The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide… for Kids!

With Christmas ’round the corner, we’re finally at that point where influencers show you theΒ hottest toys and what you should spend your money on this Christmas. You’ll see posts full of affiliate linksΒ galore as we sell our pound of flesh… but I don’t want to take that route.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide... for Kids! β€” Palmer Family Christmas Tree

Christmas is a strange time for my Christian family.

While we don’t want our kids to feel like outcasts in school when we choose Christ over Claus this December, we find it essential to make Christmas a time to spend with family, friends and our church community as we get ready for another year of challenges and celebrations ahead.

But you’d better believe we’re still going to get themΒ some toys.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” Swerve PR β€” Toys Galore

This Christmas marks the first year we can start moving from toddlers’ toys to ones I might want to play with, and I plan to takeΒ full advantage of it!

Despite Sarah’s qualms over the space in our home versus how much I review, I’ve been blessed to check out many of this season’s new toys up close and personal these past few months. From tech to STEM to collectables and more, I’ve hand-picked some toys that I think you’ll findΒ dope for the little people in your life.

So let’s get to it!

(And don’t you worryβ€”for those of us in a rush, I’ve created links to all the product below for easy access!)

Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition Bundle
The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2
VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe
The VTech Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums
VTech 4-in-1 Stroll & Grow Tek Trike
#StikBot Farm Movie Bot
Tumblstix
Spin Circuits
The PAW Patrol Sea Patroller
The Etch A Sketch Freestyle & The Etch A Sketch Joystick
Hatchimals Glittering Garden
Mayka Toy Block Tape
Tangles
The Original Fidget Cube by Artsy Labs

Microsoft

1) Xbox One S Minecraft Limited Edition Bundle (1TB)

And suddenly, Casa de Palmer was the place toΒ be.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” Xbox One S Package

A couple of months ago, Microsoft held an Xbox Together event to showcase its new Xbox One S. While I wasΒ honoured to be invited, going so far as to make it a boys’ day out with my eldest son, but adulting happens, and I needed to be elsewhere to support a friend.

And I thought that’d be the end of itβ€”shame I couldn’t attend, but maybe we’d connect sometime in the future so I could see what theΒ Xbox One S has to offer!

That is… until they got in touch toΒ send me oneΒ instead.

That time the Palmer fam got their game on.

 

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Let's talk about Toronto's gaming community. Last night was @MDee14's #TTCHYPE, a Toronto-area meetup for those who partake of the Twitch community. As a non-gamer myselfβ€”more someone who HANGS OUT with gamers, INSTEADβ€”it was dope how seamlessly I still blended in as everyone found their place in the evening. And you know, the entire thing reminded me a LOT of Twitter's tweetups back in 2011-12β€”minimal corporate intervention, no "big names" stealing the show… just a bunch of content creators doing their thing. Good people, good grub, good times. I look forward to hanging out with everyone again! #events #people #gamers #gaming @raidersesportscentre #Toronto @Twitch #Twitch #TwitchGTA #TwitchCanada #meetup #esports #videogames #stream #fun #Canada #social #community #Discord #friends

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So for context, I’m not much of a gamer. I sometimesΒ hang outΒ with gamers, but I hung my controllers up some years back, giving a couple of consoles and thirty or so games to a friend who’d make better use of them thanΒ I could.

It made this a bitΒ troublesome at first, with Sarah believing we’d changed our lifestyle to one more minimalist than before… but that was until she saw the joy on the faces of our son and other kids who came by, checking out games likeΒ Minecraft andΒ Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure!

In fact, since they sent us four controllers, I gotΒ Rocket League this past weekend so we could use them all at the same time! I’m still getting used to it, but theΒ Xbox One S makes for a veryΒ different experience from what I’m used to, with features like:

  • The option of downloading games directly to yourΒ Xbox One Sβ€”even while it’s turned off.
  • Built-in multitasking so you can do things like Skype while you game and do itΒ side-by-side
  • And for those of you who are all about the multiplayer (i..e who aren’t me, trying to keep my children’s innocence as long as possible), Microsoft’s working hard to continually improve their Xbox Live service, backed by 300,000 servers, an extensive reputation system to keep the jerks at bay, and smarter matchmaking to give you opponents that’reΒ fun to play against!

The Xbox One S β€” The Verdict!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” The Elder Palmer Playing Xbox One SI can see theΒ Xbox One SΒ being a household staple for some years yetβ€”doesn’t hurt that it’s the only Blu-Ray player in the houseβ€”and it’ll take us one step closer to building an environment where our boys and their friends can feel comfortable just being themselves!

TheΒ Xbox One Sβ€”it just might change the way you game!

