Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tried & Tested Christmas Gifts for Children £20 and Under


Inch Blue Shoes – Frosty Blue Baby 

Price: £18.00 Available 
from:  Inch Blue Size: 0-6 months
Initial Reaction:  They look gorgeous and feel really soft

  • Handmade
  • Super soft
  • Breathable leather
  • Look great
  • Great for growing feet
  • Keep little toes warm
  • Come in a large selection of designs
  • Elastic ankles so they stay on
  • None
Value for money? Average for baby shoes 

Overall Reaction:  I am a fab of Inch Blue shoes, I find them really soft on babies feet and the older sizes are non-slip for those first steps. They go on easily and stay put. They keep your babies feet warm and are breathable. If you are looking for baby shoes this winter then you can’t go wrong with Inch Blue.
 By Carol

Fireman Sam Spin and Rescue Game 

Price: RRP£12.99 
Available from: Amazon, Argos, Toys R Us, Kiddimax 
Suitable from: 3 years 

Initial Reaction : This game arrived on a wet and windy day, perfect for playing games. Unfortunately we had not got the batteries required to make it work. However we discovered that you can play a version of the game without batteries, so this is a bonus.

Pro's: Features Fireman Sam , who is a character most children recognise and love. This is a memory game, which is great for helping with those skills. 

Con's: It takes batteries which obviously is a problem if they run out and you don't have replacements. Also means it's not as environmentally friendly as games which do not use batteries. 

Value for money: I feel this game is a little more expensive than other similar style games. This is obviously because you are paying, in part, more because it is Fireman Sam. 

Overall Reaction: When we got some batteries this game became really good fun. Fireman Sam spins around and tells each player how many cards to pick up, or put back. The player who completes their character's set first wins, My children really enjoyed playing and the sound effects defiantly added to that.
By Ella  

Price: £19.99 
Available from: Argos, Amazon 
Suitable from:  3 years 

Initial Reaction: My children love dogs so very excited to see the box with a friendly looking plastic talking dog! The game was very easy to set up (once batteries were bought) and they quickly got the hang of what to do. The dog issues the command for what he would like you to bring back to win from the 12 bones each carrying a colour, shape, number or letter (or mixture of each).

  • Teaches children to recognise basic shapes colours, numbers and letters.
  • Dog has a handy backpack for storing bone pieces so minimises pieces getting lost.
  • Simple game but very effectively and fun for children
  • Good for young children to play independently. Although staying that to start the game off you have to press the dog’s nose. This was quite difficult for a small child so an adult can still supervise the game play.
  • Hardwearing, good quality toy.
  • Dog has a slight American accent so pronounces letters differently to the way some children may recognise.
  • Potentially has a limited lifespan as in my opinion it would be too easy for a 4 year old so really only a 2 or 3 year old would get most benefit from.
 Value for money? Good value as children learn lots through play and, although the “bones” are quite basic it is an excellent starting point for young children. 

 Overall Reaction: My 2 year old and 4 year old both enjoyed playing this game, for two different reasons! It was most educational for the 2 year old and he will play with it more over the coming year when he will understand more about colours, shapes, letters and numbers. My 4 year old quickly understood what needed to be done so was enjoying the winning streak!

 By Louise   

Price: £14.99 + £1.95 UK delivery 
Available From: Penwizard 
Suitable From: Any age

Initial Reaction: What a fabulous idea and great Christmas gift.

  • It is personalised with your child's name.
  • There is a personal message to the child on the first page leaving you free to say whatever you want.
  • Each main characters hair and clothing is able to be personalised too.
  • You chose the names of their siblings/cousins/friends to take part in the story as well.
  • None we found.
Value for money: Great 

Overall reaction: Its a great book. The illustrations are not elaborate but fun and cute especially for younger readers. My little one loved looking at it and I can't wait to read it to him on Christmas morning. The book is great quality, no scrimping whatsoever on  the appearance. The website is great and easy to use with self explanatory instructions. I would use Penwizard again for sure.

