Soleil Moon Frye Shares Her Top Five Holiday Toys

12/18/2011 at 02:00 PM ET
Courtesy Target

As a mother of two and founder of the children’s store The Little Seed, Soleil Moon Frye certainly knows a great kid’s find when she sees one.

And with so many cool toys to choose from this holiday season, the Happy Chaos author is happy to reveal her top picks.

From board games to the latest kid-friendly gadgets, Frye — who also serves as Target‘s Mommy Ambassador — focuses on gifts that nurture the imagination and encourage family togetherness.

Want to find out her five favorites? Check them out — plus her take on each toy — below.

Courtesy LeapFrog

LeapFrog LeapPad ($99)

If your kids are tech-friendly like mine, think about the LeapPad. It’s like a mini-tablet for kids, but with educational games and applications. It even has a built-in camera, so kids can personalize their learning experience.

Courtesy Target

Disney My First Princess Doll and Dress Set ($35)

Creative play is so important at a young age and I love it when my girls play dress-up. This doll and dress gift set is perfect for little ones who like to explore and play in the world of make-believe.

Courtesy Toys R Us

Fijit Friends ($55)

What I love about this season’s hottest toy is that kids can let their imaginations run wild chatting with these little creatures. The Fijit Friends have 150 built-in responses, voice recognition, beat detection and dance mode, so your kids always have someone to interact with.

Courtesy Target

Scrabble Flash ($20)

New twists on classic board games are all the rage this holiday season. This interactive game is fun and a great learning tool to teach the kiddos new vocabulary words.

Courtesy Target

WowWee’s Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone ($36)

Music is a great way to get the entire family involved in play. Set up a family karaoke night and let everyone sing and dance the night away. Plus, singing encourages confidence in youngsters.

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Showing 48 comments

Helen on

From an early childhood educator’s perspective, these toys are horrible suggestions. Children should be playing with open-ended toys that encourage imagination–not these electronic gadgets, which hamper creativity. Parents, try Lego sets (especially non-character!), dress up clothes (non-character), any building blocks, art supplies (not coloring pages), dolls, play houses, trikes/bikes, etc.

kristen on

I absolutely agree Helen. Kids need toys that allow them to create and allow them to explore their imaginations. This does not happen with toys such as these. Crayons, markers, pads of paper, a box of old dress up clothes, books, so many better options for children. Oh and they are much cheaper also.

mary on

I am also an early childhood educator Helen and I couldn’t agree more!

I have four kids and each of them love legos. This includes our 19 and 17 yr olds as well as 10 and 7! My husband and I made an agreement to not say no or complain about the cost of legos. Ok so we still complain but we just save all yr just to buy them for Christmas. I personally stink at building legos. So my husband who also loves them gets to play….

Another toy and it’s really not a toy, are appliance boxes. Sounds stupid but my kids LOVE them. So when we shop at BB or sears we ask for their boxes. Or if we see the delivery trucks near our house we ask them for the boxes. So with the boxes they get lots of paint, chalk, and markers.

Dress up clothes I gave them all my bridesmaid dresses. The 7 yr old loves them and the 19 yr old loved just as much, we have an antique business and we go to a lot of rummage sales so I will pick up some promish looking dresses there too.

Scrabble is a lot of fun. We do play that as a family game or even just my husband and I play after the younger kids are in bed.

But I am not so sure I would buy the one listed in her ‘list’. I guess I am not electronically challenging enough….. call me old fashioned.

Y on

I agree with the others…I hate these kind of toys, they just turn kids into robots rather than encourage creative play..I can’t stand when celebrities tell us what their “favorite” products is so obvious that they are paid to endorse these products!

ClaireSamsmom on

I don’t mind her choices. I think those toys along with a variety of creative ones, is fine. My kids love their Tag Reading System, with the pen and book…and it has really helped my daughter with her reading (she is 5).

That being said, we also encourage creative play with random craft supplies to have open-ended creativity, finger painting, cardboard “house” boxes for imaginative play…and the list goes on.

I think it’s okay to do a little of both. Perhaps in this technology driven age, it is up to the parents to provide those creative outlets for children….

Janna on

Try some glue and a box of popsicle sticks. You’d be amazed at what your kids will create!

dickie on

These are awful suggestions.

Anonymous on

My guess is that she was paid to endorse some of these toys.

Alison on

So you mean to tell me that all of your children just ‘love’ to receive cardboard boxes and lego sets on Christmas morning?!

I don’t see a problem with anything Soleil suggested. The article is about HOLIDAY toys, these are all nice suggestions.

Finding balance is the key, encouraging imagination, reading, social interactions, but at the same time one or two nice presents doesn’t hurt either on special occasions imo.

