Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Fairy Gift Ideas

Despite all your wonderful memories of sorting through your Halloween haul and the joy you got out of having all that candy to savor during the days weeks after the spooky holiday, now that it's your kids sifting through countless candy bars, you're feeling a bit squeamish.

Enter the Halloween Fairy.

She's the awesome little creature who sneaks in during the night and trades your kid's Halloween candy stash for a cool toy or book. (What you the Halloween Fairy does with all that candy is up to you her.)

Love the idea, but don't really know what the Fairy could leave? How about a couple ideas?

1) Candy Land might rubbing it in a bit much, but there are other great board games that would be as fulfilling as a bag full of candy. Halloween Jenga, Boo-opoly, or the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Yahtzee keep the spookiness going, but there are also options if you want to turn your minds to the next holidays, like, say, Holiday Jenga! (Who knew Jenga could lend itself to awesome holiday applications?!)

2) Webkinz come in adorable Halloween-y cuteness, like a little black cat, a sweet little bat, or the cutest little dragon ever. Putting Halloween behind you? How about a delicious little Turkey Webkinz?

3) Once Halloween is over it's time to start decorating the house for some Thanksgiving fun! You'll need your fair share of crayons, construction paper, and glitter to get it all done!

4) Speaking of Thanksgiving, what if the Halloween Fairy traded food for food? No, I'm not talking about more candy, I'm talking about a fun cookbook that might get your kids excited to help with all that holiday cooking! The Pillsbury Kids cookbook, Kid's Fun and Healthy cookbook, and Williams-Sonoma Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Foods book are great places to start.

5) Just because Halloween is over doesn't mean that the dressing up fun has to end. Mr Potato Head looks just as good as a Halloween ghost, as he does as Spiderman, Indiana Jones, or even, say, a certain jolly fat man dressed in red. Hey! This one could even pass as the Hannukah Bunny. You know, if he existed anywhere outside my head.

6) Or, for the slightly sadistic parent (ahem, not pointing any fingers...), how about a sweet reminder of what the Halloween Fairy spirited away? M&M, Starburst, or Twix pillow anyone? Aw! Come on, at least it would be funny! For you!

Obviously these are just a few of the millions of options that the Halloween Fairy could come up with. Hunt around and let your imagination run wild. Then be good to yourself and get rid of the candy instead of eating it all in one sitting. Your teeth will thank you, even if your personal trainer and your dentist don't.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Scooby-Doo First Frights - The perfect game for this spooky season

Remember Scooby and the gang? If you're anything like me you watched them solve mysteries for hours on end as a kid. Well, today you can put all those hours of cartoon watching to work as you help them gather clues and catch the villains!

Scooby-Doo First Frights is a great game available on the Wii, DS, and Playstation 2. While I was at first a bit skeptical, the game looked a bit simple and young, both M and I were quickly drawn into the neat graphics and the fun the game had to offer.

Four different story lines are divided into multiple levels. Each character from the original cartoon is present and over the course of the game the player gets to be everyone - each character has his own skill set and all are essential to crack the cases. They tackle the levels two by two, working in tandem whether in one player or two player mode. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this game was that it was easy to pop in and out of two player mode without interrupting the game. Have a moment or want to help fight off some bad guys? Click into play. Need to run off to tend to something? Click back out and the first player resumes being in control of both characters.

It was an imaginative game, made up of most of the usual gaming elements - combat, points gathering, puzzle solving - but with a couple fun new twists. I loved being able to think through the collected clues to unmask the villain at the end of each story line.

Scooby-Doo First Frights Pros:
- Fun graphics and engaging story and game.
- Nice variety of play - a bit of problem solving, puzzling, fighting, and quest solving.
- Loved the ability to switch from character to character and being able to drop in and out of play.
- Incredible voices, just like the cartoon - it felt like the cartoon had become interactive.
- It might be a kid's game, but it kept these two adults entertained for a few hours on end!

Scooby-Doo First Frights
- We assumed that all the episodes would be the same length and we learned the hard way that they get longer and longer. This is great for the game, not so great when you're trying to finish up an episode before bed!
- We stumbled on one bug along the way, but luckily the auto save function worked so we didn't have to start from scratch when we reset the game.
- This isn't a novice game. There are some tricky parts along the way.

In conclusion, this is a fun game that is coming out just in time for Halloween. The spooky tone will entertain all your trick-or-treaters nicely after they gather all their treats! Even better, this might be the perfect gift to trade for all that loot! The fun will last way longer than the sugar high would have.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the companies that make, distribute, or sell this game. I was given a copy of the Wii game for testing and reviewing purposes.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alternative Halloween Treats

Before I had kids all Halloween ever meant for me was candy, candy, candy. Then I had a baby and I realized that most of the stuff that is handed out to trick-or-treaters isn't exactly toddler friendly.

Gummy candy? Chocolate with nuts? Sticky toffee? Yeah, none of that is exactly what you want your baby cutting her teeth on. So, the first year that C was old enough to trick-or-treat I stocked up on candy (old habits die hard) and I also got a box of teeny tiny play-doh tubs to hand out to the half pint crowd. It was a huge hit.

The next two years we handed out candy and Halloween rubber duckies. Interestingly enough the toddlers and their parents weren't the only ones to snap up the non sweet treats. The high schoolers loved them too.

Want to get into the habit of handing out more than candy bars? Check out these fun and affordable Halloween treats.

1) Halloween crayons - Crayons are always welcome and always useful. About $3 for a pack of 12.

2) Halloween bubbles! - Find me a kid who doesn't like bubbles? About $8 for a pack of 24.

3) Halloween stickers - There's something about stickers that really turns toddlers on. Or maybe just mine. I just know she'd flip for these. About $4 for 36 sheets.

4) Halloween pencils - These might not be as exciting as bubbles or stickers, but some kids still flip for these! - $1.40 for 12

5) Halloween tattoos - Fake tattoos obviously. A step higher than stickers, even for the toddler set. Plus, how cute is a little skull on a baby arm? $6 for 120.

6) Halloween rubber duckies and Glow in the dark Halloween rubber duckies - These have been a huge hit in our house for the last two years, both with my kids and the trick-or-treaters. About $4 for 12 regular duckies. About $8 for 24 glow in the dark duckies.

Want to stick to handing out edibles, but don't want to give out candy?
How about some of these alternative options?

1) Individual packs of pretzels - Most toddlers can eat these and they make a nice change. About $19 for 50 bags.

2) Individual packs of goldfish crackers - They should just call these crack instead of crackers. About $23 for 24 individual packs.

3) Individual mini-boxes of raisins or craisins - These will be a hit with the little ones, maybe not so much with the bigger kids. Price varies from store to store.

4) Juice boxes - All that trick-or-treating can make a toddler thirsty. Apple & Eve 100% fruit juices come in handy little 44oz boxes that sport everyone's favorite Sesame Street characters. Prices vary from store to store.

5) Milk boxes - Organic chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, or plain milk. In boxes. That don't spoil. Wait. Maybe this is a treat for mommies, not toddlers. About $16 for pack of 12.

Basically, if you think outside the box, you don't have to rush to Target or Costco to stock up on the same candy that every other house on the block is going to be handing out. Just don't be that family and hand out toothbrushes, healthy vitamin bars, or anything else that might get you egged by some unhappy trick-or-treaters!

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