Christmas is two weeks away. Unless you're best friends with the teenager who restocks the toy shelves at Toys 'R' Us or Walmart, about the only way you're going to get a Zhu Zhu Pet is to pay five times the retail price online at eBay or Amazon. Is it worth it? Aren't there any other wiggly, noisy, or cuddly little pretend animals that will make kids just as happy as Zhu Zhu Pets on Christmas morning? Here are some alternative Christmas gift ideas for parents who refuse to spend $40 on a single Zhu Zhu Pet hamster toy.
Christmas Gifts to Buy Instead of Zhu Zhu Pets: FurReal Friends (price range: $13- $150). The nice thing about Hasbro's line of FurReal Friends is the variety of battery-powered animal toys. There are dogs, cats, farm animals, wild animals. My daughter has a FurReal Newborn—a sweet little lamb that wiggles its tail, arches its back, and makes “baa-baa” noises when she pets it. I found two FurReal Newborn guinea pigs, but no hamsters. Unfortunately, I can't find the FurReal Newborn guinea pig toys being sold for a reasonable price online.
Christmas Gifts to Buy Instead of Zhu Zhu Pets: Playskool Kota & Pals dinosaur toys (price range: $15-$70). What's better than a pretend pet hamster? A pretend pet dinosaur, of course—one that moves and makes dinosaur sounds.
Christmas Gifts to Buy Instead of Zhu Zhu Pets: Webkinz stuffed animals, by Ganz (price range: $10 and up). Webkinz are more huggable than FurReal Friends and Kota & Pals toys (and Zhu Zhu Pets, I suspect) because they don't contain batteries; what they do contain is a secret code that grants access to a kid-friendly virtual world online, where your child's Webkinz will “come to life.” Webkinz come in just about every kind of animal imaginable...except for hamsters. Here is a Webkinz guinea pig and a Webkinz Lil' Kinz white mouse. (The Webkinz guinea pig, however, is selling for just as much as a Zhu Zhu Pet! Good grief!)
Christmas Gifts to Buy Instead of Zhu Zhu Pets: Zhu Zhu Pet look-alikes! Other furry hamster toys, such as these, might satisfy kids who like the idea of a pretend pet hamster but don't necessarily care if they get a brand-name Zhu Zhu Pet:
A cute hamster puppet, like this one.
A plush hamster toy with its own pet carrier, like this golden hamster and this brown hamster.
Ty Beanie Baby hamsters: “Pellet” and “Pecan.”
Other plush hamster toys: Mister Brown Hamster, Plush Brushy Hamster, Plush Lying Hamster.
If your child must have a hamster that moves on its own, check out these: A toy hamster that runs inside of a wheel, called the Happy Hamster Wheel Runner, and a toy hamster that runs inside of a ball--Hamusuta the Happy Hamster.
Christmas Gifts to Buy Instead of Zhu Zhu Pets: Walmart, Target, or Toys 'R' Us gift card. Put the child in charge of finding and buying his/her own Zhu Zhu Pet! Ha!
Happy hamster-hunting and Merry Christmas!
For more inexpensive Christmas gift ideas for children ($10 or less, no batteries required), click here.
Sources: Amazon.com; Hasbro.com; Webkinz.com; www.zhuzhupets.com