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6 Hot holiday toys, and what to ‘buy’ your kids instead

Every revolution starts with one act of courage, one voice of dissent, one sheep (note: not one lambie — keep reading, and you’ll understand more later) that decides to stray from the herd. And this year, I’ll be that revolutionary.

I’m boycotting the hottest gifts of the season.

In previous years the hottest toys have been my go-to not only for my own kids but for all the other kids in my gift-giving vortex as well. They were the answer to the age-old question, “What do you get for a kid who has everything?” Instead of being a singular question, however, focused on that one kid (you know the one…), the modern-day version has morphed into a question that has made the hottest toys an even greater necessity in our lives: “What do you get for all the kids who have everything?” Because it’s no longer just the rich kid living on Park Avenue. It’s now two out of three kids you encounter on any given street or playground.

More: Mom defends her ‘disgusting’ Christmas tree photo

And I can’t take it anymore. I mean, literally, my Brooklyn apartment can’t take anymore stuff, but more important, I can no longer stand to look at all my kids’ excess and justify giving away the dinosaur I just bought 365 days ago to buy this year’s bigger, better and more expensive model. Nor can I continue to watch my mini-mes become mini-monsters who have far too much and value far too little.

So, in lieu of celebrating this year’s list of the Best Goods for Spoiled Kids, I’m putting together my own list: the Best Goals for Un-Spoiled Kids. (Thanks, Ron Lieber of The New York Times, for coining the “Un-Spoiled kids” terminology.) So for any of you who are ready to stand with me and start the revolution against stuff-trash-consumerism-plastic-waste-excess-landfills, let the revolution begin. I’m ready to take it on piece by plastic piece.

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo…

How about skip BeatBo’s bright beats, and instead turn on a free Pandora app, and have a dance contest with your kids (make sure you’re the judge if you want a shot at winning)? Then donate that $33 you didn’t spend to Dancing Dreams, which provides dance classes and performance opportunities for children with medical or physical challenges, or to Everybody Dance Now, a youth-run nonprofit organization that uses dance to promote healthy lifestyles and leadership development.

More: 16 Adorably crafty gifts kids can make themselves

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of the Smart Toy Bear, which reportedly “listens and adapts to your child to figure out their favorite activities”…

How about you ask your child what their favorite activities are and then write up some free coupons for them to use over the holiday season? Trip to the park? Ice cream outing with the family? Playing a soccer match against Dad? Reading a book with Mom? You can do all of that and then some for far less than the $90 price tag the Smart Bear charges you for learning your child’s interests.

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of your kid taking care of the Doc McStuffins Little Lambie…

How about your child help buy a little lamb to take care of a kid and his family? Through Heifer International, $120 can buy a family a sheep, or $10 can buy a share of a sheep. If you pass on spending $40 on Lambie, you could buy a full one-third of an actual sheep that could transform a family’s life.

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of Barbie Saddle ‘N Ride Horse…

How about you help your equine-loving child saddle up for life rather than saddling up for horseplay? Buy her a share of stock in Mattel or any of the other companies that make her favorite toys and brands. With the $40 you pocket from the toy horse, you can grab a share of stock or a diversified fund (try Betterment, which has no minimums) and teach her a lesson for a lifetime.

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of encouraging your daughter to shop for hot handbags and shoes to start her on her path to a Kardashian-inspired lifestyle…

How about spending that $33 to provide professional attire for disadvantaged women who are returning to the workforce through Dress for Success?

More: Dear Grandma, our kids can’t handle your massive load of presents

Image: Toys R Us

In lieu of buying a robotic droid for $140 (you didn’t have one of these growing up and still loved Star Wars)…

How about investing that $140 in your kid’s college fund? It will be worth $473 in 18 years, when they can spend $5 to rent Star Wars on the futuristic version of Netflix and the other $468 on their education.

Join the revolution today.



Start investing in your kid’s goals and dreams instead of their clutter.

Tanya Van Court is the CEO of, a site that lets kids register for goals in three categories — saving, sharing and spending — and helps them to start on their path to a life of goal creation and wealth creation rather than landfill creation.

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