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Saving Money on Toys

Category Home & Garden
Kids need toys to play with for both entertainment and development. There is no end to the stream of new, innovative and expensive toys available on the market. This is a guide about saving money on toys.


Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

By 12 found this helpful
August 31, 2012

"Tolan, how cool is that?" queried Papa who had just put together a wagon with his three year old grandson. And posing with his newly created robot, twelve year old Cole said, "I think I'll be able to use this for school too."

Both boys had just completed projects using the age appropriate kits that I gave them. These reusable systems encourage youngsters to stretch their creative abilities. Tolan and Cole found used items from around the house (like empty boxes, egg cartons, paper cups, bottle tops, and coat hangers) and they combined these items into something else (a wagon, a robot, a car, a space ship, an animal.)


"Just add a box and some imagination" say the creators of RoloBox, Tolan's kit. It contains four brightly colored plastic wheels and brackets, eight wing nuts, eight bolts, and one pulling handle. Tolan, with the help of his grandfather, enjoyed twisting and turning the screws and later pulling his stuffed animals and mommy's keys around the house.

Cole's kit, on the other hand, called MakeDo, is actually for young people over five (although some adults have been known to use it in their offices as well.) MakeDo comes with an inspiration poster and 165 reusable parts: two plastic safe saws, 17 lock-hinges, 73 connecters, and 73 releasers. In addition, its website provides video tutorials and a gallery where "kids" can upload their creative images, some of which will end up on the next poster. "We love making . . . not just making but making do, using stuff we have to make something new" is the motto of the makers of Cole's kit. He spent several hours building his robot, and his older sister Tayler contributed a handmade bird. Both said they were surprised at how quickly time flew and at how much fun they were having.


RoloBox and MakeDo are great gifts for special occasions and nice to have around the house for “rainy days.” (Of course, if one has a well-stocked workshop at home, he or she can put together something similar without having to purchase the kits as I did.) These gifts have benefitted my own grandchildren by encouraging creative activity; by helping them see value in everyday objects—even waste; and by providing a new way to look at and care for the earth.

By Viaux from Miami, Florida

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Comment Was this helpful? 12

May 15, 2012

I have many times bought the kids those play food kits, and I always found they tired of the stuff quickly. Now I save empty boxes of food and keep switching the stuff around so they always have different play food. Best of all, it's free.


By Coville123 from Brockville, Ontario

Comment Was this helpful? 4

August 22, 20081 found this helpful

Tips for saving money on toys as suggested by the ThriftyFun community.

Leave The Kids At Home

The best money saving tip I have is - don't bring your kids to the toy store with you.

By Samantha

Buy Used Toys

I find some GREAT toys at flea markets and yard sales. Some need washing or sterilizing to be safe. But they make handy gifts as well. I've never bought a toy for more than $3


Craigslist and Other Tips

I agree about keeping kids out of toy sections. Our 2-year old son is a calm and quiet old soul, but put him near the toy section in Target and he goes ballistic! I love to see him so excited and exploring, but every time it's a task to pull him away from the "cars"!

Try for your neighborhood classifieds. There is also nothing wrong with finding some great, clean and barely-used toys at yard sales. My mother buys my son cars at yard sales, and they're fine. She disinfects them before letting him have them. You can find some very nice items that others are selling, and save tons of cash.

By Lisa B

Toy Lending Groups

The local library here in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada has a toy lending group. I know lots of moms who have used the program. Check with your local library, to see if they have a program like that in your area. It is a wonderful way for the kids to play with a variety of toys, educational, durable and they learn to respect the toys because they are borrowed. They learn to share, because the toys have to go back after a week or two for another child to borrow.

You can borrow the same toy back again later, which is nice too. Moms volunteer their time to come in to wash toys and keep the center open certain times of the week. A great way of not having to spend the money on toys, yet be able to provide their kids with quality educational toys and games.

By Valleyrimgirl

Thrift Stores

I go to our local thrift store for toys for my daughter. I've gotten a Little Tikes table and chair set for $3, a Disney princess ride-on toy for $1, a baby doll high chair and walker for just $1, and a Little Tikes wheelbarrow for $2. All they need is a little cleaning and they're good as new. So what if they're a little used, it beats spending so much for them at Wal-Mart or Toys R' Us!

By BrookesMommy

Watch For Vintage Toys at Garage Sales

Garage sales are great places for toys. You can even find some of the vintage stuff. Please be aware though that some toys (modern) that were made in China have been put on recall list for lead. Do your homework before giving toys to children. Thrift stores are another wonderful treasure trove for the bargain hunter.


Buy Quality

This may be sort of a backhanded way to save money on toys but I find that a lot of the cheaper toys out there are not worth the money. There are some standouts, like Playmobile (which is also not manufactured in China). I try to shop at my local toy store rather than a big box store or Toys R Us. Although the toys might cost a little bit more, they are also more particular about what they carry. I also try to minimize the amount of toys that I buy and pack up old toys before holidays so we can cycle through them after they are tired with their old stuff.

Thrift stores and garage sales can be a good place to get bargains and missing pieces of sets but there is something special about that brand new toy. I really try to get games and collections because I feel like they have more longevity for the kids.

