If you’re hosting any holiday parties this year, you know how much work can go into a “fun” evening with family and friends. The good news is help is right around the corner…if you’re willing to splurge on it. We’ve compiled our wish-list of our dream party products.
Cool Cleaner: Dyson’s Animal Complete (DC41) is a dream machine for vacuuming up before and after your big shindig. The unit comes with a genius tangle-free turbine tool that sucks up pet (and guest) hair out of the carpet. It’s also awesome for parents who have kids kids with long, vac-killing locks (sorry, Mom). While Dyson is the designer vacuum, it does all the dirty work…and makes tons of accessories for just about any hairy situation. Click here for details.
Easy Bake: Bread, desserts, cookies for Santa–keep them all yummy for your party go-ers with NewMetro Design’s Dome Savers. The containers vacuum seal at the press of a button, so your fruitcake can stay fresh into the new year. Click here for details.
Live Entertainment: Get a big show from a little box with 3M’s innovative Streaming Projector. The portable device uses Roku to project TV shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, HBO GO, and more. Or you can just wow your guests with a screening of a life-size home movie on your living room wall. Click here for details.
During the holiday season, there are gadgets and gizmos a plenty, but the tech that caught our eye this year is the key to an great gift for that special someone (or yourself). These cases, stands, and tablets come with awesome keyboards to make typing on a device a breeze. Check them out.
For the iPad owner: Cygnett’s Lavish Connect has a Bluetooth keyboard cleverly attached to the protective case through built-in magnets. It tucks inside for easy storage and travel. Plus, the space-saver also has a kickstand on the back for instant movie night. Click here for details.
For the multi-device owner: If your husband, dad, or friend is one of those guys who has so many devices you (and probably he) can’t keep track of them all, Brookstone’s Tablet Station and Keyboard is a smart solution. The universal stand works with most tablets, comes with a detachable Bluetooth keyboard, and has two USB ports to charge multiple gadgets at once. Click here for details.
For the laptop lover: Of all the new gadgets that could be under our tree this year, we’re hoping Microsoft’s new Surface is wrapped and waiting. The nifty device combines what’s best about tablets (touch screen, apps, user-friendliness, portability) with what we love about laptops. The attention-grabber is the flashy removable keyboard (available in different colors) that clicks into the bottom of the device. But it also comes loaded with Windows 8, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and other laptop favorites. Click here for details.
Looking for a last-minute gift for your adult friends and family? Check out Livrada! These e-book gift cards fit perfectly in holiday cards or even make great stocking stuffers. The best part is you don’t have to know which tablet your friend uses. The included code works for the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and devices that can use their reading apps (such as the iPad). The gift cards are $10 and up. Click here for more information.
Last week my family and I got to see “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, running through December 30. It was completely cute–a fun blend of the book’s graphic look, the movie’s sly humor, and the beloved TV special’s plot and music. The Grinch himself, played by Jeff McCarthy, had kids and grownups laughing–gotta love a villian who can make my easily spooked 4-year-old smile. (McCarthy’s Grinch is a bit of a ham.) And while the show sticks closely enough to the story we all know, there are enough little surprises, such as when the audience is encouraged to sing along to “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” to keep you on your toes.
My daughters loved the character of Cindy-Lou Who. The actress who played her the night we went, 8-year-old Tori Feinstein (see right), is as adorable as they come. (Abigail Shapiro alternates in the role.) I chatted with Tori this morning about her experience so far. If you think your schedule is busy this time of year, Tori’s might rival it, with three-hour tutoring sessions between as many as three shows a day. My 7-year-old wanted me to ask Tori: Do you get scared on stage? Her answer was a quick, “Um, no!” And that’s clear when you see her. She’s a natural, having been acting since she was 5. Tori’s favorite part of the show is when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes–and my kids loved that, too, since his heart appears as an actual big blinking red light.
Tickets are still available and start at $40, so if you’ll be in the New York City area for the holidays, consider this show for a fun family escape.
If you’re an Angry Birds AND Star Wars fan, you’re in luck this year! Now your family can shoot for the stars with Angry Birds’ new line of movie-themed toys, games, and an app, of course. We particularly liked Hasbro’s play sets for little jedi and princesses, which include the awesome Death Star version of the game Jenga, complete with a piggy Darth Vader. May the anger be with you!
If you and your kids are long-time fans of Ranger Rick magazines, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recently celebrated the magazine’s 50th anniversary by launching a new series, Ranger Rick, Jr., aimed at kids ages 4-7. The first issue (December 2012/January 2013) focuses on lions and introduces Ricky the Raccoon and Sammy the Skunk, friends who serve as guides to introduce fascinating facts, gorgeous photos, and fun games, activities, and stories. The new magazine’s format is simpler and the text is easier to read; plus, each new issue contains a pull-out poster that kids can display on their walls. (A subscription of 10 issues costs $19.95.)
Along with the magazine, the NWF also joined forces with Moonbot Studios and released a storybook app just for the iPad. In the Ranger Rick Jr. Appventures — Lions! app, Ricky the Raccoon and Lars the Lion help kids learn how lions in the African grasslands live. The app has an abundance of interactive stories, games, puzzles, music, and other features. (The app is now available on iTunes for $4.99.)
To also mark the 50th anniversary of Ranger Rick, the NWF collaborated with Fablevision Studios (founded by children’s book author Peter H. Reynolds) to create the magazine’s first iPad app, Ranger Rick’s Tree House. Geared toward kids ages 7-12, Ranger Rick brings kids to visit his home, a tree house in Deep Green Wood. Kids explore every nook and cranny of the tree house and customize it with seasonal decorations. Similar to the Ranger Rick Jr. app, older kids also learn aspects of outdoor wildlife by watching videos and playing interactive games and activities; there are also badges to be won and collected. (The app is now available on iTunes for $19.99, which includes an annual subscription of 4 issues with monthly bonus updates. Single issues are $4.99 with two monthly bonus updates.)
Help your kids learn more about animals and their natural habitats with these creative and educational magazines and apps.
Travel back in time with this weekend’s family-friendly release, Dino Time. The 3-D film features voices by Rob Schneider, Jane Lynch, Melanie Griffith, and Stephen and William Baldwin. Check out the trailer below.
It’s around this time of year that families like to cuddle up and watch a good movie, and what could be better on a cold night than a little Disney magic? To help kick the holidays into high gear, we’re giving away a basket full of hit Disney flicks to one lucky reader! The prize pack includes Cinderella, Finding Nemo, Brave, The Secret of the Wings, and Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups. Enter to win by posting a comment below. We’ll pick a winner in a random drawing. For the full rules, click here. Goody luck!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., 21 years and older. Begins: 9:00 a.m. E.T. on December 7, 2012. Ends: 9:00 a.m. E.T. on December 14, 2012. Subject to Official Rules at www.goodyblog.com. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Meredith Corporation.