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Holiday gifts for the kids that are even better than electronics

Holiday gifts for the kids that are even better than electronics

Instead of breaking the bank, you can go for these unique gems

December 9th, 2012 by Daryl Nelson of ConsumerAffairs in News

Sometimes it's hard not to get jealous when you see the many gadgets that kids have access to today.

Although a lot of children still love classic holiday gifts like dolls and train sets, tons of kids have their eyes set higher, usually on pricey smartphones, nifty little tablets and handheld computer games.

And just about every consumer survey this year shows that electronics will be the most coveted gift for the young ones this holiday season, and with all of the ads and commercials about buying kids electronics this year, one could easily forget that there are other gifts that don't have to be charged, and are just as good.

And what are some of these wonderful toys, you may ask?

Snowball thrower

One of the first items that caught my attention was the Arctic Force Snowball Crossbow, which is a great gift for any child that has to hold their own among the neighborhood kids during a snowball fight, where it's every kid for themself.

Unlike a new video game or an iPad mini, the Snowball Crossbow will encourage outside play and exercise, while allowing kids to add a new and fun twist to the old art of snowball throwing. To use the crossbow is really simple too.

All one has to do is put together the appropriate-sized snowball for the battle at hand, load it into the launcher and aim at their desired target.

The Snowball Crossbow, which is made of a light-weight plastic, can be used by children as young as 8 years of age, but it could also be fun for adults. By purchasing a few of the crossbows at once, Mom and Dad can also arm themselves in a family snow fight. It sounds dangerous but we're told it's not. Parents should take a careful look before turning kids loose with it.

The toy weapon even comes with a vinyl target for practicing.

The Arctic Force Snowball Crossbow is made by Wham-o and you can purchase it on several online stores like Amazon, which has it for $50.

Personalized novels

Another great holiday gift that isn't just another trendy electronic, is by a company called Book By You--which allows parents to personalize children's novels, so the child is the star of story and the character contains their personal features like eye and hair color.

When ordering a book through the company's website, parents fill out a character questionnaire that will determine who is in the story, what they look like and what other characters are in the novel.

How cool would it be if you could read your child a bedtime story, they turn out to be the hero in the plot and the rest of their characters in the book are their friends?  

Each story is prewritten so the questionnaire simply plugs in certain details of the story that will hopefully engage your child that much more into the story. Book By You is also great for kids who aren't too enthusiastic about reading, as allowing them to co-author a novel is great incentive for them to give it a page turn.

Also, the books aren't on a kindle or tablet, they're the paperback books of old, which makes it a bit cooler for some reason. You can also purchase hardcover editions.

Paperback books go for $24.95 on the company's website and hardcovers are $44.95. Shipping isn't included.

Plasma bike

For smaller kids, as young as 18-months of age, there's the Plasma Bike, which is meant to be a child's first bicycle that teaches balance.

But what's different about this first bike is the no training wheels, and the two wheels that the bike does have are wide enough to provide the proper amount of steadiness on each side.

And since the Plasma Bike allows children to learn how to ride on a two wheeler, it can help them along in their confidence by avoiding training wheels and allowing them to feel a little grown- up.

The bike also comes fully assembled and you can find it for $58.67 on Amazon, which is a fairly good price. Target and Walmart have it too.

Flying rocket

Another popular non-electronic gift item that's making the holiday rounds is the Bandito Flying Rocket Kit, which can be purchased for under $10 or up to $80, depending on the type of rocket and kit you select.

What's great about the Bandito is that families can build a rocket together from the ground up, quite literally.  Once you and your child spend time putting the rocket together, you then get to see it take off and then come down softly by parachute.  There's something about building a toy and getting it to work, that makes it a little more special.

The company also says the rockets aren't hard to put together and in most cases they can be assembled in about an hour, so you and your child don't have to spend the whole day inside with a bunch of hard-to-read-instructions.

So remember, you don't have to get electronics for your children this holiday season, as they'll have an entire lifetime to be totally consumed with gadgetry just like many of us are.

There are tons of inexpensive gifts on the market that will encourage both play and quality family time. And quite honestly, there's no better gift than that for the holidays.