are 60 My Meebas characters to collect. The tube casings come in six colors to depict six virtues— love, luck, friendship, beauty, intelligence and happiness. The plush pets are available at toy stores.

Deep Sea Discovery

Take your child’s imagination and education to a whole new location­— under the sea! The Coral Reef Plush Habitat is home to the reef friends from FAO Schwarz. The lush sea bed unzips to reveal all of the cute creatures inside. Children can hang out with the tentacled octopus, winged stingray, pointy-nosed dolphin, bright clownfish, sweet sea turtle and cheery angelfish. Swim over to FAO Schwarz in Manhattan or log onto www.fao.com to foster some deep sea friendships.

Eco-Friendly Monkeys

Every infant and toddler needs a special stuffed animal, and now animal companions can be eco-friendly as well as adorable. Maggie’s Organics’ Sock Monkeys are crafted from leftover Maggie’s crew socks, which are made with certified organic cotton. Each handmade friend has unique details, such as two-toned arms, monkey ears, sewn-on faces and slightly mischievous smiles. No need to worry about your child getting his new friend dirty: Sock Monkeys are easily cleaned. Do the sock hop at www.maggiesorganics.com.

Cute Little Feet

During the winter months, it is important to keep tots, especially those under 1 year old, warm from head to toe. With the lush Bright Beginnings Booties, children’s tiny feet stay nice and toasty despite the wintry chill. And when your child sports the footwear’s vibrant patterns that display cute animal heads, friends and family members will surely proclaim how “bootie-ful” your baby’s tootsies look. Start the holiday season on the right foot, when you pick up these booties at JCPenny.

Nick Pick

Linny the guinea pig, Turtle Tuck and Ming-Ming Duckling are the main characters on the hit Nick Jr. television show Wonder Pets. If your child likes the show, or fancies animals in general, bring home the stuffed version of Ming-Ming, This is Serious Ming-Ming, for the holidays. The overconfident duckling is here to save the day and play. She sings her signature song, dances and shows her trademark rescue moves. Not only does Ming-Ming entertain children, she engages kids with three interactive activities. Get serious with Ming-Ming when you order this lovable duckling from www.nick.com.

Board Games

No Mud-Slinging

Get the whole family together for the fast-paced Pig Pile. Race against the other players to get rid of your cards first and receive your award of a prime pile of pigs. The more cards you possess the better chance you have of calling out “Hogwash!” But you can’t hog the cards for too long with this strategy game. In the end, find out who in the family has the largest stockpile of swine. Go hog wild by getting this game at Toys “R” Us.

Dabble in Scrabble

What happens when you combine a favorite board game with a bilingual cartoon superstar? You get Scrabble Junior, Dora the Explorer Edition. Similar to the original game’s goal, try to match up letters to spell D-I-E-G-O or B-I-C-Y-C-L-E. When you do, you get a scoring chip. Once all of the letter tiles are used, count up the chips to see who wins. For a truly Dora take on the game, the picture-filled board is double-sided, featuring English on one side and Spanish on the other. Help your tykes prep for the next spelling bee after you purchase the Dora the Explorer Edition of Scrabble at Toys “R” Us.

Wheel of Fortune

Pressman Toys merges a classic televised game show with charismatic cartoon characters in Disney Wheel of Fortune. Cherished folk like Cinderella, Snow White and the cute personas from Cars are fully integrated into the 25-year-old game that offers Disney-theme puzzles and specially designed game pieces, including a signature Mickey Mouse-shaped spinner wheel and money. Go for a spin at www.pressmantoys.com.

General Toys

Horsing Around

When the My Little Ponies get restless in Ponyville, they venture to the My Little Pony Ponyville Sweet Sundae Amusement Park. This play set’s whimsical Ferris wheel provides a wondrous view of the landscape, complete with working lights, entertaining sounds and gondolas shaped like delicious desserts. After a relaxing ride, go for a whirl on the set’s thrilling roller coaster. Then take a break at the snack shop, which is shaped like an ice cream sundae. The set also comes with one pony figure and accessories for rides, snacks and prizes. Pony up at www.hasbro.com.

