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Christmas Gift Guide 2020 for Christmas in a Pandemic!

Some content creators are like Andrea and plan their gift guides months in advance, helping their communities see what’s on-trend for the holiday season so they can buy the best and brightest gifts for the people they love. You have hundreds—if not thousands—who put holiday content out in the months that follow, keenly aware that it’s the time where internet searching’s at its highest and want to get in on the action.

And I try—my lead-up to Christmas sees no end to the email exchanges, nights of writing, and the piles of to-do lists that are generally a lot more to and not nearly enough do. In some ways, I wish I could be more on top of things and be ready for all the holidays, but the juggle is real and I always have less time than I have imagination.

But you don’t let good content go to waste, and that’s why I still wanted to get this year’s gift guide out, even if it meant I needed to do some tweaking in the process.

After all—most of us want to see something special under the tree no matter how old we are, right?

But enough preamble. Without further ado, I’m proud to present my 2020 Gift Guide: “The Things You Want to See Under that Tree!”

I hope you enjoy it!


What do you really hope to see under the tree on Christmas when a pandemic has you stuck at home?

Does Santa Still Visit in a Global Pandemic?

The Palmer Boys Horsing Around at Christmas

COVID-19‘s made for a very different holiday season, changing the things we look for when there’s nowhere to travel to or nothing to dress up for. For me, these past nine months have really put a focus on the world immediately around me, obsessing over using up all these things I already have before I even think about adding more stuff to the mix.

But pandemic or no, Christmas is still a thing, and even without the grandiose dinners with our families or so many of the traditions passed down for generations, I have this sneaking suspicion that people are still expecting gifts under the tree on the 25th!

It wasn’t easy to get our shop on this year, though, with retail stores on lockdown, supply chains askew and our wants and needs becoming so much simpler. Instead of fancy new gadgets, we just wanted a meal from our favourite restaurant. Or we’d swap expensive clothing for a night out drinking with friends in a heartbeat. This list has been so strange to put together, but it’s finally here, filled with plenty of things that should catch the attention of all sorts of people in your life! Kids. Coders. Spouses, influencers and everyone in between. If you don’t see something that strikes your fancy, here’s hoping it helps you think of someone else!

The Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad Gift Guide for a World Stuck at Home

Table of Contents

2020 Gift Guide Table of Contents

Gifts for Kids

Spinmaster RC Cars

Books

When Good Fruits Go Bad

Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids

The Adventures of Grandmasaurus

Tech

Little Robot Friends | Cubby Robot Kit

Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

Gifts for the Home Office

Epson FastFoto

Google Pixel 5

Herman Miller Embody Chair

Gifts for Content Creators

Podcasters

Shure SM7B Studio Microphone

Sennheiser EW 112P G4 Lavalier Microphone

Videographers

DJI Camera Gimbals

DJI Pocket 2

DIY Crafty Types

Cricut Maker

Writers

Ferris Wheel Press ink

Stocking Stuffers

The Sh*tstorm That Was 2020

Clippo Masks

Candy

Dog Man the Hot Dog Card Game

For the Kids

The List for the Little Ones in Your Life

First on my list are the people who count on the holidays most to match up to their hopes and dreams—our kids and their expectations for a late December delivery, man in a red suit or no.

My Youngest with Santa Claus
Still one of my favourite Santa photos the kids have ever taken 😊

The holiday season sees the toy companies going at it to see who’ll have the hottest toy of the year, and 2020’s headlines were flooded by the releases of Microsoft’s new Xbox consoles and Sony’s new Playstation 5.

But despite having more than three decades of gaming running through my veins, I’ve come to learn that video games aren’t everything and that there are other skills and interests that are just as important to develop.

So that in mind, as fun as it’d be to swing around New York City as Miles Morales or terrorise Britain in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, here are some other things your kids could enjoy when they rip open the wrapping paper this December.

Spinmaster | RC Cars

The pandemic helped us rediscover the outdoors, craving anything that’d help us avoid staying trapped in our homes. And while it started with walks back in March, in time the weather improved and we wanted more from the time we spent in parks and backyards. Trampoline manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand. Campsites were all booked up. But I didn’t have any of that when I grew up in the ‘burbs—sometimes all you need is a speedy radio-controlled car.