Karah on

Wow. I was thinking I would get a few great suggestions for my kids but these are terrible. In general we stick to toys that don’t need batteries to be entertaining, non character, toys that have multi purpose (such as blocks) and quality over quantity. Some better suggestions such as legos, blocks, play silks, art supplies and books that will do more for your child then just teach them how to follow the lead of an electronic game.

megan on

“so your kids always have someone to interact with.”

Parents sold separately ?

Janine @ Alternative Housewife on

Was she paid to push these products? If you want to play dress-up, try some secondhand clothes or scarves, not a licensed and branded dress made from synthetic fabrics. And how about actual books instead of a “learning” device. And Scrabble FLASH? Is the normal word game so boring that there was a need to make it electronic? If a child with ADD is your goal, great suggestions!

Victoria on

Could not agree more w pp ……wow little seed has a great rep and more organic choices and this is what she suggests…yikes!!!!!

Sunkist888 on

Wow, I too, am shocked that those would be her choices. I was expecting some simple unit blocks, art supplies, maybe a doll house for role play, a fun game like Goblet junior, and some books. Okay, maybe that would be my top 5 😉

Emily on

Wow, these are horrible gift suggestions. Who wants more plastic crap for their kids? Not me!

My 3 year old played with an empty box for an hour today, totally ignoring what came in the box and a room full of toys. It is possible to keep toys simple and open-ended, even at Christmas.

Rebecca Jayne on

Wow, what a bunch of junk! I could just go to the displays at Walmart if I wanted these suggestions.

ELO on

I am 29 and I shake my head an complain to my mom all the time about how kids today do nothing but play with computerized and digital toys. I may sound old saying this but what the heck happened to the days when children received board games, dolls, & yes Alison LEGO’s!

I don’t know when children will enter my picture but I do know they will never own all of the brain rotting gadgets that kids have these days. I want my kids to know the fun and enjoyment that comes from playing games with their friends and family & running around and using their imaginations. The best part of being a kid.

Romy on

with all that she talks about otherwise she must have been paid to promote these products. I can hardly see her promoting these on her own. the Disney dress up and doll is really not a lasting toy. She has girls, she knows. They put it on and hold the doll and pretend to be the character for a bit and then they’re over it.

Kim on

My kids play with wooden, open ended toys while they are young but at a certain age they want something different. It’s Christmas give them one really cool toy they wouldn’t normally get! These are good suggestions. And as a mother of 4 I can bet most of you, like me, hand your toddler your iphone every now and then to occupy them.

Kat on

It says shes a Target ambassador, Im sure you can find all the toys there. For Christmas my four year old will be getting Legos and Wheres Waldo along with several board and card games. I completely agree, what is with the junk out for kids nowadays?

ChikNorTuna on

I agree with most of the posters here…hate her choices. But, she is being paid to endorse these toys (all found at Target). I wouldn’t be looking to ANY actor for suggestions or advice regarding purchases for children. If you have to buy a gadget so your child will have a friend, something is terribly wrong with the parents’ ability/desire to socialize their children.

Gameplaying, dress-up, etc. was always open-ended when I was growing up (and likewise, when I was raising children) and I bonded and formed friendships with other children while doing so. I also learned manners, fair play and other life skills. I also learned and bonded with my parents and family members during gameplaying (board games, Legos, Tinker Toys, etc.) and have so many happy memories, especially during the holidays, when the extended family would play, too…charades, Jenga, dominoes, checkers, Chinese checkers, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Guess Who, etc.

When I was small I also had the Memory Game, where cardbord pictures were placed face-down (there were two of each), flipped over and matched from memory. I played it alone, with my sibling, with friends and with my parents! I purchase/make games and creative play toys that build skills and encourage growth and learning, not ones that are nothing more than glorified robotic babysitters.

Lisa on

Barf. These are terrible, and obviously Target and paid her to endorse them and hype up the “hot” items for Christmas. The leapfrog “tablet” is particularly awful. Kids don’t need screens.

Shannon on

I guess I must be a horrible Mother because my 9 yr old is getting a laptop for Christmas. He was 3 yrs old when he taught himself how to use a computer and uses it to research information. He has learned a lot and I see nothing wrong with that. He also loves reading and is getting several books. My 6 yr old daughter loves Disney and the Princesses and is getting a castle and dolls. When they are young they will happily play with playdoh, sticks and boxes but just wait until they get older and see the toys and video games their friends have and then see what is on their xmas lists!

Kate on

She had to have been paid for this! She owns a store for eco-conscience clothes and toys…would I get one or two of these for my kids at the right ages (of course) but the entire list, nope. And why are you guys knocking Scrabble and the microphone (the microphone would have my daughter singing all the time)?