 By Julie

Price: £15.50 
Available from: Orchard Toys 
Suitable from: Ages 3 – 6 

Initial Reaction: We’d played a couple of Orchard Toys games before (one of our own and some at a friend’s) and I’d been impressed by the quality and the educational value, so I was really looking forward to trying this game. 

It’s based on the classic song “The Wheels on the Bus” I wasn’t disappointed: the cardboard pieces are very robust and the attention to detail gives it a real quality feel. I have a three year-old and a one year-old who thinks he’s three. As my older son and I played the game, the little one got stuck in picking up all the pieces, slotting cards randomly into the top of busses and carrying bits round the room. Nothing got bent or squashed despite his rough treatment. 

 The board pieces fit together (jigsaw-style – my son was over the moon!) to make up a town. Rolling the (large sized) die, you make your way around the board, stopping at the different coloured stops. At each stop you add a card to your bus, singing the line from the song

Pros: This game is aimed at age 3+, so it was a great introduction to board games for my three year-old. It took a while for him to get the hang of taking turns and of counting the spaces for each turn (he wanted to move all the way to the next stop without counting!). 

With a few reminders he got the hang of it and thoroughly enjoyed playing. Each time you land on a stop and take a card, you also have to sing the verse of The Wheels on the Bus, with actions. I found this a bit awkward at first as I’m not used to singing with the kids (I’ve always had an aversion to kiddies music groups: toddler groups – yes; singing with a load of babies and grown women – no). But I’ve always been conscious that it’s an activity I ‘should’ be doing; the game gave me the push and it turned out to be loads of fun. 

There is some element of skill, in that you have to choose a sensible route to get to all the stops, teaching forward planning and analytical thinking. But there’s also sufficient randomness that you don’t have to let the kids win – ultimately it’s down to the roll of the dice, so older ones don’t have too much of an unfair advantage. 

Cons: I’m struggling here… ummm… the box is quite big. Seriously, this is the worst thing I can think of about this game. It’s fab. 

Value for money? I’d say so. At over £15 this is more expensive than a lot of kids board games, but it’s so much more durable than cheaper brands that I think it would last well. I’d also rather pay a bit more for well-engineered cardboard pieces than cheap plastic that can’t be recycled. A lot of thought has gone into making a well-rounded game here and I think it’s worth paying for. 

 Overall Reaction: We loved this game. It’s teaching my son about taking turns, counting, thinking strategically, language development and motor skills. But it doesn’t feel like a chore – we had a great laugh playing it and he’ll be able to get a lot out of it for some years yet. The Younger family highly recommend Round and Round.

 By Kirsty

 Rock ‘n’ Roll Drum from Chicco  

Price:  rrp £24.99 ( Cheapest found £13.00 from amazon) 
Available from:  amazon, Baby & Co 
Suitable from:  6 months + 

Initial Reaction:  Great!  A brand new toy for my two boys to play with that in addition to playing music, also has flashing lights too…it doesn’t get much better to keep them amused and occupied.

Pros:  The drum has two sides to play; on the first side, there are three colourful musical instrument buttons that can be pressed easily by little hands and which play catchy tunes as well as illuminating in orange, yellow and pink colours.  On the opposite side there is one big green button that is an electronic drum that plays distinctive beats and which also flashes its light. 

Cons:  None! I just need to get another now so my twins don’t fight over it. 

Value for money? Yes 

Overall Reaction:  It was wonderful watching my kids discover how to press the buttons and seeing their excited reactions when the lights began flashing and the music played.


By Jenny

Price: £12.99 and £3.59 
Available from: High Street stationers and online. 
Suitable from: Well they are permanent markers so I'd chose my age group carefully. Older kids and adults. 

Initial reaction: Sharpies get a very good name and I was interested to see them in action. The mini are a handy pencil case size too.

