Friday, July 18, 2014

Money-Saving Tips - DIY Toys

Kids are expensive. I think that's one thing all parents can agree on. The trick is finding a way to balance your child's happiness and interests with your budget. One way to do this is to make your own toys. I know that sounds like so much work to some of you but keep reading, I promise it's not all so hard!

You can choose how much time and energy to put into making your own toys, after all balancing time and money is another fun thing we get to deal with. So given your crafting skill level, sometimes it may be better to buy something rather than make it. But always keep this in mind before you spend any money - will they play with it longer than a week? If not, save your dollars. Try to spend it instead on items that will keep your child's interest, grow with them or can be used as something else when this fad is over. For example, rather than buying a super detailed Victorian mansion, a simpler dollhouse can get more mileage when it becomes the fire station or the hospital or the grocery store.

Back on topic, DIY toys. Today I have 2 examples of things Little C wanted and we gave her without spending any money.

Duplo Circus - We bought Little C the Duplo Number Train and with it came every parents' worst nightmare: a little Duplo catalog. So Little C looks through it and sees Duplo My First Circus. Now she wants a circus! Depending on where you look, this set can cost you anywhere from $24-$40! Needless to say we didn't even entertain the thought of buying it for her. But my wonderful husband, without missing a beat, pulls over her bin of Duplos and starts building her a circus. I search through her toy animals and find an elephant, lion and zebra to add. In the end she's happy with her circus and has learned that if you want something, try to make it!

 The Duplo My First Circus Set
 Train, elephant, jumping fence for the dog, ticket window and diving platform
 Bleachers for the audience, tightrope, stage and zebra

Doc-mobile - On the Disney Junior show, Doc McStuffins (kid doctor to stuffed animals and toys), Doc's dad builds her a mobile clinic which she calls the Doc-mobile. After watching an episode where Doc uses the Doc-mobile, Little C comes running over to me saying she needs a helmet, a Doc-mobile and buckles for her friends. So I quickly added some ribbon and Velcro to her construction hat to make a helmet with a buckle. I think she said something about wanting purple, but she accepted the yellow helmet without argument. The Dob-mobile would involve a little more work but I was up for the challenge! Luckily I had just emptied a jumbo box of zip bags which I thought would be perfect.  I gathered some tinker-toys, ribbon, Velcro and my exacto knife and I was ready to go. After I finished building, Little C helped me paint and decorate the Doc-mobile and she's been having a great time buckling her toys in, driving them around, taking them out and giving them checkups. By the way, I don't think there is a Doc-mobile toy on the market, not that I've seen anyway, so I didn't really have a choice but to make one!

 It has wheels and a pull handle.
 The front opens to store doctor tools.
Flaps open on the sides and top so all her friends can ride along - and everyone has a seat belt!

So there you have it, 2 examples of giving Little C what she wanted without spending a penny. One obviously involved more work and supplies than the other, but now that you have the idea next time your child asks for something maybe you'll take a minute and see if you can get those creative juices flowing to save you some cash!

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