ThriftyFun News December 11, 2004 - Make Your Own Toys

ThriftyFun News
Make Your Own Toys

Volume Six, Number 48 December 11, 2004


Today we have some tips and ideas for making your own toys. A special thanks to Cindy Bailey for sending in so many wonderful ideas.


Thanks for reading,


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This newsletter contains:

  • Cheap Homemade Toy Blocks for Christmas
  • Little Carpenter's Apron (Ages 5
  • 10)
  • Dolly Diaper Bag ($10 Or Less)
  • (Ages 4
  • 9)
  • Craft Kit (Ages 6 & Up)
  • Grocery Store Play Set (Free)
  • (Ages 3
  • 8)
  • Tea Party Kit (Cost Of Disposable Camera) (AGES 4 & UP)
  • Preschooler's Alphabet Teacher (Almost free)
  • (Ages 3
  • 6)
  • Homemade Toys and Printable Games
  • Making Huge Bubbles
  • Make Your Own Kite

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Make Your Own Toys

Cheap Homemade Toy Blocks for Christmas

I make blocks for my three grandsons by going to the cutoff bin in my local Home Depot store. They have lots of short pieces of wood that can be cut into blocks. I sand them while watching TV. I round the edges, apply stain and then polyurethane them. I then get one of those handy paint buckets to store them in. My grandsons love to build with these and can even take them outside to their sand box if they want. They are pretty durable.


By Debra in Colorado

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Little Carpenter's Apron (Ages 5-10)


  • Plastic shoe organizer
  • Heavy ribbon or strapping.
  • Tools
  • Book about building such as Bob the Builder or something age appropriate, optional.


Cut shoe organizer across the width, so you have a line of four pockets. (If it holds 12 shoes, this will make 3 aprons).

Measure the child's waist and add several more inches so you can tie the ribbon in the back.

Attach ribbon or strapping across the top of the apron.

Fill pockets with some of Dad's/Grampa's old, cleaned tools. (Maybe paint handles all alike to match, add child's initials).

Add large nails and screws if you think this is appropriate.

Or buy little mini hammers, screw drivers, tape measures, etc. from your favorite dollar store.

If you go to the lumber yard and ask for a few scraps, your little carpenter can get started right away.


Obviously, this is a gift that will require supervision. Something fun for grandparents to help with maybe!

View Article: Click Here

Dolly Diaper Bag ($10 Or Less) - (Ages 4-9)
By Cindy Bailey


  • Your child's old diaper bag, receiving blanket, etc.
  • (Or, fold one of her old recieving blankets in half. With right sides together, sew one seam across the bottom, and one along the side. Attach heavy ribbon, such as grograin for handles. Turn, and you have a diaper bag).
  • Package of premmie disposable diapers
  • Other dollar store baby items as desired, hairbrush, lotion, bath toys, powder, binkie, wipes


Rather than buying those over-priced baby doll diaper bags with one or two diapers and empty bottles, why not make up your own kit? A package of preemie diapers is much cheaper and provides hours of fun. Also, the dollar stores are loaded with baby items which may not be of the quality you used on your baby, but will do fine for dollies.


View Article: Click Here

Craft Kit (Ages 6 & Up)


  • Assorted craft items
  • Mini low-temp glue gun
  • Tote bag or basket with handle, etc.


If you are crafty at all, you probably have craft materials piling up all over your house.

Why not make up some craft kits for the young artists in your life? You can add new items to fill in, if you like. for example, if you include some beads, you may have to buy a roll of elastic cord to go with it.

Toss in fabric and felt scraps; assorted paper; miniature items such as teddy bears and birds, sequins, whatever.

If you package small supplies in tiny zipper bags, they're more appealing.

You may have to buy some paints, brushes, crayons, etc.

Maybe toss in a project book for inspiration.

Make a tote bag from heavy fabric and cord, or buy a plastic basket hold the treasures.

'I Love My Dog/Cat Kit' ($10 Or Less) (Especially appropriate for a child who is getting or has just received a new pet)

  • Fun pets treats & toys
  • Book or magazine subscription about that pet
  • Old pillow of the right size for the animal (Or make a pillow).


Cover an old pillow with kitty or puppy print.

Purchase small"luxury" items like toys, chewies, moist treats, etc. from the dollar store

OR, make your own animal treats. (My website will soon have a few at

Place items on pillow.

