Winter. Cold, overcast, wet, nasty, rainy, slick, miserable. All you want to do is escape into your warm, little den and forget about the outdoors. Except they're there. Every. Breathing. Moment. You're not the only one that wants to escape the cold, damp outdoors; the kids want to escape it too. Only unlike you, they just bring their outdoor face inside--yelling, running, jumping, screaming, hitting, crashing...
Instead of hiding in a locked room and fantasizing about long summer days when they were lost in outdoor play, get them a gift cool enough to make them brave the weather and play outside for at least a few hours at a time.
Wham-O Snow Hog
Part sled, part snowboard, part motorcycle, the Snow Hug is pretty much all awesome in the eyes of the average kid. A little bit of snow, a little bit of hill and your child will be going "hog" wild outside.
Flexible Flyer Snow Block Mold
You know what's rad? Igloos. Igloos are rad. You know what's the sheer epitome of un-rad? Building igloos. Building igloos is really un-rad. Unless you happen to be part Inuit. Or, you have the Flexible Flyer Snow Block Mold. Yes, that name that you loved as a kid also makes igloo-building easier. No more fumbling with self-destructing blocks, use this mold to cut and pack blocks and make the whole process easier. Even if your child doesn't complete the whole igloo (those spiraling walls look a little intimidating), he can build a fort, castle, wall or any other structure of his imagination. The Snow Block kit costs under 10 bucks.
EyeClops Night Vision 2.0 Binoculars
I may be 30, but I don't think there's a gift I'd rather open on Christmas morning than a pair of night vision binoculars. Box seats to my favorite sports team? Night vision. Hot red sports car of my choosing? Night vision. All-expenses-paid trip around the world? How am I supposed to see at night? Give me night vision.
And I'm pretty sure that the allure of night vision is even stronger when you're under 10. Manhunt, hide-and-seek, looking for wildlife--everything's a little more fun with EyeClops binocs. Best of all, the fact that it gets dark at 5:30 is no longer an excuse: throw him his EyeClops; give him the boot; lock the door and he'll figure it out for an hour or two. EyeClops Night Vision 2.0 is $50 at REI.
The 150-Foot Slinging Snowball Xistera
Ever seen that Geico commercial where Randy Johnson is in a snowball fight? With this thing, your kid is HOF flame-thrower Randy Johnson. Never will he be on the losing end of a snowball pelt again. The Xistera is inspired by the sport of jai alai, which uses a similar launching mechanism. Just imagine the look on that snot-nosed, smart-mouthed brat down the street when your little Billy pulls this thing from out behind his snow fort. You can buy your son complete and utter snowball domination for under 25 bucks.
Portable Ski Lift Tow
As great as neighborhood sledding, skiing or snowboarding is, it's really a lot of work. There's a reason for the huge ski resort industry around the world after all; going downhill is a lot more fun than going up. If you happen to have a large neighborhood hill, this home-brewed, 5.5-hp portable ski tow turns it into a lift-serviced ski run. With a little set-up, this will be towing the neighborhood kids up and down that tiring hill. Yes, the Portable Ski Lift Tow costs $1,250, but if you and your kids are a little entrepreneurial, you'll make that back by charging the neighbors a small "lift ticket" fee every time they want a ride.
Alright, I can't really lie: most of these toys require some snow (it is a list of toys for the winter, after all). So how do you get your kid outside if there is no snow? Well, you fake it, of course! The Year Round Sled turns the idea of sledding on its head. Since there's no snow on the ground, you bring the snow (ice actually) to your sled. The sled works with two large blocks of ice that create the friction-reduced, slippery surface that you usually need snow for. So now your kids can sled down your grassy front yard! This one costs $90--pretty cheap for the small miracle of summer sledding.
Were you ever that guy or gal that pulled up next to some old beater in your grumbling, flashy sports car, just knowing that you could totally own it in a race? You didn't even have to follow through, it was just that confidence of knowing. It's time to pass that gift of confidence on to the next generation. The Airboard is like the suped-up sports car of sleds; it's fast, flashy, full of tricks and, best of all, it'll make all the other kids green with envy. An inflatable, body board for the snow, this thing brings a much more serious demeanor to the big hill at the golf course. Since it's inflatable, the Airboard works on water too. More info.
50-Foot Snowball Launcher
Its range may only be a
third that of the snowball-chucking Xistera, but a big cannon full of
snowballs is even more intimidating than a mini snowball lacrosse stick.
It even makes three perfect, softball-sized snowballs. And since it's
powered by elastic, there's no batteries. It looks like your son may
just conquer a few pieces of the neighborhood during the next blizzard.
The 50 Foot Snowball Launcher is $29.95.
If you could turn your bike into a snow-going vehicle, you wouldn't even need a sled. And that's what the K-Trak conversion kit does. Your average mountain bike becomes a snow-slashing vessel capable of pedaling and cruising through snow thanks to the tread that replaces the rear tire and ski up front. Of course, for $529, you'd better be sure junior is really planning on biking some snow.
Okay, you may need a Clark Griswold-level holiday bonus for this one, but your son or daughter will love you forever. A cross between a snowboard and a snowmobile, this thing is like a stand-up jet ski for the snow. With its 6 1/2-hp four-cycle gas engine, this thing goes where the average snowboard won't. It races up to 18 mph. The Gas Powered Snowboard will set you back $2500.