Holiday gifts
It's that time of year again—my yearly holiday tradition of checking in on the U.S. Internet users (10 million of them to be exact) to determine the hottest gifts for this holiday season.

After running this list for the past six years, I am always surprised to see that certain toys and brands continue to dominate search terms despite all the high-tech wonders that fill the shelves. The toy category is still dominated by searches for Legos and Hot Wheels.

Here are the top 10 toy searches according to Experian Hitwise for the week ending December 5, 2009:

1.Zhu Zhu Pets
2.American Girl dolls
4.Littlest Pet Shop
5.Airsoft guns
7.Power Wheels
8.Paintball guns
10.Pillow Pets

This year, the runaway favorite despite safety concerns is the Zhu Zhu Pet, a small, furry motorized hamster that coos and purrs when petted. California consumer protection group and website reported earlier that its testing found the heavy metal antimony in one of the Zhu Zhu Pets it tested. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported Tuesday, however, that the robotic hamsters met all safety guidelines.

Beyond the now-cleared Zhu Zhu Pet, when comparing last year's top 10 toy searches with this year's, new toys include plush toy Pillow Pets and Mindflex, a toy that allows users to use their brainwaves to move a ball through an obstacle course.
Over the past four years, I have predicted that UGG boots will be a hot gift during the holidays. Without fail, every year I receive e-mails from consumers, fashion editors and retailers telling me that UGGs are so "last year." Yet UGGs are identified every year in post-holiday news as one of the most popular gifts of the holidays. Based on last week's search data, this holiday is no different from previous seasons.

Beyond the allure of using mind control to manipulate objects, for the men on your gift list, searches in the electronics category center on GPS units like the TomTom GPS. In game consoles, the Wii is the runaway favorite with searches for the Nintendo device far outpacing Playstation and Xbox.

And for my wife, Lori, if you happen to be reading this, one of the top electronic searches, "TomTom for the iPhone," would be a great Hanukkah gift. Please, no Uggs this year—at 43, I just don't think I can pull them off.

Bill Tancer is an Internet trend analyst, columnist and author of the New York Times best-seller Click—What Millions Do Online and Why It Matters .


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