By keeping up-to-date on the latest product information and safety alerts, with regular input from a parent advisory team and IBM’s Deep Blue computer, Best for Babies ensures that it carries only the safest and highest-quality merchandise. Parents and pet owners who like to dress their four-legged friends in baby clothes can deck out their darlings with clothing such as New Jammies organic nap n’ play footies ($28), a Barefoot Dreams eco-heirloom cardigan ($50), or a stylish Alfonsi Venetis oilcloth smock ($25).
Eight bags. Two platforms. Two six-inch holes. One distinctly American game. The origins of cornhole are shrouded in mystery. Some say it derives from a German game, while others claim it is a descendant of a similar sport played by Native Americans. But one thing is certain—it's serious business. That's why the American Cornhole Organization was formed in 2005. By setting the rules, establishing annual tournaments and competitions, and firmly banning the practice of using trained birds to dunk bags, these referees have codified the sport and elevate it to a professional level.
Cutie Patooties outfits newborns to 10-year-olds in stylish clothing from brands such as RuffleButts, Knuckleheads Clothing, Le Top, and We Squeak and fills their tiny hands with books, artwork, and toys. Toddler Posh hair bows bedeck babes dressing up for preschool presidential elections ($5), a pin-stripe fedora by Knuckleheads Clothing spiffs up future adult men ($30), and RuffleButts bottoms disguise diapers so babies can go out on the town without shame ($18+).
Sugar & Spice shines a spotlight on boys and girls. The business has two sides, serving as a boutique clothing shop as well as a venue for birthday parties and special events. New shirts, dresses, shoes, and other items arrive on shelves regularly; the shop's Facebook page keeps customers up to date on new arrivals. For parties, hosts supply everything needed, including cake and activities, which range from making friendship bracelets to appraising the gemstones on the birthday girl's tiara.
The founders of Beach Tennis USA imported the volleyball-and-tennis hybrid sport from Aruba in 2005, bringing Americans of all ages and athletic abilities a fresh twist on beach-bound recreation. During the two-hour intro classes, instructors teach students how to bump, smack, or teleport de-pressurized tennis balls over lowered beach-volleyball type nets using nothing but stringless paddles. Like in volleyball and tennis, each team desperately attempts to keep the ball from hitting the ground on their side while using brute force and surreptitious bribery to convince the fast-moving orb to strike the opposing team's sandy surface. The gurus will impart valuable arm-swinging and sand-diving techniques for the first 30 minutes before letting pupils compete in match play for the remaining hour and a half.
A maker of quality billiard tables since 1910, Steepleton's wide range of entertainment furniture keeps a lively rec room from curdling into a dreary fun dungeon, or fungeon. A dartboard ($80–$199) and a couple bar stools ($25–$700) create a cozy habitat for pet Irishmen, and corn-hole bags ($40) provide twice the backyard fun of beanbag tosses, mostly from the game's name. Homebody hustlers, meanwhile, can take home a pool table ($999–$7,000) and pair it with high-quality pool cues ($22–$500). Otherwise, soothe sore muscles or reheat leftovers in a hot tub ($3,000–$13,000) on brisk Kentucky nights. Steepleton's showroom also shows off a variety of basketball hoops, air-hockey and foosball tables, safe outdoor playsets ($1,400–$12,000), and even safer Springfree trampolines—whose hidden frame and soft edges protect rugrats from spring gouges, broken bones, and double-bounces that send them crashing into passing cell-phone satellites.