VTech

A little while back I found myself in the Royal Ontario Museum’s RBC Foundation Glass Room with Maureen Dennis, Marc Saltzman, and some of VTech’s finest as we previewed their best new toys for the upcoming holiday season!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” VTech Leapfrog Fall Preview β€” Summer Christmas Tree

They may be young at four and two, but I’m already getting to know their personalities! The older guy’s all about using his hands and experimenting with new actions, while the younger one’s all about scribbling and dance. And with birthdays in November and January, I can’tΒ just get them Christmas giftsβ€”here’s a look at what tech they can expect in their futures!

2) The VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2

For his birthday, my older son got a Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2. I’d noticed his fixation with my Samsung Gear S2, playing with the screens and notifications on my wrist. So why not give him one of his own?

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” The Elder Palmer Checking His VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2

The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 comes armed with more features than you find in mostΒ adult smartwatches:

  • two cameras with photo effects
  • a built-in video camera to let kids record on the fly
  • more than 55 watch faces on both analogue and digital displays
  • a touch screen just likeΒ your smartwatch
  • games and active play challenges that keep things fun while keeping kids moving
  • and it’s splash- and sweat-proof, too!

So far it’s one of his favourite toys, and though he can’tΒ quite tell time yet, he’s happy to explore the world through his approachβ€”and all kids should have the chance to do so, right?

  • Ages 4-12
  • MSRP $69.99 CAD

3) VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe

Sometimes I’m that parent. The one who’d rather get the kids somethingΒ educational than something “fun.” I’ve got high standards for these boys, and believe you meβ€”I’ll do everything possible to give them a competitive edge where sharp wits can often take you farther than just the letters after your name!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe β€” Easel

Which is why I submit for your consideration VTech’s Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe, a 3-in-1 learning desk with interactive cards that can teach your child allΒ sorts of things! With five learning pages included and eight expansion packs (sold separately), it covers letters. Numbers. Music. Colours. Nursery rhymes, reading skills and animals if you’re keen! Heckβ€”it even transforms into an easel and chalkboard withΒ plenty of storage space for art supplies, too!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” VTech Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe β€” Activity CardsAnd that’s not all:

  • Its LED display help little ones with letter and number stroke order and how to draw basic shapes
  • The toy telephone lets kids use their imaginations to chat with whoever they’d like
  • And the music player comes loaded with fun tunes to keep the good times going!

If you’ve got a kid like mine who’s often stubborn about their extracurricular learning, give VTech’s Touch & Learn Activity Desk Deluxe a try! Who knowsβ€”your kid might surprise you!

  • Ages 2-5
  • MSRP $79.99 CAD

4)Β  VTech Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums

Drums are easily one of the most enjoyable instruments to learn, but parents often shy away from them because they’re too noisy.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” VTech Zoo Jamz Stompin' Fun Drums

But that need not be the case! VTech’s come up with Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums, a way for your mini musician to find their inner rock star without waking up the neighbours!

The Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums has many features, including:

  • drumsticks to enhance creative thinking and motor skills
  • four made modesβ€”counting, catch the lights, follow the leader and creating compositions
  • a stool for them to sit on and an elephant bass pedal they can step on to hit the drum and create a fun bass sound effect

If you want to bring out your wee one’s inner superstar, VTech’s Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums is a great first step. (#DadJoke.)

  • 1Β½ – 4 years old
  • MSRP $ 49.99 CAD
  • Available at Toys β€œR” Us, Walmart, Amazon, Loblaws, Mastermind, Indigo

5) The VTech 4-in-1 Stroll & Grow Tek Trike

Do you remember your first bike?

I remember my chrome blue Sears-brand bike from when I learned to ride, making my way from training wheels to family rides along the nearby ravine some years later. In ’90s Mississaugaβ€”when there were almostΒ half as many people as there are todayβ€”biking took up good chunks of our summers as we learned the law of the land and risked our lives aΒ bit more often than I should admit.

But what if that first bike grewΒ with you? Help you with your directions and remind you about road safety rules? What if your bike could take those frustrating years of learning to ride and make itΒ enjoyable?

That’s precisely what VTech’s doing with their 4-in-1 Stroll & Grow Tek Trike, an interactive tricycle for children aged nine months through six years that grows with them as they develop.

It has four modes:

  • a parent-controlled stroller mode
  • a training mode for early riders
  • a trike mode once their motor skills and confidence grow
  • and finally a drifting style for the kids who want to show the sidewalk who’sΒ boss.

So if you’re looking to expand your child’s world like I am for my toddler, check out the VTech 4-in-1 Stroll & Grow Tek Trike!

  • Nine months – 6 years old
  • MSRP $149.99 CAD
  • Available at Toys β€œR” Us

Zing Toys

6) #StikBot Farm Movie Bot

People laugh when I say it, but one goal for my boys in the next few years is to teachΒ them how to be influencersΒ themselves. Parents often talk about teaching their children the value of hard work and make them understand the true worth of a dollar… but why do they have to flip burgers to do it?

