PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Toy shopping for the holiday this year is a challenge this year.
Supply chain issues and rising prices are creating a cauldron of trouble for parents looking to answer their wishes.
"I think the theme this year is not what is the hot viral toy is what can I get my hands on at a reasonable price," says Uniontown native Amanda Mushro, mother of three, and national Parenting blogger.
She says to start with not getting sucked into the "hot toy" lists coming from retailers.
"Now more than ever, their hotlist has to reflect what they actually have in stock so they're not going to create a list of this really cool wow item that you can't get at their stores," Mushro says.
With the promoted hotlist varying from store to store Mushro says to use those lists as a general guide and break out of your normal shopping routine.
"So if you are always shopping at Amazon or Walmart, maybe you need to check out what's going on at Target or even stores that you may not think of as far as toys," she says. "Macy's has a lot of toys this year Kohl's offers a lot of different toys."
She says the best shopping guide is simply taking your child to the toy aisle.
"Walking up and down the aisles and see what sparks their interest," Mushro says.
Then take pictures of what they point out for future reference. If a curious child asks why you are taking pictures say you are sending them to Santa.
Mushro says research is vital, seek out parental reviews.
"If something is not working or not safe a parent is going to raise a red flag and they're going to put it in those reviews."
Plus she says the annual list of unsafe toys ignores the fact that many toys can be hazardous in the wrong circumstance.
"So even though you're buying a toy for one child, you have to think about who else is in that house," she says. "And get one of those tiny pieces who could choke on something like that?"
Mushro says watch out for third-party sellers. They are in it for the markup and you will pay more. Plus she says there are fakes out there that could contain hazards in their parts or paints. And make sure you know who you are buying for and have a recourse if the sale doesn't go well.
She says shop early and buy early because the deals won't necessarily get better and supply could be an issue.
WATCH: Amanda's Toy List
Amanda's Toy List
Mushro's list of toys this year is for a wide range of ages beginning with the youngest.
Since her kids are 12,10 and 2, Amanda has had a lot of experience with the joy of blocks.
She says this year there are Oddbods Ecoblocks.
"They are plant-based, so they look like your regular plastic blocks but they are made out of sugarcane," she explains. "I have no idea how they made blocks of sugarcane but I love the idea of the sustainability behind it."
Hannukah is early this year and there is Zebra From Zion with its stripes in the form of a menorah and a book,
"When he talks about how this Zebra is the only Jewish animal in the jungle and he celebrates his holidays and teaches his friends about his faith," she says. "It is such a cute book."
Elf will be back on the shelf in many homes again this year but as we all know you can't touch the elf or it breaks its magic.
Mushro says that is where Elf Mates come in.
"You are allowed to touch the elf mates so kids can play with them," Mushro says. "They can pose them they can have fun with them the entire holiday season. It comes with a really cute book that talks about how these elves were sent from Santa to do good deeds."
Magformers are back with a backyard set where you can build by design or design your own.
"I love a toy that grows with kids," she says. "So, if you're going to buy it for your three-year-old, they're still going to play with Magformers in the years to come."
If you enjoyed the Magic Eight Ball, try Prediction Putty for your kids.
"You can squish it, you can squeeze it, it's a great sensory activity. And then it has these little beads inside. So if I'm going to ask it a question like am I going to find all of the hottest Christmas toys and then I just kind of move around and I get an answer," she says. "No, no, I am not that was my answer."
Not exactly what she expected but it's a lot of fun.
The best part about these creative toys is they are available in a lot of places.
Mushro says when it comes to your older children, teens will tell you what they want, but tweens look to their interests and help facilitate those.
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