This post really is all fun and games, offering a look at some at the outdoor-minded toys and stocking-stuffer trinkets that a number of REI colleagues tell me are proving popular with gift-givers this season:
Angry Birds Card Game (photo at bottom): Now you can play the game at 10,000 feet without draining your phone's battery. The stocking stuffer of the year, perhaps?
Pass the Pigs: Pig Party Edition: The more the piggier; up to 4 can play this version of the crazily popular card game with its oinktaculos, pig-shaped dice.
Go Fish and Hearts Card Game Combo: Kids (5 and up) can also use the cards to construct words and phrases. If they spell out "More candy" and throw in a grave facial contortion, the advice here is to slip 'em a fruity Honey Stinger chew, a honey-fied, energy-food version of the movie theater gumdrop. (Hint: This is a bonus stocking-stuffer tip: yummy, organic Honey Stinger chews).
Man Bites Dog Card Game: Encourages creative minds (from 8 to antiquity) to build their own oddball headlines from the 106 headline cards provided.
Bananagrams: Here's one way to entertain brainy wordsmiths at your campsite: Hand them this banana-shaped sack containing 144 tiles and challenge them to see how quickly they can create their own crosswords. Weighs a mere 13 oz.
Bananagrams Zip-It: Zippered pouch holds 24 cubes just right for a fast-paced word-building smackdown. Just under 10 oz.
Fruitominoes: No dots; fruit. A single banana, 2 pears (naturally), 3 oranges, 4 apples, 5 strawberries, 6 cherries. Connecting the fruit is, well, pure ambrosia.
Pairs in Pears: Four complete alphabets inside the sack offer 4 different looks (dotted, striped, black or white letters). How fast can you make matching pairs of words? It's a fun campground game that helps the youngun's learn their ABCs. Just 15 oz.
Ladderball: You fling, you score! If you've got skillz, that iz. The goals in this version of the game are metal, meaning they're built to last. Once you get the hang of it, this game is addictive. Wing it, zing it, win it.
Tile Lock Scrabble: Scrabble for travelers; tiles lock into place on this game's special board, so when you're on the go, all your triple-scoring letters stay in place.
Hit the Habitat Trail: Board game teaches kids (8 and up) about animals and their environments. Follow the trail through 8 ecosystems on a trek to become an "Earth Steward."
GIZMOS FOR KIDS
LEGO Darth Vader Torch Light: Kids can brighten up the Dark Side with the LEDs found in the feet of this mini-Vader, almost 8 inches tall. ("Luke! I am your flashlight!") A red LED sets the lightsaber aglow as well.
LEGO Darth Vader Keychain: Fun for kids, but with LEDs in both legs, this mini Dark Lord can also prove helpful to mom or dad at night if they're ever fumbling to find a slot where a key needs to go.
LEGO LED Solar Torch Flashlight: Cheerful robot kicks out light with LED flashlights in each leg. Solar charger on robot's back charges the lights. For kids 5 and up.
Zoo Light Frog Headlamp: In addition to its LED light, it croaks when it's switched on.