Holiday on

I get my kids toys like these if that is what they want! The princess doll and outfit is nice and I would definitely get my daughter that when she is a bit older. I am looking for the leap pad for my 6 year old and would get him scrabble too! You all can have your kids open up boxes and old scarves Christmas morning but my kids will be happy with the toys they asked for.

ang on

I agree Shannon! My 8 year old daughter is getting a kindle this year. I was against it at first, but most of her friends have every gadget under the sun so I thought it was the least I could do. She loves to read so I don’t see any harm in it. Slap me silly, she is also getting that paper jam mic set as she loves to sing and dance. There does come a point where boxes don’t cut it anymore. She has TONS of crafts that she entertains herself with. Oh, and my son is getting legos, but also an Xbox. Guess I’m a terrible mother too.

megan on

“I was against it at first, but most of her friends have every gadget under the sun so I thought it was the least I could do.”

lol what, are you serious ? You gave into the peer pressure of other people’s 8 year olds ? Nice.

RKF on

I’m not against certain electronic toys/games. I grew up with “Speak N’Spell”, et al…which significantly helped me learn as a child, and was fun! But, I also had Perfection, Legos, Memory cards, styrofoam boxes, dolls, you name it… I think striking a balance is what’s important.

Sarah on

Ultimately, if your child grows up poorly because you only bought him/her a certain type of toy, you are a failure as a parent. Toys don’t raise children; good parents do.

Variety is good, but it doesn’t matter if your kid played with sticks or laptops when they were 5. If you didn’t go beyond sitting them in the floor with said sticks or laptop, you didn’t do your job.

If you think buying a child a certain type of toy is going to hamper their growth, you must be too lazy to engage your child and teach them/show them/allow them to engage in life beyond those toys.

All the early childhood education in the world doesn’t matter; it’s just pure common sense.

Jessica on

My 6 year old son has the paper jams microphone and he loves it! He entertains our whole family almost every night. Santa might be bringing him the Leap pad this year. There’s so many great educational games on it, and it makes him feel very grown up 🙂

Jessica on

I’ve followed Soleil Moon Frye for years and she has always been very open about trying to find a balance. It’s okay for your kids to love playing with Disney or Barbies, and even better if they want to decorate a shoebox and use it as Barbie’s car. I’ve nannyed for years and all kids learn and play differently. Some kids learn better with gadgety toys that challenge them. These toys are all interactive and fun which is the perfect combination for a great holiday gift!

Soleil on

My girls have been playing with the LeapFrog LeapPad for the past few weeks and they enjoy using it to draw, color and play memory games. The entire family gets involved – including my husband – it’s a great way to play together as a family.

We also love crafts, like making ornaments and taking shoe boxes and turning them into treasures. Another family-fun activity that we love is karaoke.

My girls love creative play – decorating cardboard houses, making cars from boxes, and vases from our bottles of milk. They love dolls, Barbies and playing educational games on the tablet.

It is all about balance and I am a true believer in finding the right balance for my family.

I appreciate everyone’s comments and am grateful for the input.


Jessica on

These are all great suggestions! My personal favorite is the scrabble game, because it can be fun for the entire family. I think that the most important thing is balance- so what if you buy your kiddos “gadgets”. If they enjoy playing with them I don’t see the problem. As parents it’s your responsibility to incorporate toys and crafts that stimulate all avenues in a child’s development.

Jenny on

I’m shocked at all the negative comments on this post! I think these are great suggestions–and they’re just that, SUGGESTIONS. It’s up to individual parents to decide what’s best for their children and how to find a balance between today’s technical world and the old-fashioned, tried-and-true standards from our own childhoods. A Fijit and a giant box of crayons under the tree sounds like a perfect Christmas to me!

I doubt Soleil intended her list to be taken as a one size fits all, must get list for every family out there. I’m glad to have these suggestions to help with my holiday shopping. And that microphone? I think I need to ask Santa to bring one of those for me! 😉

Cammy on

Looks like many comments here are right on target with developmental learning – good old fashioned paper, crayons, blocks, are super. I also love “Playmobil” brands, although they’re no longer sold at Target (not sure why). But you can find them at many specialty toy stores, and online. They’re made in Germany or Malta, and are great quality with many choices/themes that kids loves – fold up houses, pirates, planes, campers, zoos, etc… Very good for creative interaction.

Jessica on

I think this is a great list of suggestions that includes some of the newest toys of the season! They would be perfect to mix in with different kinds of games, activities, clothes and gadgets to make your kids feel extra special on Christmas morning.

Toya L. on

Excellent post Sarah!!