  • They are very slick on paper and the colours are vibrant.
  • The pens are a nice shape and good to handle.
  • I thought the idea of the minis having a cap that you can attach to a pencil case zip or school bag is a good idea to stop kids losing them.
  • Slightly highly priced for what you get.
  • I'd rather buy the minis as singles I think as the colours were a bit restricted.
Value for money: fair 

Overall reaction: These are good pens but I'm a bit baffled by the hype. For me they're as good as some other brands. Having said that though my 14 year old liked them and quickly whipped them into her pencil case for school. It would seem to be a bit of a status symbol to have Sharpie pens which is fun. 

Overall they are nicely designed and good pens and if you're happy to pay a bit extra then I would recommend them. 


By Julie

Pointless - The Board Game 

Price:  around £20 
Available from:  Amazon, Argos,Play,  Debenhams (currently £6 at Debenhams 16/11/11), 
Suitable from:  12+ 

Initial Reaction:  Rules were a bit hard to understand at first.

  • Easy to set up.
  • Doesn’t last too long.
  • Pencils included for scoring.
  • None
Value for money? Quite Good 

Overall Reaction:  I’ve never seen the TV programme, but the rest of the family have and were eager to have a go.  We took it away for the weekend for playing at night when the baby was asleep. A fun, quick and easy (once you get the hang of the instructions) game to play. 

My husband, in particular, liked making the noise when moving the sliders down to the bottom of the board to show the scores.  You might not want to do this bit lol. Everyone enjoyed playing it and we played several games. I think it would be good if they brought out new questions to add to the game eventually

Buy PlayPlax online Price: around £15.99 
Available From: Online stores Amazon and direct 
Suitable from: 3+ 

Initital Reaction: WOW I had this toy 30+ years ago.

  • Simple to use.
  • No set game.
  • Tests kids imaginations.
  • Pretty colours.
  • A world of things to build.
  • None.
Value for Money: Great Overall reaction: I had PlayPlax as a child and when I was asked to try it out second time round I was excited. Would I still like it as much as an adult? Answer, Yes, I did, Loved it. I played it all day with my 5 year old nephew and we built all sorts of fab things. He has every fangled kiddies toy indoor and outdoor you could imagine and the PlayPlax is now a firm favourite. 

We played with it in the garden and loved the sun shining through our builds and shining the fab colours around. He loved it so much I let him take it home with him. My little one is only 2 so would really just throw the bits around. Hopefully it will find its way back for him when he's a bit older. Its great to see the old toys being redone and so well. Big thumbs up here.

 By Julie 

Snuguns fingerless mittens. Bumblebee design 

Price £11.99 for animal designs. £9.99 for plain colours. 
Available From: Snuguns, Amazon and selected baby shops 
Suitable From: 6mths - 4years 

Initial reaction: Super super cute. Caleb instantly wanted them on and to play with these cute mittens. 

  • Easy to put on. Super cosy and cute.
  • The animal designs meant that my little one wanted to keep them on.
  • They go over sleeves for very little ones and extra comfort of under for older kids.
  • Bright and fun.
  • A great stocking filler.
Cons: None 

Value for money: Great 

 Overall reaction: These little mitts are super cute and cosy warm for little ones to wear. We tested the bumble bee design and coincidentally Caleb is bumblebee daft so he instantly adored them. He loved having them on in recent storms when we were out to keep his little hands cosy and they were often commented on.  

I will by buying a pair of these for each of my nephews and nieces for up coming birthdays and Christmas. A must for all toddlers this winter. 

By Julie

Price: £11.99 
Available from: Amazon, Asda Direct 
Suitable from: Three months 

Initial Reaction: This is a lovely looking toy. It's nice and bright, in primary colours. It is a lovely velvety soft ball. It has handles so baby can easily keep hold of it despite it being a reasonable size. 

