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Holiday Gift Picks: Picks for Parents & Family Fun

From time to time, Parents' Choice has an opportunity to review products just for parents. And many of our award-winning products for kids are also great for the whole family. Here we offer a selection of things we think Moms and Dads - and grandparents too - might enjoy this holiday season.
Chip Taylor & the Grandkids - Golden Kids Rules Chip Taylor & the Grandkids - Golden Kids Rules
Ages: All Ages

Master singer/songwriter Chip Taylor wrote the 1960s mega-hits "Wild Thing" and "Angel of the Morning." His songs have been recorded by the biggest names in pop music and he has earned kudos for his recent solo and collaborative albums. Taylor is also a granddad and, judging by his lovely new CD Golden Kids Rule, that's a very good thing for family music. Together with his three talented young granddaughters, Taylor serves up one fine album, infused with the desire to make the world a better place and filled with tenderness, heart and soul.

EA Sports Active More Workouts EA Sports Active More Workouts
Ages: All Ages
Electronic Arts, $39.99

If you liked EA Sports Active Personal Trainer (released May 2009), you're going to like the interactive exer-game's follow-up as well. True to its title, it brings more heart-pumping exercises and fun activities to the privacy of your own home. Like the original, this uses Wii's remarkable motion-sensitive remote (held in one hand) and nunchuk attachment (strapped to thigh) to detect your movements while mimicking an onscreen animated personal trainer lifting weights, punching targets, running in place, doing lunge steps, stomach crunches and other calorie-burning exercises.

MeMoves MeMoves
Ages: 3 & Up
Thinking Moves, $59.95 (DVD)   

MeMoves is a combination of music, images and movements that invite you and your child to participate in an activity that fully engages the mind and body. The steady tempos, varied movements and intergenerational cast make MeMoves accessible to everyone, young and old, with a wide range of abilities. It is innovative, intelligent and intriguing. Fascinating, captivating, and utterly absorbing, this simply elegant production of movement and music is devoid of bells and whistles, and loaded with wisdom and clarity. Narration is neither needed, nor present.

Lay-n-Go Lay-n-Go
Ages: 4 & Up
Lay-n-Go, LLC, $24.00

The Lay-n-Go is absolutely a must-have for any parent who has stepped on LEGOs, cars, trains, or any other small toy that have you howling and hopping around on one foot in the middle of the night. It lies flat on a table or floor, and is made with durable and machine-washable ripstop nylon. The Lite size is perfect for small to medium sized LEGO projects, and it is designed to fit easily on restaurant tables or airplane trays. When kids are done working for the day, they just pull the drawstring, and the flat disk of nylon turns into a sturdy carrying case with a handle.

BOOM BLOX Bash Party BOOM BLOX Bash Party
Ages: 5 & Up
Electronic Arts, $39.99

If you loved the original title, Boom Blox, a 2008 Parents' Choice Gold Award winner that evolved from the creative collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Electronic Arts, you're going to be crazy in love with this sequel. And, yes, Spielberg was in on this, too. Players scrutinize each Jenga-type puzzle, tower, and structure looking for critical or vulnerable targets--the weak link that'll topple it totally--then aim and swing the Wii remote with a whip-like motion. That hurls bowling balls, blocks, slingshoted objects, bombs, cannonballs or paintballs to knock apart the blocks. There's even a new "virus ball" that can vaporize blocks with a viral chain reaction.

OgoSport RAQ OgoSport RAQ
Ages: 6 & Up
OgoSport LLC, $34.99

The Ogo Sport RAQ is a very fun, easy to use, versatile outdoor game. Similar to a badminton or paddle ball set, the game is played with two paddles with trampoline like stretchy surfaces that send the included rubber ball soaring in gentle arcs with very little effort. The paddles float and have integrated foam rings as handles, making them safe and easy to find and play with in almost any outdoor or beach environment. One family brought this toy on their summer vacation, and found it was a hit amongst the other families they met.

Wits & Wagers Family Wits & Wagers Family
Ages: 7 & Up
North Star Games LLC, $19.99

Wits & Wagers Family is a fun, quick numbers trivia game for 3-5 players or teams. After a question is read aloud, each player writes a guess on their answer board and places it on the table. Players put their Meeples on the guess(es) they think are closest to the real answer without going over. A large Meeple on the closest answer scores 2 points while a small Meeple on the closest answer scores 1 point. One point also goes to the person who wrote the best answer. A total score of 15 wins a game. No one is expected to get the correct answer to these outrageous kid-friendly questions; one must just wager well.

Indigo Indigo
Ages: 8 & Up
Ravensburger, $34.99

Indigo is a beautifully crafted strategy game distributed by Ravensburger. The game board, pieces, and tiles are all artistic and well-designed. It has a straightforward, simple and aesthetic appeal. The object of Indigo is to collect the most points, which are amassed by winning gemstones. The different gems - emeralds, sapphire, and ambers - have different point values. Ambers are 1 point, emeralds are 2, and the lone sapphire is 3. The gems are placed in the middle and around the perimeter of the game board, and players collect them by placing hexagonal tiles on the board to create paths. Players move the gems along these strategic paths toward "ports" (exit areas) of the board that are marked by their tokens.

Rubik's Slide Rubik's Slide
Ages: 8 & Up
Techno Source, $19.99

With two ways to play and over ten thousand challenges, Rubik's Slide is a great variation on the classic cube. In this version, nine lighted squares arranged in a three by three square must be twisted and slid until they match a target pattern. The small toy will provide hours of play for all ages.

The Klutz Book of Inventions The Klutz Book of Inventions
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Brendan Boyle   Author: John Cassidy  
Scholastic Inc./ Hardcovers 3, $19.99 (Hard Cover)   

Great things often come in unexpected places. In this case, the Klutz Books of Inventions, though wacky and ridiculous, is remarkably thought-provoking. It will spark the intellect of readers of all ages. The book's introduction is all about thinking like an inventor-how to come up with nutty and wild ideas that just might work, how not to take yourself too seriously, how to be willing to fail in order to succeed. They're all good lessons for would-be inventors and any kids just trying to expand their brainpower. This special book is a keeper that will have the entire family laughing and wondering about what could be.

Wits & Wagers Party Wits & Wagers Party
Ages: 8 & Up
North Star Games LLC, $29.99

Wits & Wagers Party is an absolute riot for all ages. It is a trivia game where all the answers are numbers and no one is really expected to know the answer. Each team (or individual player) takes an answer board, a dry erase pen and 2 betting tokens then a designated player reads one of the 250 trivia questions. Teams write their best guess on their board and all the boards are placed on the table in numerical order, starting with the Elvis impersonator card that is marked with "1". Teams place betting tokens on the card they believe is closest to the true answer without going over; this can be their own card or any other, and bets can be placed on one or two cards. The correct answer is read and teams collect poker chips for writing the winning answer and for every betting token on the winning card. The team with the most poker chips at the end of the 7th round is the winner.

Band Hero Band Hero
Ages: 10 & Up
Activision, Inc., $199.99

Band Hero (Wii) has some definite upsides for virtual rock 'n' rollers, starting with the fun and carefree Party Play mode, which makes getting started playing nearly effortless. You'll be playing a tune in no time! More laid-back than past versions, Band Hero (Wii) also lets you combine whatever "instruments" (the peripheral controllers disguised as plastic pseudo instruments) you want, drop a song and try something else at any time, drop or add a band member, create a mini set list for your band, all sorts of easy apps. Even better, Band Hero (Wii) is more forgiving than ever of band members who aren't quite in sync (like that younger sibling who botches songs).


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