This is Day 1 of the 30 Days of Giving: Making Christmas Meaningful campaign, which is designed to bring the community creative and practical ways to cheerfully give this holiday season through gifts, relationships and charity. Come visit the 30 Days of Giving Advent Calendar each day in our countdown to Christmas for intriguing and original ways to help you to experience and spread the spirit of joyful giving that God intended throughout the holiday season.

Watching a child light up with joy as he opens that special gift on Christmas morning is priceless. If you are searching for just the present for your little one, check out these sure-to-please Christmas gift ideas.

Hottest Toys of 2013

Not that long ago, three little words uttered in any store that sold toys could start a shopper-stampede … “Tickle Me Elmo.”

Every year, one or two must-have items fly off the shelves faster than they can be restocked.

Wondering what the “it” toys are this Christmas? Get the 411 on the hottest toys topping this years’ wish lists, straight from the experts. Toy retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us are only too happy to point us in the right direction of this year’s favorites for boys and girls alike, which include:

1. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Singin Storytime Puppy (boys and girls ages 6 months and up)

2. Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo (tops the list for boys and girls age 18 months and up)

3. LeapFrog, My Puppy Pals (boys and girls age 3-5 years)

4. Disney Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center (boys and girls age 3-5 years)

5. FurReal Friends (boys and girls age 4 years and up)

6. LeapFrog LeapPad Ultra Learning Tablet (boys and girls age 4-9 years)

7. Zoomer Interactive Dog by Spin Master (boys and girls age 5 years and up)

8. Furby Boom! by Hasbro (boys and girls age 6-12 years)

9. Bop It! Reaction Game by Hasbro (boys and girls age  8 years and up)

10. LEGO Minecraft (boys and girls age 10 years and up)

11. Tech Pet by Namco Bandai (boys and girls ages 12 and up)

Classic Toys

Like shiny patent-leather shoes and holiday plaids, some things never go out of style. If you’re looking for tried and true gift ideas for your little one this Christmas, consider age-appropriate versions of these timeless favorites, ideal for both boys and girls:

12. Teddy Bear– a sure-fire favorite

13. Building Blocks– stimulate the mind

14. Toy Wagon– the ultimate utility gift

15. Skates, Skateboard or Scooter*- keep ‘em active

16. Bikes*- always a favorite for neighborhood adventures

17. Sleds– be ready for a winter retreat

18. Table Games– when the weather outside is frightful

19. LEGOS– what kid doesn’t love ‘em?

20. Telescope– feed their imagination

21. Boxed Book Set– keep their minds engaged all year long                     

*Remember to include a helmet 

Gifts That Keep on Giving

Ideas for meaningful, special gifts that will delight your children are limited only by your imagination. Consider activities that your child loves and build a gift around it.

Purchase or print out a gift certificate for an activity, membership or trip and wrap it up – perhaps including a small treat or trinket to go along with the paper or plastic gift voucher – and you’ll have a wonderful gift for your child to open on Christmas morning. Some examples include:

22. Lessons or Specialty Camps – From exploring the zoo to horseback riding, diving lessons or dance classes, you can probably think of a class, program or camp that your child would enjoy.

23. Memberships – Whether it’s a gift for your child or for the whole family, there are a number of membership-types to consider from zoos to children’s museums. Seasonal memberships for water parks, skiing or snowboarding all make great gifts.

Many theme parks, like Six Flags, now offer memberships as an affordable way to enjoy their parks. Six Flags, for example lets you pay in low, monthly installments starting at around $6.50 a month per member for the same benefits as a season pass holder and more.

24. Subscriptions – Magazine subscriptions are always nice, but why not think outside the box – literally? From babies to toddlers, tweens to teens, there are monthly gift-box subscriptions for all ages. Your child will love getting packages from Little PnutsThe Happy Trunk or Green Kid Crafts, to list a few, addressed to her delivered to your home each month.

Gift-Giving Tips

Take note of the toys your child hones in on at day care, school or when visiting, but make sure to follow the age recommendations posted by the manufacturer suggests Consumer Reports. When in doubt, go with the classics. If you liked a toy as a child and it’s still on the market (and targeted to kids, not collectors), chances are good that your little one will like it, too.

Stay abreast of past and future recall notices for all the toys in your home by checking in with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the federal Government’s recall website.

Have a blessed Christmas and enjoy the gift of giving as their faces brighten up!

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