  • Plays music which baby loves.
  • Also the tunes it plays are not to loud or annoying for me to hear as my baby plays.
  • It's lovely and soft, perfect for a small baby.
  • The ball plays music when it is tapped.It needs to be tapped pretty firmly to activate. My baby has made it play by dropping it.Also luckily she has two older brothers who tap it for her.
Value for money: I think it is a good value toy. 

Overall Reaction: This toy has become one of my baby's favourites. She loves playing with it and it keeps her amused for a long time. I would defiantly recommend it to a friend.

By Ella

Price: rrp £14.99 (found for £11.50 on Amazon) 
Available from: Snazzaroo, Amazon 
Suitable from:  3 years 

Initial Reaction: Great range of face paints plus glitter, brushes, sponge and step-by-step guide 

  • Pack includes a fantastic range of 8 bright colours plus black and white, 2 sparkle colours and 2 glitter gels, 4 sponges, 2 brushes, a mixing pot and a book with ideas/ easy to follow instructions.
  • Amazing price for such a comprehensive selection of colours.
  • We used it on adults and children alike and it was very well received with some great tigers, angels, skeletons and rabbits running around – lots of fun!
  • Snazaroo facepaints are formulated for the most delicate skin and are fragrance free. We used them on children with very sensitive skin – eczema etc and had no reaction!
  • The palette contains enough for 65 full faces and is resealable so can be used time and time again (Paints keep up to 18 months).
  • Perfect for Christmas, birthday, Halloween parties or school fairs and fetes
  • None
Value for money? Great value for money kit with such a great selection of products. Overall Reaction: We love the Snazaroo face paints. They are really handy to have in the house especially on a rainy afternoon when the kids get bored. You can paint their faces up and then they can do yours!

By Louise

  Hallmark Watson Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy 

Price: £19.99 
Available from: Hallmark 

Initial Reaction: Gorgeously soft and oh so cute, feels well made and not cheap. The book is hard backed and feels good quality too. 

  • Gorgeous and cute character that all children (and parents) will love.
  • The story is really great and the fact that the bear talks back to you when you read out the key quotes is just brilliant, my son was amazed but not nearly as much as his grandparents ;)
  • We read to our son anyway but this gives bedtime a little added something, a friend to go to sleep with that interacts with you.
  • Listening to my son say the words from the book and then being replied to was just great, he now runs around shouting lines from the book, proof he is learning from it.
  • There is an app for the iphone/ipad for Watson which includes the ability to record your voice reading the book as well as puzzles and games so you can read it to them even when you aren’t there. Each book unlocks more phrases so the toy does keep on growing with each book.
  • You do have to read in a clear voice and those with strong accents or quieter voices might not be heard.
  • Currently only 3 books available so once these have been read a few times might get a little repetitive but hopefully as the stories are good they will become favourites.
Value for money? I think this is a great gift for under £20 and would definitely consider buying one for a friend. 

Overall Reaction: This has been a hit with everyone we have shown it too and if it helps children and adults alike into reading then it is great. The product is well made and delightful and I can see it getting much use. We will be buying the other books in the series.

By Liz

Ozbozz My First Scooter for GirlsPrice: £19.99   
Available from: Argos, The Toy Shop, Amazon (16.99) 
Suitable from:  2 Years 

 Initial Reaction: I thought that LS may be a bit small for a scooter and she wouldn't really be able to play with it.

  • Easy to put together
  • 3 different scooter settings ( 4 wheels, 3 wheels, 2 wheels)
  • House proof.
  • Easy grip handles
  • Folds up so easy to carry when your child gets tired or for storage
  • No cons.
Value for money? I think this scooter is great value for money, it’s a safe and sturdy and LS loves it.

Overall Reaction: After thinking that LS would had difficultly riding it I was pleasantly surprised at how easy she found riding on it, she started of going slow and down all she does is ride all around the house.

By Dani

Me to You Children’s Baking Set

Price: £12.99 
Available from: Clinton’s Cards 
Suitable from: box says to fit age 7+ 

Initial impression: Nicely presented package.  Would make a lovely gift.  Bright colours, not too girlie. 

