Christmas shopping has begun and the clock is ticking down to the big day. For parents, tracking down the ideal present can be tricky and time-consuming – thankfully, intu Metrocentre’s Heads of Fun Esther Bennett and Logan Jackson Luke have taken on the role of Santa’s Little Helpers to identify the hottest gifts of 2016 – chosen by children, for children!
Throughout the year the Heads of Fun have been helping intu Metrocentre continue to make the centre fun and child friendly for little visitors – as part of this they have been busy reviewing new stores, restaurants and leisure activities. The run up to Christmas has brought a flurry of festive jobs for the mini executives, including switching on the Christmas lights and opening Santa’s Grotto – but the chance to check out the latest toys and gifts was too good to refuse.
According to Esther, age nine, sparkling unicorns and cuddly pugs are the way to a girl’s heart this Christmas. A cute ‘pugs and kisses’ cushion, £7.99 from New Look, is sure to be an Instagram hit, while a cuddly plush unicorn, £18 from M&S, will add a touch of magic to Christmas morning.
Soft toys are also a winner with Logan, age seven; with the latest offerings from Build A Bear including DreamWorks Trolls, Star Wars bears and cute characters from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, parents will be spoilt for choice.
Esther and Logan’s next challenge was to find a board game that the whole family would enjoy. As the Minions are still as loveable as ever, Esther thought a Despicable Me Monopoly game, £12.50 from the new Wilko store, would be a popular choice – a traditional game with a modern twist. Logan opted for messy Christmas family fun with Pie Face, available from WHSmith and The Entertainer, from £20.
At the very top of Esther’s Christmas list is the SelfieMic, £19.99 from Argos. Wannabe pop stars can create their own music videos with a selfie stick that features a karaoke microphone, ear piece and music app.
LEGO is always guaranteed to please and there is no hotter gift this Christmas than a treat or two from the LEGO Nexo Knights range. Combining traditional LEGO with free apps and scannable LEGO pieces – the range delivers an immersive playing experience. Nexo Knights General Magmar Siege Machine of Doom Construction Set, £34.99, LEGO Store, was Logan’s particular favourite.
Other toys which scored highly with the pair for younger children included the Fisher Price Code-a-piller, £49.99 from Argos. Aimed at children from age three to six, this motorised caterpillar can be programmed to move through obstacles, accompanied by lights, music and sounds effects. For little fans of PAW Patrol the Air Patroller, £40 from Debenhams and the interactive Zoomer PAW Patrol Marshall, £69.99 from The Entertainer, were identified as Christmas must-haves.
Both children agreed that anything from The Disney Store was bound to bring smiles all round on Christmas morning – with costumes, talking Star Wars figures and sparkling snow globes all popular choices.
Esther Bennett, intu Metrocentre’s Head of Fun, said: “There are so many fantastic presents we’ve seen that children would really want this Christmas. We’ve had great fun trying out all the new toys and games – I might have to squeeze a few extra presents on to my Christmas list now!”
Logan Jackson Luke, intu Metrocentre’s Deputy Head of Fun, added: “We’ve worked really hard testing all the toys, working out which ones would be better for younger and older children. We hope everyone gets just what they want on Christmas Day.”
Helen Atkinson, marketing manager at intu Metrocentre, commented:
“Esther and Logan have picked out some brilliant gifts and hopefully given parents a child’s eye view of what to look out for when they do their Christmas shopping.
“This year the toys that are selling well seem to be an evolved 21st Century version of lots of old favourites; from the cute Code-a-pillar that reminds me of being a child to the amazing new Lego sets which will really bring their imaginations to life this Christmas!”