1. A Teen Walks into a Toy Store...

    A Teen Walks into a Toy Store...

    A teen walks into a toy store, usually dragged by a parent searching for a birthday present for a younger sibling's classmate or a friend's new baby. Hunched shoulders, eyes glued to cell phone, furtive glances around store praying they don't run into anyone they know, and a complete lack of interest in any toy the parent enthusiastically asks their opinion of.

    I've seen it a thousand times while shopping with my own kids. It's not a fun experience. The bored teen is commonly sighted in big box stores across the nation, but seeing one in a specialty store makes for a whole different scenario. Especially a specialty toy store. Now, as we all know, the 13-18 year old crowd knows everything about anything, so it's a real thrill to watch a product catch their eye in a store they probably would have never walked into without a parent.

    A sunbeam lands on a Magic Sequin journal or mini-backpack, and the teen's face is suddenly lit up like a rainbow. The shock and awe of their pubescent face is priceless; a 14 year old has just discovered the backpack of their dreams. Drawn inexplicably towards this colorful display, it suddenly dawns on teens that this store has items that they want to buy! Crazy, huh?

    Everywhere they look, awesome age appropriate items are calling to them. An entire rack of PopSockets in a dizzying array of trendy designs that make it easier to take pictures with their cell phones, or even enable their cell to stand so videos are easier to watch? No way! And what is that on the game wall? A Harry Potter Challenge Game? But that's my favorite book/movie series, and this store has games and puzzles my friends and I wouldn't be able to stop playing?

    Yes, I've seen this phenomenon happen, so parents, just sit back and let your teen explore.

    Has your tween been hinting about changing their bedroom into a somewhat more grown up space? Winking Cat pillows are perfect to match a new bed set, or even a Magic Flower Pot that's bluetooth compatible so touching a leaf makes a teen's favorite song really come to life! Imagine that sitting on a bedside table! Slumber Party coming up? Party 2 Go Karaoke microphone and disco ball is an instant hit!

    Filling out college applications, high school mid-terms, marching band competitions, team sports, etc. can be extremely stressful on young adults, as we all well remember. Let teens know we care about their stress and well being by treating them with DaBomb fizzy bath bombs for long, relaxing soaks in the tub, available in a delicious array of scents and surprise trinkets inside!

    Another fantastic anxiety reliever for teens is Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty! Too many choices of putty to list, holding and manipulating thinking putty while studying helps relieve test anxiety and helps with a teen's concentration!

    Want to turn that pouty teen's frown upside down? Bring them to the store with you, and watch magic happen! 

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  2. Is Your Kid a Control Freak?

    Is Your Kid a Control Freak?

    I'm not ashamed to admit that my children are complete control freaks. Yes, I said it. My gang can't get enough of any toy that can be controlled by a remote. If your family is going through the same situation, you can relax. This mom is here to help kids, and their parents, navigate the several new remote control offerings this holiday season. And there are more this year than ever before, trust me!

    Choosing the right RC toy isn't as hard as one would think, but I know how overwhelming it can be to innocently walk into a store and be confronted with dozens of different RC birds, trucks, cars, robots, etc. Your child's Christmas list just said "remote control toy". Awesome. It would be helpful if the adult buying the toy had a clue as to what kind of RC will make said letter writer squeal with delight, but he's a kid and that's not going to happen. So, after working in a toy store for 5+ years, and more importantly, raising my own brood for the past 18 years, here is my professional and personal advice.

    The first thing to consider when buying that dream RC is pretty obvious: the age of the child you are buying it for. Believe it or not, there are fantastic remotes for kids as young as 2 years old!

    Besides the look of utter disbelief and joy on a toddlers face after figuring out he's in control, RCs actually help promote hand-eye coordination, balance, and spatial thinking. My favorites are the soft fire truck RC by Kid Galaxy, and the brightly colored Wacky Wheels for the little ones. Large colorful buttons on the remotes allow toddlers to move the vehicle forward, backward, and in a circle. Nothing fancy, just really sturdy and fun! The soft rubberish body of the fire truck won't hurt little toes if there's a mishap, and furniture doesn't get even a scratch if hit. For a little more excitement, Wacky Wheels comes in a couple different styles: a helicopter with a rotating propeller or a VW bug inspired car with headlights that really light up!

    For the older kids, there are some truly exciting options out there this year. The one I'm most excited about is the Auto Moto. You have to see this transforming remote/voice controlled car to believe it! It's a sleek, beautifully designed sports car that, with a simple touch of a button or a one word voice command, actually transforms into a robot! Seriously, what kid doesn't love cars and robots? Can't think of any can you? Me neither! For the 8 and up set, the Auto Moto is a sure winner all the way around. Another great option for that age group is the Voice 'N Go Racer. Ready for this? Kids wear the remote on their wrist and speak into it for voice commands! Nothing makes playtime in the neighborhood cooler than pretending to be James Bond. Enough said.

    Now let's talk about the flying remote controls on hand this year. The most important and helpful thing I can say about these toys is you must make sure there is plenty of space when these flying gadgets take off. I'll never forget the year two of my kids got drones from Santa, they were tickled that he brought exactly what they had asked for. What tickled these kids more however, was watching mom run from the house to the car with an umbrella over her head shrieking "Don't hit me with that thing!" The neighbors enjoyed that little show as well. Anyhoo, my point is if you buy a child a flying remote control gadget, give them enough space to actually be able to conduct manuevers with their toy, and not worry about obstacles during play.

