images Last Thursday night, Whitney and I joined 125 moms in Chester County, PA, at the first Chester County Moms Holiday Extravaganza, benefitting Toys for Tots.  As a sponsor of the event, Mommies with Style connected with fantastic moms from all over our area, participated in the toy drive, and had the opportunity to hear the fabulous Chris Byrne, aka The Toy Guy, share his wit and knowledge about some of this season’s best toys.

Kudos to the gals from Chester County Moms Blog who coordinated this amazing event. Raffling off 70 prizes from local and national contributors, they set a standard for future community events. Amongst the many popular items raffled off were some hot gifts: a Keurig Coffee Maker donated by our friend Colleen at Classy Mommy,  a 10-inch wide screen digital picture frame donated by Best Buy, a DXG Luxe Series HD Mini Camcorder donated by Mommies with Style, and a Nintendo DSi and several games donated by Ubisoft.

Of course, what was most important was that all the moms recognized the importance of giving. Last night we learned that this year in our Toys for Tots area there are 9,000 registered children who are in need of some toy-friendly attention. Last year, the Marine Corp and Toys for Tots collected more than 60,000 toys for the children in Chester and Western Montgomery Counties, PA. This year, in spite of our hard economic times, and because of events like the Chesco Holiday Extravaganza, Toys for Tots is expecting to surpass last year’s total. What a great feat! Personally, this was my first time being involved with the Toys for Tots organization, and the enthusiasm was infectious, as we learned just how  big of a difference all who give to Toys for Tots make each year. Its an uplifting, encouraging feeling. Those 9,000 kids who are in so much need will have a brighter day when they open their puzzles, dolls and building toys. We’re awaiting a total number  of toys collected and look forward to hearing. Guests were asked to bring 1-5 toys to donate last night. One guest stepped up and donated 16 toys.

While the evening was a time for giving, for connecting and chatting, hearing The Toy Guy was a highlight. If you ever have an opportunity to meet Chris, please take it. He’s hysterical, charming and oh-so-entertaining! Highlights of his Top Toys for 2009 list:

Crayola Crayon Maker which can’t be opened and burn your child! Collect old crayon scraps to make new ones. (I so wanted to win this in the raffle.)

seuss Dr. Seuss Super Stretchy ABC is a modern, Seussical twisty letter game. This is sure to get my kids moving on snow days this winter!

Learning Curve’s Super Why Super Duper Computer!  Yes, we’ve heard it a million times on PBS’ beloved show. Now your kids can play on their own laptop… and keep their hands off your’s.

Fisher Price’s Elmo Tickle Hands. Elmo can be a big hit every year, but this year its not Elmo himself, but just his hands. The Toy Guy had a pair specially made to fit his hands, but the ones you get here are made to fit your kiddos (and only $9.99 at the time of this writing! Scoop these up NOW!)

Connect 4 x 4 is a new spin on a classic favorite. And in this game, says Byrne, you’re going to “have to think dimensionally.”

Battle Strikers. This is a total boy toy. Its likely to be the big collection toy of 2010 and you  know you’re going to want to get your hands on them. The collecting part are little tops (but they’re cooler than just spin tops because you don’t just watch them spin. Instead you conrol them with your magnetic “lazer.” Honestly, its one of those boy toys that I’m pretty sure I won’t “get” but I know the kids will, or they’ll try.

liv Liv dolls. As the mom of a little girl (wahoo! First holiday season with dolls and pink!) I can totally appreciate these new dolls. Like Barbie, they’re always in style and looking good. But they’re responsible, too. They have jobs. Good jobs. They wear respectable clothing and make-up. And they’re figure’s aren’t unrealistic. And they come with 2 wigs for hair. So an impromptu trip to the basement “salon” isn’t quite as bad a thing.

Of course, that’s only a handful of The Toy Guy’s highlights. I’m going to start checking his reviews, MomTV shows and his giveaways regularly.

We received one Liv Doll and one set of Battle Strikers in our bag of “swag” and thank Chester County Moms Blog for hosting such a wonerful event. Please consider giving to Toys for Tots this year.

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