Cheap toys do not have to be rubbish or even less fun for your kids.
In fact when I was growing up my family had to be very careful with the little money they had and I remember many birthdays and Christmases where I was given either second hand, homemade or just basic toys to play with.
I remember having a great time and am in fact convinced that even in today's high gadget orientated world the cheap toys are still the best toys.
Maybe its because they require the children to use their imagination and their input more and so are more absorbing and are likely to be played with for much longer.
How many of you have watched a child open their presents and then spend the next half hour playing with the box or wrapping paper? Me too and then I think, "Why did I spend so much on the present?"
My top tips for buying cheap toys that will keep both the kids and your bank manager happy are:
Buy toys that will last - There's nothing worse than spending money on a toy that within a short period of time breaks. The children will be upset and they will be discarded adding to the worlds rubbish mountain.
Instead buy toys that are sturdy, like wood, cloth and metal, (I used to have a fleet of little metal cars that I had until I was in my twenties).
Buy second-hand - A good way to think about second-hand toys is that, if they are still around to be sold a second time then they must be durable. Once cleaned and wrapped in gift paper, they will look like new and your kids will never know the difference. The best places to buy second hand are: Yard sales, charity shops and thrift shops.
Avoid taking children to toyshops - never take your children toy shopping. You will be asking for trouble and may even let yourself in for some tantrums. Even if you are going to a thrift store to buy cheap toys it is still a good idea to go alone.
Buy during sales - buy toys in the sales and store them away until needed. This way you're kids will still receive the latest toys but just at a later date. Prices of toys can drop dramatically after Christmas and you will save quite a lot of money this way.
The other option is to explain to your children that they will receive some presents at Christmas and some just after, this will appease them if they don't want to wait to receive a certain toy.
Of course you can even make your own toys, they don't have to be complex or difficult to make. Keep things simple and frugal, your kids will still have lots of fun.
Make your own play dough for you kids at home. It will costs far less than shop bought Dough and can be coloured and scented as you wish. A simple recipe is:
Mix together and boil until thick, then spoon out onto a plate to cool. Remember to always supervise very children when they are playing with dough, as it can sometime be very tempting to have a nibble.
Save those washing up bottles and turn them into great water pistols for the summer. Gets the kids involved by asking them to decorate their own "pistol" bottle.
Cardboard boxes can make fantastic cheap toys by turning them into toy houses for dolls or a castle for toy soldiers.
Don't waste your money on those little tubs of bubbles for kids, they are so easy to make your self and provide your children with a cheap toy any time of the year.
Simply mix water with some washing up liquid in a bowl and then using a piece of wire (old wire hangers can be cut to size for this), bend into a loop.
That's it; you're done and if you use a large bowl and with big wire loops you can even make giant bubbles.
If you are a dab hand with the knitting needles then homemade rag type dolls are great fun. I used to have lots of them and I played with them year after year. Here is a great link to some free toy knitting patterns.
If you have children, you will know that they can become quite bored with toys quickly. A great solution to this without having to run out and spend more money, is to find your nearest Toy Library.
Many countries have them and if there isn't one near you then why not arrange to start one.
Toys can be donated to the library and just like borrowing books; you can borrow toys for a few weeks or months and then exchange them for something else. This is a perfect solution for providing your children with cheap toys on a regular basis without spending a fortune.
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