Wrap all with cellophane. Tie with bow. (You can also adapt this gift for hamsters, fish, etc).

View Article: Click Here

Grocery Store Play Set (Free) - (Ages 3-8)
By Cindy Bailey


  • Empty and cleaned plastic and cardboard containers.
  • Optional, plastic basket.
  • Reals coins and a couple of dollar bills, egg carton.
  • Old purse, wallet, shopping cards.


I recently bought my niece a plastic grocery cart to play with and as I looked over the expensive and low-quality play food packages for sale, I remembered that I used to make up my own grocery items for my kids. Simply wash plastic items, such as margarin tubs, frosting cans, etc. Smallish boxes, such as those which hold pudding and Jello mixes are also good, as well as salt or oatmeal containers. You could also save flour or sugar bags and fill with tissue paper. Just open the containers carefully, use contents, and seal back up with scotch tape. My kids also enjoyed things like Band-Aid boxes and their own empty shampoo bottles. These items are not suitable for young children who still like to put things in their mouths.

Also, never use an empty medicine bottle or containers from things like detergent, even if the child is older. You don't want to push your luck!

If the child doesn't have a grocery cart, a plastic square basket with a handle from the dollar store will work fine. You can buy play money also from the dollar store, or if the child is old enough, give her some real coins and a few dollars. It's never to early to learn about money! An empty egg carton works in lieu of a cash register.

Add one of your no-longer-used purses/wallets/shopping cards from grocery stores, and you have some fun stuff.

View Article: Click Here

Tea Party Kit (Cost Of Disposable Camera) (AGES 4 & UP)


  • "Vintage" or interesting clothing selections from your closet, from Grandma's closet, thrift stores, etc.
  • Hats, gloves, aprons, jewelry, sunglasses, purses, high-heeled shoes, boots.
  • Old medium-sized suitcase
  • Real tea cups and saucers (Perhaps you have some orphaned tea cups and saucers or can pick them up at a thrift store)
  • Hot cocoa mix; box of tea biscuits or fancy cookies like Pepperidge Farm Milano's, pretty paper or cloth napkins
  • Small basket
  • Old lace tablecloth or square of lacey fabric
  • Disposable camera, optional


Gather an array of colorful items as listed above for your child to dress up in.

Decorate the old suitcase with paint, decals, sequins, rhinestones, etc. Add something like "Annie's Fashions" on the outside with paint or stick-on letters.

If desired, you could line the inside of the suitcase with pink or something fancy. Just glue it in place with fabric glue.

Perhaps you have some orphaned tea cups and saucers or can pick them up at a thrift store.

Wash and press clothing and place in suitcase.

Line basket with a napkin and add dishes, mix, and cookies.

Invite some friends, spread the tablecloth on the floor and have mom take photos of this event.

View Article: Click Here

Preschooler's Alphabet Teacher (Almost free) - (Ages 3-6)
By Cindy Bailey


  • 26 clear plastic tubs with lids which hold one pound, such as you would get cole slaw in.
  • You can sometimes buy these new in the dollar store or warehouse clubs, or just save them from the deli).
  • Stick-on letters
  • 26 small toys, each representing a letter of the alphabet (If you have young children, you've probably already got boxes full of these junky little things!)


Simply place the letter on the lid of the plastic tub, and then fill with the toy which begins with that letter. My kids enjoyed playing with this "teacher" when they were small, and as they got older, they enjoyed making them up and giving them as gifts. If you don't have enough little toys, thrift stores usually have tons of them. Or, again the dollar store often has bags of assorted animals, etc. which could be used. If you plan ahead, this gift will cost you practically nothing.

View Article: Click Here

Homemade Toys and Printable Games

This site has cool homemade toys and printable games... "You are invited to come and have fun with homemade toys and printable games.  In this section we will give you ideas on how to identify ordinary articles and recyclables around your home that can be used as educational and fun homemade toys.  We also will include great homemade toy ideas that you can make with your children with minimal effort using recyclables and affordable materials."

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Making Huge Bubbles

When your kids want to blow bubbles, use a coffee can that you've cut both ends from. Put your bubble solution in a bucket and dip the can. You can either sway the can through the air or blow into it, either way makes huge bubbles that kids love.

By Laura

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