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November 22, 2012
THE GROSSE POINTES — Isabell Standish, 7, grasps a pencil and with purposeful penmanship begins a letter to Santa Claus.

"Can I please have a hamster?"

She'll name it "Chestnut," said Standish, of Grosse Pointe Farms.

She said she likes hamsters because they're "fuzzy and cute."

"Really cute," said her mother, Kim Standish, "but complicated for a parent."

Julia Ellis, 7, of Grosse Pointe Woods, wants a car for Christmas.

"A Camaro," she said. "Yellow."

From pocket-sized pets to muscle cars, this is the time of year children think outside the box.

Popular Christmas gifts for 2012 include a new twist on an old standby.

"Legos are always hot," said Ellen Durand, owner of the Village Toy Company in the City of Grosse Pointe.

The latest thing is Legos for girls.

"It's called 'Lego Friends,'" Durand said.

These aren't just pastel-colored versions of the same old thing, as when Lionel tapped the female model market with pink locomotives and pastel cars.

Lego Friends differs from regular Lego by shape, size and color.

Included are human and animal figures, furniture and playhouse items.

A popular educational item this gift-giving season is Slooooks, a board game for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Players spin wheels and match items within sight by color or number.

"It's a game invented and produced by a local gal, Kate Patterson," Durand said. "She's taken it nationwide."

Santa sets up shop at the toy company shortly after coming to town in the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade, Friday, Nov. 23.

The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Kercheval and Lewiston and ends in the Village. Santa appears at the toy store noon to 4 p.m.

He returns on Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 24, Dec. 1 and 8, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 14.

Chick and Amy Taylor, of City Kitchen restaurant in the Village, sponsor Santa's visits.

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