From the Cabbage Patch Dolls of decades ago to Tickle Me Elmo a few years back, there's always a hot toy that the kids are dreaming of during the holidays.
In the Hall household during the holidays, royalty rules.
"We are all about princesses in our house. We have little tiny princesses, big princesses, medium princesses," said mom Kristen Hall.
But figuring out what to buy the other kids in her life is an issue. And that's where Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht saves the day. She says ultimately, there are four hot groups to select from. The first is tech, no matter what the age.
"They're swiping before they're speaking sometimes and we're really embracing it because they're really learning the digital skills that they need for the 21st century," said Schacht.
For the little guys, the Leap Pad 2 is out now with a second camera and faster processor. Meantime, the iPad is all the rage for just about every other age. And now your tablet can actually turn into the game controller. The Air Hogs Hawk Eye helicopter is sure to be hot.
"Once they're airborne, they can take pictures, videos and share on all their social networks immediately," explained Schacht.
If you're looking for something more traditional than tech, construction toys are the second category. Lego is out with a line for girls these days. There are also chunkier versions for toddlers with little hands. Even Angry Birds is into the build-it craze.
"You're actually building the Angry Bird set, just like you see on the app," said Schacht.
Crafts are the third category, from the huge toy train you can color and crawl through to the Crayola Marker Air Brush to the Haute Couture Fashion Design set.
"Comes with fabric and cloth and everything they need, including mannequins and a real working sewing machine," said Schacht.
Pop culture rounds out the final toy category and this year Chuggington is taking train fans to a new level. It's over two-feet high. The radio-controlled Batman car comes pre-programmed with commands.
Disney's Doc McStuffins is in demand, along with Merida and Angus from the animated film "Brave."
The Toy Insider Mom says when it comes to buying, start now.
"Retailers are not overstocking, so if you see something that's really high on your child's list, you should buy it," she said.
Something else that's different this year is some stores are using QR Codes, little labels you can scan, on their shelves with toys. This allows you to still buy a toy and have it shipped to your home if it's sold out in the store.
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