This time of year, children of all ages are bombarded by promotions on their phones, tablets and television touting the hottest new toy for the holiday season. Parents are forced to wait in long lines or scour the internet in search of the must have gift of the season. It’s especially difficult for parents of young children who are certain Santa Claus will be capable of producing the elusive toy even if the parents are unsuccessful.

Past crazes have demonstrated the intensity of the pressure. Remember way back to Cabbage Patch Kids? Or, what parent can forget the craze of ’96, the year of violence and stampedes, when desperation caused parents to pay hundreds for a plush toy? Tickle Me Elmo was in short supply, due to the unexpected demand, and this led to secondary markets where the toy sold for hundreds of dollars. By Christmas, over a million Tickle Me Elmos had been sold and in most cases Santa’s reputation remained unsullied.

2018’s Hot Toys are sure to have several common attributes: your child has viewed the ads many times, the toy is already sold out or inventory is low and, when the toy is discovered, prices will be higher than parents want to pay.

Parents often ask, why don’t toy companies just manufacture more of the item? Apparently, it is because the slowest time for toy companies is right after Christmas and they know if the toy is popular enough and hot enough, parents will still purchase the toy after Christmas to fulfill their child’s hopes and dreams.

So, what is this year’s hottest toy? FurReal Munchin’ Rex (ages 4 and up) is already sold out in many locations. This plush toy responds to more than 35 sound and motion combinations when kids wave at it or feed it treats, which it will spit out if it doesn’t like them. This sounds a lot like my cat, and FYI there are lots of free cats at your local shelter and they won’t sell out before the holidays.

A few other toys which are looking hot this holiday season are: Harry Potter Coding Kit (this is a STEM focused toy for ages 6 and up); LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit (ages 9-14) with 878 pieces it’s sure to keep your child busy for a while; Don’t Step In It (ages 4 and up) is a game that involves not stepping in poop, we know kids love anything gross and this silly game is big hit and already selling out.

The teacher in me must add one popular intellectual game, Latice, which is a game of match and shift tiles that encourages cognitive and spatial skills through strategic thinking. The company says it takes 3 minutes to learn, 20 minutes to play and a lifetime to master. (2-4 players, ages 6 to adult).

Additionally, if you’re tripping over a plethora of toys lying about unused or finding it difficult to find storage for another bin of outgrown toys, a gift of an experience or adventure is a great idea. A family trip or a day alone doing something special with a parent or other adult can be just the ticket. Perhaps it’s not what they wrote on their list to Santa, but this is something children need and will surely enjoy, and it’s “hot” any time of year.

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