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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Toys & Games: What is worth the money?

What toys and games are worth spending money on?

I really think it depends on the kids and their personality. What my kids love another child might find boring. One toy that I have found to be worth every penny are LEGOS. My boys play with them for HOURS....seriously.


This toy for the tub really helped my daughter when she hated her baths. And this Little People Camping Set has been very well loved at our house. (I found it at Walmart so it was much cheaper than this link shows).

I really don't have a lot of toys for my kids. We don't have a playroom and their bedrooms are fairly small, so we have limited space. MAD does it make us when we buy toys for our kids and they play with them for 5 minutes and then could care less. FRUSTRATION. We just hate wasting money, don't we!

Even when I find new toys on clearance or at thrift stores I am still careful on how much I buy. I can't stand too much clutter. We have 6 people in a 1650 sq ft house, people. I don't have much space. But I still like to make sure my kids have things to play with. Here is what I have found to work for me.

From my perspective, giving toys to children can be less stressful and easier on your pocketbook. My oldest is 9 years old, so I have had toys around my house for awhile. Here is what I have done to keep the cost of toys down but also give my kids some fun things to play with. I am less likely to be frustrated with them not playing with the toys when I spent a fraction of the retail cost.

1. Shop clearance deals. Rarely do I purchase toys at retail price. When I do purchase brand new toys I buy them on clearance. Amazon and Target have fabulous clearance sales every year I try to hit. I love not only stocking up on toys for birthdays and Christmas, but also for birthday gifts. It's so nice to have toys already on hand when the kids get invited to a birthday party. About 2 weeks after Christmas every year stores start clearancing toys. Interesting, huh?

2. Go to second hand stores and garage sales. My kids have grown up with used toys, so they don't know any different. Countless times I have found toys in superb condition at second hand stores. Many times you will find brand new things there too! For my 4 year old's birthday two years ago, everything she got was either from a second hand store or from a clearance sale. Here is what she received. All for less than $10!

My Little Pony, new with dvd-- $3 Amazon clearance
Care Bear plush, brand new w/tags--$1 at thrift store
Fisher Price My First Dollhouse w/all figures & accessories--$5 at thrift store
Dora the Explorer magnet set--.75 cents at thrift store

3. Save up gift certificates and reward points. When there are specific things I want to buy, I will save up my reward points from my credit card to get a gift certificate to Target to buy what I need. Or Amazon, or whatever store. For example, my husband's birthday is coming up and we like to go out to eat. He loves Olive Garden so last week I got a $25 gift certificate from my reward points so we can go out to eat free. (I know it's not a toy but you get the idea...same thing.) Sometimes the things we are going to buy don't go on sale very often but this way I can avoid part of the cost.

4. Shop Craigslist. If you haven't shopped on Craigslist, you don't know what you are missing! Whenever we need to buy anything (not just toys) I always look on Craigslist first. Two years ago we needed to get one of my children a smaller bike with training wheels. I didn't want to pay $50 at way! We found a bike on Craigslist in almost new condition for only $10. It pays to look around.

Want to know a few toys that have been a complete waste of money for me? Good thing I didn't pay retail price for any of them.

Leapfrog LeapPad Plus Writing
Disney princess Belle doll
Pokemon accessories & plush
Spiderman racetrack (couldn't find a picture online of it)
Moon Sand (I hate this more than anyone)
Little People Town Village (we love Little People at our house but this one was not a hit)

Obviously everything above applies to games as well as toys. So I thought I would highlight a few of our families favorite games. We are a game family, though, and we play games all the time.

Monopoly Express
Cranium Cadoo
Druthers (an LDS game)
Cranium Hullaballo

What are your tips to share? What games and toys are worth spending money on in your eyes?


Coupon Person said...

My boys LOVED the tinker toys they got last Christmas. It was fairly expensive for this penny pincher, but ended up being worth every penny.

Danika said...

My son got the game Qwirkle for Christmas and now we are all addicted! It's great for people of all ages. It is a cross between dominos and scrabble. For little kids, it's fun to just match the colors and shapes. For adults, it can be a strategy and point-keeping game.

I agree whole-heartedly about Legos being worth every penny! Other hits in our house are the same types of building/creative toys (such as Lincoln Logs and train sets). I would rather spend money on those and have them play creatively than video games which are expensive and mind-numbing.

Tami said...

Monopoly Deal card game - super fun, fast game - new family favorite

Cosmic Catch - fun group game
Five Crowns - fun card game

and my new favorite - but not a new game - Boggle (the new travel edition so you don't lose the dice)

Cristin said...

I also hate Moon Sand. HATE isn't strong enough for what I feel about that complete waste of money.

Legos, Lincoln Logs and Fisher Price's Geotrax have been worth every penny though.

Jill W said...

I love your post! I just started penny pinching a few months before Christmas, and I had a lot of trouble letting some of the great deals pass me by. We ended up with WAY too many toys. So we've resolved to do something different next year.

Anyway, one toy I DON'T recommend is the Splatster. It's difficult for my 3-year-old to play with. She has to stand right infront of the little thing for it to work, and she gets really frustrated. Maybe she's just too young. She always wants to play it, but then just gets really frustrated.

Jill W said...

Oh, and I hate Moonsand, too, but my 3 year old loves it!

Marne said...

Rukus is another fun card game I played over Christmas.

benjaminB said...

I bought a Playskool Ball Popper for my 1 year old's birthday this last year. I only paid $1, and She plays with it every day. It is also a big hit whenever the older cousins come over. I may even consider paying full price if I had to!!!!

Lillian said...

My kids LOVE moonsand. And I HATE it! It is hidden in the closet right now (I should throw it away). The kids keep asking for it. Whoever invented this stuff hates mothers because you have to get out the vacuum EVERY time!
My kids LOVE magformers. We first saw them at the Gateway museum in Salt Lake. I shopped and shopped online and saved money on ebay (for new items.) They are a huge hit. My kids played with them everyday for a couple years though less now. Still worth the money.

Melissa said...

My kids love moonsand and I hate the clean up so we play with it outside during the summer.

Emily said...

I bought my 1 year old the Playskool busy ball popper for $1 with sale/coupons and I have been very happy with it. My daughter plays with it every day and still gets so excited when the balls pop out. It is even a big hit with the older cousins when they come to play. Definitely worth the money. I may even consider paying full price if I had to!!!

Lucky said...

A couple of my family's new favorite games to play that we got for Christmas this year are Sleeping Queen's and Perfection. Sleeping Queens takes about 10-15 to play and it's easy enough for a kindergartener to learn. We like Perfection because it's a no brainer - we just take turns to beat each others time. My kids will do just about anything to have game night with us (parents) it seriously is one of their favorite things. And sadly - my boys have just about every toy under the sun, so it just goes to show we've wasted alot of money because they would rather spend time with mom and dad playing games than just about anything. I wonder if other family's feel the same.

Tonya said...

as far as games go my kids love a lot of the same ones on your list, but they have 2 favorites. There is a great game that teaches a lot about american geography and they don't even realize it. It is called postcards across america and it is by far the best game I have ever purchased. you go to random places across teh country and collect the postcards. My DD's teacher couldn't believe all places she knew about and exactly where they are in the country. It is awesome! The other one that they love is pricy, but well worth the money it is called ticket to ride. you build trains across the country and it is similar but not the same as the postcards game, so we bought it. We play games a lot and 98% of the time it is one of these 2 games. There other favorites are blockus and druthers, and a game called walk the dog by simply fun.

Tonya said...

my kids also love card games like phase 10, uno, skipbo etc.


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