    This year, Ebirds is offering two styles of RC flying toys: a pigeon and a butterfly. The first thing to catch my eye when I first ran into these was the brightly colored, very detailed designs on the wings of each style. They really are a sight to see, the pigeon is decorated with shades of blue and gray, and the butterfly is covered in a swirling pattern of pinks and purple. As you control the Ebirds with the easy to manuever buttons on the remote, these toys flap their wings and soar to heights I could not have imagined when I was growing up. Kids control the speed of the wings to determine how high or fast the Ebird will fly, and it's super cool to be in control during take off and landing, just like a real bird!

    Have a racing fan in your life? If you answered yes, as 9 out of 10 parents do, then I've got one more awesome RC to write about. New on the market this year, it's already won awards for inovation and unique play! The product is called Zipes Speed Pipes, and kids use the remotes to race each other on a track they've designed themselves. What makes this RC set different from others on the market is the fact that the tracks aren't your traditional flat tracks we had when we were kids. No cars flying off tracks, hitting the dog, cracking a window, etc. etc. (speaking from experience here, told you to trust me). The "tracks" these mini cars race on are actually clear pipes that snap together to transform into a child's dream design.

    Seriously, if a kid loves construction, engineering, design, and fast, light up cars, Zipes will be your dream too. The design possibilities are endless, and kids will have a ball controlling their cars to run up and down walls, over tables, or even through a series of loops. Here's the best part about Speed Pipes: there are extension packs and extra cars with remotes on the market! Kids can keep adding pipes and cars to their track designs, so the fun just keeps going!

    After all of my descriptions and advice about the hottest new RCs available this year, I hope I've helped point all of you gift givers in the right direction. If I've at least given you a starting point and narrowed the choices down just a tad, then my work here is done. Have a lovely weekend, thanks for trusting this well intentioned mama, and don't forget to buy batteries. Lots and lots of batteries. Again, trust me.

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  3. Come Play at Elfstravaganza 2017!

    Come Play at Elfstravaganza 2017!

    It's here! The most wonderfuntastical time of the year!

    Join us Saturday, November 11th from 9am-2pm at Wonder Works in the Belle Hall Shopping Center for the very merry Holiday Elfstravaganza! Not only is admission FREE for the whole family - every child will receive their very own FREE toy to take home! We are so ready to get into that holiday spirit!

    Come play with the hottest toys of the year, presented by 20 of the nation's top toy vendors! See what's trending this holiday season and let the little ones play and engage - the perfect way to preview just how much play value your family will get with each toy on their list! Raffles will be held throughout the event, so be sure to sign up and see if your family wins an extra special present this year!

    Elfstravaganza is truly fun for the whole family! Live entertainment includes local musicians, extreme pogo shows by the Xpogo Stunt Team, and WCBD's Rob Fowler as MC. We can't wait to see all ages running around playing laser tag, getting their goo on at giant slime and putty stations, and showing off their colorful face painting creations! Don't forget to stop by and meet teen entrepreneur and boss babe, Margo Gianos of Honestly Margo. She'll be signing books and dropping words of wisdom about dreaming big, taking chances, and making those dreams come true!

    Kick off the holiday season with letters to Santa (we have special delivery status to the North Pole), cookie decorating, and meeting an honest-to-goodness Elf on the Shelf! But don't worry, the Elf gets special dispensation from Santa to get BIG and give GIANT hugs for this very special occasion. After all, ELFstravaganza is named after him! Continue to build that holiday anticipation with interactive wishlists from ioKids and holiday craft activities. And of course, the main event of the season, SANTA! Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit between 10am and 1pm. Be sure to say hi and let them know you'll be doing your part to spread Christmas cheer - they've got a busy month ahead of them!

    Our own Wonder Works elves will be on hand to wrap your holiday gifts, FREE of charge! In the spirit of the holidays, donations will be accepted on behalf of three local children’s charities: Keys for Hope, Hugs for Harper, and the newly created Johnny Slick Foundation, which offers afterschool initiatives, foster programs, and assistance to homeless families with children. Your generous spirit and joyful sense of community makes our lowcountry family truly special! Can't wait to see you all at our annual Holiday Elfstravaganza to celebrate YOU!

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  4. Holiday Gift Guide

    Holiday Gift Guide

    The 2017 Holiday Gift Guide is here!

    Preview the hottest gifts of the holiday season with our one of a kind e-catalog!

    Click to find top gifts for silly, creative, fun-loving kids of all ages!

    Best of all, flip through to the end for an EXCLUSIVE coupon code for 20% off one item through the end of October!

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  5. Calling All Archers in Training!

    Calling All Archers in Training!

    If your little one is an aspiring archer, then does Wonder Works have the toy for you! The Faux Bow Pro from Marky Sparky Toys is a cool twist on the classic sport of archery! This durable faux bow gets kids outside for hours of active play! Not only does this set help the development of hand-eye coordination, but it also inspires creativity as kids can build their own targets. We all know active play is the best kind of play, and this toy is sure to get the kids up and moving

    The three included "Impact Arrows" are totally unique, so much so that the arrows are patent-pending! Ultra-lightweight and extremely strong, these arrows can fly over 200 feet! The foam arrow tips are designed to bounce off targets which is both fun and safe. No need to worry about injury or damage! Designed to be shot left OR right handed!

    Concerned about losing arrows? Not with this clever bow design. The quiver clip on bow holds all three arrows so rapid launch is quick and easy! Each Faux Bow Pro Set includes 1 Faux Bow Pro with fiberglass limbs and assembled bow tips, three arrow quiver clip, 3 patented “Impact Arrows,” 1 Bowstring with Finger Guards, and 2 Arrow rests.

    The Faux Bow Pro is designed for ages 10 and up!

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