A day of play with Sweet Suite at Home

I’ve talked in the past about how much I love the many Sweet Suite events that I’ve attended throughout the years while traveling for conferences. So, when I heard that they, like every other show these days, were going digital with Sweet Suite at Home, I was intrigued. I mean, it’s Sweet Suite, but it was also taking place via Zoom.

But, when I saw the attending brands, I didn’t even care if it took place via MySpace messages. I was *so* in. Nintendo, Playmobil, Schleich, Calico Critters. It was as if my childhood toys all got together and designed a show just for me and my family.

The day of Sweet Suite at Home, I hesitantly cleared my schedule. I sent the kids off to a hike and the whole time wondered if I shouldn’t just keep them home. They are at the ages where they can pretty much let me work whenever I need to, but still at the ages where they need me to see and hear every mildly amusing/enjoyable thing they experience. I thought of how long the kiddo queue would be after each Zoom meeting and figured I’d play it safe and send them out into nature.

That turned out to be a very good choice. While I could have virtually walked the Sweet Suite show without them gone, I certainly couldn’t have experienced all that I did or had as much time to meet if they had been home.

What is Sweet Suite?

Sweet Suite is the biggest toy party and it’s hosted by The Toy Insider each year. The event is attended by the biggest names in play and covered by press and influencers all over the world. In the past, I have connected with some of my very favorite brands at their events, and this year’s Sweet Suite @ Home was no different.

On July 22 this year, instead of being a stand alone event in a major North American city, Sweet Suite took place in living rooms all around the world. Sweet Suite @ Home brought all the fun and excitement of Sweet Suite, without the need to travel or even leave your home.

If you’re picturing a trade show, you’ve got the wrong idea. Sweet Suite isn’t a stuffy showroom, it’s absolutely a party. The Toy Insider team of play experts presented toy trend roundups, live Q&A sessions, real-time giveaways, and other fun activities that made it even more fun. Want to see all the fun? Check out @thetoyinsider on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook or check out the hashtag #sweetsuiteathome

A new virtual experience for Sweet Suite at Home

Sweet Suite @ Home was the full Sweet Suite experience, including the ability to explore the show floor, walk up to sponsors’ booths, and engage in live face-to-face toy demos via video chat. We had the ability to chat with more than 75 toy companies and get inspired for holiday gift guides, future toy reviews, and more.

I bet you’re still wondering how fun a virtual show could be, and I’ll admit I was right there with you until the minute Sweet Suite started. I’ve experienced online events in the past, and they always feel forced and I somehow feel left out even though I’m right there in the “action”.

Sweet Suite was decidedly different. It was designed just like a trade show where you can walk the floor and visit booths, but because it was virtual, you “walked the show” via internet magic that is hard to describe to those who haven’t experienced it.

Plus, I was *encouraged* to wear PJs. Win, win, win.

You could send instant messages to representatives in each booth you were interested in and the reps would reply almost immediately. This made it easy to let them know what interested you the most and make the most of your experience. Even if you “left” the booth, you could still see all your messages from reps wherever you virtual walk took you next.

You could also click on interactive brochures and flyers in the booths to learn more about the brands being shown and all their newest arrivals. From there, you could hop into prescheduled Zoom meetings or join in on meetings in progress for booths that were mostly stop-in. While I only scheduled about a dozen Zooms, I still ended up at over 20 Zoom meetings just by hanging out in booths and talking with reps.

I also loved that I could even send emails right from in the booth to let the brands know what I’d like to follow up about after the show.

There was also a virtual press lounge where I could visit to grab press kits and other information about exhibitors. I didn’t spend a ton of time here during the show, but after hours I checked out all the releases that went live during the event. There were some really cool resources and I ended up really appreciating all the links and info as I was talking with companies after the show ended.

Oh, and did I mention there was Sweet Suite at Home SWAG?

It’s true. Just like the IRL Sweet Suite, I got a huge selection of the newest and hottest toys of the season delivered to my house after the show. From baby to toys and then to games and puzzles, we received over 10 pounds of SWAG that the kiddos couldn’t wait to try out.

Toddler and preschool picks

Sweet Suite at Home swag

These goodies above are my little one’s favorites of the bunch, with retro friends {Blue from the beloved Blue’s Clues and Pound Puppies Newborns} to snuggle and a Playful Panda to interact with. My favorite of her picks is the new magnetic Blockaroo sets that are foam blocks that stick together to make whatever you desire. These are fun on their own, but you can even add them to your child’s bath for even more fun.

Creative and imaginative play

Sweet Suite at Home swag

My kids love all things imaginative. These were some of their top picks for everyday play, with products from their very favorite brands. We especially loved the new characters from Playmobil featuring Scooby-Doo villains. We’ve been collecting these mystery packs {no pun intended} since the end of February and are close to a full set, so we were excited to open this up as a family.

Another huge hit was the Calico Critters baby mystery packs, because they cannot resist these sweet little critters. They just inherited all of my little Calico Critters pieces I had been saving until they were old enough, and now they play Critters a few times a month for days on end. This mystery pack was our first in this series, and the kiddos adored our little Critter we opened.

Also in the tops picks was the new Pop It! game that’s perfect for little fidgeters, especially as they head back to school. It’s been proven that kids learn better after they get all those misplaced wiggles and fidgets out, so I know this is going to be a big hit at our homeschool station.

The newest craze

Sweet Suite at Home

Okay, okay, these aren’t all a “craze”, but they are all incredibly popular with kiddos these days. While some of these are original toys {Slinky and bubbles}, they’ve been made new again by this new generation. Basically, anything in the above spread would go over well for holiday shopping for a 7 -11 year old.

Games and more

Who doesn’t love a good game? My kids love board games, apps. and interactive toys that pair with apps, and these are some of their top picks for kids.

Sweet Suite at Home

Family game night just got even better with the new #UpsideDownChallenge game and Pokemon Battle Academy. Add in a puzzle to keep on the table now that we’re all home more often and you’ve got the makings of an amazing game week with the family.

Shopping for toys this holiday season?

Be sure and follow along on our post-Sweet Suite coverage! We’re going to be sharing our favorite finds from Sweet Suite at Home in full posts and in-depth reviews of each item here and on social media. Come back and see our top picks for holiday gift ideas and more!

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