There's been a lot of buzz around a product called Webkinz. When I asked my niece what she wanted for Christmas, all she could say was, "Webkinz! Webkinz! Webkinz!" Being the good aunt that I am, I did my Webkinz research and I was pleasantly surprised.

Webkinz are plush little animals that you can buy at stores all over the world. Starting at $8, each doll comes with a secret code that you enter into the Webkinz website. Once your child picks the name and gender of the animal, the pet is registered on–line. Now your child can decorate the pet's room and learn how to take care of the animal. The site rates the pet's happiness based on how often the pet is fed, played with, and exercised.

For kids with allergies, like my niece, this is a great way for her to have a pet without really having one. And, she will benefit from learning all of the responsibilities that come with having a real one. Now the hard part is picking which animal to buy – a cat, dog, horse, elephant, frog, etc. Although I think an elephant might be hard to take on a walk and exercise!