Stuck for Christmas present ideas? These gadgets and toys will inspire you
Perhaps the reason your little ones so helpfully write their wish-lists before you've even thought of Christmas is that they know what many parents learn the hard way: when it comes to toys, it's always a good idea to plan ahead and buy early. So what's likely to be on their lists in 2014?
Toys have been getting smarter for years, with even the most traditional toys getting the fully interactive reboot. This year's big news is likely to be smart watches, complete with camera and games, dolls and cuddly creatures that really do talk back, and smart tablets for kids. Character dolls, such as the ice-skating Frozen characters from Disney, remote-control toys, and robotic dinosaurs are also likely to be high on the list going off to Santa this year.
The story isn't all digital. Analogue favourites – in other words, the sort of toys your children's grandparents will know how to play – are always a hit with children of all ages. Look out for brain-building board games, make-believe play sets to fire the imagination, and craft sets to keep the budding family artist happy for hours. Look out, too, for new ranges from old favourites such as Lego and Playmobil, on a shelf in your local shops now.
When it comes to gadgets for grown-ups, the possibilities are almost limitless, though it's a racing certainty that the latest wearable health and fitness gizmos will be flying off the shelves of your local shops. Smart watches are big news too; we'll have to wait until 2015 for the Apple Watch, but there are lots of seriously cool watches in the shops now.
Smart audio is likely to be big news, with extraordinary sound quality that will please even the purists – and are easy on the eye too. If you've ever wanted to stream internet radio, the contents of your music library, or audio from your mobile phones to sleek, smart speakers, now is a good time to head into your local showroom and see what's new.
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It'll be a while before we can download our daily loaf of bread, but the future is coming to smart kitchens. Your local high street is agleam with coffee machines that produce barista-style lattes and cappuccinos, retro and modern grinders and juicers, blenders and mixers that rise to any Bake-Off challenge, and lots of cool and funky accessories.
Whether you're plugged in to the latest toys, gadgets and gizmos or lost in the techno-woods, visit your local retailers to see what's new this Christmas. You'll find a friendly welcome, and staff who have the time to help you find the perfect, and perfectly clever, gift.
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