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Don’t Go Berserk on Christmas Morning!

Amazon.com offers Frustration-Free packaging

I’ve always been a pretty mellow guy, but if there is one thing that absolutely makes me go nuts it’s the little plastic-coated wire twist-ties that the toy and electronic manufacturers use to secure their products in their pretty packages. I’m not kidding – I’m never closer to making a fool of myself than I am on Christmas morning, in front of my kids, on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of the year!

Traditional vs. Frustration-Free Packaging

When one of my guys gets a toy, and they bring it over to me to help them open it, most of the time I pretend I don’t see them – which is kind of hard when they’re right in front of me! Either that or I act like I’m totally engrossed in the instruction book (written in 14 different languages) for the new watch I just got, and I ignore him. Of course, this doesn’t work for long, and soon I have to face the music.

Wrap Rage Tools

So out to the garage I go to get a selection of implements of destruction to try to get that Lego ship out of the package, and I get to work. 2 hours later – success! Plus, I hardly broke anything! I tell you, I earned that Christmas afternoon nap!

Well, Amazon.com has teamed up with several manufacturers to come up with what they call Frustration-Free packaging. Items come packed in a brown box, with none of the twist-ties or clam-shells, and much less packaging.

Speaking of clam-shells – don’t you hate those things? You look at it and think “Aha! This is one of those deals that you just have to pry apart until the two little pegs come free and out will fall the item!” Then, you realize that it’s actually sealed by some devious machine, and you have to figure out a way to cut it open without ruining the product and/or the instructions.

Fisher-Price Imaginext Pirate Ship

Amazon.com to the rescue! Click here to view the items you can get that have frustration-free packaging. One of the first to launch was the Fisher-Price Imaginext Adventures Pirate Ship. This looks like a pretty cool gift for a kid, and best of all it will eliminate “Wrap Rage”, and help you and your family to have the most enjoyable, peaceful Christmas in years.

If you're ready for a couple of laughs (and maybe a few tears) check out The Gallery of Wrap Rage. Come on - let's unite against the forces of the world that subject us to twist-ties and clam-shells!

Filed under Good Christmas Gifts, Hottest Toys, Kids, Socially Conscious

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Fun Family Games – Mexican Train Dominoes and others

When I was growing up, one of my most favorite things was family game night. We would all sit down around our kitchen table, fill up our ice cream float cups and play a mean game of Hearts.

Those were good times because of the way it pulled us all back in as a family. My husband also had a similar experiences in his family so we both were in agreement that we wanted to continue this tradition with our family.

As is common with childhood memories, you don't see the problems involved in making such activities happen. We quickly realized that the age difference between our oldest and youngest (7 years) posed a problem in finding a game that both could play and enjoy.

Some Great Answers

You knew I was going to have some answers, right? First off, a game we were introduced to this summer on our family vacation was a fun family game called Mexican Train Dominos. It was fun, several people could play at one time (which is good in a family of 7) and the dominos rules were easy to learn and follow. One note - the rules that came with our game were different than how we learned how to play. Here are our rules.

Along with our Mexican Train Dominoes game, we found Apples to Apples. This game too can be played by all of us at the same time and we liked that it came in a junior version that was still fun for the older kids.

Blokus is a great colored tile game that is easy for everyone to play. The cool thing about this game is that no matter your age it really works to exercise your critical thinking skills. It is fun to watch how smart your kiddos really are!

These are great Christmas gift ideas and birthday present ideas because they are inexpensive and they don't involve technology. Which means more time to talk and laugh together! What good Christmas gifts!

Filed under Family Games, Good Christmas Gifts, Kids

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Unique Christmas Gift Idea – The Green Book

The Green Book: Help Save the Planet One Step at a Time

Environmental matters get the star treatment in The Green Book. The authors, Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen, address the fact that Americans endanger the balance of the ecosystem by the amount of waste we produce, the amount of water we use, and the amount of energy we consume in small practical bites.

Celebrities, including Robert Redford, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston, Faith Hill, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. contribute suggestions for living green. Rogers and Kostigen establish 12 aspects of our habitat, like home, work, and school, and suggest better lifestyle choices for each. Small adjustments are the focus of the book that add up to significant and positive environmental effects by using descriptive rather than numerical analyses.

The Green Book offers hope and practical suggestions, such as:

With a 3 ½ star rating, the reviewers all like the authors sensibilities in offering small, easy to implement suggestions. One downside however, is that the actual numbers should be corroborated before quoted. Some calculations, when researched, were off.

With wit and authority, the authors provide hundreds of solutions for all areas of your life, pinpointing the smallest changes that have the biggest impact on the health of our precious planet.

The Green Book is the perfect unique Christmas gift idea for someone who loves the environment and wants to make a difference in this world.

Looking for something a little different? Check out our Gifts For Someone Who Has Everything page.

Filed under Gift For Someone Who Has Everything, Good Christmas Gifts, Hard to Shop For, Socially Conscious

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Elmo Live!

What’s Popular for Christmas Gifts this Year?

Elmo fans will love Elmo Live! This latest version of everyone's favorite Sesame Street character Elmo has taken talking, singing, telling jokes, to a whole new level. With an interactive style, Elmo Live! encourages creative play and is entertaining to kids from 18 months onward.

Moving, Talking, Dancing Elmo!

Elmo Live! has the furry, bright-red exterior and the big eyes so well known in the popular Sesame Street character. His actions give him a life-like quality:

His mouth and head move while he talks, sings, and tells stories;

He gestures with his arms, and he moves his legs.

He can even cross his legs when he sits on the stool that is included.

Out of 18 reviews, 15 found him very easy to play with. He will tell you a story. He even acts out parts of his stories! Squeeze his nose, and he'll make a silly sound.

If your child doesn't play with him for a while, Elmo will go into a battery-save mode by yawning and says he's tired.

Reviewers like this toy because, unlike some other "talking" toys, Elmo Live! doesn't just spout programmed phrases.  This makes an almost magical experience for your child, as if her toy is really coming to life.

Tips on Playing with Elmo Live!

Elmo makes lots of fun movements and gestures -- the only slight drawback is that his movements generate a somewhat loud, mechanical sound. He has a tendency to fall over, however when he falls over, Elmo asks you to help him back up again, and then says "thank you."

What's in the Box?

Elmo Live! doll, with 6 AA batteries included.

Want a sample? Watch a video of Elmo Live! by clicking here.

You need to get this one now, word is it's going to be one of the hottest items this Christmas!

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Filed under Good Christmas Gifts, Hottest Toys, Kids

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