7 small gifts that will be BIG hits this holiday season

I'm bored Jar

Landfill Toy – Land*fill*toi (n) - a small  plastic toy with a play lifespan under 30 minutes, guaranteed to be tossed aside and ultimately embedded in the foot of an unsuspecting adult (like you). Commonly used to supplement the big Christmas / 8th night of Hanukkah gifts.

Can we all agree that landfill toys will be banned from our 2013 holiday celebrations? I don’t know about you but I dread that feeling when I purge all the discarded junk in my house on Jan 2. I get plenty of guilt from my mom (Catholic) and my MIL (Jewish). Nor do I need to experience the familiar shooting pain when I accidentally step on one.

This year join me as I eliminate guilt and pain related to the common stocking stuffer / early Hanukkah filler with small but spectacular gifts. Because small toys can be winners – not only do they keep kids busy during the holidays, they  travel well. Which means they’ll be lifesavers at the airport, on the tarmac, in a traffic jam on the way to grandma’s house – or any other time you can’t stomach bored, shrill voices screeching “HOW MUCH LONGER??????????”.

Without further ado, here are 7 gifts to keep  your spirits and sanity intact:

1. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty – Age 3 and up: Crazy Aaron’s thinking Putty is upgraded Putty – it comes packed in a neat little tin that doesn’t leak, never dries out, and comes in many radical styles including magnetic, iridescent, glow in the dark, etc. Kids can do a variety of experiments with the putty and if they need ideas, Crazy Aaron (he’s real) has posted a bunch of videos on YouTube.


2. Squigz – Age 3 and up –  fun, innovative building toys. They adhere to each other (or anything, really) with suction, making for are endless possibilities. You can build up, sideways, down, diagonal, etc. Just launched this year, they’ve already won numerous awards – you will look extremely on top of your game with these.



3. Tegu – Age 3 – 103 (seriously): Beautiful building blocks with a conscience – eco friendly, easy to use (the ends of each piece contains magnets so again – endless building possibilities). Best of all, the company gives back to the region of Tegucigalpa where the wood is sustainably farmed. I recommend the car kits.



4. Tenzi -Age 4 and up: A thrilling dice game that will hook you and your kids from the first roll. Only child? No problem – it can be played alone! More than one child? Up to four players can duel it out using the basic rules or one of the 10 different variations.





5. Klutz Kits – Age 6 and up: These kits are interesting, easy to follow along, and addictive. For younger kids, I love Cat’s Cradle, which is a lost art that girls (and boys) can do on their own.

Nano Terrier

6. Nanoblocks – Age 7 and up: If you could shrink Legos you would Nanoblocks. These kits come in small, resealable pouches with several pieces (60 and up), to build the dandiest little creatures. Alpaca anyone? Parrot? Polar Bear? Tree Frog? I’ve tried my hand at building one and due to the number of pieces and the size it definitely takes a good 45 minutes of intense concentration – not counting the playtime once they’re constructed. Challenge two kids to a contest to see who can build them the fastest.



7. Spirograph!!! YES THE TOY WE ALL GREW UP WITH!! If you remember Spirograph as a kid, it’s back and it’s fantastic. This is definitely a gift for the older child – age 8-14 although a 7 year old can manipulate it with intense concentration (i.e quiet time for you!!!). It comes a bunch of spirograph wheels, putty (to hold the spirograph in place), writing instruments, a full color Designers Guide, including fundamentals of drawing with Spirograph and for the novices,  step-by-step instructions for creating your own designs

In fact, don’t worry about the kids. Get this at least toy for yourself. Once your kids see how much fun you’re having they may realize it’s time to play with their toys – either way, mission accomplished.

Happy almost holidays!

Cristina Sierra_14







Hi there! I’m the founder of NeverMissGift.com, a site for well-intentioned but busy people who are tired of forgetting their nieces’, nephews’, godchildren or any other kids’ birthdays and holidays. Feel free to connect via Twitter @nevermissgift or Facebook (www.facebook.com/nevermissgift) for gift ideas and a little dry humor….

Finally: a game for kids that you deserve

Hot Picture

Join me on a 5 minute journey and I’ll prove to you the dice game Tenzi, while positioned as a game for kids, is really made for you.

It was a typical hot day in August here in Texas. You know what August days are like in Texas? Hot. Not Africa hot, not Vegas hot, but a unique version of hot that can best be expressed thusly:


The kind of hot that evokes words like “blazing”, “humid” and “unbearable”. It was August, the end of summer, and the ennui (fancy word for boredom) set in – along with TV Ads for school clothes, supplies, shoes, and whatever else could plausibly be tagged as a “back to school” item.

But I digress – the natives (a 10, 9, and 7 year old) peered out at the pool contemplating how long it would take to layer enough sunblock to avoid spontaneous combustion in the 104 degree heat.

Then, out of the blue, mom walked in with a spring in her step. What was up her sleeve? (they wondered).