Ships Ahoy

When the ocean is quiet, don’t be fooled by that seemingly innocent merchant ship. PlayMobil’s Large Pirate Ship features a black pirate flag that flies open in the sea breeze. The figurehead twists to reveal a pirate skull at the head of the ship, and floorboards turn to uncover hidden cannons. The captain and his crew have their cannons at the ready. Are ye mateys prepared for battle? Set sail for this adventure on the high seas by ordering a pirate ship online at www.playmobil.com.

Scream for Ice Cream

Playtime this holiday season is super sweet with the Play-Doh Magic Swirl Ice Cream Shoppe. Including four cans of Play-Doh, more than 40 dessert-themed molds, two ice cream cones, two spoons, one ice cream scoop, one sundae dish, one parfait glass and one cake, the kit for confections allows your little one to make enough Play-Doh desserts for the whole family. The play set features a soft-serve dispenser that extrudes perfectly swirled “ice cream.” Aspiring chefs can decorate the yummy-looking treats with strawberries, cookie crumbles and a cherry they’ve created. Find the Ice Cream Shoppe at Toys “R” Us.

Indie Adventure

Bring the incredible action of Indiana Jones to your living room with The Lost Temple of Akator Playset. Based on this summer’s theatrical hit, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the set inspires your child to reenact some of the greatest action sequences featured on film. Children can help Indie navigate the dangerous boulders, brilliant blasts and nasty quicksand traps. Brainiacs will want to solve the obelisk puzzle and reveal the entrance into the mystical kingdom. Figures of the heroic Indiana Jones, along with his enemies, the Ugha Warriors, are included in the play set. Log onto www.hasbro.com to get your child’s adventure started.

Electronics

Join the Robot Brotherhood

RobotGalaxy offers an age-appropriate virtual community for young boys. After purchasing a robot that’s equipped with a “supersonic” fuel cell, whether online or at a RobotGalaxy retail location, users can connect a robot directly to a computer. The robot guides little space explorers through games, training sessions, battles and other online quests. As the users progress, their robots evolve, providing new options for downloads— including sound effects, LED patterns and programmable text-to-speech options. Launch into space with a custom-ized robot when you visit a RobotGalaxy store or explore the site
www.robotgalaxy.com.

Monster Mash

Have a daredevil in your clan? Gaming adventurers go on wild quests to battle evil monster minions, while conducting a vast array of intricate experiments, to create mad monsters in Monster Lab, made for Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Players travel the game’s creepy and supernatural terrain where the evil Baron Mharti rules with a cruel hand. Search for ingredients to make more monster parts, defeat other monsters in combat and uncover exciting quests and challenges. Ultimately, a player can gain enough experience as an apprentice scientist to rise through the ranks and, as a scientist, defeat the evil Baron. Start an apprenticeship by placing an order wherever video games are sold.

Color is Freedom

What would the world be like without color? In Chroma City, that frightening thought is about to become citizens’ reality in THQ’s video game deBlob for Nintendo Wii. Help deBlob stop the I.N.K.T. Corporation, led by Comrade Black and villainous soldiers, who plan on turning Chroma City into a colorless world. Children must join the Color Revolutionaries to flip, bounce, smash and race to free the citizens to save the city. While basking in the fun and bright graphics of the game, your child has the creative freedom to color the settings in whatever color deBlob is at that moment. Rated E for everyone, deBlob is available at video game stores nationwide.

Endless Pop-abilities

When you buy a big electronic item or a delicate vase, what is the best part of the purchase for children? The bubble wrap, of course! Now, Bandai America brings kids the Mugen Pop Pop, an irresistible keychain device that features eight authentic-feeling bubbles. Now your children can enjoy endless popping entertainment at their fingertips. The small built-in speaker emits fun sounds at random, including a dog bark and a bell ring. Satisfy the bubble-popper in your family with this little keychain, available at major toy retailers.