Written by contributing writer Sarah of Frugal Fun for Boys
We tend to do things the frugal way at our house – by necessity, but also by choice. However, we have found that when it comes to quality toys for our three boys, the cheapest option is not always the best.
Inexpensive toys can be a waste of money if they break easily or never get played with. In our house of all boys, we are hard on toys! It’s never fun when the kids ask, “Where is my _____ that I got for my birthday? Oh yeah, I forgot. It broke and we threw it away…” Quality toys can be expensive, however. (Have you priced Thomas the Tank Engine toys lately???)
So how do you buy quality toys for your family without blowing your budget? We find a way to do it every Christmas with our limited cash! Here are some toys that we LOVE and some ways to find them for LESS!
Toys For Preschoolers
- Don’t overlook simple gifts that preschoolers love: coloring books, crayons, bubbles, magnets for the fridge, stickers, a bottle of bubble bath, and candy or treats that are not normally purchased. My boys have been so happy to receive single serve cartons of goldfish in their stockings!
- Wooden Railroad System – Who doesn’t love a train set? We actually own the Thomas the Tank Engine brand track and engines. Most of our collection was purchased when my oldest son was 2, and now my third son (18 months) is starting to play with Thomas! We figured that the real Thomas stuff was worth the investment because of the quality and because of the fact that we will probably hold onto these toys for our grandchildren. And, if we should decide to part with them, they have very good resale value. I don’t think that we paid full price for any item in our collection! We watched ebay for auctions starting at $0.99. By waiting for the right timing, I was able to snag several engines for about $6-8 total including shipping. We took advantage of Toys R Us sales and coupons. We saved money on a train table by purchasing one from Target. Another frugal option is to buy generic track (IKEA has very affordable wooden train sets) and to supplement with a few Thomas character trains.
- Duplo Legos – Oh, how we love our duplos! My youngest son is getting a farm set for Christmas that we purchased a couple months ago at Target on clearance for 30% off. Target clearance is a great way to buy things to put away for later! Also, check the sales and deals page on Lego.com from time to time. At the moment, they have a cute duplo train and a cargo plane at very good prices!
- Fisher Price Trios – This is a building set that gets its name from its combination of three types of parts – bricks, rods, and panels. My middle son (4 years old) got a set last year for Christmas. He was a little young for them at the time, but now he plays with them almost every day. The boys use them to build swords (boys!), rocket ships, buildings, and vehicles. They even made a shield the other day with a handle to hold onto! I have found the prices on Trio sets to be very reasonable.
For Elementary Age
- Schleich Animals and Figures – We own many animals and several Sioux Indian and cowboy figures by Schleich. The boys love to build zoos and create homemade accessories. Schleich toys are very high quality and durable, and their realistic look makes them a lot of fun! Again, we try not to pay full price! When I found the Sioux Indians 50% off at a local toy store, I bought all of them. Target carries Schleich toys, and they seem to put various animals on clearance about every 6 months.
- Legos – A must have for any home with boys! Again, check the sales and deals section of the Lego website!
- Playmobil – I sort of consider Playmobil to be “dollhouse for boys”, just don’t tell my sons I said that! ;) Playmobil toys are great because they give my sons a chance to play manly things without dressing up and running through the house – a big plus for afternoon quiet time! We have the Knight’s Take Along Castle which my son purchased with birthday money when he turned 5. Two years later, this toy is still going strong! Playmobil sets do have a lot of tiny parts, so be very careful around young family members who still put things in their mouths!
- Who says gifts have to be brand new? Don’t be afraid to buy your children used toys that are in good shape. You may be able to find a huge collection of Playmobil on ebay or at a garage sale.
- Sign up for Toys R Us’ mailing list if you are not already on it! They routinely send us coupons for $10 off a $50 purchase.
- Cash in Pampers Gifts to Grow points! My youngest son is getting a set of three board books that I got for free from Pampers!
About Sarah Dees
Sarah is a Christ-following mom of three sons who shares inexpensive ways to keep boys busy at Frugal Fun for Boys. She features activity ideas, homeschooling tips, and thoughts on teaching boys God’s Word. You can connect with her on Twitter and subscribe for free updates.
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