Spinmaster Introduces Four New RC Cars to the Mix!
Spinmaster RC Cars

Now, the RC Car has come a long way from what I raced back when I was a kid, full of features and options that make them entirely different from here vehicles:

  • The Air Hogs Stunt Shot is a parent’s dream—a remote-control stunt vehicle with super-soft foam wheels that can drive over anything indoors without causing any damage. Furniture, walls and floors are all safe as the wheels pose no threat to their surroundings without compromising on speed. (MSRP $40 CAD)
  • The Monster Jam Megalodon Storm is USB rechargeable, water-resistant and amphibious—its custom performance tires help it attack most terrain without a problem, making it suitable for whatever Mother Nature can throw at it! (MSRP $65 CAD)
  • Designed as the ultimate unboxing experience, The Animal is an interactive RC truck that breaks out of its own box as kids follow the steps to free it! It climbs over obstacles with retractable claws. It can tug and tow items with its tow strap. It’s part truck, part animal, and all the way different—though we’ve yet to get our kids a pet, this is one Animal that we can work with! (MSRP $55 CAD)
  • And finally, you have the Ninja Bots Double Pack, including Red Dragon and Black Tiger—two ninjas who can battle each other with over 100 sounds and movements! You arm them, battle them and have them level up—they’re perfect for a couple of kids who’re always competing! (MSRP $65 CAD)
Books

Another pandemic trend is that it made some people a lot more productive than they might’ve been otherwise, with people dipping their toes into work they previously only had in their dreams. Some people baked bread. Some built massive play structures in their backyards. And some people decided to write books.

Kids' Books

These books are from a mixture of first-time authors and seasoned vets, covering topics like dinosaurs, Black history, and uses for slightly-bruised fruit. Sure, it’s the toys that kids usually look forward to, with their flashing lights and blaring sounds, but there’s something about getting lost in a book that we need to teach our children—these books will set them on the path to do just that!

When Good Fruit Goes Bad

Written and illustrated by Vernon D. Gibbs II and Steven T. Gray

The Palmer Boys Holding When Good Fruit Goes Bad

Co-authored by one of my friends from Dad 2.0, my boys have really come to love When Good Fruit Goes Bad, Hank Huckleberry’s battle against a fruit store gone rogue, the produce tired of being cast aside just because they fall a little short of perfect. Though it teaches great lessons about not being wasteful and other things you can do with the fruit you don’t want to eat, but I’m not sure it’s sinking it for my kiddos just yet.

A dad can try, right?

(MSRP $13.99 USD)

Big Dreamers: The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids
  • Volume 1 by Akilah Newton & Tami Gabay
  • Volume 2 by Akilah Newton & Omari Newton
Big Dreamers - The Canadian Black History Activity Book for Kids Volumes 1 and 2

It’s not very often that something comes in the mail for the kids that impresses me so much that I end up claiming it for myself, but the Big Dreamers Black history activity books were put together with such care that I couldn’t bear to mar them with my children’s sloppy handwriting—I might have to get second copies they can actually use.

But what Akilah Newton and her co-creators are doing is filling a hole in the fabric of Canadian history that’s been left gaping for entirely too long.

As a Black person in Canada, it’s easy to feel unseen. With so much of our media coming from American sources and so little of our history taught in schools, too many Black Canadians live lives with little knowledge of where they came from, or what came before them.

Big Dreamers is a step in the direction of a better-informed future for the children we’re raising today.

So whether you’re raising Black kids, white kids, or really any kid willing to learn, Big Dreamers is an amazing way to teach them some history they might not encounter otherwise.

Make sure to check it out!

(MSRP $15.95 & $19.95 CAD)

The Adventures of Grandmasaurus

Written by Caroline Fernandez, Illustrated by Shannon O’Toole

The boys really enjoy Caroline Fernandez’s The Adventures of Grandmasaurus, a fun little tale about two kids and a grandmother with a flair for misbehaviour, teaching them about dinosaurs while constantly transforming from one reptile to the next. It has a lot of little sight gags to keep parents interested while reading, and as your kids grow older, they’ll be able to expand their dinosaur vocabulary, too!

(MSRP $21.95 CAD)

Tech

And finally… let’s talk tech.

