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zulily’s Top 10 Toy Picks for the Dog Days of Summer

by Amy E. Goodman, Lifestyle Editor zulily

Lemonade stands. Sprinkler hopping. Melting ice cream cones that drip faster than you can lick. It’s definitely sum-sum-summer time.

My family has been living for the outdoors. Our art projects take place in the cool of the morning shade. Come afternoon, we check on the progress of our peach tree. Even dinner is an al fresco affair, often barbequed and served up with hot, buttery corn.

But after riding bikes and drawing with chalk and chasing down our peach-stealing squirrels (never caught mind you!), my kiddos yearn for something new and fun to do.

At zulily we picked our top 10 summer toys to keep your kids happy and engaged…and buying you more time to relax in your lounge chair and quietly sip your margarita and enjoy the bliss that is summer.

#1 Float Away!

With my daughter on the swim team for the first time this year, we’re spending an inordinate amount of time at the pool. So when she doesn’t have to swim laps, cool pool floats are a welcome respite and can be lots of fun.

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Game Station & Chair Float Set, Swimline

#2 Battleship

A pool float that sprays water at your friends? Are you kidding? A child’s dream. (And when you get too hot in said lounge chair, you can ask for a refreshing squirt.)

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Swimline, Battleboards Water Squirter Float Set

 #3 Roly Poly

This certainly livens up a trip to the park or a family reunion, and will undoubtedly provide your kids with hours of entertainment. Just steer clear moms…no sun bathing while the Mammoth Beach Ball is in motion or you might just be balled over!

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Mammoth Beach Ball, S&S Worldwide

 #4 At-Home Parachuting

Okay, so no jumping out of planes just yet, but kids love a massive parachute for tossing, rippling, running underneath and disappearing under. Add some balls on top and you have your own “popcorn” maker. What’s nice is that this is great activity for kids of all ages.

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30’ Parachute, Pacific Play Tents

#5 Tether Ball…is Back

I’d like to think that my beloved tether ball never went anywhere (I can still feel the arm rope burns to prove it), but apparently it’s made a comeback. This new and improved version is portable and dignified with chic paddles. While kids have at it, mom and dad can secretly make Napoleon Dynamite references: “You wanna play me?”

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Paddle tether Ball Set, Alex Toys

#6 Lanterns for Lightening Bugs

With these warm muggy nights, the fireflies are out. And while flashlights are too bright and having no light is too dark, these cutie pie headlamps are just right. Your kiddo might even be mistaken for a lightening bug in the hunt!

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Frog & Monkey Headlamp Set

#7. Water Balloon Slingshots!  

There is nothing better than a good water balloon fight on a hot summer day. These water balloon slingshots make for a great addition to the game…quick, get to your battle stations!

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Water Balloon Slingshot Set

#8 Up, Up and Away!

It’s amazing how much joy my kids get out of those single loop, glow-in-the-dark necklaces; yes, the plastic ones that last only one night. Imagine how much fun they’d have with these LED ultra glow Stomp Rockets? It’s the nighttime version of one of their favorite daytime toys.

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Ultra LED Stomp Rocket Kit, Stomp Rocket

#9 Movie Night

Want to be the cool family on the block? This 132” outdoor projection screen from Camp Chef will promote picnic family dinners and make you an instant neighborhood hit, especially if you play new releases. And if there’s a sudden summer storm? No worries, it works indoors too.

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Entertainment Gear 132” Indoor/Outdoor Projection Screen, Camp Chef

#10 Grill Like a Grownup

Though my husband does most of the grilling, I know how to fire up our grill thank you very much—and now my little ones can too with their very own miniature grill set by American Plastic Toys. I dare you to place them side-by-side and see who produces the best burger!

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My Very Own Grill Set, American Plastic Toys

Devon’s Discoveries: Energetic Toys

In our efforts to keep Bean from destroying the house with her creativity and energy, we’ve been looking for products to channel her energies appropriately.

Bean loves to color and she is a vigorous colorer, as you can see here:

The only problem was that her coloring was starting to make it’s way off of the coloring book pages and onto whatever surface she was coloring on: the table, the floor and the high chair tray, to name a few. The P’kolino easel has been the perfect solution! It looks great, and it provides three coloring surfaces: a white board for dry-erase markers, paper for crayons and regular markers, and a chalkboard. Bean spends hours each day creating beautiful masterpieces!

She has also been jumping in her crib for quite some time now. But I really want to make sure she sees bed as a place for sleep, not for wide-awake fun… so we needed a jumping solution.

Enter the Galt folding trampoline. The trampoline is compact and securely constructed, so it doesn’t take up too much space in our house and, more important, I know it’s a safe surface for Bean to work on her bouncing, stomping and jumping. Her bedsprings are thanking us!

Now if we could only figure out a way to channel her exuberant and sticky mealtime habits…

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Devon is a wife (of “DA”), mother two, former History professor, and lifelong shopper.  She grew up with a self-proclaimed shop-aholic and sale-aholic mom, so she’s been in training for discovering cool stuff and great deals since she can remember.  Devon lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is mostly okay with the rain but sometimes pines for her hometown in Southern California.  With a little one at home and a crazy life, Devon is all about doing her shopping on the internet and zulily has been a dream come true for her with its variety, value, and quality.

the newbie: So Much Stuff

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By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


We have very generous relatives, and since June is the first grandchild on both sides, our 17-month-old did quite well this Christmas. The phrase “made out like a bandit” comes to mind.

While that is awesome in lots of ways, it’s also… overwhelming. Living in a small city apartment means we have to constantly be on top of toys and games and all the little things that come with June’s very existence. So the grocery cart and the little car that she loves? They really need to wait until summer when we can use them in our shared backyard.

I had this grand idea of having a “one in, one out” rule when it came to toys, but now that I’m faced with the reality of it, I’m overwhelmed. Do I toss the little bear she clung to when she was just weeks old? Save the wooden puzzle that I really like but she’s never quite shown interest in?

I’d love to hear how other parents make the cut.

All ideas welcome—we are living in a sea of stuffed animals and singing toddler toys. (Fun, but crowded.)

How do you know when (and where) to donate or pass along your child’s belongings?

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the newbie: The Doll Appeal

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com


We recently had a toy swap in our building, and there’s one toy that every parent seems to want to trade away. It’s a hard-bodied baby doll with eyes that close and movable limbs, and it comes with a bathtub and a feeding bottle. To be frank, this doll is freaky.

But… the babies seem to love it! They rush up to it, hugging it and placing it in its big pink bathtub, dragging it along the grass and “mommying” it with fervor. And I wonder: What’s the deal with babies and baby dolls? Do they see themselves in its creepy blue eyes? Are they imitating the mommy role because it’s one that’s very much a part of their daily experience?

I, for one, will be happy to get June a less horror-movie version of this baby doll—that’s the plan anyway. For now, we’ll share this kooky specimen with the other kids in the building, and they’ll fight to feed her and bathe her and hug her hard, plastic body.

So, does anyone have a doll recommendation? One that both the babies and the parents can love?

It’s may not be Easter yet, but that isn’t stopping us from going on the hunt throughout zulily for Easter Basket surprises. Check out our Easter Boutique, filled with toys, sweet apparel for boys, and treats for your girl! Melissa & Doug needs no introduction as a go to brand for top toys and The Loog Guitar company brings their unique design taste to the music “business!” All of these great brands and items are new on zulily today!

Wednesday on zulily: Your little speedster doesn’t need a license to race these cool remote control toys, just an empty hallway and a steady hand!  From scary critters to monster wheelers, this awesome Remote Control Toys Collection is sure to make you even want a turn!