Jessica on

I’m bewildered at the negative feedback. These are great, inexpensive toys that promote learning & creativity. As long as the parent provides a balance between the electronic toys and popsicle sticks and crayons, i just don’t see the problem. I personally follow Soleil through her social media outlets and the one thing she always stresses is balance. I feel like that is one of the most important messages I have been able to incorporate in my parenting.

alicejane on

Whether people like it or not, technology is infinitely more of a part of everyday life than it was 10 or 20 years ago. I agree with the other posters that said parents need to find a balance. Gadgets like iPads and laptops are becoming much more common in the classroom, and in many schools, they’re using them with kindergarteners. In my opinion, it’s a disservice to your child to shield them from technology until they reach schoolage, where most of their peers will have a way better grasp of how to use them (for entertainment as well as for learning purposes).

That being said, I was that kid who made toy horses out of cardboard boxes and toiler paper rolls and spent hours with them. I was fortunate to grow up with a lot of greenspace and I spent tons of time outside, and reading and drawing… And I love buying my nephew books and playing outside with him, but I also have no qualms about downloading a game on my phone for him to play, or watching videos on youtube with him. Looking at Soleil’s choices, yes, I think that with those toys there needs to be a mix of more “organic” toys, but I think the choices she listed would probably be really fun and stimulating for kids.

Maddy on

Wow, everyone sounds so angry. Yes, of course Legos are great and so are blank pieces of paper, but why can’t a child have a nice balance? These toys look fantastic – hello- Scrabble? That game is a great tool to get kids excited about spelling. If you actually take the time to be present with your children and teach them, the toys they play with won’t hold so much weight. All of these toys look incredible and most children would love all of them… That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be using their imaginations as well.

Valerie on

It sounds like there are a lot of judgment peope on here. It’s a real shame. Have you never heard “To each their own”. No one parent is perfect. All kids are different. My son likes to play w/ Legos, he likes to play video games, love play-doh & drawing. He also plays soccer & tae kwon do. SO it’s good to give a child variety in life. Not all kids LOVE boxes as so many of you say. So stop judging others. And honestly there is nothing wrong w/ Soleil’s selection. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them.

dickie on

I love how people are saying “wait until your kids get older and all there friends have (fill in the blanks)”. Really? Giving in to peer pressure? Of 6 year olds? Well I have one for you. Wait until your kids turn 16 and they want the BMW their friend has and you cant afford to buy it for them and they hate you for it bc you always gave them whatever they wanted before! I was going to use a drug reference but I thought that would be overly dramatic 🙂

dickie on

And finally, people are talking about balance. I agree, but there was no balance in Soleil’s choices and I think that is what everyone is railing against.

Tracy on

When I first read the title Soleil’s Top Five Toys, I got curious especially since I was a HUGE Punky Brewster fan. I did not find these toys too appealing either with the exception of the Leap Frog since it promotes education. For myself, I do not buy my 2 year old daughter much toys unless it helps her with creativity, imagination play, critical thinking etc. I buy art supplies, books, blocks, legos and leap frog things.

It sounds like parents are at war (and I’m sure they are mostly mothers, because lets face it, mothers are VERY competitive when it comes to their children). So with that said, if we have a comment on the toys Soliel picked, then just comment on the toys itself without judging other parents. And lets teach our children to be humble and gracious and give them manners this holiday season.

Gina on

Wow what a hypocrite! I know she’s paid by Target for this but she owns an eco friendly non toxic kids store and she’s endorsing all this crap??? Hilarious! I will never shop at the little seed again!

Alison on

Elo, I believe you mentioned my name in your post.

where in my post does it say that I am against Legos, board games, dolls or cars?

My son has received all of these every Christmas/birthdays and loves these toys, including books and arts and crafts. At the same time he has been computer proficient since he was three and was taught by my husband and myself.

As I mentioned before finding a balance is the key ….my son loves to sit and read, he knows how to build websites, is very computer savvy , but at the same time enjoys doing things with his hands, woodwork, art and crafts , building things, and just playing outside with his friends.

you mentioned in your post you do not have children, well when they do enter the picture, you might think differently as a parent.

have a great day.

Sofia on

I think these suggestions are all wonderful. Remember people….BALANCE! There will be a few of the above items under my Christmas tree this year, along with some good old fashioned crayons and glue. As a follower of Soleil’s through social media, I appreciate and value her input 🙂

Jessica on

These suggestions are absolutely wonderful – why are some people going crazy about this? Children must have both old things and new things, non-descript toys that call for more imagination and some toys that do not call for as much creativity. Children will always bring their own unique personalities to anything they are playing with and I salute Soleil for telling the world which of these toys are her favorites. Motherhood isn’t easy and to anyone that puts themselves in the public eye, my hat goes off to you!