The Boys on Their Tablets

In the Before Times, we were in an anti-screen culture, looking to raise kids as purely as possible, avoiding too much influence from the outside world until we were sure they were old enough to deal with it themselves.

And for many, it was working pretty well! Sure, it meant really busy schedules and hustling to give them every opportunity to increase the chances for the best possible future, but we were okay with all of it because we were willing to make that sacrifice.

But then the pandemic came and it was all taken away. Suddenly, it was only the most dedicated (or perhaps stubbornest) of us who could keep things screen-free as our regular rules were thrown out the window. We had screens for school, screens for work, screens for our extracurriculars. We did all that work to avoid screens, but suddenly found they were the only way to get in touch—what’s the best way to raise kids in a world like that?

My answer’s been to make the most of a bad situation—that if it’s harder to limit their screentime, at the very least, I can make sure that time’s spent as wisely as possible.

My Kid Playing with Tobbie the Robot

With our eldest at seven, he’s starting to get into things like robotics. We started him up with a circuitry set last summer, but kids are voracious for knowledge at that age, and it’s up to us and their schools to provide tools and resources that will challenge them so their minds continue to grow. In this last section, I want to focus on a couple of tools I hope my kids make more time for in their lives, blissfully unaware of the skills they’re both honing for their futures.

Little Robot Friends | Cubby Robot Kit
The Little Robot Friends Cubby Robot Kit
Source: https://littlerobotfriends.com/products/all-new-cubby-robot-kit

One thing our eldest got for his birthday was a Cubby Robot Kit from Little Robot Friends on the Danforth, a robotics set that offers three levels of difficulty to match your child’s stage in their coding development.

We followed the straightforward instructions out of the box to get some batteries and downloaded the Little Robot Friends App on my laptop, experimenting with the options for the light, sounds and sensors. It kept him entertained for an evening, but he soon wished that his robot could do more. And that’s when we downloaded Little Robot Friends Blocks, a drag-and-drop application that lets you do even more with your Cubby through things like conditionals, inputs, outputs, and loops! Unlike LRF App, the code you create only works with your robot when it’s plugged into the computer, so it’s important that your child have a device where they can regularly practice.

And the third level? LRF for Arduino requires coding in C and C++ to program your Cubby without limits, so you’ll need an intermediate-level coder or higher with a strong grasp of reading and mathematics, so we’re not quite ready to tackle that yet. It makes me think about buying a smaller computer for the kids to have his own space for developing code, but separate from the internet for his safety.

But that’s a future Casey problem.

The Cubby Robot Kit from Little Robot Friends is the perfect gift for your little mad scientist—expand their minds today!

(MSRP $79.99 CAD)

Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

Along the same line of thinking but not really as cute is the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express, with ten lights, sensors for motion, speed and temperature, and plenty of other goodies baked in for those who like their devices with a few more options.

We got our hands on these thanks to some friends at Microsoft Canada, and though my son hasn’t yet had the chance to try it out for himself, I can confirm that the application interface is easy to work with, and it gives a flavour of everything you’ll find in a tiny little package—the only problem’s that the Playground Express isn’t very practical.

The Adafruit Circuit Playground Express
Source: https://www.adafruit.com/product/3333

With so much you can do between the device and its associated app, I’m still scratching my head over what I might actually do with it. Sure, it’s cool to add light and sounds to swords or to program it to play your favourite song. But when our kids come to expect robot that can do anything their little minds could imagine, will the world be ready for them?

I guess only time will tell.

(MSRP $24.95 CAD)

For the Home Office

Because if you’re still going to be in there awhile, you might as well enjoy it…
Casey's Messy Office - Where All the Magic Happens

If there’s anywhere I’ve spent more of my time since the pandemic started, it’s my new home office, put together when our tenant decided to get a place of her own. When we were sent home in mid-March, we expected it to be three weeks, not three-quarters of a year and counting, so I hadn’t put much thought into what my working space would look like for the countless hours I’d end up spending within it. But now that we’re here getting ready for a new year with more of the same… perhaps it’s something I should consider a little more carefully.

On this list are a number of the things I’d love to add to my office to make my space a little more my own, since I have no clue how long I’ll need to make the most of it!

Epson FastFoto


This post first appeared on Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad, please read the originial post: here

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Christmas Gift Guide 2020 for Christmas in a Pandemic!

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