'I'm the mean mom': The holiday season's hottest toys and how to avoid the hype

'I'm the mean mom': The holiday season's hottest toys and how to avoid the hype

Every Christmas, there is always one toy that pushes parents to mob shopping malls in a mass hysteria only the holiday season can incite.

Nicola Doherty, a mother of three, and a blogger with Alberta Mamas avoids these frenzied trends like the plague.

"It's really stressful, especially when you know that toy is going to be played with for a couple of days, maybe a week, and then you're not going to see it again," Doherty said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It's just like the fidget spinners. We had a fidget-spinner-free house. I knew it would be cool for five minutes and then it would be just  another thing for me to pick up."

From action figures to play sets, there is a long tradition of holiday hysteria around toys. 

In 1996, parents famously toppled over each other to get their hands on a Tickle Me Elmo.

Mobs fought over the furry red Muppet and parents charged toy stores and paid enormous sums for the Sesame Street character that giggled and shook for belly rubs.

Two years later, the Furby, a furry creature that spoke a gibberish language, sparked a similar toy craze.

This year, tiny animatronic monkeys that perch on your hand much like a finger puppet are expected to be the toy of the season, Doherty said.

"The hottest toy this year is the Fingerling," Doherty said. 

"It's sort of the like the Furby where you can talk to it, and it responds to talking and touching, and it's small and there's nothing little kids like better than teeny, tiny toys."

Fingerlings are interactive and relatively inexpensive at roughly $20 a pop, said Doherty. She bought a pair in October, but they may be hard to find now.

"I got one for my niece and one for my daughter, and when I went to pick it up ... there was a limit of two. So if there was a limit of two in October, then they're going to be hard to find fairly soon."

With the pending release of George Lucas blockbuster The Last Jedi, anything Star Wars-related is also going to be a hot seller this year, she said.

Fingerlings and Jedi masters

Last Christmas season, Hatchimals, furry little robots that hatch from an egg and respond to cues, were among the year's top-selling toys.

Doherty decided early on that the bird-like robots weren't worth the hype.

"I'm the mean mom that didn't get the Hatchimal, because I knew what was going to happen," she said. "They would love it for five minutes and then it would just be stuck at the bottom of the toy box."

Doherty encourages parents to think hard about what kind of toys their kids will really enjoy, long term. 

If you know your child will lose interest in a toy after a few hours, don't spend hours of frazzled shopping trying to buy one. 

"If it's something that I know that they will really love …. that I know they will spend hours playing with, then I'll go for it,  but otherwise I'm the mean mom."

For older kids, she recommends parents avoid the mobs and think about gifting experiences, rather than toys.

Movie tickets, ski passes or even a photo or memory book can make the perfect gift for an active pre-teen, who is no longer interested in puppets and dolls.

"I think there's lots of different things you can give that are not toys," she said.

"I know, as my kids are getting bigger, we're trying the limit the amount of toys … because our house is full of stuff."

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.