  • Lots of contents – apron, chef’s hat, wooden spoon, 2 cookie cutters, tea towel and recipe card
  • Lovely design and great quality
  • Sturdy and robust items that will be used over and over again
  • Would be better if more size options were given although both hat and apron are adjustable, and did (sort of!) fit my 3 ½ year old.
Value for money? Reasonable 

Overall reaction: The cookie cutters are lovely, a nice size and will be used for all sorts of craft activities as well as cooking – a star and gingerbread man shapes are included.  The addition of a gingerbread recipe card is a nice idea.  As is the fact that they include a tea towel – kids are never too young to learn about clearing up!


By Liz 

Disney Pixar Cars 2 AppMATes - Mater and FinnPrice:  £20
Available from:  Disney Store 
Suitable from: 4+

Initial Reaction:  You use your ipad as a racing board, I was worried the cars would scratch the screen but they didn’t. 

You download the free app from itunes and then use the two cars it comes with to race, explore and complete missions. The cars has sensors on them that interact with the ipad app, its all very clever and my OH was very excited about trying it out. 

  • Comes with 2 cars
  • Free app to download
  • Lots to do
  • Can customise your cars
  • Each car does different things and has different missions
  • Great fun
  • Good graphics and sound
  • The game occasionally crashes
Value for money? I think it’s a reasonable price for a game; it comes with two different cars. 

Overall Reaction:  Great game for Cars fans, lots to do and see. I like the idea of games like this for the ipad it takes it to another level.


 By Carol

Moon Sand Sweet Delights Candy Factory Playset
Moon Sand Sweet Delights Candy Factory Playset
Price:  rrp £14.99 

Available from:  Amazon (£12.80),Smyths (£14.99), Toys R Us (£14.99) 
Suitable from: 3+ 

Initial Reaction:  I had heard but never tried moon sand before so was interested in trying this out. The set comes with one candy press, 10 moulds, a measuring cup, storage box and two different colours of moon sand. You create your own candy which you can bake and paint or squash and reuse. 


  •  Simple to use 
  •  Comes with 10 different moulds which means lots of creations I like that you can bake or demolish and start again 
  •  Easy to clean away 
  •  Kept BG occupied for a while this is an added bonus 
  •  Comes with a storage box 

  • Only comes with two colours it would be nice if it came with a few more
  • The sand colours your fingers, though it does wash out
Value for money? I think it’s a reasonable price 

Overall Reaction:  We had lots of fun with this. BG enjoyed making the different candies and we baked a few which she painted. Great rainy day activity and would make a lovely gift.


 By Carol      

Price:  £12.99 
Available from:  GloMate 

GloMate JrInitial Reaction:   BG is currently afraid of the dark so this came at the right time for us to test out. We were on the lookout for a night light for her.

  • It’s a LED light and doesn’t give off heat so BG could keep it in her bed with her
  • It has three colours red, blue and green. You can have it set on a single colour or set it to rainbow
  • You can set it on dimmer mode so it goes out after 15 minutes
  • Battery lasts quite a while
  • Looks fab
  • None
Value for money? Yes 

Overall Reaction:  This has really helped with BG’s bed time, she likes having it with her. It gives just enough light for her not to be scared. She has it in bed with her and then once she has fallen asleep we move it to the bed side table so she has the light all night. Great night light. 

By Carol

Timmy Time (Nintendo DS)
 Price:  £13.99 
 Suitable from: 3 Years 
 Available from:  Amazon 

Timmy Time (Nintendo DS)Initial Reaction:   We hadn’t tried BG with the DS yet so this would be interesting. 

