By Marc Rapport
While there will probably always be a place for the traditional electric train set around the Christmas tree, here are some newer digital delights to make your holidays a little more techy for everyone on your gift list.
PLAY AND LEARN
Baby’s smartphone entertains the littlest device users with colorful visuals and lights, ABCs, and fun songs. The Mirari MyPhone also features a recording function and remote control, so Mom and Dad can send calls to baby. So much better than a telemarketer. $20.
Small But Mighty
The Ozobot Bit Starter Pack is a fun way to introduce children to learning code. The tiny tinker robot is just an inch tall, but it can be programmed to dance, race and play in-app games. Or, you can design your own; the world is your Ozobot. $59.
Starry, Starry Sight
The Moravian star is a traditional Advent symbol with a German heritage. This version spans nearly 40 inches in diameter, with 160 LED lights that sparkle in eight different lighting effects to suggest waves of motion. Safe for outdoor or indoor use. $100.
Tune Up the Tree
Add music to your Christmas tree with Life Made’s Tree Tunes musical ornament. Its rechargeable speaker connects to any Bluetooth-enabled device, so the choice of music is yours—don’t limit yourself to “Jingle Bells.” It hangs from a color-coordinated ribbon to blend nicely with the rest of your tree decor. $25.
FUN AND FUNCTION
Skin in the Game
There’s more than one way to skin a … butterfly? Or decorate one. The Graphic Skinz Design Studio uses a motorized vacuum chamber to apply graphic skins in seconds to fun shapes, including a seahorse, trinket box, shark and monster truck (shapes vary by which set you choose). Get the kids off the computers and into some hands-on creative fun. $12.
The MP Select Mini 3D Printer is touted as the least-expensive entry into the new world of 3D printing, calibrated at the factory and ready to go out of the box. Got an idea for a new toy? Create your own, and print it out. $200.
The colorful LG GizmoGadget is a smartwatch designed to let users too young for cell phones stay in touch with the important people in their lives. Youngsters can make and receive calls with up to 10 contacts and send text messages. No games or internet connectivity are included, but it’s GPS enabled, so you can locate the wearer by satellite. $150 plus service plan.
Marc Rapport is a freelance writer from Columbia, South Carolina. His monthly column also appears in South Carolina Living, the statewide electric co-op magazine of the Palmetto State. Product inclusion on this page does not imply endorsement; product availability and prices are subject to change.