Best Kids Stuff from 2011

These book clubs, products and party ideas made parents' lives a little easier in 2011.
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Best "Mini Me" Trend
Book Groups for Children

For Seattle’s subadult set, 2011 was the year of the book...group. Across the city, kids are huddling in circles to discuss everything from Hunger Games to graphic novels to Daisy Dawson stories. Best of all: Mockingbird Books' free book group, complete with free pizza, just for tween boys the third Friday of every month. (Green Lake, 7220 Woodlawn Ave. NE; 206.518.5886; mockingbirdbooksgl.com) Another notable page turner: At Secret Garden Books (Ballard, 2214 NW Market St.; 206.789.5006; secretgardenbooks.com), teens nosh on Snoose Junction pizza while discussing the hottest YA titles (free; last Wednesday of the month); a young readers’ club is also in the works.

Best Nesting Assist
SwaddleDesigns’ Angry Bird Blankets

For years, we’ve loved Seattle’s SwaddleDesigns for its big, soft, square swaddling blankets with step-by-step baby-enchilada instructions sewn right onto the blanket. Now, blankies meet birdies with a flock of new designs featuring critters from the obsession-inducing smartphone game Angry Birds. Put a bird on your blanket ($28), burpie ($20), baby sack ($38), lovie ($20) and other items to honor those nesting instincts. Tukwila, 480 Andover Park East; 206.525.0400; swaddledesigns.com

Best Plush Lovie
Friends of Socktopus Wiener Dogs

Face it: Wiener dogs are funny. But in the hands of Clarity Miller, owner of Anacortes-based Friends of Socktopus, they go from silly to stylish. Handsewn in scads of fashion-forward cotton fabric options, these 16–inch-long doggies are about 5 inches tall, thus preserving the correct height/length ratio for optimum wiener-dog cuteness. $26; etsy.com, search “wiener dog paisley”

 

Best Birthday Party Idea

Moonie Icy Tunes’ Ice Cream Truck

Ice cream season is long past, but that won’t put the brakes on this truck, which delivers ice cream treats, old-school ice cream truck style, to screaming fans at parties. Beloved by summertime birthday party planners (and goers) citywide (book now for next summer!), Moonie Icy Tunes is trying something new this year: staying open for business all winter, too. “We’re already getting bookings well into December,” says Sharon Crosetto, a Redmond mom who runs the business with her daughter Melissa. Besides the iconic Good Humor bars, Moonie rolls out high-end treats, such as profiteroles and a limoncello dessert served in a glass flute, from her refurbished postal Jeep. “The novelty of it brings back something pleasant for people,” says Crosetto, like sweet memories of summer in the dead of winter. 425.223.1890; moonieicytunes.com

New Skincare Company, 3B, Delivers Beauty by the Boxful

New Skincare Company, 3B, Delivers Beauty by the Boxful

A Seattle-based skin care company brings beauty breakthroughs to your door
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Goodies from a 3B beauty box

Ke Chen, cofounder of 3B (Beauty Beyond Borders), says skin care in Asia is approached the same way the French think about food. “It’s an art form,” she says. Chen, whose Seattle-based subscription beauty box company launched last year, says this “art form” can include a 10-step cleansing ritual and feature innovative, exotic ingredients like bee venom and snail mucus to soothe and repair skin.

 

Chen has found that obtaining these elite Asian skin care products stateside takes time and research, which is why she’s offering them via a home subscription service ($15/month), which delivers a collection of Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese skin care samples, such as the Neogence Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion from Taiwan and Leaders’ 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti-Pollution Mask from South Korea. When subscribers find a product they can’t live without, they can shop for the full-size product on 3B’s website (the3bbox.com).

Local and national focus groups of bloggers, YouTubers and beauty influencers help Chen keep up on Asian skin care trends and determine what ends up in the boxes. You could say that 3B has skin in this game.