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K-5th Grade
5th-7th Grade
Dear Marianne:

What can I do to buy toys for my 3 year old niece and 8 and 9 year old nephews that I do not see often or know very well?

Aunt Ava from Woodland Hills, CA
Kids remember what was given to them and from who. No one wants to be the aunt who buys the boring toys. Any gift for a child should be chosen based on age, current skills and/ or special needs and overall interest.

Q&A Corner

Dear Marianne:

How can you tell if these holiday "hot toy" lists are credible or just advertising?

Shelley, New York, NY, Mom of Luke (4) and Max (18 months)


The best way to approach a "hot "toy list is to read it for information and not as a shopping list. Most of these lists have little or no research behind them. To determine if a list is credible or not, look for these red flags.

Top Ten Toy List Red Flags

1. There's no methodology listed. If you don't know how they put the
list together, be suspicious.

2. You can't tell who did the toy evaluating. Was it a trained
researcher? A child psychologist? A TV reporter? A toy company
publicist? It matters.

3. Toy company execs are involved. They're likely to pick their own

4. The list maker gets to keep the toys. That can bias the process.
It's better if the toys must be returned or donated to charity.

5. There's a fee involved. Any toy list that requires an entry fee for
consideration naturally favors well-financed toy companies.

6. Everyone's a winner! What percentage of toys considered make the
final cut? If it's 100%, how rigorous a selection process was that?

7. The list is based purely on opinion. Anyone can have an opinion.
There are more scientific ways to evaluate toys.

8. The award program promotes the award-giver as much as the
award-winners. Some organizations create lists and give out awards
as PR stunts.

9. Kids are billed as toy experts. Children are toy consumers, not toy

10. The list describes the toy, but not its pros and cons. That's a
hint that the toy was never really tested or evaluated in any
scientific manner.

How To...

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