Are you freaking out yet? It's already November and Christmas is only six weeks away! I'm not stressed, though. I'm just in the festive mood. And I'm okay with listening to holiday music already. Yup, I'm even ready to put up the Christmas tree and start wrapping presents. Oh, but first, I guess I have to go shopping.

One of the things I love best about Christmas is shopping for my children—and for other children, too. Every year, I get excited to see what my boys will be asking for, and I also like to challenge myself a little to see if I can find something my boys don't have, but will absolutely love! I like getting my children thoughtful Christmas gifts that are perfect for them—they always receive books and games that we can play as a family, and I also love giving them educational gifts that will last.

Here are my picks for this Christmas's hottest toys for both boys and girls:

  • LeapPad2 Explorer:

The LeapPad2 Explorer is probably one of the most requested toys for Santa this year. I'm all for anything that helps children expand their minds and creativity. The LeapPad2 comes with five apps, including Art Studio, LeapFrog Learning Songs, and Cartoon Director. The LeapPad2 works with LeapFrog Explorer cartridges and apps, which are sold separately. Children will be lost in play and will be learning at the same time with this toy. I give it two thumbs up!

  • iPad mini:

If your children are a little older (my boys are four- and seven-years old), another electronic option for under the Christmas tree this year is the iPad mini. We recently purchased one for the family, and I find it much more convenient to use than the original iPad. It's lighter and easier for smaller hands to hold, and, again, with the many apps out there, your children can be learning while being entertained at the same time! One app my boys love? Elements! They can even sing the song (and they know way more about the elements than I did when I was their age). Of course, the iPod is also a very hot item for boys and girls this year, and is less expensive.

  • Playmobil Princess Fantasy Castle:

This Playmobil castle is for children between the ages of four and ten, but I know that even this thirty-something mom would enjoy playing with it for hours on end. With a huge outdoor staircase, lots of rooms, and even a secret chamber for keeping your jewels safe in the great tower, this is sure to be a squee-worthy toy for any little Princess (or Prince!) this Christmas season.

  • LEGO Batcave:

I don't know about your children, but my boys are LEGO obsessed! In fact, not a day goes by that I don't step on a piece of LEGO, and we all know how painful that can be. My boys will play with any type of LEGO, and build and create their own things, but my four-year-old is drawn to the LEGO Batman sets, since he loves Batman almost as much as Santa! This LEGO Batcave is the perfect Christmas present for Batman fans, and comes with five mini-figures: Bruce Wayne, Batman, Robin, Poison Ivy, and Bane.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series:

For the first time, all five books in this bestselling series are available together in a collectible box set. Books are one of my favourite things to give to my boys as Christmas gifts, and both my boys are huge Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans. This is a great addition to any home library.

  • Thames and Kosmos Chem C 1000:

I know my seven-year-old will love this chemistry kit! He loves doing experiments, and he loves science. This kit has seventy-five different experiments that kids can do, and comes with instructions in a forty-page, full-colour manual, with safety advice, too. It's aimed for children ten-years old and older, but with adult supervision, children younger than ten can have fun with this science kit, too!

  • Deluxe Townhouse:
This is on MY list of things I'd love to receive this Christmas. Since I have the feeling no one will get this for me, I just might have to pick it up for my two-year-old niece, and arrange a few play dates with her. I love everything about this beautiful doll house. It has three levels and twelve rooms, and comes with three dolls and twenty-four pieces of furniture. This doll house will be one that'll last for years to come.  
  • Microscope Elite:

This microscope set is perfect for the little scientist in your family! The 98-piece kit has professionally prepared slides and everything your little one will need to make their own specimen slides. There's even a camera mount so you can photograph your findings, and a projection/drawing device to display images for tracing or group viewing. The GeoVision MicroProElite is a great Christmas gift for children of all ages.

  • Mala Easel:

This easel from IKEA is great for both boys and girls, and makes a terrific gift for the Christmas holiday. It's one of the most affordable gifts, too, at just under $20. Children can use one side to colour with markers or paints, and they can use the other side as a chalkboard. It can be stored easily, as well.

  • LEGO Sort and Store:

We bought this  LEGO Sort and Store container for our oldest son last Christmas, because, my goodness, he has a lot of LEGO and pieces were everywhere! This helps organize all the pieces by size, and it stores everything in a nice, neat, and very cool looking LEGO head. This is a must-have for any child who is a LEGO collector!

  • Set Sails Pirate Ship Play Set:

Last week when we were in Chapters-Indigo (pretty much a weekly thing for us), my boys saw this Pirate Ship Play Set for the first time and they started playing with it right away. I love toys that are well made, and this is no exception. Expect countless hours of pirate fun with this set! The set comes with twenty-one play accessories, including five pirate crew members, play furniture, and cannons. Ahoy, Matey!

  • Imaginext Batcave:

Fisher-Price is a name I trust when it comes to buying things for my children, and Fisher-Price has been a staple in my house since I was a baby. I'm happy to report that even though my boys are older now, they still enjoy playing with Fisher-Price's Imaginext line. My four-year-old, especially, gets lost in play for hours with all the Imaginext DC Super Friends toys.

  • Corolle dolls:

I don't have any girls, but I do have an adorable two-year-old niece, so I still get to shop for adorable girly things whenever I am in the mood to do so. I love Corolle dolls, they're so well made, and they have a huge selection to choose from. I love the Camille Ballerina Doll, and I plan on buying one this Christmas for my niece. What little girl wouldn't want a doll this cute?

  • Crayola Tabletop Portfolio Easel: This portable easel is perfect for little boys and girls who love to get creative and spend a lot of time drawing. The Easel comes with super tips markers and paper for "permanent masterpieces" and also comes with Dry-Erase Crayons with two wipe-off surfaces for the more... temporary designs. The best part? It's under $25!

  • Groovy Girls Groovylicious Greeting Cards: I love receiving cards in the mail, and I love sending cards out to people as well. Sending and receving cards is way more personable than through email, don't you think? Well, with this Groovy Girls kit, your children can create their own personalized cards. The kit comes with puffy paints and 3 cards. This gift is perfect for gift-giving, too, since it's under $10!
 
 
 

    

  • Snap Circuits Jr.: This toy is very popular in my house! My seven-year-old received this from a friend for his birthday and he's been learning the basics of electronics while experimenting with it ever since. I love that it's affordable, too—just under $30!

What have your boys and girls been asking Santa for this Christmas? 

Note: I have shopped around at IKEAAppleTag Along Toys, Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's, Chapters Indigo, and Toys R Us while putting together my Christmas list of hottest toys for you this season.

Earlier this month, I also found this retro-cool doll at Holt Renfrew that is supposed to be one of the hottest holiday gifts for 2012! Did you have one of these when you were a kid?

Before the register rings, be sure to visit our Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll find this year’s hottest toys, gifts for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life and shopping tips that will save you time and money.