In 2017, there’s aΒ myriad of options available for any youth with an idea and a phone, and StikBot’s looking to develop that with an app and toys designed to bring your budding filmmaker’s visions to life!

The StikBot Farm Movie SetΒ comes with everything you’d need to start building scenesβ€”characters, animals, a playset and aΒ green screen that can take creations from amateur to auteur in mere moments!

We parents fuss and fret over the screen time our children get, but why not turn what time theyΒ do get intoΒ usefulΒ time by helping them develop a skill? As someone who had art school ambitions when he was younger, I know if I hadΒ half the resources kids have today to express themselves, maybe I could’ve made something of it.

Definitely a gift idea to check out!

  • 4+
  • MSRP $25 CAD

7) Tumblstix

Alright, so there’sΒ no way I expect my four-year-old to get the hang of this, but Tumblstix are small, weighted sticks that challenge your sense of balance! Built with LED lights providing awesome visual effects, Tumblstix are designed to sharpen focus and hand-eye coordination by gently rolling them around!

Think of them like modern Devil Sticks in your handβ€”you can balance them and catch the Tumblstix smoothly, using 360Β° rolls and 180Β° flicks to keep the momentum going!

So simple yet so complexβ€”Tumblstix are a great way to pass some time!

  • 4+
  • MSRP $10 CAD

8) Spin Circuits

If you’re gonna fidget, make sure you fidgetΒ rightβ€”Zing’s Spin Circuits offer twenty different light patterns and stackability with other Spin Circuits to keep things interesting!

Select your pattern, press a button, spin! Boredom begone!

  • 4+
  • MSRP $14.99 CAD

Spin Master

Weβ€”the parents of young childrenβ€”can usually tell whether you’re one of usΒ depending on if you thinkΒ PAW Patrol is a show about a father who justΒ happens to live under a bridge.

Spin Master, the Toronto-based juggernaut who no one seems to know isΒ from Toronto has kept aΒ solid track record when it comes to dominating kids’ hearts and minds at Christmastime. PAW Patrol’s on deck for a fifth season; last year this time had Hatchimals in everyΒ conversation about toys; and with brands like Meccano and Etch A Sketch added to their roster, Spin Master’s no slouch when it comes to creating toys that your kids will want under the tree!

For this Christmas, I’m featuring a few items that speak to my sons’ sense of creativity and their love for the PAW Patrol pups!

9) The PAW Patrol Sea Patroller

If you rely on Netflix as much as we do in the post-cable world, you likely noticed PAW Patrol’s fourth season show up on Canadian Netflix this past week! It takes the pups to new places with new adventures and abilities, and of course you know that means new gear.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” Spin Master β€” PAW Patrol Sea PatrollerThe PAW Patrol Sea Patrollerβ€”introduced in “Sea Patrol: Pups Save a Baby Octopus”, theΒ last of season four’s episodes available on Canadian Netflix so far, so you’d better hop to it, so your kids know what itΒ isβ€”has a unique sea-to-land transformation that takes the pups’ rescues to anΒ entirely different level, going wherever the action is!

Except for the bathtubβ€”please keep it out of the tub! Ironically, it isΒ not waterproof!

The Sea Patroller has aΒ boatload of features built in:

  • lights and sounds just like the PAW Patroller, and Air Patroller before it
  • a working crane and a life-saver launcher to help out with the heavy-duty rescues
  • and storage for basic vehicles so your pups can always be at the ready!

It comes with an exclusive Ryder figure with his ATV, an exploration cage for him to help the pups out, and a baby octopus figure… I guess to putΒ in trouble?

Anywayβ€”if PAW Patrol’s your jam, help take your pups from Adventure Bay to Barkingburg and back with the PAW Patrol Sea Patroller! Your little ones will thank you!

  • 3+
  • MSRP $59.99 USD

10) The Etch A Sketch Freestyle & 11) The Etch A Sketch Joystick

So we all know the Etch A Sketch, aΒ classic toy that lets kids explore their imaginations, shaking them to erase when they’re ready to do it all over again!

But why stop there?

The team at Spin Master’s come up with two new takes on itβ€”the Etch A Sketch Freestyle and the Etch A Sketch Joystick, each offering new ways for your kids to showcase their creativity!

The Etch a Sketch Freestyle lets kids draw and stamp in colour, with a handy stylus and double-sided stampers that offer shapes like hearts, circles, stars and clouds! It’s even been remodelled into a vertical design so kids can hold and doodle on the go!

The Etch a Sketch Joystick, however, is an offering for the littlest doodlers lacking the skill to work with the classic model’s two knobs!Β Instead, it rocks one big 360Β° joystick that’ll let your toddler draw loops, lines and circles while developing their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

And what parentΒ doesn’t want to see their kids learning while having fun?

