Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great Toy #2: Christmas Shopping Guide

The second toy idea that we just love is games. By that I do not mean video games. I mean good old-fashioned no batteries required (okay, maybe one) turn off the television and spend time together games.

We have all the classics -- Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, Connect Four. We have raucous games like Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and Whack-A-Mole, too. We play card games like old maid and go fish and king's corner. And we play strategy games like Mastermind, Mancala, and Stratego. Our kids are still young, so Monopoly, Careers, and Life are still up on the shelf.

Two old favorites that we *hope* Santa will be bringing in his sleigh are Perfection and MouseTrap. (Santa's Illinois elf just has to find them at the store. Keep your fingers crossed.)

It is always a challenge, though, to find games that all three of my children can play together, especially because they are aged 3, 5, and 7. Last year, we were given a game gift that did the trick. Our whole family can play it and have fun in the process. It is Cranium Hullabaloo.

Hullabaloo is a direction-following game with fun music and a healthy dose of silliness. To me, it's a little like Simon Says meets Twister. We have a great time with it, whether just two of us are playing or all five.

In January of this year, Cranium, a Seattle-based company, was purchased by Hasbro, Inc. By March, Hasbro moved finance and logistics jobs to it's Rhode Island corporate headquarters. But Hasbro makes a point of emphasizing it's corporate citizenship efforts. I usually only recommend products from corporations I can really back. For me, the jury is still out on Hasbro's purchase of Cranium.

I will say, though, that the Hullabaloo product is exceptional. It encourages movement and teaches listening and following directions. Moreover, it is fun. Sometimes gut-busting fun -- especially when you see your kids "do a funky dance" at the end of the game.

Hullabaloo has received several awards, from Parenting Magazine Toy of the Year to the 2002 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. For more information, be sure to visit the Cranium website.


  1. I have done board games in past years and they work but I am going with a different focus this Christmas. A great idea that I found was this book that lists 200 active and sporty family (parent and kid)games. I have played them with my 3 kids and it is a lot of fun. So my holiday shopping is so much easier this year!!! This book is called the Proud Parents Guide To Raising Athletic Balanced and Coordinated Kids by Karen Ronney. I like how it uses some balls and basic sports stuff along with household items like pencils, cardboard tubes, mixing bowls and empty 2-liter soda pop bottles. I like the idea of playing active games with my kids that get them off the couch and away from the tv, videos and the computer. That's my great idea this season! Good luck to all of us busy Moms!

    So Cal Sporty Mom

  2. Two things: One, I recommend trying Monopoly and Life in particular right now, at least once in awhile. We just played Life with my (4YO) son yesterday, because he always begs to play.

    Sure, he can't be the banker, but with a few reminders and such, he gets the purpose and mechanics of the game okay. He loves getting to play a "grownup game" and I'm sure being introduced to the more complex concepts will help him later on.

    Secondly, let me know if you still haven't found Perfection or MouseTrap-- I can keep an eye out when we're shopping (not sure where in Illinois you are, but I'm in the near northwest suburbs).


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