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Top Holiday Toys This Year Are Quite The Throwback

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What’s old is new again. Each year, parents and forecasters alike try to figure out in advance what the hot holiday toy is going to be. Early contenders this year included Baby Yoda and Squeakee The Balloon Dog. There’s no doubt those will still be popular (especially since Baby Yoda was not even available when the character became an internet sensation last Christmas), but it looks like the real way to win the holidays this year will be to go retro.

According to the Washington Post, “instead of perusing the toy aisle or trading notes during playdates, parents are drawing on their own childhoods for inspiration.” Some of the most popular products so far this shopping season are Legos, Barbies, Tonka trucks, and Hot Wheels. It turns out that when children aren’t together to socialize, and when there is a dearth of new content on kid-friendly stations like Nickelodeon, it’s hard for trends to truly develop. The surefire way for parents to know what all the kids are asking for this year is to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Absent that, it’s pretty much guesswork as to whether the Present Pets or the Vango goggles will be better received. Moreover, without playdates or in some cases even elementary school, your child wouldn’t be able to show off her new toy anyway. You might as well get her something that you yourself enjoyed at that age, knowing that it had the ability to spark joy all those years ago.

Popular toys this year include:

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Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck Vehicle, Single, Standard Packaging — $48.26

Barbie Play ‘n’ Wash Pets Playset with Blonde Doll, 3 Color-Change Animals a Puppy, Kitten and Bunny and 10 Pet and Grooming Accessories, Gift for 3 to 7 Year Olds — $19.99

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Hot Wheels 20 Car Gift Pack (Styles May Vary), Multicolor, 7.6″ T — $16.99

In addition to keeping the toy industry during uncertain economic times, hopefully the reemergence of old favorites will encourage parents to get down on the ground and play with their children. In the hectic pre-COVID world, it was all too easy to let the TV or the iPad do most of the work of entertaining the little ones. Perhaps quality time spent together will be the real Christmas winner in 2020.

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‘Tis The Season? Scented Candles Suffer From COVID-19

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Scented candles are a classic Christmas gift, right up there with gift certificates to Bath & Body Works. When you get someone a scented candle in a favorite aroma, you are showing that you’ve paid attention to what she likes. And, as SNL memorably parodied a few years back, scented candles are especially appreciated because they are easily regiftable in a pinch:

I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be shocked if Yankee Candle didn’t typically do something like half of its overall sales during the holiday shopping season. Well, maybe not this year. As several internet sleuths with way too much time on their hands have noted and graphed, customer reviews of usually popular scented candles on both Amazon and YankeeCandle.com have been steadily trending downward.

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Yankee Candle Large 2-Wick Tumbler Candle, Balsam & Cedar on sale for $17.69

The suspected culprit? COVID-19. Loss of smell is a common symptom of the coronavirus, so it is possible that COVID-infected shoppers are buying the scented candles unable to appreciate the fragrance.

You’d think with people all across the country being shut up in side so much, candles would be in higher demand than ever. For all the procrastinating sons out there who’ve come to rely on Yankee Candle as a last-minute gift each year, here’s hoping the company is able to weather out this storm. If you don’t have COVID, do your part to help them out by buying a signature candle. If you aren’t sure if you have the virus or not, you can buy one anyway as a make-your-own COVID test. Good luck convincing your insurance to cover it.

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Looking For An Alternative To The Always Pan?

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If you’ve been on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube or any of the other social media sites that propel products to viral stardom, you know all about the Always Pan. Like the Instant Pot of holidays past, the Always Pan is designed to roll the functions of several pieces of cookware into one. This singular kitchen item can perform the tasks of a fry pan, a sauté pan, a steamer, a skillet, a saucier, a saucepan, a non-stick pan, a spatula, and a spoon rest.

The good news is that since it is Black Friday, the normally $145 Always Pan is on sale for just $95 with the code SUPERSALE. The bad news is that even though the deal is still available, the Always Pan has been so popular that they won’t be able to ship you one until February.

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Always Pan on sale for $95 with the code SUPERSALE

In other words, the Black Friday deal isn’t particularly useful if you are trying to do your Christmas shopping. If you want a pan that will arrive in time for the holidays, and also don’t mind spending your cash on a product without that Insta cred, then you might consider this “all-in-one” pan from Ozeri. It may not be able to do quite everything of the Always Pan, but it is non-stick and comes with a tempered glass lid with a steam release vent. The best part? Usually $90, the Ozeri pan is on sale for just $40.

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Ozeri Stone Earth All-in-One Sauce Pan 100% APEO, GenX, PFBS, PFOS, PFOA, NMP and NEP-Free German-Made Coating, 5 L (5.3 Quart), Lava Black on sale for $39.39

Ozeri is a brand to be trusted, boasting a 100% German-made nonstick coating. Their 10-inch stainless steel pan was Wirecutter’s picks for best nonstick pan to use for induction cooking.

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Can SAD Lamps Make You Happy?

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I am not a licensed psychiatrist, so I am not going to weigh in on whether Seasonal Affective Disorder is a legitimate mood disorder, as opposed to a normal human response to a change in seasons. But I will say that whoever named it obviously thought it was a joke – there is no way you can tall someone you are “SAD” and expect the sympathy that traditionally accompanies revelations of mental illness.

Whether you actually suffer from clinical depression or just would prefer more sunlit hours in a day, now is the time of year the winter blues are starting to kick in. And one would expect it to be worse than ever in 2020, with the amount of fresh air and sunlight you can get proscribed by COVID-19 regulations.

In theory, SAD lamps can help. Contrary to their name, SAD lamps are not designed to bring you further down into the dumps but instead to make you happy. Maybe they should call them HAPPY lamps. I’ll let the professionals to come up with some appropriate backronym for that like they obviously did with Season Affective Disorder all those years ago.

SAD lamps are useful for so-called “light therapy.” Again, I’m not a doctor, so I do not know exactly how they work, besides the crucial fact that they are meant to mimic daylight while filtering out UV rays. Putting one in your home can help you combat the effects of earlier and earlier sunsets, and maybe even trick your brain into thinking you live in Florida. SAD lamps aren’t very expensive, so if your mood ever starts to sag (especially going into the holidays without being surrounded by family), you might as well give it a go.

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TaoTronics Light Therapy Lamp, Ultra-Thin UV-Free 10000 Lux Therapy Light, Timer Function, Adjustable Brightness Levels, Memory Function, 90° Rotatable Stand for a Happy Life — $32.99

When choosing a SAD lamp, you’d do well to consider this one from TaoTronics, whose SoundLiberty 53 earbuds we reviewed on this website (back when they were called the TT-53) along with their TT-060 over-ear headphones. Although we tend to think of TaoTronics as an audio company, the Sunvalley group’s flagship brand sells a host of other home electronics as well, including space heaters and HEPA air purifiers.

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