The answer: Tenzi



Tenzi is a dice game. An award winning dice game. But “game” doesn’t do it justice – it’s an all out assault against your opponents. It requires fast reflexes, eagle eyes, and the ability to make decisions – QUICKLY. It can be played with 1 to 4 players who each get 10 dice.

Here’s how it works:

When someone yells “GO!” each player begins rolling furiously trying to be the first to roll all 10 of the same number first at which point the winner can SEIZE VICTORY BY YELLING “TENZI!!!!”.

Can’t you feel the excitement??? Take THAT, ennui. As a bonus, there are 10 variations of Tenzi included in the Tenzi package and more (73 at last count) in a booklet sold separately.

Here’s how our young friends describe the game after playing with it for a few days:

1. “Fun!”, “Cool!”, “Different” – different is key (which is why it’s in bold). No one likes to play the same game repeatedly. Different leads to curiosity, leads to let’s check this out, leads to let’s play another round this time I go first. Leads to mom having ‘me time’. A good result.

2. “Could be used at parties”, “Could be used for stacking”, “Could be used on a trip” – aha! It’s compact and travels well, also versatile (name another toy that can be used for ‘stacking’ in less than 2 minutes – didn’t think so).

3. The best part of the game? “It can be played lots of different ways”, “it’s great for competing against others” – IMPORTANT – Tenzi comes with instructions to play it 10 different variations. Think you’ll get bored of this game? Not bloody likely, my friend. Not until you’ve exhausted all 10 variations and even then all you need to do is add another player and it’s a whole new game.

And what about competition? Healthy competition, I mean. Limit the stealing of diaries, chasing each other in an attempt to beat each other to a pulp, general name calling (somewhat). Open up to competition between reflexes, dexterity, and mental cognition.

To summarize, Tenzi: if you’re not playing it or giving it to your kids to play with, stocking up to have it on hand to give as an awesome birthday gift, you’re stuck with a bunch of whining kids on a hot / rainy / snowy / freezing day or scrambling around for a last minute birthday gift for the umpteenth birthday party of the year.

And don’t you deserve better???

Of course you do. You deserve a calm setting with a bunch of kids having fun while you enjoy a nice glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc / rich Pinot Noir /  warming Cabernet (based on your preference) and whatever else tickles your fancy.

Want to know more about Tenzi or other shockingly awesome toys for kids age 0-100? Follow me here on Twitter or check out our site’s gift gallery…always happy to share what I’ve found.



“Likes or comments are to a blogger what catnip is to ____”  (a: kangaroos b: aardvarks c: cats d: unicorns) 

Cristina Sierra_14






Cristina, Founder NeverMissGift

You have an active kid. I have an answer: Ogosport.

It’s summer and you have an active kid on your hands who is looking for something different, engaging, fun, that can be played in the water or on land (hey, kids are fickle. I get it.) To this I say: meet Jenie Fu.

Who? (You Say)

Jenie Fu; before there was Debbie Sterling, there was Jenie, the design force behind one of my all time favorite companies, Ogosport. Ogosport has a variety of quirky toys for kids but I particularly love the line of active toys including the OgodiskRaq.

This toy is cool because:



  • It works for both young and old, literally – from a 4 year old to my dad who is in his 60s and has health issues and no hand eye coordination, (those are his words).
  • It builds hand eye coordination and can adapt to many sports like volleyball (I used the OgodiskRaq when I was coaching my daughter’s 8 and under volleyball team to help the 5 / 6 year olds understand the mechanics of an underhand serve). It also adapts to baseball, and tennis as you’ll see in the review, below.
  • It can be used on land or in the water since the ball floats and all the materials involved are water friendly and will dry quickly. It’s a fabulous beach toy.

The Raq includes two disks, which act like mini trampolines allowing kids to get real distance (up to 150 feet) and one ball which has some unique features (more on that in a few lines). A child can play by him / herself or with someone else. That’s particularly great, since so many action junkies require a partner or a team and really, sometimes a mom / dad / aunt / uncle / grandparent needs a nap / drink / bathroom break.

It has an easy grip handle, allowing for better control and a bit more power, and the ball that is included has some nifty features. It can be modified to slow down or speed up which makes it that much more adaptable to kids with varying abilities.

Another great point about the ball – it is soft, won’t sink in the water, and won’t cause damage if used indoors.

So that’s why I love it. It’s fun, gets kids (and adults) moving, and as one mom puts it, “a great stress relief!”. Huh. That begs the question – to whom was she directing her shots? Are they okay?

But don’t take my word for it, check out what Maddie and Brayton, two of my kid toy testers thought of it….

What words did you think of when you first saw it?

M&B: Cool, Fun, Interesting

What did you think you could use it for? Name 2 things – playing doesn’t count:

M&B: Tennis Practice, Hand & Eye coordination skills

After Playing with it, what did you like best about it?

M&B: That it was a partner & solo game

Maddie & Olivia

Maddie and her bff, Olivia



Here’s their full review: Maddie Bran Toy Review.






Cristina Sierra