Parenting Win of the Week: Win at Holiday Shopping

Take on the holiday toy rush early this year.

October 13, 2023

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This is a photo taken in the studio of a red shoe boxe stuffed with toys for kids. The background is a pure white.Click on the links below to view lightboxes.


This is a photo taken in the studio of a red shoe boxe stuffed with toys for kids. The background is a pure white.Click on the links below to view lightboxes.

Photo by: skodonnell


Yes, it’s only October and we aren’t even quite at Halloween, but it’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping. As my kids have gotten older and started caring less about toys, it’s easier to put things away over the course of the year that they’ll want. But if you are in the market for some of the hot toys, there is certainly some strategy behind it. The sooner the better is usually best, and you can often find better deals and certainly better selection. Sure, you can roll the dice and wait for those Thanksgiving deals, but if there is something you really want, snag it early.

We chatted with James Zahn, Senior Editor at The Toy Insider, about what toys to look for this holiday season.

What are some of the toy trends we should expect this holiday season?

At The Toy Insider, our team of industry experts has identified eight major trends for this season, each packed with incredible new products that are sure to be big hits for kids of all ages. These include Movin' & Groovin', Make & Create, Plush-a-Palooza, Kids @ Heart, Pint-Size Pals, Hello Dolly!, Pet Frenzy, and Bake It ‘Til Ya Make It. We’ve picked out 10 great new products tied to each theme.

The "hottest toy of the year" is never a fit for every kid, so we’ve also curated a Hot 20 list alongside our annual STEM 10 and 12 Under $20 lists to provide inspiration for gift-givers.

What about some specific trending toys?

It’s a big year for toys tied to entertainment and also for new spins on old favorites. Beast Lab from Moose Toys is an epic addition to the action category while MGA’s Miniverse Make It Mini sets put a new spin on creativity and collectibility at an affordable price (and they’re already selling out). Hasbro's Furby is back in action, upgraded for its 25th anniversary year, while the Pokémon Scarlet & Violet 151 Elite Trainer Box is the perfect gift for any kid that’s into the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

When should we begin holiday shopping?

The holiday shopping season is already in full swing! While it might seem early, traditionally the season begins in August and we released our 18th annual Holiday Gift Guide in September — right on schedule. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that the holidays can be a wildcard. Given economic concerns, changing inventory levels following the pandemic, and the unpredictability of kids’ must-haves, if you see something a little one in your life may want, you should probably buy it sooner rather than later.

What's the best way to locate hard-to-find toys?

The best thing to do is visit your local retailers early and often to find fresh stock as it arrives. Never trust a dubious, third-party marketplace like Temu where knockoffs and deals that are "too good to be true" appear. Should any big hits arrive this season, expect to find flippers, resellers, and scalpers swooping in to place stock on eBay and other auction sites. Shopping your local brick-and-mortar retailer is the best way to ensure you get the real deal at a fair price.

Where can we find the best deals?

Keep an eye out for promotional pricing with major, trusted retailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Toys "R" Us at Macy’s. Holiday advertising will be kicking in by mid-October as the post-pandemic world has returned to a more traditional retail cycle. Watch for weekly ads and online specials. And, pay attention to your local toy stores, game shops, and hobby stores. November is Neighborhood Toy Store Month presented by ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and hundreds of independent retailers across the U.S. will be hosting in-store events and offering special discounts. Local toy stores often have a stellar, curated selection of great toys and games and are staffed by experts who know the products that they sell. Additionally, many local stores offer additional services like free gift wrapping!


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