By Jess

Comment Was this helpful? 1

January 22, 2015

My son loves to get ahold of my mom's pot and potato masher when he visits her. I didn't want to give him mine and have to continually take them away to use them. So I decided to buy a few items at Goodwill and let him have his own set. He loves them!

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 2

September 11, 20070 found this helpful

I see toy food for sale all the time and think that not only is it a waste of money. It may not even be safe with all the recent recalls. Save pint-sized milk cartons, empty pizza boxes, empty mac n'cheese boxes, any food container.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

By 0 found this helpful
December 2, 2008

My daughter and her friends are not buying their children any new toys for Christmas. Instead, they are having a toy swap among themselves. Their kids will get all "new" toys without having to spend a dime!

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 17, 2008

When my 4 children were small, we did not have much money and used our imaginations a lot. The one "toy" my daughter remembers is when we made a house for her Barbie out of a cardboard box.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

Fletcher0 found this helpful
December 5, 2000

Avoid the temptation to go online and spend a lot of money on the hot toys your kids are clamoring for. All these toys will be available in January for their retail price.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

August 22, 2007

Don't you hate paying the crazy prices they charge for kids toys - and doesn't it seem like the only ones that go on sale are the ones that are really expensive to begin with?

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

March 29, 20050 found this helpful

Good examples for great sand toys are applesauce cups, laundry detergent scoops, powdered formula scoops, empty play dough containers and more.

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December 6, 20040 found this helpful

Make sure to check out thrift stores for Christmas presents. I recently bought a set that had a barn, silo, cows, fences, etc. for $2, I plan to buy a tractor (new or thrift) and have this set up underneath the Christmas tree. My 3 year old will never know it wasn't new in a box. By Melanie

Comment Was this helpful? Yes


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

October 15, 2007

Need safe toys MADE IN THE U.S.A. for a great-granddaughter that will be 4 years old in Dec. I do not sew or do handwork. Anyone have ideas that will be easy and not much money? ($10 - $20 max)

I already give her grandma money for her college fund. Her birthday is a couple of days before Christmas. I don't want her to feel left out of the birthday party so I need something to give her for that too.

Great Granny Vi from Moorpark, CA


October 15, 20070 found this helpful

Look for handicrafts made by your local senior citizens! They have their wares for sale at craft faires, etc. and are usually not expensive- look for rag dolls, and so on...or wooden blocks...

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 15, 20070 found this helpful

Dollar stores have cute things for little girls like hair doodads, socks, etc....Also grab bags which kids seem to love. I was born a few days before Christmas so I know all about "it's too close to Christmas" syndrome. Believe me, someday she will appreciate your kindness, you're a very thoughtful grandma!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 17, 20070 found this helpful

It's true that everything in Dollar stores are cheap. The point is we now want to buy toys (and other things) Made in USA. You would have to check the packaging very carefully. Many churches have "fairs" in December and members often donate handmade things for sale. Good l;uck.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 17, 20070 found this helpful

The best toys use the kids' imaginations. The awesomest toy I ever had growing up was a gunny sack full of blocks. They were just odd sized scraps and chunks, and they had been taken to a belt sander by a family friend to polish them a little. The three of us played with those until we were like fifteen or something. Loved them!! You could also look on eBay's vintage toy department for ideas.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 17, 20070 found this helpful

Here's a list for you to check out. I believe all of
Melissa and Doug's products are safe and made in
the US. I've found some of their puzzles for
about $5. You can search for Melissa and Doug
if you'd like to see more of their toys.

You might consider clothing too, or a purse, or
even a little camera. They have some little digital
ones at Walmart (online) clearance for less than $10.

Hope you find what you're looking for!

Buy American http://www.foxn  3,292056,00.html
Toys Made In America
US Made Toys
Fat Brain Toys made in America http://www.fatb  e_in_america.cfm
Lead-Free USA made toys http://www.thed  ade-in-usa/5291/
*list of more toy sites here too
American Made http://www.made  i?data/toys&

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
October 18, 20070 found this helpful

I ordered several things from

Painted rocks book
Solar powered car book

I like it where kids can actually do or make something.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 19, 20070 found this helpful

Granny, my husbands B-day falls on Christmas Day & my middle childs is on Dec. 23, so I know how you feel that your granddaughter may feel left out. Usually, we did something for the both of them on the 23rd & I'm sure my son felt shorted because it was so close to Christmas that he didn't get as good of gifts as the other kids did on their B-days. Some of the things I tried were individual cakes, very elaborate decorations, lots of fun things to do--like pajama parties--& extra, extra attention. Still though, I felt the party was lacking. As for gifts, as the mother of 5, 4 year old girls like dress-up. I gave my daughter & then my granddaughters their own 'grown-up' purses (small for their size but they looked 'grown-up' & filled them with inexpensive lipgloss in the fancier bottles, a face powder compact with a mirror, a small bottle of perfume, hair doo-dads, their own little purse-sized brushes, & a 'little black book' & pen for telephone numbers. Believe it or not, my daughter, now 32, still remembers her purse & the fun she had with it!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
November 2, 20070 found this helpful

Take a look at this great site for toys made in the U.S.A.

http://american  americanmadetoys

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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