Monday, October 13, 2014

Holiday Shopping Made Easy: Brilliant Sky Toys & Books' Brilliance Award Winners {Review & Giveaway}

Brilliant Sky logo
With another holiday season on the horizon, the idea of celebrating and spending time with my family and friends fills me with cheer.

What doesn't, on the other hand, is the thought of shopping. It seems that unless I'm confining myself to online shopping only, every time I set foot in a store I end up stressed, frustrated and disappointed. The lines are long, the crowds are ornery, the employees are less-than-thrilled to help, and the somewhat-generic gifts that I'm looking for are often out of stock.

Instead, when it comes to shopping for just the right gifts for the children in my life, I dream of the perfect toy store that doesn't just carry the fads or the "in" things. I want a store that offers high quality, entertaining, educational, unique items that are sure to be a favorite in just about any household for years to come, sold with concierge-style superior customer service and free gift wrap.

Which is why this holiday season, I am happy to know about a specialty store on a mission to not just assist but delight the shopper (and the little recipient): Brilliant Sky Toys & Books.

Brilliant Sky toy stores

The first Brilliant Sky Toys & Books was founded by a husband and wife team in 2002 in Lansing, Michigan with the singular goal of being the finest upscale specialty toy store in America. In today's day and age where customer service is often a computerized telephone voice, Brilliant Sky began with the goal of bringing back service with a smile.

Inside every retail store (there are currently 17 and counting), customers find an enchanting place where shoppers, toy manufacturers and franchise owners wake up every day ready to play. From the inviting, interactive atmosphere to the high quality products that give children a gateway to physical, emotional and cognitive development, Brilliant Sky provides a unique, warm, friendly, engaging shopping experience.

toy train

Unfortunately we don't have a Brilliant Sky Toys & Books in our area just yet, as I have a feeling that the girls and I would spend a great deal of time there. With more than 10,000 high-quality specialty products, I could lose myself in browsing the special, educational, interesting and innovative toys for sale, while my kids would be thrilled with the toys, art supplies, books and more that are on display to sample.

I'm not sure which would be better, knowing that my children are happily engaged while I shop or experiencing Brilliant Sky's genuine, friendly customer service from staff that is passionate, caring and really knows what it means to believe in their products.

Because truly, this is one store that doesn't just sell toys, they really do believe in them. They know that the right playthings can teach, inform, enlighten, reinforce and enrich and that they have the ability to foster self-esteem, non-violence, patience, sensitivity, diversity, and tenacity.

And Brilliant Sky doesn't want to just live and breathe it for themselves, they want nothing more than to share it with the rest of us.

toy store

In their effort to be the best and select just what items make the cut, Brilliant Sky works with hundreds of toy manufacturers. And, although an item has to be pretty amazing to make it into one of their stores or onto their website, they have also coined their own annual best of show, the Brilliance Awards, where a handful of specialty toys and toy makers are applauded for rising above all others.

The award-winners represent the very ideals that Brilliant Sky Toys & Books was founded upon — the importance of quality, the value of open-ended play and the simple beauty of a child's fascination and delight. This year, 12 distinct toys, ideal for preschoolers to tweens, made the 2014 Brilliance Award list with prices ranging from $9.99 to $129.99.

Brilliance Awards

Whether your child prefers arts & crafts, building, dolls, books or more, this diverse list of products has something for everyone. From Tree Top Adventure, an amazing wooden activity center for toddlers to Lottie Dolls, new, innovative fashion dolls who stands for positive contemporary values, the Brilliance Award winners are excellent suggestions for kids of all ages.

The complete winners list includes:
  • Tree Top Adventure
  • Squigz Starter Set (24 pieces)
  • Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 pieces)
  • Sphero 2.0
  • Lottie Dolls
  • Doodle Quest
  • Create Your Own Storybook
  • Super Stadium Baseball Game
  • LoopDeLoom
  • Sew Cute Sets
  • Illustrated Adventure Stories and Illustrated Fairy Tales
  • Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls
Although I had no doubt that my kids would enjoy playing with all of these amazing toys, when a varied selection arrived at our house, they were the perfect sampling to demonstrate how much Brilliant Sky stands for creativity, laughter, imagination and more.

Brilliant Sky toys

There are no batteries required with any of these innovative sets, as each one instead relies on brain power, wonder and ingenuity... and they have instantly become huge hits!

We absolutely adore how much fun it is to play with the Squigz, as these colorful little suction cup shapes bend and stick to each other and just about any solid, non-porous surface (I have to admit that I may have found myself a little excited to make my own Squigz creations after the girls have left for school).

The My Studio Girl Sew-Your-Own Sew Cute Kit includes easy-to-follow instructions, pre-cut felt pieces, stuffing, child-safe needle, and thread; the Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls provides three one-of-a-kind creations that are fun as well as functional; and we can't wait to finish the pages in our Create Your Own Storybooks so that we can send them in and have Creatively Ever After ship back the hardcover products!

creative toys

Overall, it's difficult to find something not to love about Brilliant Sky Toys & Books. Their unique, beautiful gifts allow kids to express themselves through imaginative play and their passion for customer service can't be beat. If I could change one thing, it would be to open one of their retail locations in my city so that we could enjoy the complete experience ourselves!

For now, it's easy to visit Brilliant Sky on their website for all of my gift-giving needs and check out their free app to quickly find maps, events, savings and more if I'm in the area of one of their brick and mortar stores.

Brilliant Sky Toys & Books has a passion for play, a commitment to fun, and a dedication to helping every visitor find their way to play, so this holiday season and beyond, take their advice and discover, experience, explore, interact, and enjoy. That's the Brilliant Sky way!

And, thanks to their generosity, one person will get to see exactly why Brilliant Sky knows what makes an incredible, amazing toy, because...

One lucky person will win their choice of any one of the 12 Brilliance Award winning toys* from Brilliant Sky Toys & Books!

Brilliant Sky giveaway
Award winners include: Tree Top Adventure, Squigz Starter Set (24 pieces), Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 pieces), Sphero 2.0, Lottie Dolls, Doodle Quest, Create Your Own Storybook, Super Stadium Baseball Game, LoopDeLoom, Sew Cute Sets, Illustrated Adventure Stories and Illustrated Fairy Tales, and Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls.

A big thank you to Brilliant Sky for providing a sample of products for me as well as the award-winning toy of choice for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.