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Parents are expected to spend an average of $400 on “kids, parents and other family members” this year.
That’s according to the National Retail Federation, and while they don’t provide a per-person breakdown, it’s probably safe to assume kids take up the bulk of that – after all, who gets the most presents?
Keeping up with the latest trends while staying within budget can be tough. In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson shares what retailers say are among the hottest toys of the season, each under $10. Check it out, then read on for more.
Here’s a recap of the toys Stacy mentioned and a couple more, with links to the lowest price we could find… (Forewarning: Online prices tend to fluctuate more than in retail stores.)
- Trash Pack ($8.75 at Amazon): This set of five “Trashies” – squishy little rubber figures in trash cans – is a great start to collecting them. (There are apparently more than 100.)
- Ugly Dolls ($10 from vendor): What started out as something silly between an artistic couple became a popular franchise with books and plush toys. These small ones (about 7 inches tall) are called “Little Uglies,” while the classic 12-inch size is $20.
- Angry Birds plush ($7 on Amazon): These are popular even among adults because of the incredibly successful casual puzzle game by Rovio. The small ones (5 inches) range between $7 and $10 on Amazon for different types, with the iconic red one the cheapest. They make sounds from the game when squeezed. They also come in mini (3 inches), large (8 inches), and jumbo (24 inches), but all cost more.
- Moshi Monsters ($9.99 at Toys R Us): Another popular plush collectible – seeing a pattern? – that’s part of a free online game. Spend $20 on these at Toys R Us and they throw in Moshi Monsters Magazine and a couple of other offers.
- Annoying Orange ($9.99 at Toywiz): At 3.5 inches, this seems a little more expensive than other talking plush toys on the list. But it says at least eight annoying phrases from the popular YouTube videos.
- Xia-Xia ($8.50 at Toys R Us): Remember the Zhu Zhu pets that were popular in 2009? Now the same company is making these colorful collectible crabs that dance. (Yes, that means batteries, but they’re included.)
- FyrFlyz ($9.75 at Amazon): This spinning toy has LEDs and can be used to create swirling patterns of light, and comes in different colors.
If you have a little more money in the budget, you might take a look at Toys R Us’ 2011 list of top 15 toys, which includes things like a $230 two-seat dune racer. But if your budget’s tight, there are other things you could try.
You could make up your own “get out of punishment” (or chores!) cards, as Stacy suggested in the video. And since most popular cheap toys are just stuffing and fabric (or plastic) anyway, you could also sew simple stuffed animals of your own. About.com has a list of cheap craft gifts that can be made for a couple bucks or with supplies you already have too.
If you’re in truly dire straights, another option is to look into donation programs. Churches, nonprofits, and sometimes schools organize Christmas donations for needy families through programs like The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. But for those reluctant to ask for help, realize that you probably won’t find registration forms online – you’ll need to call and speak with someone, or visit in person.
You can also save on gifts for people who will be more understanding about it than the kids – our story from last week, 18 Tips to Save on Holiday Shopping, can help.