So if you’re looking to fire up the creative spark in the next generation, look no farther than Etch A Sketch!

  • 3+
  • Etch a Sketch Freestyle MSRP $19.99 USD
  • Etch a Sketch Joystick MSRP $12.99 USD

12) Hatchimals Glittering Garden

If you thought Hatchimals wereΒ so 2016, you apparently haven’t been paying attention to what they’d come up withΒ next.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” Spin Master β€” Hatchimals Glittering Garden EggHatchimals Glittering Garden is one of those latest offerings, introducing sparkly Pengualas and shimmering Draggles in speckled eggs with cute surprises inside!

If you know a child who’s into soft, sparkling fun with some twinkling wings to boot, Hatchimals Glittering Garden’s sure to bring you some winners!

  • 5+
  • MSRP $59.99 USD

Stocking Stuffers

Now all this big stuff is greatβ€”but you likely know that stockings only getΒ so big (unless, of course, we’re talking about mine which gains notoriety each Christmas when I post our living room photo online), so here’re a few items small enough to fit in an oversized sockΒ without diminishing the fun!

ZURU

13) Mayka Toy Block Tape

You won’t fully appreciate the joy of being able to say “well, back in my day” until you have kids of your own.

AndΒ man do you start realising the differences!

Back in my day, our video games only went right, and you’d die if you fell in a hole. Or back in my day, you’d only know who was calling if you picked the phone up when it was ringing and asked them.

Well, with Mayka Toy Block Tape, I think I can add one more to the listβ€”back inΒ my day, all our LEGO tables wereΒ flat.

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide for... Kids! β€” Mayka Toy Block Tape β€” Tape in Action

Mayka Toy Block Tape is adhesive tape transforming virtuallyΒ any surface into a base for construction toy bricks and figures.

Yesβ€”including LEGO.

The tape can be cut and shaped to any size, and the adhesive side isΒ reusable, so Mayka Toy Block Tape‘s only limitation is your imagination!

It comes in nine different colours across three different sizesβ€”try the one best suited toΒ your need to play!

  • Small: 2-stud wide, 3.3′, MSRP $12.99 CAD
  • Medium: 2-stud wide, 6.6′, MSRP $18.99 CAD
  • Large: 4-stud wide, 6.6′, MSRP $24.99 CAD

14) Tangles & Fidget Cubes

So I hear fidgeting’s a problem with today’s kids. I mean, far as I know itΒ always has, but I guess it’s better to find aΒ positive way to release energy than to just send a kid to the corner every time they grow restless.

With Tangles and the Original Fidget Cube by Antsy Labs, they give kids a way to turn that directionless energy intoΒ constructive energy with ways to snap, twist, click and spin their stress away!

Tangles

Colourful 90Β° curved sections that link together, twisting and turning at each joint, Tangles inspire creativity and artistic imagination without disturbing others. With various patterns, colours and types, there’s a Tangle to matchΒ whatever your kid’s disposition! There are no beginnings. No ends. The possibilities are endless!

Connect and collect them all!

  • 4+
  • MSRP $4.99

The Original Fidget Cube by Artsy Labs

Launched on Kickstarter in 2016 and only growing since, the Original Fidget Cube by Antsy Labs are versatile fidget toys with various buttons, dials and switches to let your kids click, spin, roll and glide away so they canΒ focus.

And they can be quiet, too! With the five clicker buttons, two of them are silenced so as not to become annoying, and there’s even a side designed like a gamingΒ joystick that should keepΒ any kid entertained!

Recent releases saw Marvel and DC superhero-themed cubes addedΒ to the mix, so what’s stopping you? Get with it and fidget!

3+

Don’t Worry Last-Minute Shoppers; I Got You β€” Let’s Make Christmas Perfect for Your Kids!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide... for Kids! β€” Palmer Brothers at Play

So if you’re at a loss for what to get the little ones in your life, I hope this guide atΒ least gave you anΒ idea. Every Christmas challenges our expectations for what toys can do, sing, say and thinkβ€”hopefully they inspire the same from our children!

Good luck out there my fellow shopping cart warriors, and may your Christmas season be a merry one!

Happy Holidays,

–case p.


Disclaimer: This gift guide was brought together with contributions from Microsoft, VTech, Zing Toys, Spin Master and ZURU. However, all the thoughts and opinions remain my ownβ€”and my boys’, of course. They’re the ones who’ll beΒ playing with all this stuff!

By Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Caseyβ€˜s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff.

When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him.

Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

2 replies on “The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Christmas Gift Guide… for Kids!”

Heh β€” thanks so much, Kristy ? The Hatchimal’s going to my nephew who I think will get a kick out of it! Hopefully, all this will keep these boys busy for a while β€” I think I’m ready to spend a week just resting after Christmas is done!

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