  • 14 different games to play
  • 3 different difficulty levels
  • Lots of fun
  • None
Value for money? Yes 

Overall Reaction:   We all enjoyed playing this game, it was lots of fun. There are loads of different games which is great my favourite is DJ Timmy! Nice game for preschool children

By Carol

Lego Minifigure Display Case (Large) 

Lego Minifigure Display Case (Large)Price: £19.99
Available from: Amazon 
Suitable from:  3 plus, but I would say 5 plus

Initial Reaction: We love LEGO in The Mad House and my boys are obsessed with Mini Fingers and have loads, the LEGO Minifgure Display case is a great way to store and show them.

Pros:  It looks fantastic and everyone who has seen it has coveted it, plus is it so much easier to see which figures you have and look at them. 

Cons: You only get 16 figures in and you have to remove the feet to be able to open and close the glass cover. 

Value for money?  £19.99 is expensive for storage, but when Minifigures cost upwards of £1.99 to purchase then it doesn’t seem so bad to make sure you look after them. 

Overall Reaction:  We love this and I will be buying some more, which connect to it, so we can show off more of our minifigures.

By Jen 

Discover The Extreme World Book (the discovery channel)

.Discover the Extreme World (Discover the World)Price: £17.99 
Available from: Amazon (£9.17). 
Suitable from: 4 

Initial Reaction: My eldest son has a very scientific mind. He is always wondering how things work, why things happen etc. So when I was asked to review this book I knew it would be perfect for him. I wasn't disappointed. 

Pro's: A fantastic resource for children with inquisitive minds. 

Con's: None. 

Value for money: I think this book is reasonably priced as it really does have masses of information so will be useful to a child (or adult) for years. 

Overall Reaction: The book is divided into six sections. Active Earth, Ultimate Machines, Awesome Animals, Super Humans, History Revealed, and Incredible Science. Each section containing masses of information on its topic. The lay out of the pages is great. Their are loads of pictures and text to support the pictures. It really does pull you in and hold your interest. Even I enjoyed it and I'm not normally interested in science or history. I thoroughly recommend this book.

By Ella 

Mookie Whirlee ride-on    

Price: £16.99 
Available from:  Amazon, ELC and other retailers 
Suitable from: 12 months – 4 years 

 Initial Reaction:  I could not believe how light the delivery box was – it felt empty. On unpacking the parcel I encountered a lovely blue plastic ride on with aeroplanes along the side, with wheels that turned 360° and a handle at the front to hold onto.  My son instantly knew what to do with it but insisted on sitting on it backwards.  It is light enough for him to pick up and carry about, something that he preferred doing to riding it.  The problem was that he had recently been given another ride-on to look at and he preferred the one with steering.  I was a little disappointed in his lack of interest in it because to me it looked a great toy so I gave it to his little friend Eva instead. 

 he absolutely loves it, took t it straight away and takes it everywhere, she spins round and round and loves how it fits into all the tight spots and swirls in every direction.  She walks around pulling it a lot too and her Mum loves how she has learnt how to co-ordinate her legs to make it properly work. 


  • It's ultra lightweight, so you or your child can carry it with ease.  
  • It spins all the way around and is small and tidy in its design so is ideal if you don’t have much space in your house.  
  • It's stackable, so if you have lots of children they can be stacked away neatly. 


  • It's not really and off-roader. 
Value for money? Definitely. 

 Overall Reaction: A great compact and lightweight fun toy.

 By Catherine
Rubiks Race   

Rubik's Race A fast paced game for two players to get your brain and fingers racing. Shake the scrambler and go head to head with your opponent to shift and slide the tiles to be the first to make the 3x3 centre match the pattern. 

Price:  £19.99 
Available from:  Rubiks.com, Amazon  
Suitable from:  5+ 

Initial Reaction: The Rubiks cube has always been popular with my boys so we were quite excited to receive this game. 

Pros: Nice lightweight game that folds down for easy storage. 

Cons:  Lots of quite small pieces that could get lost easily. 

Value for money? I think £19.99 is a little bit steep really for what it is. 

 Overall Reaction:  We liked this game although I do think it is a little bit difficult for 5 year olds, however my 8 year old found it a good game

By Cherilyn

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